I've always felt that this date belonged to my family. It's the day Eddy (Edward August Schultz) was killed in Vietnam at 21 years old. We all remembered - my cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings. It became a part of our family story. Since writing my book, however, I have found that there are many people across this country who remember this date from 51 years ago.
The first time I heard from someone about this date was a couple months after my book was published. He lives in Florida. He had typed Hoc Mon into a web search and my book came up. He ordered it, read it and contacted me. His brother was blinded in that same battle that killed Eddy. Worse than the blindness, his brother had PTSD so bad that he couldn't care for his own son. This man who contacted me raised his brother's son.
I heard from Tony Adams, from Georgia, who fought in this battle at Hoc Mon, maybe right alongside Eddy, though they never met. I wrote about Tony in a previous blog.
I heard from Ken Blakely, from New Mexico, who was a medic in that battle on March 4th. And I heard from Gary Ascher, who lives in Oregon and was in the battle at Tan Hoa, which Eddy was in a couple of weeks before his death. I plan to write more about Ken and Gary in future blogs.
Andy Wahrenbrock, the medic from Eddy's platoon (Eddy's best friend in Vietnam), began a yearly reunion of their platoon about 14 or 15 years ago. I hope to write more on Andy later, with his permission. When they get together at these reunions, they remember Eddy and the battle they were all in that took the lives of two of their platoon - Lorence Lundby of Waterloo, Iowa and Eddy Schultz, my uncle from San Luis Obispo, CA. When I went to one of the platoon reunions, I met Jerry Miller, Jerry Counts and Dave Glass who were all in the Hoc Mon firefight on March 4th 51 years ago today.
They were on a search and destroy mission. The Viet Cong were launching rockets into Tan san Nhut Air Base and they were sent in to stop the attack. There were 3 companies from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry of the 25th Infantry Division involved in this mission that turned into an ambush by the Viet Cong. Taken by surprise, we lost 49 of our soldiers.
What I now know is that March 4, 1968 is not just etched into the souls of my family, but into the souls of many more throughout our country, those who were there, and those other families who lost someone that day exactly 51 years ago.