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Oral History Interview with Sergeant Gary B. Beikirch

AMEDD Medal of Honor Awardees > Sergeant Gary B. Beikirch

AMEDD Medal of Honor Oral History Interviews

SGT Beikirch received the Medal of Honor for actions on 1 April 1970 in the Republic of Vietnam. See the complete citation and photo. In this interview he gives a vivid account of the events that occurred on 1 April 1970. His bravery and dedication are evident as well as his love for the people he was there to care for and protect.

This interview was conducted 24 March 1987.

Interviewer:  Mr Beikirch, could you tell me when you came in the army?

Beikirch:  I enlisted in the army in August of 1967. I had just finished my second year of college. And it was a strange time, back in the 60's, '65, '66, '67. I was going to school in upstate New York. There was a lot of campus unrest. And I had some good friends that had gone previous into the service. And I was just wondering what I was, what I was all about. As an individual, I knew that in two years I’d be teaching. I was a Phys-Ed major. And I felt that at 22, I didn't know if I’d be able to adequately teach what was important to people who, in some cases, are only going to be 4 years younger than me. So I felt that I needed perhaps to get a little bit more experience about life. More wisdom, so to speak.  

So I quit college. Also because, as I said, there were some friends of mine that had gone to Vietnam. I had had a couple that were killed already. And aside from the anger that I felt in losing my friends, I didn't have too much, too many strong feelings about Vietnam. I couldn't, I guess very superficially, I couldn't agree with a lot of the anti-war sentiment that was going on at the time. Because with them, I said well how do you know all this stuff that you say is true?  So, I was kind of non-committal. And I felt that perhaps the best way to find out about all of that, which is what I wanted to do. I was always that kind of individual when I had made up my mind up to do something, I was going to go ahead and do it. Learn by experience that type of thing. Which has got me in trouble.   But that's the way I was, that's the way I still am. And, so I quit college after, after two years. My feeling was is that I was going to go to Vietnam. And if I was going to go to Vietnam, I wanted to go over with a unit that was going to give me the best chance of surviving. So I picked Special Forces. 
 
I remember going down to the recruiter's office. SGT Flota was the recruiter. I walked in and said, I want to enlist, I want to be a Green Beret. And he said, well you can't do it that way. I said well what's the process that I have to go through. And he said, well you have to volunteer. Volunteer airborne. And I said do you think you can get me into that. And he acted like it was a big (inaudible), well, I think if we try we can get you in airborne. And he said then you'll have to go through Special Forces testing, and the training. But that's what you have to do. And so I enlisted, airborne unassigned in August of 1967. And I went, went down to Fort Dix. Twenty years old. So I was a little bit older than the majority of the guys that went in at that time. But I went in fully wanting to go to Vietnam. Not because I had any strong feelings pro or anti, against the whole Vietnam war. But because I wanted to find out. I felt it would be a, a good experience.  

Interviewer:  Where did you get your training at?

Beikirch:  Well, I did...as I said, I enlisted airborne unassigned. Needless to say, after basic training at Fort Dix, my orders came down for 11B. I was sent to infantry training. I finished up my infantry training at Fort Dix. Volunteered for airborne. Went down to Fort Benning, Georgia for jump school.  Finished jump school. While we were down there we took the Special Forces qualifying test.   Passed that. Took a PT test. Passed that. And I was off at, off to Fort Bragg. We, at that particular time, I don't know if Special Forces training has changed yet, but at that particular time we had a phase one Special Forces training. At Fort Bragg. Finished that, and at that time we were given our beret. At the end of that training, we were getting ready to go on with our own, our MOS training.  I remember I wanted to go into medics. They took a look at my qualifying tests, and scores and things like that, and they said that I didn't qualify. I didn't have the right aptitude. And I argued and argued. They wanted to put me into, since I already had a 11B, Infantry MOS light weapons, they wanted me to go into a weapons specialist. And I said no, I didn't want to. I wanted to be a medic. I guess because I just...probably because I just cared a little bit too much about people, I was sensitive towards that. Plus I had wanted to get into medicine perhaps after school, after the military. So I argued and argued. And to this day I don't know why, but I convinced them. And they let me go through phase one of medical training, 91B, at Fort Bragg.
 
After that we came down here to Fort Sam. Had my training at Fort Sam Houston. I guess maybe I wanted to prove myself to them, so I, while I was down here, one of the things, one of the things that I did was really studied hard. I did a lot of fooling around too, but I did a lot of studying. I graduated third in the class. Which at that particular time made me eligible for an advancement, a promotion, to a E4. After that, after the training here at Fort Sam I went up to Darnell Army Hospital at Fort Hood. Did my OJT there. Went back to Fort Bragg for the phase two of the medical training, on a dog lab. And finished that. And then went onto phase two of Special Forces training. And I remember them saying at the time that, that we finished all our training, and I was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces group. They said, you may think that now you are a Special Forces medic, but in all actuality you are not. All that you have done is now become eligible to learn how to become a medic.  Now you're going to learn how to be a team medic.  So we had a lot of intensive team training, it really never ended. And I was at Fort Bragg, with the 3rd Special Forces group for about, oh, maybe six, seven months. And then it didn't look like I was going to get to Vietnam.  Matter of fact, our team had, was put on alert. We were going to be going to Africa.  I didn't like that, so I went down to the recruiter and I re-enlisted for Vietnam. That's how I ended up going to the 5th, with an additional four years tacked on to my original enlistment. So I ended up re-enlisting and going to Vietnam in July 1969. 

Interviewer:  What unit were you assigned, to the 5th?

Beikirch:  I was assigned to 5th special forces. Got down to Cam Ranh Bay. Met a couple, couple senior NCOs down there that were in Special Forces. They saw me, they kind of took me under their wing, and they said hey, the unit you want to get with is, go up to B Company. Work up out of Pleiku, either Mike Force, or CCC.  FOB2 was a special operations group. So, in my own naivete I said sure, sounds great, I’ll do that. So, when I filled out my dream sheet I put down B Company, central highlands. So I was on the way up to Pleiku, still trying to decide whether to go to Mike Force, or work with a, out of Kontum with CCC. And when I got there I spent a little bit of time with the CIDG hospital in Pleiku, working at the...CIDG was the civilian irregular defense group. It was the Montagnard-run hospital that, there was a Captain, SF Captain that was there. There was three senior NCOs. And at that particular time I think we had about 100 patients.  At the C-team, it was a C-team hospital. And, to get used to being there in-country, I worked, worked there for awhile, before my final orders came down. And while I was there they sent me out to all the different A sites, so I could relieve the medics, and let the medics come back in on, back in to Pleiku for awhile.  And while I was out on the A sites I really got to like it. And when I came back I asked if I could be transferred out to A, sent out to an A site. And perhaps wait to go to a Mike Force, or work for the special operations group.  And they said that was probably a good idea, get some experience out in an a camp first.  And so I did.  I went to, went up to B24, which is Kontum. Worked there for a couple, for a month or two, couple of weeks.
 
Eventually got assigned out to Detachment A245. Which was Dak Siang, on the Laotian border.  About three miles from the Laotian border, the Ho Chi Minh trail.  And that's where I planted, planted my roots. And stayed down there. Fell in love with the place. It was a small little jungle village camp.  Right in the middle of...worst place in the world to build a camp. I don't know why they did it. I often felt like Custer, with the mountains all around you, you know. And when our camp came under attack, it was like with Custer. You know, all the, like Bill Cosby says, all the Indians in the world come running down, come down on you. That's the way we were. We were right in the middle of a valley, Dak Poko river was running right along the rear the camp. And mountains all around us. But that's where I, I eventually got assigned, and spent the majority of my time in Vietnam there. 

Interviewer:  Was your camp pretty well fortified?

Beikirch:  Not, not by standards that many military people would think were well fortified.  We had...we had about a field of fire about 200 meters out from the camp, the perimeter of the wall cleared out.  We had the usual concertina wire, secondary wire and all that stuff. As far as...I think we had, we had two 106's mounted on the wall. We had a couple of 106's on the jeep. We had two 105's. We had two 4-deuce mortars. We had 450 men, Montagnards in the camp, 12 Americans, 2300 people. And that was it about, as far as fortification. We were about 30 minutes by chopper from Kontum. And actually it got pretty lonely out there. 

Interviewer:  And you were only four miles from the Ho Chi Minh trail you said?
 
Beikirch:  It was about that...three or four miles from the border there.  Across the border was the trail.  Right around in that area. That was one of our main functions, was to do reconnaissance and interdiction activities. And try to disrupt the supply route. We were right in the area that was always very active. We were right near Dak To, Dak Sut, Ben Het. Ben Het was the camp that was down further from us. Ben Het was the camp that was right on the tri-border area. And, matter of fact, Ben Het was, they had some 175's and 155's, artillery at Ben Het. Which at times was supposed to be one of our main sources of support, artillery support. From Ben Het It's about 15, 16 miles away.  Other than that we didn't have much, much support. Just the, just the commitment of the Montagnards, the 450 Montagnards. 

At one time we had a company of Cambodians, when I first got there. But they left. And a big part of support too was the Mike Force in Pleiku. They were a reactionary force. If anytime any camp came under a siege, or a ground attack, they would hustle the Mike Force. And they would come out with a couple of companies of Montagnards to try to relive a siege or something. Other than that...and then air support. There wasn't much there that you had to rely on. Except yourself. Which I’m really grateful for the training that I had. And the men that were with me, on the team. And the Montagnards that were there. The Montagnards. I never felt insecure I guess. Maybe that was because of stupidity, I don't know. But I always felt safe there. I felt like it was home. 

Interviewer:  Could you relate the events of the 1st of April, 1970? That resulted in your receiving the medal?

Beikirch:  Well I, I’ve mentioned the camaraderie that was, that existed between the SF people that were there, and the Montagnards. The camaraderie and the relationships that was established between Special Forces and the yards, that's legendary. Everybody's got their own story.  But the dramatic thing is that they're all true. You know, they really are. There was...and that plays an important part of what happened to me. 

I've been asked many times why I did what I did. And for me, it was just a love for the people that were there. I learned an awful lot from the Montagnards about...as I said, I went over an experienced 20 year old kid, fresh out of college. Trying to learn about life. And I, I learned some important things about values, about friendships, about commitment, about caring for somebody.  About doing something for somebody, and not expecting anything in return. I say all that because that plays an important part of the motivation, why I was able to go ahead and do what just became a natural thing to do. But there was a very close camaraderie among the people in the camp, and among ourselves and the team.
 
Well, that night, it was April 1st. And that night one of the, one of our security men, a Montagnard, had, a couple of weeks earlier, been sick. He had come into the dispensary. He was dehydrated.  He was, did all sorts of blood work on him to find out what was wrong with him. Couldn't come up with a diagnosis on him. And that's a whole separate story about all that. There's a lot of witchcraft that was practiced there. And voodoo. There was witch doctors that I had to work with at the camp, which was...and they never covered that at Fort Sam, is how do you get along with your resident witch doctor in the jungle, you know. I supplied him with chickens for his sacrifices and when he couldn't cure somebody he would bring them to me. Well, this security guy, his name was Yoi, he apparently got on the bad side of the witch doctor, and ticked him off a little bit.  Everybody in the camp said that he was going to die.  And he came in and he just laid there, and laid there.  I had him on IV’s and everything.  Nothing seemed to work.  So I medevaced him back to Pleiku to have the C team doctor take a look at him.  Some of the people, they said there was nothing that they could do. He had just willed to die. So they sent him back, because he wanted to die in the camp. And he died. And that night we were having a funeral for him. And Montagnard funerals go on all night, all day, for a couple of days. And I remember it was myself, and one of the other Americans, Spec 4 Dizzy, he was our commo man. A very good friend. He and I were at the, at a funeral, in the bunker, for Yoi, with his family. We were just sitting there talking with the family. 

I guess I should, at this point, preface any recollections about what took place that day, is because I’ve been thinking about this. Is that, as I try to remember a lot of that stuff, it's like isolated events that are imprinted on a deck of cards, individual cards in a deck. And at times the whole deck gets shuffled up, and mixed up. And so when I look back on all that, it just seems like a little isolated event here, and then this, and then that. As I look back over the whole, the whole stream of events, and I do remember too, I say how could all of that have happened in such a short time.  Cause my recollection, from the time that the siege started, until the time that I got medevaced, is only, would seem like a period of hours.  And it wasn't until 1984, when Dizzy and I got a chance to meet,  just purely by accident in New York City, that he explained to me that it wasn't a period of hours.  That I was there actually days before I got medevaced. And so, I say all that because there's...some people can give details, specific details and details and details. But my experience wasn't, was just isolated incidents. So a lot of it...you know, sequence of events, may be confusing. Cause they're confusing to me. 

But as I remember it, we were there, it was probably about 3:00, 3:00 o'clock in the morning. Dizzy and I were in a bunker. I remember crying, for Yoi. It was an emotional time because I had just lost an infant too. My head medic, Cham, his, his infant son had just died from malaria. And that tore me up too. And it was just a very emotional time for all of us.  And...and all of a sudden incoming started. And it wasn't just probes, or things like that.  It was just an intense, seems like hundreds of rounds, all of sudden started coming. And it was 3:00 o'clock in the morning, as I said. And I remember...first thing I thought of is that early in the morning the only people that are up are the women and kids. Because they're up preparing breakfast, and the kids are playing and stuff.  And I was thinking, women and kids. Got to get them back down in the bunkers. And...I probably should explain that our camp was built on a square. And there were some, there was very few buildings above ground. Unfortunately, our team house was. Our barracks where we stayed. There was a, our dispensary was above ground, but we also had an underground dispensary as well. The school, the supply room. Everything else was basically built underground. 

If you can imagine a level ground, and then digging holes into it. And it was like a canal system, and people dug into the ground, and then hollowed it all out. And that's where they stayed. People were living underground. It was an underground camp. Except for a very few buildings on top. And that's where they used to cook, was up on the top. On level ground they would cook, and everything. And I was thinking that it was just going to be women and kids getting killed during this, during all this incoming attack. And at the time I remember saying that if, to Dizzy, hey this is something big.  Because, like I said, it wasn't just a few initial rounds probing and stuff, you know, to, you know, to kind of tick us off and get us angry, irritate us. You could tell something was happening. 

And, so I ran out.  Dizzy went to his alert position, which was back to the commo bunker.  I ran out, over to the medical bunker. Cause I was going, I went to grab some of the M3 kits, and other things, to run out and start...I said it was built on a square. We had Company A over here, B, C, Company D here. And I was going to run out and pass out to, medical stuff to the company medics.  And when I got up above ground, and I started, started to get a look at what was going on, it was just, it was not only incoming from all around, but was small arms fire. And what had happened was the NVA had done, dug tunnels. And had popped to the surface. So they were in the wire already.  And there were a few sappers running around. And that's when I came to realize that this is not just any probe. This is a big effort. And this was at one particular time, April 1, 1970. I guess they felt that if there was an A camp that they could knock over, it would put a real black eye to president Nixon’s Vietnamization program. So they picked on that they felt was most vulnerable, which was ours. Which it was, it was very vulnerable. And so when I, I remember running around, trying to get to the medical bunker. I remember falling, and I think that was the first time I got hit. I remember falling and getting up and going again. 

Interviewer:  Do you remember where you were shot?

Beikirch:   I think the first time it was just shrapnel. Because...I didn't even really feel it. But something was dripping, and I went like that, and I just saw red. And I, but I didn't really pay attention to it because I was trying to get back to the medical bunker. I got there and I remember grabbing some, grabbing a handful of kits. I ran over to my head medic. I jumped over the bunker, landed into his, into his place where he was. And his, his wife had been killed. And not to get gross about it or anything, but it was, it was probably the most devastating unrealistic thing I’ve ever saw. And I guess that's when I, I got numb right at that point. It was just, she was just decapitated. And I, he was just standing there looking at her. And I remember, I remember holding my arms around him and just hugging him. And he snapped out of it. I snapped out of it.  Because a round came in and hit Fair, who was another one of, he was a, he was another one of the guys in our recon team.  And it hit him almost directly, cause it just tore his whole chest up. And, it was amazing, you start, you start thinking of things that you, that you learned. You know, by the numbers. Sucking chest wound, you know, and all this stuff, you know. It comes back to you. And I couldn't think of anything big enough to cover his whole chest. And I thought about some plastic bags that the 105 rounds came in, that was back over the medical bunker. So I took off again and I ran. Ran across there, and I remember running right into a, right into a NVA. And, again, that's when I knew that things were getting pretty close. And that they, I really became aware of the fact that they were in the wire, and that we were in some pretty serious trouble. But I went over, I started going over to, to get that big 105 bag, to get back to get to Fair. And all this time, Dale, who was my, my security guy. 

Each one of the guys in the SF team had a Montagnard that was assigned to us, was like our bodyguard. Whenever we'd go on an operation he was right there. He was my shadow. And he was a 15 year old kid. He was tremendous, tremendous guy. He was right there with me, right on my heels. Matter of fact, he's the one that took out the, the one that ran into me, ran into him. But we heard, we heard, heard a round coming in, and we hit the ground. And it landed about, oh, 50 meters ahead of us. We saw it take out a couple of the Yards. So we ran up there to them. One of the guys was killed. And the other guy was hit pretty bad. And I started dragging him. His...I remember he was, his face, part of his face was blown apart. And I was trying to clear out his airway. And dragging him, trying to get him out of there, and trying to keep him breathing.  And Dale was there helping me. And this other Yard that was there. All three of us were trying to drag this guy and keep him alive. 

Interviewer:  And the whole time you were under fire?

Beikirch:  Yeah. Small arms fire. Rockets still coming in. And then we heard a, sort of like a, I remember it as a freight train coming. You could just hear this thing coming. And I knew it was a 122. And I threw myself on top of the guy that I was dragging. And the entrance, underground entrance to the, or the entrance under the underground part of the medical bunker was right by the schoolhouse. So we were trying to pull our way over to it. We were about 20 meters away from it at that time. And this 122 came in. Direct hit on the schoolhouse. I also should say that within the first 30 minutes, I heard later on, they took out both 105's. They took out our big communications antenna. They took out the generator. Everything, with direct hits. So they set us up. We were set up big. 

So they took the schoolhouse. They took the team house out right away. Every American was hit within 15 minutes, at least once. And, as of yet I had not even been down to the medical bunker. I remember dragging this guy across, and I heard this thing coming in and...so I threw myself on the Yard. And it hit the schoolhouse, and the concussion...this is the first time I can remember being hit.  The concussion. I felt like a horse kicked me, right square in the back. And I remember being thrown, and seeing myself, actually...remember seeing myself flying through the air. And I remember I landed right by the 4-deuce mortar pit. Which, cause I remember landing on the sandbags. Which was right by the entrance of the dispensary. And it was about 15 feet away from the entrance to the medical bunker. So I, I got thrown quite a bit. And as I look back at it, Dale took a round, took some shrapnel then. He was wounded. The guy that I was on, was gone. He was just blown completely apart. Pieces all over the place. The other Yard that was with us was killed. And that was the, that's when it hit me right in the back. And it was at that time I tried to get up and walk, and I couldn't.  And Dale crawled back, got me. Picked me up, put me over his shoulder. And he tried to get me down to the medical bunker. And as we were going, we saw one of our other recon men, Taut was his name. He was hit right near there. And he was trying to crawl, so we stopped. And we got him and we crawled, brought him back to the medical bunker. And when I got in there that's when I saw the extent of...there was a lot of people just piled up there. And all the Americans were down there.  And everybody was hit, wounded. (inaudible) bodies already, just thrown down there. 

And I remember the other medic, Dan Noonan. He had only been on the team three days. And, just going crazy. He was just going crazy. And, couldn't blame him, from everything that was going on.  But he was doing well. He was really doing well. He had set up a triage already. Taking care of some of the serious ones. It was at that time that we got, well we got Taut set up. I stopped his bleeding. And we had, that's when we heard that Chris, who was our XO, had, had been hit. And so I went back out there. I had Dale carry me out over my shoulder, over his shoulder. Said let's go, we'll go get Chris. And, so we went out there. And what had happened was we had this John Wayne tower in the middle of our camp. And I don't know why Chris was up there, but we had a 50 caliber mounted up there. Useless. Stupid thing to have there, but right in the middle of the camp this big, 20-25 foot tower, with a 50 caliber up there. But he was up there trying to direct, you know. Direct whatever defenses were going on. Waiting for some air strikes to come in maybe, I don't know. But he had taken a direct hit from a B40 rocket, blew him right out of the tower. And he was, he was stranded right out in the middle of an open area. So I, Dale didn't want to go out. I crawled out, got Chris. He had, he had one of his arms, I think it was his right arm, was blown off.  I got him.  Dragged him back. Took him back down to medical bunker. Dale and Dan Noonan, I think his name is Dan. I know his last name is Noonan. They said, hey you got to stay down here, you know.  You can't even walk anymore. I said no, I can't. Cause I was conc...cause at that particular time I was aware of all the things that were going on on the wall. And I was just a, you know, as of yet I hadn't seen my medics out there helping the people. So I wanted to get out there to get the medics motivated. The Montagnard medics. These weren't American medics, these were Yards that we had trained, and they were excellent. Excellent. And I wanted to get them out there motivated, and I felt that there's no way that I could ask them to be out there if I’m down here in the medical bunker. So I took some more supplies, and Dale and I went out there and started going around again. And at that time there was some hand to hand going on. Just a lot of chaos. I remember at times trying to...we had a 30 caliber mounted on the wall, we were shooting that for awhile. And going around and helping some of the medics. You just dragging, continually dragging people, getting them down in the bunkers. Giving some encouragement. 

Interviewer:  So was your camp overrun at that time?
 
Beikirch:  They didn't say it was. It was just beating back an initial wave I guess. We, I guess officially, they said we didn't become overrun. I wouldn't say we were overrun either. But we had them in on us. And I remember going down, it was, north end of the camp, a wall there. I remember another rocket coming in. And Dale threw me down and landed on, landed on top of me. The rocket landed and exploded, and it killed him. Again, it must have knocked me out or something, because I just remember coming to when there were just, you know, bodies lying on top of me, and having to get out of there. And I remember trying to crawl back myself. And a couple of other Yard medics picked me up and...remember my pants, you know, were just torn to shreds. And I was concerned about my pants falling down. Remember telling them to tie my pants up. They took me back to the bunker.
 
And I left again because there were just still more people out there that we needed to bring back in. From then on, it just, again, more just isolated incidents, a blur. I didn't really have any sense of what happened until three years later when I actually read the citation. And, of what my part was, when I was...there was one point I finally did collapse. I guess, and they took me down into the bunker. And I remember them trying to get me out. And brought me up on a stretcher, Dizzy and one of the other Yard medics trying to get me out. And I remember choppers coming in, trying to land. A couple of them getting blown up right near. As I was in the hospital in Japan, I was able to follow accounts of the story, because the camp was under siege for a whole month. And I think the final count was they lost 27 choppers at Dak Siang. And (inaudible) seven or eight Caribou got shot down. The Mike Force that tried to, when I was in the hospital on Pleiku, I was right next, right next to one of the Australians, who was company commander of the Mike Force. And he was telling me that when they, when they came out they landed, and their LZ was ambushed, and they lost a whole company of Yards. And he said they just tore us up. 

So it was a well, well laid out plan to overrun, overrun the camp. There were some newspaper accounts give estimates of 10,000 NVA. Including a artillery, artillery regiment that was, that was just really dug in. I remember lying on the stretcher, or watching the air strikes come in. And napalm being dropped on the camp. Spooky coming over. It was just a lot of sporadic memories at that time. But as I look back on it too, I, I’ve often thought about why did I keep on going back out, and what kept me going. At the time I thought was hours, but after having talked with Dizzy, who was there throughout the duration of the whole siege, he said it was days. I guess what kept me going was the love that I had for these people. And the love that they had for me. It was a, a very special relationship that developed. 

War has a, war has a unique ability to do that, to forge some tremendous bonds. But there were some very special things with these Yards. I think after I got to Vietnam, and political issues and everything aside, I had to find some real basic reasons for my being there. Or else I would have gone crazy. And what my reasons became were that I was there for these 2300 people that were in that camp. And that's what I was there for. I would kill for them. I’d die for them. And everything I did was motivated by that. They were very, very special to me. I don't remember, as I said, I don't remember the chopper that medevaced me. I remember coming to. And, 71st Evac in Pleiku. I remember feeling some pain. And I think that's when they catheterized me. That's my first, that's my first sense of any type of awareness. But it seemed like they, they put me on this table that was able to all of sudden be rotated up like this. And all of sudden they put IV’s here, they put IV’s here.  They had IV’s going in my arms. Catheterized me. Because one of the other times I...when we were walking through the bunkers we did come across another NVA, and he shot me and I took a round through the back here. And that went out through here. And it gave me a real bad open wound.  And after that happened, that's when Dan said that he said you want to stay down here, you got a, he said you're going to die. And I said, no I’m not going to. And he wanted to get me down there, and I said no. And that's when I left again. 

Maybe that's what impressed them as being above and beyond, I don't know. Maybe I was down there, I didn't want to stay down there because I was scared. Maybe that was part of it. I felt that if I’m going to lie there and die I don't want to just lie here and die. I want to, if I’m going to die I want to die doing something. I don't want to die lying in the mud here. In the bunker, hiding. Maybe that's what I was thinking too. If I’m going to die I want to be out there dying with, you know, doing something, not underneath the bunker. So I just put a compression bandage on it as best I could and tied it up. And it helped hold my pants up too. And I did literally just push back in some of the intestines that were there. And went back out. But...I don't remember the actual medevac chopper coming in. I remember, there are sometimes I can remember laying there and Dizzy looking over me. He's talking to me. He's letting me know what's going on. Telling me everything's okay. I remember night coming. Daylight. Night. There's so much fire, fire and illumination rounds going on though it was hard to tell the difference at times. Whether it was day time, night time. It was just a real chaos. Looking back on it, maybe all that just seems like seven, eight hours. And I was really surprised to find out that it was a period of days. But that makes more sense, given all that I do remember. I don't see how all that could happen in such a short time. 

Interviewer:  Do you have any advice to offer to the medics that are training today?

Beikirch:  If I were going to give some advice I would say that, that there's, there's some things you're going to be learning, that are going to be very, very important to you, that you don't learn in a classroom. That you don't learn in a textbook. And you can choose not to learn them.  You can choose to, to be insensitive to it. You can choose to not want to have to go through the experience of learning these important lessons. But if you do, I think, I think what you do is you hinder yourself from fulfilling what I saw is the motto that was down here: soldier medics--we care. 

Caring is easy to say. It's tough to do. It's very easy to say that you're going to care for somebody.  But if you want to, if you want to genuinely care for somebody, then you have to open up yourself, and allow yourself to be hit hard, I guess. People have often given me the feedback about myself that they say you know, you're sincere. And I say, yeah, I guess. I guess what's made me sincere is the fact that I had a lot of experiences. I left and enlisted in the Army wanting to have experience.  And I wanted to experience life. And life's, life's hit me pretty hard. I've had some experiences.  But I think it's those experiences that has made me capable of caring. There were times when life tore a lot of stuff out of me. And I thought I was empty. But it was by caring that I was able to fill back up that emptiness. All the loses that I felt, the hurt. The hurt of Vietnam, and many of the experiences that happened after Vietnam. Pain causes loss. But if you're, if you are committed to wanting to care, and not just in the lip sense of the word, but genuinely care for somebody, you've got to be willing to pay the price. And don't just say, yeah we're soldier medics because we care, without counting the costs. Because there are some tremendous costs that have to be paid, before you can really, really care for somebody. Being a medic, working in that field can provide you with some of the greatest joys, the greatest fulfillment and satisfactions. I've never felt as important, or as significant, as I did being a medic. But I also never felt pain, as saddened, as I did when I was a medic. So the advice that I would give is, if you're going to be a medic, and if you're going to care, be prepared to count the costs. And really, really care. Which means you're going to have to, have to be open to everything. Don't shut yourself off. 

Interviewer:  Thank you very much.