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Gen. Wheeler Praises American Fighting Men in Vietnam

Jan. 25, 1963 - General Earle G. Wheeler (pictured left), U.S. Army chief of staff, praised American fighting men in Vietnam today for their role in the “lonesome war” that South Vietnam is waging against Vietnamese Communist guerrillas. He made a statement during a day in which he awarded 13 medals for bravery to Americans for their participation in the recent battle of Ap Bac, where a cornered Communist regular battalion inflicted heavy losses on Vietnamese regulars before slipping out of the pocket at nightfall. In Soc Trang, at the home of the 93rd Helicopter Company, which has borne an extremely heavy burden of the Vietnam fighting in 11 months, General Wheeler told the assembled men: “This is a dirty, nasty little war, and you can get killed in it just as dead as if you were landing at Omaha Beach. But this is also a lonesome war, and you don’t have the might and majesty of the United States of America as we did at Omaha.” General Wheeler’s words, according to one pilot, “were just what these men needed to hear.” General Wheeler presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to Pfc. Earl Eaves, 20, of Quincy, Mass. Private Eaves was flying as a volunteer gunner at Ap Bac when his helicopter was hit by heavy enemy fire. He continued to man his machine gun despite being covered with oil from a damaged transmission. His citation said: “Upon returning to the staging area, he boarded another helicopter to return immediately to the battle area, where he continued to return hostile fire while evacuating crews from other downed helicopters.”


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