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Ellwood City, Pennsylvania
Eric Poole is a reporter and columnist for the Ellwood City (Pa.) Ledger, a small newspaper nestled near the Ohio state line in the heart of Steelers Country. He has a wife, a son and a daughter (so there will be some daddy stuff on this blog). A former steelworker and retired rugby player, Poole has a wide range of interests, which was reflected in the 2008 Pennsylvania Newspaper Association awards, when Poole won first-prize honors for best columns and best special project. His upcoming book, "Company of Heroes," due out March 17, 2015, from Osprey Publishing, tells the story of Vietnam War hero Leslie Sabo and his comrades. Sabo was awarded the Medal of Honor May 16, 2012, in a White House ceremony.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jan. 28, 1970: A Requiem

(Photo from Jack Brickey: John Shaffer, back to camera, and Frank Madrid confer prior to an operation. Both were killed Jan. 28, 1970.)

In memory: Steven "Hungry" Dile, Chambersburg, Pa.; Peter Guzman, Los Angeles; Frank Madrid, Puerto de Luna, N.M.; and John Shaffer, Syracuse, N.Y., KIA, Jan. 28, 1970.

Steven Dile was known as a soldier's soldier, a leader who carried grenades in what he called his bag of tricks, known for his voracious appetite. Peter Guzman and Frank Madrid took care of the new soldiers, training them in matters of both great and small import. John Shaffer, the platoon leader, was the son of a World War II Army Air Corps pilot nearing the end of his first combat tour.

Forty-five years ago today, all four were killed on Hill 474, a craggy peak on the Central Highlands' easternmost fringe that elements of the North Vietnamese 22nd Regiment had converted, with tunnels and caves both natural and man-made, into a fortress. In the first major firefight depicted in the book "Company of Heroes," Shaffer and the men of Bravo Company's 3rd Platoon were assigned to retrieve the bodies of comrades killed days earlier but were ambushed themselves. A fifth soldier, Jack Brickey, was severely wounded, but survived, thanks in no small part to the work of medic Jerry Nash, who was working for the first time under enemy fire, and Rick Brown, who helped Nash drag Brickey from an exposed position.

It would be nearly 40 years before Brickey would learn that Brown had assisted Nash in heaving him onto a helicopter gunship for evacuation from the combat zone.

1 comment:

Rose Marie Luna said...

These guys are my heroes. Even though my husband, Peter D. Guzman, did not survive the attack, those that survived have been a godsend to myself, and 3 other wives that lost their husbands. They have been forthright and brutally honest with us about our husbands final moments. We have all formed an un breakable bond that has made our loss a little more bearable. We realize that they have carried the burden of "survivor's guilt" for all these years. We truly hope that from the deepest depth of our hearts, that they understand that they survived to tell us the truth, and nothing but. I must also add, that Jack Brickey had made a promise between Peter and himself, that if one or the other did not make it, the survivor would seek the other's wife and give them one last hug and kiss. Jack kept his promise and I will be forever grateful! We love and cherish them all. We are CURRAHEES - WE stand alone....TOGETHER!
Rose Marie Guzman - Luna

P.S.thank you, Eric, for sharing their truth....