1st Battalion 22nd Infantry


The Grunt





by Chaplain Devine, Battalion Chaplain for 1/22 Infantry 1970

Published in the 4th Infantry Division Newspaper “ Ivy Leaf” 1970

His name? I’ve never learned it. For if there is a name tag on his shirt, you can be sure it’s not his name;
after all, he grabbed the shirt from a common pool of clean laundry.

Even among his buddies, he has no last name. At best, he’s Bill – but more often he’s simply “Brooklyn”
or “Short Round” or “Cool Breeze”.

He’s of varied background: he’s the freckled face Irish redhead from the streets of Chicago, he’s the lanky Black
with the keen sense of humor from Los Angeles, he’s the Puerto Rican who can speak two languages fluently
from New York.

Appearance wise, he doesn’t show too much. Despite all the SOP’s and AR’s and personal admonitions from commanders,
he doesn’t shave absolutely every day – but why should he – when he can hardly scrounge up enough water
for a morning cup of coffee – should he waste half of it on his chin? His fatigues are torn and tattered.
His boots have never felt the touch of Kiwi boot polish – but they have soaked in the puddles of monsoon mud,
and they do bear the scars of unbroken humps through the jungle.

His helmet is his diary: it announces each of his firebases – Marty – Hardtimes – it advertises his loved ones,
Joan and Marie – and it clicks off his months in country; May is about to be crossed off – and it reaffirms his faith,
“God is my point man”.

A battered rope rosary often dangles from his neck – and at times a peace symbol is prominently displayed,
or a symbol fashioned from shrapnel removed from his leg.

He, most of all, yearns passionately for peace – as he and his buddies must bear the brunt of war:
in a fierce contact recently as bullets and mortars and B-40’s were popping in every direction, he shook his head
and whispered to me, “This is a hell of a way to settle an argument.”

In his pocket there’s always a P-38, a church key, and a small pocket bible.

And on his back is a rucksack that weighs twice as much as him but which he carries gladly,
because in that sack is all the ammo that will keep him alive.

He has a vocabulary all his own” “Higher, higher”, “Celestial Six”, “The Dragon”, “Bikini Bird”, “Redleg”,
“I’ve got my sierra in lima”.

His hospitality shows no bounds; always room for one more in the bunker. He never hesitates to break open
another box of C’s for a friend. He’ll share even his last cold beer with a visitor. And when a package arrives
from the States, everyone has to share his mother’s Fruitcake and his wife’s home cooking.

His job doesn’t seem so special to him even though he does it well, yet sometimes he feels he is the only
indispensable man as he works all day and pulls guard half the night, while he hears of more senior men
who lock their office doors at 5:30 every evening.

And truly he is the indispensable man. More senior men draw up the strategy and issue the orders
and supervise the operations – but it is he who gets the job done. It is he who drives the trucks, loads the choppers,
man’s the tanks. It’s he who CA’s into hot LZ’s, marches down hostile trails, searches out the enemy bunkers.
It’s he who pulls LRP’s, tracks blood trails, and rappels from choppers. And, ultimately it is he who shoots
and gets shot, who kills and gets killed.

Without him there would be no army, and for that matter, there would be no America.

Who is he? He’s the unsung hero of Vietnam: 11 Bravo, PFC.




The 1st Battalion website is grateful to Jim Henderson, B Co. 1/22 1969-70,
for preserving and submitting the above article



Artwork by Margaret

From a photo by Dave Bogle HHC 1/22 Infantry 1968-69




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