OASIS — The astonished colonel looked with amazement as he was
introduced to the combat hero, a massive German shepherd.
Colonel Richard L. Gruenther, commander of the Famous Fighting Fourth
Division’s 3rd Brigade, had requested a meeting with Quirte the 2nd Battalion,
35th Infantry, ‘soldier’ who had killed three NVA to save the lives of two
of his fellow infantrymen in a firefight in the Chu Prong Mountain range
southeast of Kontum.
While the Cacti Blue’s Company B was engaged in contact, Colonel
Gruenther’s helicopter was hovering over the battle area and the 3rd Brigade
commander was interested by the radio reports from the ground which were
praising Quirte’s actions.
So when Colonel Gruenther visited Landing Zone (LZ) Valentine, the
battalion firebase, he asked Lieutenant Colonel James E. Price, 2nd Battalion,
35th Infantry commander, to arrange for him to meet Quirte.
That’s when Colonel Gruenther was treated to his surprise. He was
directed to a bunker and there was Quirte—a German shepherd. "Naturally,
I was a bit surprised," commented a smiling Colonel.
It was then explained to Colonel Gruenther that Quirte’s handler,
Specialist 4 Randy Harritan of Wilmington, N. C., was the soldier responsible
for the heroic deeds.
Actually, the colonel’s bewilderment was quite understandable. Unknown
to anyone else, the name Quirte and that of his handler have become synonymous
to Bravo Company.
Specialist Harritan and Quirte were part of a Company B patrol which had
come under enemy fire. When the NVA fire pinned down the first two members of
the patrol, Specialist Harritan opened fire with his M16 and killed three NVA,
aiding the other two soldiers, one of whom had lost his weapon while evading the