Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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February 16, 2014

Saving Private Parham

Local Vietnam vet recalls near-fatal war experiences


A few months later, the second instance occurred after surviving a mortar explosion where shrapnel was lodged directly in his gut. And Parham remembers everything.

Parham arrived in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, which launched Jan. 30, 1968. At this time, the North Vietnamese Army hit all of the major cities in South Vietnam, including Saigon, where Parham’s unit was stationed right outside.

“The South Vietnamese were in charge of Saigon at that time,” Parham said. “But when they hit that day, they hit with so many units of NVA and NVC, which were the local Vietcong, they hit with so many thousands of troops that they overtook a lot of Saigon.

“General Westmoreland was in charge of all our troops in Vietnam. He assigned my unit, which is the Third Battalion, Seventh Infantry, 199th,

Light Infantry Brigade, and the Fifth Battalion, Twelfth Infantry to come out of the jungles and go take back Saigon.”

His unit walked out of the jungle and into the city and began taking Saigon back, house by house until they arrived at the Embassy, which they also

took back.

During this time, Parham’s unit also moved in on Saigon’s race track, which the NVA were using strategically because the bleachers were high enough to oversee some of Saigon and launch rockets.

“We fought for several weeks to take Saigon back,” Parham said.

Shortly after the launch of the Tet Offensive, the NVC began heading back to Cambodia.

Parham’s unit was ordered to chase them and gain more ground. This charge lasted through the rest of February, on into early April.

“We would find their NVA camps, have firefights with them, then we would take their cache, which is their rockets, RPGs, AK-47s [and] their ammo, and destroy their rice and camps,” Parham said. “And then [we’d] move on to the next one. Well as soon as we would get on to the next one, they would come back and refortify in the same camps that we had just destroyed. So it was a battle.”

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