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)

“All night long, this went on,” Parham said. “And we would [let] one sleep and [have] one awake, and every hour at the top of the hour, we’d have Mad Hour – we’ll call it Mad Minute – but it only lasted about 10 seconds. We’d shoot all we had out there because we knew they were just right there.”

The troops were able to hold off the Vietnamese. By the break of the next day the Vietnamese finally gave out and retreated from the area.

The American troops, beat as they were, resumed action and swept the area to get a kill count.

The day after this seemingly endless fight, the troops were provided with a hot meal, and Col. Ken Hall was present to thank the troops for all their hard work.

While Parham was in the food line, Hall noticed the damaged helmet on Parham’s head.

“[Colonel Hall] said, ‘Son, come here,’” Parham said. “I said, ‘Okay.’ So I dropped my plate right there. I said, ‘Yes sir.’

“He said, ‘What happened to your steel pot?’ And I told him briefly what happened, and he just shook his head and said, ‘I want you to bring that home as a souvenir.’

“So he wrote me a note – I still have it. ‘I want you to bring that back to the rear when you get a chance, get you a new steel pot, and then put that in your duffel bag, and this note will allow you to bring it back to the states.”

To Parham’s knowledge, there is only one other soldier who was given a note to take his damaged helmet home.

“There may be a few others, but the only other one I know of is out there in Fort Benning, in the 199th Light Infantry Museum.”

Unfortunately, Hall passed away two months after writing Parham’s note when his helicopter was shot down.

“He was the type of commander that would come down to the field and walk with us,” Parham said. “He was a wonderful commander.”

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