Dec 7, 1965
Braveboy Shows 1st
Cavalry’s Spirit of Aggressiveness
NOTE: Charles Black, Enquirer military
finding American soldiers in Viet Nam a brave breed.
Following is the first of two articles on individuals of the 1st
Cavalry Division fighting North Vietnamese in the South Viet Nam
By CHARLES BLACK
AN KHE - The American soldier of 1965
shapes and colors and represents a bewildering assortment of
personalities and ambitions - but from official reports, comments of
and results on the battlefield, it would seem that he shares an almost
Almost without failure, the
Americans in Viet Nam have shown themselves to be magnificently brave
fight with an aggressiveness that has dismayed their own officers
much as the enemy.
although it seems impossible for a rifleman to be called that. They won’t pull back from a fight and let
the artillery and air take over - they just keep driving in! They are the bravest troops who have ever
fought on a modern battlefield,” Lt. Col. James H. Nix said after his
Battalion, 8th Cavalry had fought a bitter engagement on Nov. 5 near
The 1st Cavalry Division
brought a new dimension to the war in Viet Nam when it relentlessly
three regular North Vietnamese regiments on Oct. 26 at Plei Me, finally
the shattered remnants of the enemy across the Cambodian border on Nov.
26. It had stories of brave men who
every facet of that trait of over-aggressiveness.
story of the ordeal of
PFC Toby Braveboy was one of those. It
was a saga of fortitude and tough endurance.
Nov. 17 Braveboy, 24, who
comes from the unlikely town of Coward, S.C., was walking on point with
platoons of Company A, Second Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, when a
North Vietnamese attack struck the unit.
darkness fell, Braveboy
was wounded in his left hand, his arm and leg.
His only companions were other wounded Americans.
The rest of the battalion had pulled into a
fighting perimeter and was embroiled in one of the bitterest battles of
wanted to get help for my
three buddies who were with me,” Braveboy said. “They
were all hit. I
knew if I yelled for a medic the Vietnamese would hear me, so I tried
“I could hear my buddies
calling for help,” he continued. “They
had been wounded badly. I knew I had to
get help for them, but the PAVNs (Peoples Army of North Viet Nam) were
crawled as far as he
could toward the sound of the fighting and realized he couldn’t make it. A group of Vietnamese soldiers came toward
him and he feigned death. They executed
some of the wounded they found, he said, blood spraying him once when
decapitated a wounded American, and they left.
who inherits his
name from a Creek Indian ancestor although he is a sandy-haired youth
Indian features, pulled himself to a small stream and hid in the grass. He had no equipment, no food, but he did
have a bottle of water-purification tablets, and he used them. He had only water for nourishment during the
days and nights ahead.
wrapped his T shirt
around a gaping wound in his left hand (Army surgeons were later forced
remove his index finger) and for two days watched enemy soldiers “who
close I could have picked up a rock and hit them with it.”
At night he crawled into the
brush near the creek and huddled beside a bank of earth.
it was cold, every
night was so cold. . . I could never get warm . . . the mosquitoes and
were terrible,” he said while being treated for his wounds, exposure
malnutrition at Pleiku on Thanksgiving Day.
a North Vietnamese
soldier showed a strangely uncharacteristic altruism which Braveboy
over as he lay on the litter at the Pleiku airstrip and half-whispered
heard footsteps, then
four North Vietnamese soldiers went by me,” he said.
“Three of them didn’t see me, but the fourth one looked me right
in the eye. He stopped and pointed his
rifle at me. I raised my wounded hand
and shook my head ‘no’. . . I don’t know why, but he lowered his rifle
walked away. He was so young, just a
boy, no more than 16 or 17.”
Each day helicopters from
his division flew overhead, prowling on a hunt for the PAVN
units. Braveboy could not stand to signal and the
American Choppers passed him by time and again.
wasn’t any food,”
Braveboy said. “The PAVNs had taken all
they could find. They even tore open
the C-ration accessory packets and took out the sugar and chewing gum. I lost a lost of blood from my hand wound
the first day and I was becoming very weak.”
The hope of
rescue from the
air was ironically counterbalanced by the threat of death, Braveboy
missions swept over
the area where the wounded American was stubbornly clinging to life. They were pounding the remnants of the North
Vietnamese regiments in a mopping-up campaign.
know how I survived
it day after day,” Braveboy said. “The
bombs were landing all around me. All I
could do was to stay flat on the ground and pray they did not hit me.”
the seventh day, Braveboy
said, he had almost given up hope.
of those little
choppers flew over me real close,” he said.
“I took off the T shirt I had wrapped around my hand and waved
hard as I could. The shirt was bloody but
it was all I had to signal with. I knew
he spotted me. He flew over again even
It was CWO
Marion Moore of
the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, who saw him.
knew he was safe on
a Thanksgiving Day he will never forget when the chopper pilot, Capt.
Leadabrand, swooped back one more time and threw him a cardboard box of
C-rations which contained, appropriately enough, according to Braveboy
helicopter landed after
scouting the area, and the South Carolina farm boy was brought back for
attention. Doctors said he is assured