Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Memorial Day
May 31, 2004

“My Bestest Good Ol’ Buddy Ever”

My friend. My best friend ever. Born in a small Texas town called Colleyville in March of 1949. Seven months my junior. Had some family and a sweetheart in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Met each other around April or May of 1967 at Ft. Campbell, Ky. Both assigned to a newly formed “elite” recon unit of the 101st Airborne Division. Me...transferred from the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, N.C. Him...fresh out of jump school at Ft. Benning,Ga.

Good friendship from the get go. Did everything together. Went everywhere together. Mutt and Jeff. Bert and Ernie. Frodo and Samwise. My friend. My best friend ever.

Why best of friends? I haven’t a clue. You know what they say about opposite poles. Him; gentle, kind and soft-spoken with a slow southern drawl. Honest and trustworthy with a heart of pure gold. Me; mischievous, rambunctious and somewhat devious and out-spoken. Instantly knew each other quite well. Me and my friend. My best friend ever.

Underwent some rather strenuous and intensive specialized training up until December of that year when the 2nd and 3rd Brigades of the 101st loaded up lock, stock and barrel onto Air Force C-141 transports bound for beautiful Southeast Asia to join our brother paratroopers of the 1st Brigade.

Mainly only light to moderate skirmishes until January 30th of 1968. That’s when all hell busted loose. The infamous “Tet Offensive”. Very extreme combat conditions. Worst of the entire Vietnam conflict I understand. Withstood it quite well as did very many of our fellow paratroopers. Well trained. Covered each other’s asses and literally “kicked some ass”. We were more afraid of letting our brothers down than we were of getting killed or wounded. Well liked, respected and looked up to by others of our small “elite” unit...each in our own way, he and I. He perhaps being the most well liked and respected in the entire unit. My friend. My best friend ever.

Late afternoon or early evening of March 22, 1968. An inept and uncalled-for leadership decision. A total deviation from sound combat tactics. A rice paddy nearing harvest next to a small hamlet in Thua Thien province called Ap Lai Xa’.

Too late. I saw it unfolding too late. Just as the point man and slack man entered the hamlet the ambush was sprung. He took two rounds through the heart. Killed instantly. Very intense fighting ensued. We called in heavy artillery and mortars...damned near on top of us. I crawled, clawed and scratched my way through the thigh-high rice and finally managed to find my friend. Intense fighting continued. I covered my friend as much as possible with my body. I have to keep him from further hurt. My friend. My best friend ever.

Daytime fades to night. Eventually the fighting wanes and the enemy breaks contact. I continue to hold my friend. His body grows cold. I hold on tighter. Why? Why can’t I make him warm again? Why? Why him and not me? My friend. My best friend ever.

Seemed like an eternity. An eternity until first daylight and the first choppers began coming in to evacuate the wounded. I pull his eyelids down over his dry, glazed-over eyes. I carefully wrap my poncho around his now quite cold body. With a little help I manage to load him onto the final sortie and say goodbye to my friend. My best friend ever.

Why you, my friend? Why you and not me, my very best friend ever?

Damn...I miss you, Charles Richard Pyle! God damn...I really love and miss you, my very best friend ever.

Michael D. Bradshaw
Former Sgt. E-5
E Co.-Recon, 1st/501st Inf.
101st Airborne Division

*Footnote: The title comes from something Charlie used to occasionally say to me. He would say: “ know, you’re my bestest good ol’ buddy ever...even if you are from that goddamn Californie.” Well, Charlie Pyle, you were and still are “my bestest good ol’ buddy ever”...even if you are from that fucking Texas. Here’s to ya, my best friend and brother.