Wayne J. Rogers

27 November 1968

Born on New Years Eve, 1944, Wayne’s draft number came up in 1968. At 23, he would be a lot older than most of the other men being pulled into the escalating war that everyone was being told that the US was winning. The enemy’s TET offensive in January left some Units in Vietnam almost empty, and fresh replacements were needed.

At the Army induction center, Wayne met Kevan Mynderup – also from Hanford. Six years younger than Wayne, they would share a lifelong bond. Both were sent to Ft Lewis, Washington for basic training and then onto Ft Polk, LA for Advanced InfantryTraining. Both of them were destined to Vietnam, and arrived there the first week of March⁄1968. Both men were handed orders to different Units at different locations – but fate would intervene. After 3 days at Saigon, they were told that their names werethrown back into the replacement pool. After another couple of confusing days, they were told that both of them would be assigned to the infamous 1st Calvary Division. They became the ‘newbies’ of Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Calvary Regiment.

In March⁄68, major large-scale operations were in process to rout out any of the existing NVA from their unsuccessful TET offensive only a month earlier. In late March, Kevan was wounded, and Wayne was sent far north to Quang Tri – the Unit had marchingorders to help support the Marines to stop the never-ending enemy infusion across the invisible DMZ. Kevan recuperated from his wounds and shipped back to his Unit. The two men were reunited once again.

Soul-mates for life, the two soldiers lived in the jungles, climbed the huge hills in the north, and slogged through the heavy monsoon rains together. By November⁄68, C⁄1⁄8 had ended up in Tay Ninh Province – an area NW of Saigon next to the Cambodianborder. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the NVA had crossed the border and had established a huge bunker complex to protect their comrades that were entering the South for various destinations. On 21 Nov, Charley Company set up camp for the night.The 2nd Platoon was ordered to scout the area surrounding the camp, and grudgingly headed out. It didn’t take long to spot some sandals fabricated from a tire for the soles. Next to it was a communications wire. Suddenly, a machine gun erupted from theleft…..hitting 8 men from the platoon and killing one. Kevan’s wounds were serious this time, and he would never return back to the Company.

For almost a week, various Companies of 1⁄8Cav tried to find a way into the bunker complex. Every day search-and-destroy missions were mounted and more lives lost. On the morning of 27 November, the weather report was miserable: over 4 inches of rainwith winds gusting to 65 knots. Another day in ‘Nam. By 10:00AM, C Company had already had two casualties – one from heat exhaustion, another wounded in the head. By noon, the storm had started in full force, and the 2nd Platoon was ordered out onanother mission. The location was the same trail where they had been hit hard a week before – still trying to find a way into the huge complex. The team was led by Richard Hammett, Wayne Rogers, and a Scout Dog with his handler. The dog barked loudly,and again, machine-gun fire came crashing through. It was intense yet short. Both the Handler and his beloved dog were dead, and 5 soldiers had been wounded. The remainder of the group got up and started to probe down the trail further. For two hours,helicopters strafed the area with periodic kills. At 4PM, the 2nd Platoon again was hit from their left side, and within minutes bullets were flying towards them from both sides. Pinned down, orders were dispatched to move D Company to their location for additional support. Heavy fighting ensued, with most of the 2nd Platoon wounded. At 4:21, the enemy detonated a claymore mine, scattering metal fragments through the soldiers. Elements of D Company arrive, and the fighting intensified. A medic is seriouslywounded trying to treat these men, and two soldiers are pinned down only 10 feet from the enemy machine-gun. Assault helicopters are called in, and snipers are spotted hiding up in the trees. The battle rages on for another 3 hours. More ammunition is dropped in, but the fighting is so intense Medivac helicopters can’t get into the area to get the wounded out. By 9PM, the storm, and the fighting, subsided as darkness fell. The next morning teams were sent in to retrieve their dead and wounded that had been missing through the night. It was determined that Wayne Rogers had become another Vietnam casualty due to the claymore mine explosion.

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