Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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February 16, 2014

Saving Private Parham

Local Vietnam vet recalls near-fatal war experiences


But his journey did not end there. After a period of time, his squad leader, Jack Brenneman, came to his rescue, covered him with fire, and told Parham to head back towards the center. Parham tried to hold off because he did not want to leave Brenneman alone, but Brenneman ended up commanding Parham to follow orders.

“He was like a dad,” Parham said. “He took care of his squad just like a dad would take care of his kids.”

Eventually, both Brenneman, Parham and some of his squad mates made it back to the B52 hole, which was full of dead and injured troops.

Although Parham was dizzy and suffering from a concussion, he was immediately called by the commanding officer Capt. Antonio Smalldone to take up the radio in place of the radio specialist who had just been shot down.

“[Captain Smalldone] said, ‘You’re gonna be my new [Radio Telephone Operator],’” Parham said. “[I said], ‘I have no training.’ He said, ‘Well you’ll learn on the run.’ And he gave me a little crash course on how to operate it. I was probably the most healthy out of everybody in that hole with him... He said, ‘You and I are going to straighten this mess out.’ Even with one arm and all the injuries he had and my concussion... we got up on this little hill and he called in more artillery. He even called in fire on our position  – we were going to injure and kill some of our own troops – but if we didn’t get firepower right away, they were going to wipe us out anyway.”

Smalldone studied the map as best as he could to figure out where most of the U.S. troops were in relation to the NVA and NVC, then called in the fire.

When evening came, the Vietnamese troops began to draw back only to prepare for sneak attacks during the night. Nevertheless, the U.S. soldiers were able to set up new parameters and prepare for the sneak attacks.

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