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15 Sep 68 Ivy Leaf

Ivymen Hug Live Grenade

OASIS — Two Ivymen were recently left holding something much more dangerous than the proverbial bag — two "live" hand grenades.

The incident occurred near Dak To at a 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry firebase. The 3rd Brigade unit was settling down for the night when a loud, splashing noise from a nearby stream caught the attention of Private First Class Jason Braunstein of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Sergeant Jim Waterman of Columbus, Ohio.

Knowing the area was NVA-infested, SGT Waterman and PFC Braunstein each pulled the pin from a grenade and prepared to throw the explosives. No sooner had they drawn their arms back when a message crackled over their radio,

"Our Company Commander called and told everyone to refrain from firing rifles or throwing grenades, he wanted to see what was out there before we opened up, Jim and I had already thrown the pins away, so we were left holding on for dear life," said PFC Braunstein.

The seconds ticked by dangerously slow. Both men broke out in a cold sweat. One slip, a loose grip… how long can it last.

Sergeant Waterman radioed and informed the company commander of their predicament, They were given permission to throw the grenades.

"Boy, I was never so happy to be rid of anything in my life," said PFC Braunstein.

"Those three minutes seemed like thirty years," he added.

Heavy grenade and automatic weapons fire were directed on the suspected enemy position. Due to the thick foliage and lateness of the hour, the "Cacti Green" were unable to check on enemy casualties,

"I definitely learned my lesson. From now on I’m going to look before I throw," said PFC Braunstein.

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