Having fought for a whole six months in one of the most intense and questionable wars in the history of the United States, 66-year old Robert Davison can clearly remember the horrifying, eye-piercing images, battles and hardships that each soldier had to go through.
Each day, as the struggle for an extra breath of life continued, soldiers were unaware of their surroundings. They lost weight, became sleep deprived and fought through the fatigue and mental conditions that threatened to overtake all instincts.
“This is dense jungle and there’s no one there except the enemy. You’d shoot for 15 or 20 minutes, thousands and thousands of ammunition, and then you’d stop. You’d be silent for 15 or 20 minutes, tip-toe around the brush, and there you’d find the body,” said Davison.
With all the tension beating down the minds and bodies of the soldiers, Davison recalls having numerous nightmares that left him fearful for the next day’s battle. “I’d have nightmares of my M16 jamming. I would panic and yell ‘shoot him, shoot him!’ to the men around me,” said Davison.
Soon, however, the frightening nightmares became a reality as Davison was suddenly hurt in combat. “We called it the ‘million dollar injury.’” Surrounded on three sides near the Hamburger Hill Battle, the soldiers needed to escape the horseshoe, but all communication was lost through open fire.
“Artillery landed in front of me, and I was going to throw off my rucksack. As I leaned down a piece of shrub came into my shoulder…fracturing my scapula,” said Davison.
After a long time of waiting for a helicopter, Davison was finally carried off, away from all the death and destruction. “Once we lifted away, I just a had a good thought…clean sheets and a clean bed.”
After six months of a life changing experience in Vietnam, Davison’s part as a member of the 101st Airborne and rank Specialist 4th class, adjusting to a normal life, without a fear of sudden, instant death was almost unreal.
Yet, 42 years later, Davison proudly shows his many patches and medals, such as the Combat Infantry Badge Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon and Purple Heart.
With many heartfelt and emotional memories, Davison still tries to take part in organizations such as the California State Military Reserve, which works under the Department of Homeland Security and under the California National Guard; as well as the 1st U.S. Volunteers, which trains and provides military funerals with full honors.
Davison’s six months in Vietnam has created a well-respected support for anyone who has ever been called a veteran. “The best thing you can do if you meet a veteran, is simply say ‘Thank you for your service,’” said Davison.