Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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February 16, 2014

Saving Private Parham

Local Vietnam vet recalls near-fatal war experiences

(Continued)

After nearly two and a half months of fighting, Westmoreland commanded their unit to take a three-day rest.

“During the three months, we had no showers, and we didn’t even clean ourselves because it was just everyday, everyday,” Parham said. “We were lucky if we got to shave.”

When the rest period began on April 16, his unit was resupplied with ammunition, water and rations. Weapons also underwent repairs.

Parham recalls that they were lucky if they got water because oftentimes the troops had to find water in their surroundings and purify it with purification tablets, which didn’t work well.

Unfortunately, this rest period was cut short because the NVA and NVC were on the move again.

“After the first day, they saw the NVA making a base between Saigon and Cambodia – a big one – the biggest one that I have ever heard of in Vietnam,” Parham recalled. “So, after one day of rest, they told us to, ‘Get ready. We’re leaving the next day to go see if we can find the base.’ Well we found it alright, but it was not in the way that we wanted to find them.”

The troops were rallied together and loaded onto helicopters on April 17. When the helicopters arrived at their target landing zone that day Parham recalls that the landing was very odd.

“Most of the time, we would be in what we call a hot [landing zone], which this particular time was not hot,” Parham said. “In most of these situations, we’d get shot at before we even landed. This particular one on April 17 was a dry landing, and I was surprised. I suspected something.”

From their landing zone, the soldiers walked until it was time to set up camp without any NVA encounters. During this time, the troops resupplied and then waited through the night to take further action. Then, April 18 came.

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