Mark Truhan & Jim Stein
The Rescue of Tim Conry
Thanks for the part about Tim on his knees; it was a spooky spiritual feeling. Especially with my radios turned off. I have always thought of another force with us that night. With the radios off I had time to really think about what happened. I thought it was darker, were you watching with night scopes, you rangers got all the neat toys. To bad I didn't know much about you at Ben Het. I would have been happy to drop off a bottle of Scotch. I read your memories but will have to reread them to find out how the two of you got out. Thanks -
Thank you for your kind words. I'm not sure anything I could say would do justice to your gutsy flying that day. You were truly outstanding. Interesting about you flying with your radios off though--rather like Luke Skywalker going with the force. Seems somehow appropriate.
No, we didn't have night-vision scopes; there was still enough light left to see you with our naked eyes and somewhat better through the binoculars. With everyone's attention diverted to the Cobras, your coming in right on the deck took everyone by surprise, including the NVA, at least for a bit; gave you the edge you needed I believe.
The entire episode with Bill and Tim's shoot down long preyed on my mind. After all, they were only a few hundred meters outside our wire. For years Bob Sparks and I beat ourselves up about not mounting more of a rescue effort from inside Ben Het. But we were hanging on by our fingernails and the NVA held a third of the camp--our position at the command post was almost within hand grenade range of their nearest soldiers. Our Montagnards held an isolated platoon position outside the wire to our southeast--the NVA had initially just bypassed them, intending to mop them up after they had taken out our main camp. Bless their hearts, at our urging, they sent out a squad to look for Bill and Tim. But they spoke no English, our efforts to broadcast to Bill and Tim via their PRC-25 radio speaker didn't work, and they were eventually driven back to their position after taking some wounded. Your rescue of Tim (and it was indeed a rescue, regardless of the outcome, because he was at least back with his own) helped somewhat to relieve our anxiety. The next morning, 10 May, Covey was up again, but could find no further sign of Bill. At the time, we knew that he was either still hiding, dead, or captured. And that night, we requested that the area around Ben Het be plastered with Arc Lights to thwart another mass attack a prisoner told us was scheduled for the early morning of 11 May. That we figured, was definitely the end of Bill, killed in the bombing, because later reports claimed the B-52's did exactly what we intended them to do--decimated the 66th NVA regiment and ruined their final attack. So we lived with that burden for years. It was only in the mid 80's, when I actually got to talk to Bill Reeder for the first time since that May morning, that I was able to put those ghosts to rest. Bill said any attempt we might have made to get to them from inside Ben Het would have been doomed from the start, because he could see literally hundreds of NVA dug in between him and us as he was spiraling down in his shot up Cobra. Though I've pretty much reconciled the events surrounding Bill and Tim's shoot down, thanks to Bill, there are still those gnawing, reflective moments when you can't shake the feeling that more could have been done for Bill and Tim that day. An additional scar we'll carry until...whenever
Mark Truhan & Jim Stein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
USA - Wednesday, August 13, 2003 at 13:56:58 (PDT)