By Greg Phillips
attend my very
combination 506th / 101
Airborne Division Association
reunion in Reno,
and it was
since I was
Nevada that I should
visiting the grave
in on May7,
to six other
men lost their
lives in this
In the 38 plus years since this
battle I thought of these seven everyday and can still see
as if it was yesterday.
The soldier’s name was
Lloyd Jackson and he was from Austin, Nevada. Lloyd was what
is termed a Native American, a Shoshone Indian and his nickname
I joined the 1 st of the 506
th, 101st Airborne Division in March of 1970 in the extreme
northern part of what was then South Vietnam. I was a veteran
of the Big Red One which had just been sent back to the states
or at least the Colors were sent and we soldiers were scattered
throughout the remaining divisions in country.
During the next few weeks I couldn’t help but
notice what a good soldier Jackson was. He did everything by
the book and was probably the best warrior I have ever known.
He once told me that he would have been in line for a promotion
to sergeant had it not been for my arrival. I certainly
wasn’t a better soldier than he, I just happened to have
more combat experience. When he told me this there wasn’t
any jealousy in his voice.
Our platoon, numbering 22, was
attacked by a vastly larger force during the early morning
hours of May7, 1970. J.J. along with the six others were killed
almost immediately. The side of the perimeter they were defending
was the easiest side to attack. So what I have always termed
as the perfect soldier never really had a chance.
I thought on this
going to Austin for several
days and decided that J.J. would have done this for me and
it was the right thing for me to do.
I, via e-mail, got in touch with the
Austin, Nevada Chamber of Commerce and was given the location
of the grave and an offer that when I was certain of the date
I would be arriving to advise them and they would try to have
a fellow veteran meet us at the cemetery. This was in April
The 101 st Airborne reunion was set
for August 13-17, 2008. I decided that I would go to Reno a
day early, rent a car and journey to Austin on August the 13
th. This was all done and a fellow veteran from Austin, Ray
Williams was in touch with me and proved to be most helpful
in my quest to visit the grave. He invited Lloyd’s remaining
family to visit with us at the gravesite if they desired to
On August the 13 th I along with my
wife Krystal, a Vietnam veteran comrade of mine, Dick Doyle
(we served in three different combat
units together) and another friend of mine from California,
Dr. Ralph Matkin (Ralph was awarded two Silver Stars while
serving as a medic attached to the 101 st in early 1970) set
out at 8 o’clock in the morning headed east of Reno on
Highway 50 for 175 miles. Interestingly for the last 150 miles
of the journey we saw nothing but highway, no service stations,
no rest stops, nothing.
We arrived at the cemetery after a three
hour journey and were greeted by Lloyd’s sister, Carlene
Burton and her daughter plus Mr. Williams and a friend of J.J.’s
from high school, Justice of the Peace Joe Dory.
Much to my surprise, J.J.’s family
never knew how he died; they only knew that he died from wounds
sustained in combat. I had the opportunity to tell them what
a great soldier he had been and how he had died defending our
perimeter and helping save the lives of the remaining 15 members
of the platoon.
After this visit with the family we
visited the gravesite and placed 101 st Airborne Division pins
on the simple white cross atop J.J.’s grave. The family
didn’t realize that Lloyd had used the nickname J.J.
in Vietnam until just before our visit and couldn’t figure
where he had got the nickname until we passed by Lloyd’s
fathers grave. Just after his name were the letters J.J. Lloyd
had taken his father’s nickname in a place where we all
had gone by nicknames.
Once we had paid our respects at the
cemetery Mr. Williams gave us a tour of Austin and allowed
us to view the V.F.W. post which was named for Lloyd. It turns
out that Lloyd was the only soldier from the area that lost
his life Vietnam.
We, then dined with the family and Mr.
Williams at Mr. Williams’ Café in the heart of
Austin. Here we learned the history of the tribe and how they
made their livings today. After lunch in Austin our group thanked
the family and Mr. Ray Williams for an eventful visit and headed
west to Reno. On the way back I reflected on what a treat it
would have been if Lloyd had lived and could have actually
joined us at the reunion since it was so close to his home..
My point in writing this article is
if you are a combat veteran and lost friends in combat and
have never visited the graves or the families please try to
do so while there is still time. It will make the families
feel good and certainly make you a better person for have done
Currahee! (Stands Alone)