To many he was just another "guy" who was in Vietnam with thousands of others, he did his tour, never complained, came home, raised a family and lived happily ever after, but to me he was and is much much more. Don Brodie was just a young private when I first met him in 1967, he arrived at Fort Sill a little apprehensive, scared, confused maybe a little disappointed as he had been drafted from his familiar surroundings in Texas, and thrust into a completely different environment.
His young beautiful wife accepted her fate and joined him in a small house in Lawton,they joined Calvary Baptist Church and settled in for a few months at Fort Sill before his ultimate duty station in Vietnam.
I had been assigned to a unit that was to activated for duty in SE Asia . I was the first soldier there, but only a few days later Pvt. Brodie came into my life. He was immediately made the S-4 sergeant and together he and I began the monumental task of insuring this new unit had all of the property it needed prior to deployment to Vietnam.
The task was not only insuring we had the proper equipment on order but to make arrangements for the new troops that began to arrive to form the unit. The station property from bunks to beans had to be in place as well as day rooms, orderly rooms, ice making machines, maintanence facilities, lawn mowers and dumpsters. As we procured each item we knew that it was only temporary possession as these same items would have to be turned in prior to the unit departing for a place called Vietnam.
Of course it was not long before Brodie lost his job as the S-4 sergeant as a few career NCO soldiers begin to dribble in. It was easy for him to adjust as he was quite familiar of the Army organization. But as I look back I now realize that this was probably the hardest decision that I had to make while serving in the Army. Brodie, was my right hand and even though I had to respect the position of those senior to him, I could never adjust to anyone taking "his" place.
As the combat property begin to arrive, I gave Brodie the property book and it was he who kept accountability for millions of dollars of equipment. It was he who used his charm and cooperative spirit to insure that the unit had all of the equipment it was authorized and it was the first unit that departed Fort Sill with 100 percent of their TOE . It was also Brodie who insured some of the "other" things went into conex containers, that maybe should have been left at Sill. Of course the one thing that always come to mind is those crazy ice machines that somehow ended up on the DMZ in Vietnam.
When decisions were made about the advance party make up, I chose Brodie, he was the one that I could count on and it was he that help me get rid of all the "station property" that we accumulated while at Fort Sill. With his skill, determination, hard work, luck and sometime questionable activities we unloaded and left Sill with a "zero" property book, which again was the first, as other units previously had huge losses that could not be accounted for.
As we left Fort Sill with the battalion commander to Tinker to load on C-130's as the advanced party I felt quite good that Brodie was by my side. As the advanced party I knew we had a real challenge laying before us and I had to have him to insure that it was accomplished.. Da Nang airport was never the same after our arrival as he "hit" the ground running. For a year we laid in the mud together, ran convoys, had long talks about the "ones" we left behind, cried and laughed a lot.. Would have even spent more time together but I knew he was much to valuable to be near me all the time as I needed. him to take care of matters when I was not around. And he did.
Time nor space nor more importantly my memory will permit me to adequately tell of some of the experiences that we shared together. He blames some of those "questionable" procurement procedures on me but I know in reality it was he that kept the unit supplied on the DMZ. It was also he that kept the section in a cohesive relationship, when I would come in rasing "hell" which I often did, it was he that would calm the storm and get the mission accomplished in spite of what I did or did not say.
He became my confidant, my driver, my barber, my advisor, my spiritual leader, but most of all my dear friend. Upon our return to the states try as I might I could never get him to stay in the army, and we parted ways. My life has never been the same. I still visit with him 2-3 times per week on the phone or the computer and have visited in his home several times. Each contact just reminds me that it was he that help make me what I am today, and I love him like a brother.
Over the years we have both grown older, our hair is getting gray and we spend our free time playing a little golf, fishing or with the grand kids. They , nor even our own children really are not to concerned about those days when we where fighting for our life. They have not heard the roar of incoming artillery or witness the blood from the shrapnel wounds. They know nothing of monsoon seasons, C-Rations, or"burning the crap", but we still love them. And yes I must say I have no hatred in me for those in Vietnam who tried to kill me, they, like I were only doing their job. Have I mellowed a little ? Well I suppose so, and the memories fade but my love for Brodie grows with each passing day. He was truly my RIGHT HAND MAN.
Next month when he is a guest in my home we will once again relive some of the "good experiences" and neither of us will mention some of those experiences that are best forgotten. We left friends in the mud of Vietnam but by the grace of God we were able to return to our family and have spent the past 30 odd years trying to make some sense out of a senseless war. The scars of war are long healed and if it had not been for that period of time I would not have gotten to meet, A Guy Named Brodie, so I suppose the suffering for me was well worth the bad experiences of the war in Vietnam , as Brodie will always be one of the most important people in my life.
A Friend Forever
CW4 Joe L. Talley Retired