DEEDS NOT WORDS!
A recent flurry of email messages bewtween Bob Harlow, Bill Schwindt, and Dave DeMauro
result in this extraordinary story about Charlie
Company's only man listed as "Missing in Action,"
Larry Welsh. We thought it worthy of a page.
This story pertains to Larry D. Welsh
Our C/3/22 Soldier, Missing in Action - 1-7-1969
An E-Mail from Bill Schwindt - 01-02-2005:
"Guys, This is from Robert Harlow, [it is] his response to my asking his question about
our email list.
This is the guy to last see Larry Welsh alive, and he spent one night out there by himself with artillery and airstrikes
coming in all night. They went back and found him the next day.
There are many reasons for our association, but this guy would be reason
enough by himself.
And look at what he says about us..."
From Bob Harlow - 01-02-2005:
I couldn't believe you acted so soon.
...we were called tropic/lightning. Some day I would like to [send an] E-mail to the web site and tell the story from the the start
of the ambush. It's been a long battle for me. I look at the web page a lot ... I will always check in. ...My son & daughter have
seen this site and are very proud of us. I would like to make it to Milwaukee... I'm new to the the computer, but I know you know
what I'm trying to say. Take care, Brother,
From David DeMauro - 01-02-2005
Robert Harlow is a very brave soldier...
With several dead and wounded soldiers lying in the dense jungle Northwest of Tay Ninh, Charlie Company was ordered back to Fire Support
Base Washington. Lt. Mullen was 2d Platoon Leader who was killed trying to retrieve Larry Welsh who was the platoon sergeant. The
Company had been split in half after the lead element walked past several well concealed NVA bunkers. The NVA waited for several of
the soldiers to walk past the bunkers and into the jungle before they opened up with everything they had. Danny Scott from the 1st
Platoon was killed as he fired upon the NVA. Charlie Company had to fire carefully at the NVA as the NVA were between the main element
of C Co. and the lead element.
When Charlie Company returned to FSB Washington on choppers, it was then realized that several soldiers
were missing including Welsh, Harlow, and Scott. Captain Haramoto wanted to return immediately and offered to return by himself. Lt.
Col. Carmichael would not allow an immediate return, knowing that to return into the jungle at night with a well entrenched NVA would
likely lead to many more casualties.
Charlie Company along with the entire Battalion returned at first light the next morning. Lt.
Bridges commanded the lead element into the site of the ambush. The Company was ready to take the NVA on and determined to retrieve
our soldiers. Danny Scott was the first found. He must have been hit by an RPG or possibly his M-40 ammo exploded. Robert Harlow called
out from a large hollow log in which he had spent the night. He told a harrowing story of having been wounded and hearing the helicopters
come and leave without him. He found the rotted tree and crawled inside to conceal himself from the NVA. He heard the NVA all around
him picking up American weapons and supplies that had been left behind. He stayed quietly in that log all night hiding amid possibly
hundreds of NVA soldiers.
Harlow was glad to see Charlie Company return. I'm sure that if anyone knew he was there, the Company would
not have left. I believe the confusion developed because of the mortal wounds to Lt. Mullen who tried valiantly to retrieve his soldiers.
And the platoon sergeant, Welsh, was also missing. The two key people who would have best known the Platoon roster were dead and missing.
was not found. His bloody and badly fragmented fatigue shirt was found lying on the ground. The entire Battalion scoured the area
until near dark with no sign of Welsh or the NVA. To this day the fate of Sgt Larry Welsh is not known.
Halow was treated in the field
and flown out by medivac chopper. I was amazed by his courage to have endured that dreadful firefight only to be followed by the harrowing
night in that stinking log. He is among our bravest soldiers...
I was not with Charlie Company on Jan 7th. I did accompany them back
to the scene the next day. I had been a Combat Correspondent for only a few days after leaving the 1st Platoon. I heard all of the
soldiers say that if they had ever known that persons were still on the battlefield, they would not have left. They were anxious to
get back. They all deeply regret that anyone was left behind.
I had taken three rolls of film and wrote the story as best I could.
The film was taken from me as well as all of my field notes. The story was never told.
Medals are well deserved by many of these brave
soldiers. I only wish that I knew if they were ever received or if they met the same fate as my photos and story. My judgment is that
the ARMY was not anxious for this story to be told.
Robert Harlow, I extend to you my warmest regards... You are a very brave soldier...