Cacti War Stories


Edited by Wiley "Tiny" Dodd
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MEDEVAC June 15

by James "Doc" Hall
June 15, 1970

MEDEVAC June 15, 1970
by Jim "Doc" Hall

Bravo Co. 1st platoon 2/35th June 15, 1970 stopped for noon break ( map coordinates PL 247747) off of FSB Lance. Perimeter was hosed down at 1215 hrs. Three guys wounded (Herbie Sapp, Gary Robinette, and "new guy".
Experience tells older guys that it is wise to lay down while eating in the field. "New Guys" haven't learned this lesson yet.

Result was that the "new guy" was hit inside the elbow resulting in a near traumatic amputation.

Arm was tourniqueted, bandaged and wrapped to body. Morphine given for pain. Dustoff requested.

Gary Robinette suffered a chest wound. Examination showed that for whatever reason the projectile did not penetrate completely into the body cavity and small completely round wound was bleeding but not profusely and there was no evidence of froth as from sucking chest. Wound was cleaned and bandaged and patient calmed. Not deemed serious but needed to be evacuated.

Dustoff on station at 1305 but no clearing large enough to accommodate. Jungle penetrator lowered from 50 feet to jungle floor.

Then followed the biggest goof of this medic's life.

The penetrator was lowered through a hole in the trees and landed in a large jumble of fallen trees and branches.

To accommodate getting "new guy" to penetrator this medic walked through the jumble to the penetrator, picked it up and moved it 15 - 20 feet closer to "New Guy".

"New guy" was strapped to penetrator and lift was begun.

Laws of physics quickly kicked in. Not sure of the exact law but something to the affect of a pendulum moved off of dead center will over correct both ways when freed from obstructions.

As the lift began and grip was lost on the "new guy" and the penetrator, this law was demonstrated in a horrible fashion.

Immediately upon lift penetrator and "new guy" swung wildly in the opposite direction of center from where we were standing. The "new guy" achieved a height of perhaps 6 -8 feet when penetrator and "new guys" body slammed into a tree.

The lift continued through this as the pendulum swung back toward us and then back toward the tree a 2nd time.

Fortunately much of the sideways momentum had been scrubbed by the initial crash and the 2nd swing only brushed tree slightly as the lift continued.

A third swing in the direction of the offending tree didn't quite reach it and the penetrator arrived at the chopper and "new guy" was pulled on board.

All this with a near traumatic amputation! The only redeeming fact in the whole circus was that affects of the morphine had apparently set in by this time.

I was dazed and embarrassed (as I am to this day) by the entire spectacle.

But life wouldn't wait. I still had work to do.

The plans were to send out the new guy via the penetrator but to wait for the chest wound until we could find a suitable area to actually land a chopper. I deemed Robinette ambulatory enough to walk assisted for a short period rather than to risk more than one man on the penetrator in a questionably secure area.

As I returned to Robbinette a squeal was heard from perhaps 50 feet further away. "Damn, I've been hit!"

It was 60 gunner Herbie Sapp squealing in his finest southern drawl as he belatedly discovered that the pain in his leg was not just from being held in an awkward position.

A quick examination disclosed that Herbie had indeed been hit in the side of the leg. The wound wasn't bad but Herbie was not going to be humping on with us this day.

Herbie's leg was cleaned and bandaged. Nothing appeared to be broken and the bleeding wasn't profuse.

The dustoff that had just left us reported a clearing at a short distance to our location. Herbie and Robinette were assisted over this distance and a call for resupply was made. As supplies were tossed out of the bird Herbie and Robinette were backloaded and away they went.

For more than 30 years I had no idea who the "new guy" was though I often thought about that day. Then in 2001 I asked Herbie Sapp if he could send me a copy of his Purple Heart orders. When they arrived I saw that there were several people listed on the same orders but only 3 from Bravo 2/35th from that day (Herbie, Robinette and one other name).
At about the same time I was able to obtain Daily Journals for 2/35th from that day. At the bottom of the "Medical Evacuation Form" was a "line number" and scribbled next to the line number was the following: "FNG Suhrupp arm".

A 2nd glance at Herbie's orders solved the puzzle after all those years. One of the names listed was "Richard C Schrupp" (not Suhrupp as the scribbling on the Medevac report said). The order also listed his social security number.

My thoughts immediately turned to trying to find this "new guy Schrupp". I kind of dreaded to do so but I wanted to face the music and apologize for my stupidity that day.

I tried my normal tricks in locating old buddies with no good results. I then turned to my last resort and checked with the Social Security Death Index using the SSN that I found on the PH orders.

And there he was. Richard C. Schrupp from Minnesota born in 1950. Died in September of 1983.

There wasn't going to be an apology. My mind and memory would not be eased.

Richard Schrupp was only with us a couple of days when he was wounded that day. I didn't even know his name.

I'm sorry Richard. I'm sorry for my stupidity and carelessness that day. I'm sorry that I didn't even know your name. I pray that my actions didn't injure you further. I pray that my actions didn't contribute to your early death all those years later.

May you rest in peace, Brother! I'll never forget your name again.