The surgeon went on to instruct Parham to take his machete, chop off the front of his boots and go to the chopper pad where the surgeon had already directed a chopper to pick him up and take him back to his unit.
“So that's what I did,” Parham said. “Did what we were told. [The chopper] brought me out to the field, and as luck would have it, we were in an area in a firebase – we stayed there for about a week. So I didn't have to do any walking. They gave me time for my feet to repair, but I still kept those same boots where it wouldn't rub my toenails.”
After that week of rest, Parham was refreshed and his unit began sweeping towards Cambodia during the months of June, July, August and September. Late September, Parham cheated death a second time by surviving mortar shrapnel straight to his gut.
“I got hit on my 21st birthday, September 26. We were in a firefight – I happened to be at point – and they fired mortars in on me,” Parham said. “A mortar went down right in front of me, but we were in a swampy area where the mortar will not detonate until it hits something solid. So it went down through the water – I was probably chest-high [in] water and knee-high [in] mud – through the mud, and it finally hit something solid enough to explode. And when the mortar exploded, it came up and caught me all the way in the abdominal and chest area and knocked me unconscious.”
To make things worse, the shrapnel lodged inside his body, not exiting from the back, with two pieces penetrating his large intestine. One piece remains inside Parham to this day, right next to his spine.