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Sent into the deadly Central Highlands of Vietnam, a true story of my dad and his fellow skytroopers from 1966 to 1967. My father is Wilbur E. Bowe. He was living on his family’s farm when he was drafted in 1965 and assigned to Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary.

The second edition has recently been published, and is available for Kindle, as well as Full-Color Hardcover and Black & White Paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Kindle e-book is only available on Amazon and can be read for free on Kindle Unlimited. Produced by narrator, Will Stauff, the audiobook is now available on Audible and iTunes. A collection of audiobook excerpts and photos are posted on my YouTube page. In September of 2018, a wonderful story by Alex Chhith about our project was featured on the front page of the Chaska Herald.

This is a slideshow with photos collected from my dad and a few others he served with. Sort of tells a story.

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The 5/7th Cavalry was formed as a brand-new battalion in order to fill out the 1st Air Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade. The young men of the battalion were largely drafted together in 1965 as the build-up of regular Army forces in Vietnam had just begun. Together, these impossibly young men would be trained in airmobile infantry tactics and become what were known as “skytroopers”. They would then be sent deep into the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where together they would learn what “search and destroy” meant and face the reality of this new war.

The story features many of the letters and photographs my dad sent home from the war zone. His dispatches were sent from some of the most remote valleys and outposts in Vietnam, written under the most austere of conditions, often scribbled in haste before another mission, or by flashlight, under a poncho in the rain. They would travel over 8,000 miles across the ocean, to be placed in a mailbox that stood across from a farmhouse, along a rural county road in Wisconsin.

Many former skytroopers of Alpha Company were interviewed for this story, and their personal accounts recall much of the humor and friendship they shared, along with the sadness and tragedy that would accompany a year spent in the jungles of Vietnam.

The story also draws upon the 5/7th Cavalry’s daily staff journals and situation reports for every day of the battalion’s first year in Vietnam.

This is their story, told in great detail from their time spent training together at Fort Carson – through their historic journey across the ocean aboard the USNS Gaffey, where they would encounter a massive typhoon – through their many battles fought together in Vietnam – and eventually, their final patrol. 

The title was inspired by the words of John H. Secondari in the the 1965 film, The Saga of Western Man:

It is a different type of country than we’ve ever fought in. Now flat and sunken with rice paddies, now rolling with hills and meadows, now mountainous and steep. It is hot, it is humid, it is thick with plants and vines. It is largely unpopulated, and in the military sense, it belongs to no one. Not to Viet Cong who roam it, not to the South Vietnamese. It is no man’s land. In Vietnam today, you will hold only the ground you stand upon.

There are countless films about the Vietnam War, but this one is unique.  It is one episode in a CBS anthology called The Saga of Western Man.  What makes it special is that it was produced and narrated in 1965 by John H. Secondari, when the American build-up, and the implementation of the search and destroy strategy had just begun.  The film's perspective is not looking back trying to explain a lost war.  Rather, it is portraying what is a very new and unfamiliar kind of war, knowing nothing of the outcome.  The film follows a similar airmobile infantry company of the 1st Air Cavalry Division (A Co, 1/8th Cav) on several of the very same bread and butter missions that A Co, 5/7th would be conducting within a year of this filming.

Alpha Company soldiers make their way toward choppers waiting in a rice paddy landing zone.

Alpha Company soldiers make their way toward choppers waiting in a rice paddy landing zone.

CONTRIBUTE STORIES, PHOTOS & REMEMBRANCES

If you served in the 5/7th Cav, or know of someone who did, I would much appreciate any information or recollections you would like to contribute.  Any memories about those who served in the 5/7th Cav are welcome.  You can use the form below, or simply email me at joshbowe@hotmail.com.

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Alpha Company soldiers crossing river crossing near Bong Son, photo by Robert Matulac.

Alpha Company soldiers crossing river crossing near Bong Son, photo by Robert Matulac.