Rick was born in the small town of Darrouzett,Texas;
population around 375 so of course everyone knew him.
He was an only child which made the tragedy even worse
for his parents. Even though I knew Rick less than a year he has always
been and always will be in my thoughts and heart.
I met Rick when we were flying out of Amarillo for
boot camp in San Diego. We became instant buddies.
He was the type of person who never met a stranger.
Our personalities were total opposites but we became
friends in the few hours it took to get to San Diego.
We arrived for training June 27, 1969.
Platoon 3123. A large file; you might want to save it
to disk for later viewing.
I don't need to tell vets of the Corps what boot camp was like.
It certainly helped me having someone there from my
home state. We didn't get alot of time to talk but we
took advantage of all of those moments. After
graduation we stayed together for all the additional
training before our trip overseas. We left El Toro
Air Station January 12, 1970. I remember
wondering if my feet would ever touch US soil again.
We flew to Hawaii, stayed in Okinawa a few days and
landed in DaNang January 16th. We were fortunate
enough to be assigned to 2nd CAG and even CACO 2-4
together. But we were split up into different CAP's.
He was assigned to 2-4-2 and I was sent to 2-4-5.
We didn't see each other often after that. Perhaps if we
happened to be in CACO at the same time we would visit
as long as we could. I was sent to Vietnamese Language
School in April for four weeks and when I returned in
early May I didn't realize of course how little time was left for
him. I think......I THINK I saw him one more time at CACO
before he was killed. During the month of May he had been
medi-vaced twice for heat exhaustion/stroke. In my opinion
he never should have been allowed back in the bush after
that but he was. I wish I could say we had a good conversation
that last time but the truth is I don't remember any of
the words; just that I got to see him.
But that's not the last time I HEARD him. One of our
day sites was right next to the road leading from Hoi
An to CACO. I was outside cleaning my weapon when a 6X6
drove by. It had several men on it but I didn't bother looking
up. I wish I had. Rick was in the truck also and as they
passed by he yelled "Hey Wardlaw!!" I tried to catch a
glimpse of him but he was gone down the road too quickly.
I had no way of knowing he would be dead in just a few days.
Even after 30 years I miss him. I don't go often enough
to see him even though he is only about 100 miles away.
Nor did I talk to his folks as much as I should
have. I know they were proud of him but I wonder what
they thought when the NVA tanks crashed through the gate
of the Presidential Palace in Saigon in 1975. And all
the other parents and wives and daughters and sons of
all those brave men who died so far away. I know all of
us are less because of the loss of men like Rick Jergenson. If we don't
remember them who will?