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How Captain Donald E. Lee
Gained My Utmost Respect
By Meryl K. Williams

We were in our tent were all sitting or lying around resting after a hard dayís work stacking sand bags. Suddenly one of the troops tripped out and said "That grenade's pin is almost out." We discovered that there was a hand grenade lying on one of our cots. It looked as if the pin was just about clear for releasing and firing. Everyone immediately scattered. As I was going out the front of the tent toward the CP, I saw Captain Donald E. Lee, our Battery Commander. He said "Willums" (thatís how he pronounced my name), "What the hell is going on?" I said "Sir there is a possible live or soon-to-be live grenade in the tent." He promptly went back to his tent, donned his flack jacket and steel pot, went into the tent, and retrieved the grenade. Although I didn't necessarily like him, I was at the same time scared for him, and I damned sure respected him. Shortly he came back out of the tent with the grenade in his hand. He was pissed-off, but safe.

The man had a set of balls. I have to give that to him. After that incident, when he ordered me to drive under fire to take a couple of injured men to Delta Med under black-out conditions, I followed orders, unlike some that let the fear rule them. I was scared, but after seeing Captain Lee a few days earlier do what he did, I followed his orders with respect because he had shown me how a soldier is supposed to be. Thank you Captain Lee for being a hard-ass and a good Battery Commander. I am proud to have served with and under you Sir!

Meryl K. Williams, aka Willie

NOTE: Donald E. Lee was from Hawaii. He now lives as a retired Colonel in Hawaii. He was affectionately known "Pineapple." Many will remember the structure that he built at Dong Ha which was known as "Pineapple Playhouse."