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Quirte Surprises Colonel, Not cacti Blue

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 enemy fire.

The three soldiers and Quirte then were separated from the company and spent five hours in a cave as friendly airstrikes pounded enemy bunker complexes.

Colonel Gruenther was pleased to meet Specialist Harritan for more than one reason. "I not only wanted to congratulate the soldier for a job well done, but I wanted to make sure the German shepherd hadn’t killed three enemy with an M16. That would have really been a story," laughed the colonel.


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