THE FIRST TO DIE


SP/4 HAROLD BEGODY


Sp/4 Harold Begody was Killed In Action Feb. 14, 1968. He was the first Delta Raider to make the ultimate sacrafice. Harold had come to Ft. Campbell, Ky. like the rest of us to fill the ranks of the remaining two brigades of the 101st for deployment to Vietnam. He was a full blooded Navaho Indian. We affectionately and respectfully nick-named him Chief. I was physically the closest one to him when he died. For 25 years I thought about contacting his family, but never did. About 10 years ago, after one of our reunions, I contacted Gene and Mickey Robertson (Gene was an original Raider as were Harold and I), to get his mothers address and ask if they thought I should write the family. They agreed I should write and informed me Harold's mother still lived on the
Navaho Reservation and spoke NO English, but another son would read my letter to her.

The following is the letter I wrote to Harold's mother.


Dear Mrs. Begody,
My name is Al Mount. I served with your son Harold from the time we were in Kentucky until the day he was killed. I was given your address by Mickey and Gene Robertson; she assured me that you did want to hear from someone who was close by on his last day.

Harold was a good friend, but I write this letter to you as one parent to another, in the hope I can answer some questions that any parent would want to know. I can only imagine the grief of losing a child. My oldest of 5 children is the same age I was in Vietnam. were I to loose one of them, I would want to know as much detail as possible, that is why I am writing this letter to you.

In the twenty-five years that have passed I have forgotten some of the surrounding details; why we were out there, or if it was just our platoon, our company or the whole batallion: but those details are insignificant now anyway.
We were spread out on line(side by side) moving out thru dry rice paddys and the tree lines that bordered them. There were enough of us that a second row of men followed behind the first, usually about 8-20 feet and staggered. Harold was almost directly behind me.
As I came thru this particular tree line there was a shallow ditch that surrounded the rice paddy. Looking right and left to check that I was still in line with the rest of the unit, I stepped over the ditch and into the dry rice paddy.
We didn't know it then, but the tree line in front of was full of V.C. I had gotten about 4 steps past the ditch, out in the open paddy, when they opened up on us. Instantly everyone tried to seek cover. I dove backward for the shallow ditch and Harold made it back up to the raised tree line. For a few minutes the fighting was fierce. I remember never actually being able to see anyone, but firing as fast as I could across the rice paddy into the jungle on the far side. At one point everything went black for a moment, then I realized it was dirt falling on me from a nearby explosion. They later figured the V.C. were using captured U.S. made M-79 grenade launchers on us.
After the firing had stopped, Platoon Sgt. Parker, who was in the same ditch about 125ft. to my right, yelled to ask if anybody was hit. I said I was OK and relayed the message to the men up the ditch to my left.
Then something made me look to my rear and I saw that Harold had been hit. He was less than 10ft. behind me and it took only seconds to reach him, but I could tell immediately he was gone.
Mrs. Begody, Harold was alive one second and gone the next, he never suffered or knew what hit him.
I yelled to Sgt. Parker that Harold was hit, mortally. Then I saw a burnt circle of ground directly behind where I had been and right in front of Harold's position. Then I remembered when all the dirt was falling on me and realized that was the round that got him.
Had that shell fallen a few feet shorter, it might be Harold writing this letter today to my mother!

I sincerely hope this letter has not brought back just painful memories, but has given you some peace of mind.

It was an honor serving with your son. He was the first from our unit to be lost and for 25 years I have thought of the irony that the first to be killed was the only True American , among us.

With deepest regards,
Al Mount

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