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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Remembering Leonard Bauer

April 18th, 1970 Vietnam:

Photo of Leonard Bauer (KIA April 18th 1970)

(Gordon Swenson)
This was a bad day. We were following a trail and our point man called back to say that he found a machine gun setting in the middle of the trail with no one around it. Just as they were calling this in he heard voices and saw some enemy individuals walking down the trail towards the machine gun. One of them had a AK47 slung over his shoulder. They never saw our guy. The point man opened up with his M16 and killed two of them. Turns out there were about 7 or 8 more of them just around the corner. Suddenly all hell broke loose. I got on the radio and called for air support. About then we got a call on the radio that one of our guys had gotten killed. I called for a Tactical air strike with Napalm. A few minutes later the jets showed up and began dropping the napalm. I found that if anything could stop a fire fight, Napalm would. Sure enough the shooting stopped. Our casualty was Leonard Bauer. I helped carry him to the helicopter to be flown out. I can still remember the boots sticking out of the poncho liner that was covering him and his dog tags attached to the shoe laces. (This was common practice to keep the dog tags from rattling together like they would if you wore them around your neck.)

(Ed Nored) On this day 3rd platoon had point for the company. My squad was point. For the life of me I cannot remember who my point man was this day. I think it was Mike Mahr, but am not sure. We left the night lo and moved a pretty good distance. At least an hour. I remember we were looking for a stream or "blue line" on the map. I was walking 3rd man back when I could see the point man walking into a clearing. He had gone a few yards into it when I quietly called him back and told him to stay in the tree line and move to the right of the clearing. A minute or so passed and walked up a small rise in the terrain and as it leveled off walked right into a small somewhat level area and found 2 bunkers. (I know this is a silly game to play. But if we had showed up 8 - 10 minutes later. My point man would have come up that little 15 foot rise and come face to face with 1 to 3 gooks less than 20 feet away.) One bunker was old and the roof had collapsed on it. There was a new one built on the left. Jay Selby and myself checked out the new one. I remember Jay went in one end and me the other. This wasn't the smartest thing to do. If someone had been in there Jay and I would have been firing at each other. What we found was a very clean fully packed NVA backpack and next to it was a light machine gun. The type with the round drum on top. The rest of 3rd platoon was being spread out. "Gator" and Bill Pease of 2nd platoon had taken positions in the collapsed bunker. As I exited I noticed the bunker had a clean shot into the clearing we had previously avoided. Then "Gator" opened up with his M-14 when he spotted 3 NVA soldiers coming through the bush about 40 - 50 feet away. Then Bill Pease opened fire with the "60". One brave NVA held his ground and returned fire what seemed to be about 15 - 20 minutes. Measuring time in such circumstances is difficult. Out front to the left were Jim Watradowski and Leonard Bauer of "Ketch's" squad exchanging fire with the lone NVA. I believe is was Jim who yelled Leonard was hit and Doc Kloss ran crouched over with his aid bag to where Leonard was lying. As it turned out there was nothing he could do for Leonard despite Docs attempt to resuscitate him. I remember seeing a very clean bullet hole, with no blood, on the top, back of his left shoulder. The shooting ended. A napalm strike was made. Leonard was picked up and began his trip home. We moved into a night location and just as it was getting dark someone told me Cpt Perkins wanted to see me and I walked over to the CP and he had a piece of paper and pencil in hand and said turn around and said something to the effect that "I had got him 2 gooks" as he placed the paper on my back and signed my E-5 promotion. I had very mixed feelings about my promotion being tied to the days events. But one thing for sure. The new guys got quieter.

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