1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

 

Jack Fulk Company A 1967 - Bible With A Bullet Hole

 

 

Jack Fulk

 

Jack Fulk served in Vietnam as a member of Company A 1/22 Infantry.
The following article was done for a local newspaper in Jack's hometown.

 

JACK FULK (VIETNAM WAR) BIBLE WITH A BULLET HOLE

The U.S. presence in Vietnam neared 400,000 troops by the end of 1966.
The year also saw over 5,000 American servicemen killed and more than 30,000 wounded. Ringing in the new year, reinforcements
poured in country, as 1967 offered no end in sight. Local soldier. Jack Fulk arrived in February.

Fulk spent his early years on a rented farm west of Albion ""We moved there in 1948." he said. "We sold eggs, so Mom took care
of about three hundred chickens. We usually kept about thirty beef cattle and one hundred head of hogs. One of the things I hated most
was the milking. We had sixteen milk cows that we milked by hand twice a day, every day. It was just Dad, Mom, my sister and me—no hired help."

In 1959, Fulk graduated from Churubusco High School He found employment at Lyall Electric in Albion and began climbing his way up the ladder.
"I had been a general foreman for quite a few years and they wanted me to take over the Hamilton Plant as the manager.
The year was 1966 and President Johnson was drafting married men with no children. That's what I was, so I told them
that I just had a feeling that I would be drafted. Sure enough, two weeks after saying that. I got my notice."

Fulk reported for basic at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in September 1966. AIT at Fort Knox, Kentucky soon followed.

In Vietnam, Fulk was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. His unit worked the midland jungles
in support of Operation Sam Houston. "We were stationed in the Central Highlands, Pleiku Province. Most often, we operated
right up against the Cambodian border. I'm not sure what other guys had, but I was only in country about a month
and had already been in four or five serious firefights."

Repeated mortar assaults on Fulk's firebase in early spring demanded a response. Company A set out to find and destroy the enemy attackers.
With Fulk manning the point position, the first day proved uneventful, but the next would change his life forever.

At dawn, Fulk rotated to the rear. '"Walking point was hard work. So the next morning, we switched off and I moved to the back.
We were in a V-formation and I was at the back of the "V" on the right side.

"...I woke with a terrible headache. I told my sergeant and he turned to the medic and said, "Get him something for his headache."
Well, he didn't do it. We were already on the move and he didn't want to undo his pack. ...It just kept getting worse,
so I mentioned something to the sergeant again. This time he ordered the medic to remove his pack and get me something.

"The medic was kind of pissed off, so he gave me two Darvon, which was a really strong painkiller.
The sergeant saw what he was doing and said, 'Man, you're giving him two of those things?"

"The medic said, 'He's got a headache, this will fix him!' And, it did."

Fulk, now feeling no pain, was one of the first to spot the waiting enemy. We all opened up on him. I dumped my pack and got behind a small tree."

It soon became clear that Company A had stumbled into an ambush. "My good buddy ... was just down from us a ways
and had already been hit. The sergeant turned to me and said. 'Jack, get down there and help him!'"

"I worked my way down to him and a medic pulled his shirt off to find his wounds. That's when he got hit again, right in the side.
His blood splattered all over my face. He and I had been together the whole way. Personnel changed a lot when you moved to different bases
and units, but he and I had gone through basic, AIT and came over to Vietnam together. ... Just that quick, he was gone."

Larry Lumpkins

KIA 3/14/1967

       

(Ed., Jack's buddy mentioned above was Larry Lumpkins.
Researcher Bob Harik was able to confirm this information
to Jack Fulk personally, in 2011.)

 

The battle raged on. "As I looked up the hill from where I came. I saw the sergeant and radioman just get rolled.
They took so many hits that it literally rolled their bodies over. About then, I got shot in the ass, on my right side.
I was lying in the prone position when I got hit."

With few alternatives, Fulk took to the offensive. "I saw them coming around this ravine towards me. It was only about thirty feet away.
I shot the first one, but I don't think it killed him because another came up and began working on him. I just got a glimpse of him,
but he stayed down pretty well. ...The next one came up wearing a gas mask. He was fairly upright and I put six bullets in his chest."

"...I was using an M-16 and put in a new magazine, my third one. By that time, the guy that had come up to help the first one that I shot
had him patched up and was ready to go. He stands up and throws him on his back, and I just unloaded on both of them with a huge automatic burst."

The dramatic move may have killed the enemy soldiers, but it gained Fulk unwanted attention. "In the moment, the tension is so high
that you don't really think about it. But I believe that last flurry was too long, too much. It gave my position away. I should have shot single shots."

Fulk was quickly placed on the defensive, pinned down by the enemy rain. "They were NVA (North Vietnamese Army) regulars,
firing AK-47s, a single shot at a time. I had already been shot in the ass. Next, they hit me in the left foot. It basically tore off
the entire top of my left foot."

"The third bullet hit me in the left leg, about half way up my shin. It ripped a two and a half-inch hole clean through.
It just blew the bone and everything else out. I remember seeing my lower leg flop like a rag doll. With no bone left
from the middle of the shin down, it was just loose."

"The next shell blew through my left arm, hitting me square in the chest. The impact lifted me clear off the ground
and threw me back several feet.

"I could hear one of them say something. I couldn't understand, but am sure that it was something like, 'I got him!" or "He's dead!"
...Those last three shots hit me all within about three or four minutes "

Fulk was alive, but only by the grace of God. "Just a few days ago, the day before we went out the chaplain visited us at firebase
and was handing out pocket-sized New Testaments. I had taken one and put it in my left shirt pocket, not thinking much about it.
When that last bullet went through my arm, it hit me right over my heart. That little Bible blocked the bullet.
It still threw me back and hurt like hell, but that pocket New Testament had taken the full impact of that shell. ... I know that it saved my life."

The round ripped halfway through the good book, then stopped. From that day forward, Fulk has always kept this Bible
with a bullet hole close by. "You never know when I might need it again "

Although badly wounded and barely alive, Fulk did not scream for help. He didn't want to compromise his position
or condition to a stalking enemy. "Thinking I was dead, they quit shooting at me Soon after that, 155mm artillery rounds started coming in
and I think both sides backed off a little. There were large chunks of shrapnel fixing all around, but none ever hit me."

"I laid there waiting for someone to come and get me, but they never did. I laid there for twenty-one hours and didn't bleed to death.
Somehow my pant leg had gotten rolled up and twisted tight around my boot. The blood clotted there and I think that kept me from bleeding to death
. ...I have often wondered how much those two Darvon helped me through the pain."

When the guns fell silent. Fulk listened for the sounds of other survivors, but heard none. The familiar hum of helicopter blades
soon woke him from his stupor. "Apparently, they had cleared a small LZ off on top the hill. I couldn't see or know it,
but I sure could hear that chopper. Man, how I wanted to be on that thing. When it took off without me, I felt just like crying.
My body hurt so bad. I was so scared and thirsty. I just wanted out of that jungle."

Rather than give up and greet death, Fulk fought on. He determined that his only way out was to somehow make it to that LZ on his own.
"I had so many open wounds. My left leg was loose and just hurt like hell, so I had to carry it with my right hand.
I had been shot on the right side of my ass, so I rolled over on my left hip. My lower left arm had a big hole through it,
so I leaned on my elbow. My right leg was good. I just started dragging myself up the hill, ... my backside to the ground,
... using my left elbow, left hip and right foot as the touch points."

"Up I went about six inches at a time. ... I had already drank all my water. I was so thirsty that I took canteens from dead guys.
I'm not proud of it but they didn't need them anymore. ...I took the straightest line there and, at times, had to crawl over some of our own dead."

"After a couple of hours. I finally reached a sandbagged machine-gun bunker on the perimeter. When the gunner turned around and saw me,
I just scared the living hell out of him. I'm lucky he didn't shoot me. When he regained his composure, he started hollering for a medic.

"...They gave me two shots of morphine right away and proceeded to try and cut off my boot. My foot had swollen so badly
that they had trouble getting it off. Man that hurt! They took my blanket and tied it around my foot using sticks for splints,
so I didn't have to hold it anymore. It was about an hour before the second chopper got there. A basket came down.
They put me in it, hoisted me up and took me to a field hospital."

When the medevac chopper touched down, the doctors got right to work. "They put three pints of blood and a bottle of water in me.
I immediately went into shock. My body was at such a high temperature and the blood and water were just too cold for it.
My body was shaking uncontrollably, but I still had my wits. I remember saying over and over. I can't control this!'"

After a week in the field, Fulk was stable enough for the move to Japan. His condition improved steadily,
but there would be setbacks. "I got a pretty bad infection in the hole in my foot. That square gauze would come in a packet or spool.
They would just take off that outer packaging and shove that entire spool into the hole in my foot. Then they would pour hydrogen peroxide
in there, trying to get the gauze to soak up the infection. I was taking twenty-one pills a day. so many that it caused my teeth to rot."

Fulk stayed a full month in Japan before his transfer to Ireland Army Hospital at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
There he would spend the next year and five months in recovery. "I had to learn to walk all over again. Even now, when I take a step,
I have to lift my left foot up high. Otherwise, I stub it on the ground. And man, that really hurts."

Once free from the Army. Fulk wasted little time in rejoining society. "When I got back, I wanted to take a couple of weeks off,
but the factory found out that I was home. The general foreman at the Cromwell plant had just quit and they wanted me to take his spot.
I went right back to work. ... In 1973, I became a plant manager."

In 2001, after forty-two years with Group Dekko. Fulk retired at the age of sixty. He now enjoys hand crafting wooden furniture
and also tends to a burgeoning ham-radio hobby. The married father of three resides in western Noble County
with his wife, Kelly and youngest son, Ted.

Fulk still sometimes looks back, but he's been mindful to keep his distance. "Yeah, I'll always remember the war,
my buddies and what happened to me. But you know, I never wanted Vietnam or my disabilities to define me.
I'm proud of my service, but I feel very fortunate that I've been able to move on. Life's too short to live in the past."

 

   

Jack Fulk's New Testament bible
with the bullet hole just above the word
"New".

 

 

 


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