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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Heroes, Big and Small

Vietnam War Heroes

by Jacque Roberts
   Grade 12, Brady High School

Vietnam War Heroes
By: Jacqueline Roberts
Brady High School
There were heroes on both sides of the Vietnam War. These people showed acts of heroism in everyday life. Gerry Sawyer was a young man, about twenty, when he went to Vietnam. The young Gerry Sawyer was in college and wanted to go to war, so he dropped out of college and waited for the draft to take him. Which it did, and he entered the military on December first of 1967. His family and friends stood behind him the whole time.

Mr. Sawyer started by going to basic training in Fort Lewis, Washington. After basic the “boys” were sent overseas and Gerry started out as Staff Sergeant in the Army. He was in company C Second battalion of the 14th infantry of the 25th infantry division. Gerry said they had to acclimatize for two weeks before they would send you into the field because of the heat, so they would be able to do their jobs.

When on road patrol they would have many encounters with the local population, but mostly children. One child in particular stands out in Gerry’s memory. He was a little Vietnamese boy, about eight, who was always around and loved the American soldiers. He would come and visit with them, usually trying to con something out of them like candy or cigarettes. One day a squad was on patrol, leaving the perimeter and going through head rows of bamboo. During the night the Vietnamese had planted a bunch of booby-traps and the little boy knew it, so the next morning he came running out to warn the American soldiers and he stepped on one and was killed. Gerry did not have to witness it, but the other squad informed him of the death of the heroic boy. That little boy risked and lost his life to save the lives of the American soldiers he liked so much.

Also, there was a young girl who would sit and visit with them. She taught Gerry about their customs and their way of life and would explain certain things to him. Gerry learned a little bit of the Vietnamese language from her. This was very dangerous to risk talking to and teaching the American soldiers.

There was even a woman who would cook for the American soldiers. She was called a mamason. Gerry’s platoon was guarding a bridge in Sygon while; the Navy was repairing it when they met her. The woman would fix sandwiches and other things the guys could buy. One day the guys were talking about how they missed hamburgers and French fries and they had to explain to her what they were. The next day they came back to eat and she had made some “rough looking” fries and hamburgers for them. The boys believed the hamburgers were made out of water buffalo, which was a sacred animal in Vietnam. Gerry said they were good and that it was very nice of her to do that for them. The woman could have been persecuted for doing this for the soldiers. 

Gerry was able to come home early due to his own heroism. He was on road patrol and stepped on a land mine and lost his leg. He was shipped to a hospital in Japan for two weeks before coming home. He received an award for heroism but he didn’t believe it was necessary; he just thought he was doing his job. Gerry said he saw acts of heroism everyday but the soldiers just saw it as doing their jobs also.  There were many brave people on both sides of the war. 

Veteran's Data

Name of Veteran: Gerald Roy Sawyer
Date of Birth: 8-16-47  Place of Birth: Great Falls, Montana
Date of Induction:   Branch of Service: U.S. Army  Rank at Discharge: 
Location of Interview: Brady School
Interviewed by: Jacque Roberts

Posted by becky duty on 05/17 at 12:33 PM
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