Last days for CPT Hiram Wolfe IV
by Michael Duncan, 2/12th HHC, D Co Medic, 67th Evac. Hospital, Qui Nhon
Delta Co. blew an ambush and it was reported to have been the point element of a larger force according to our Lieutenant. Whenever the shit hit the fan because I didn’t carry a weapon, I hung close to the 60 man which was Pete Nokovic. He was as cool as any Clint Eastwood and after the Lieutenant tripped the animal and after all the firing and emotion of those moments, all we could hear were the gooks that were still alive. The Lieutenant rose up a little above the brown straw grass and figured it was safe to move toward the bodies and get whatever documents we could and get the hell out of there. Then Pete Nakovic stood up and looked down at me and said, “you wanna see what’s going on Doc” and thinking back now, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking but stood up and took a few steps. Then someone in the rear security being nervous and with a finger on the trigger let a blooper go (M79 Grenade Launcher) and a couple tiny fragments got me and I think the Lieutenant. It was no time to wait and ponder what just happened under the circumstances so we “di di’d” (di di mau, i.e. to go away fast) out of there.
The next morning we tagged up with a couple other platoons working in the area with us and that is where we saw Captain Wolfe again because he wanted to see the bodies. When we were within 30-40 yards from the bodies the platoon was told to lay low and keep a eye out while the Captain and I believe the point man who was a red headed Oklahoma man who read the BIBLE all the time and was nick named Preach, took the Captain, Lieutenant and I don’t remember the rifleman, but they disappeared on the other side of a hedgerow and were gone 15 minutes maybe before returning. They did not say what they did during this time, but later, it appears that they had booby trapped the bodies.
We proceeded to go to our pre ambush site before setting up. Nothing happened during the ambush which when that happens it is always a good thing cause no-one died. Well the next morning Captain Wolfe decided that he wanted to see if his booby traps on the bodies had caught anybody off guard. We walked around , stopping to grab something to eat which after we walked around some more. I gathered the guys canteens who needed water and went to a bomb crater to fill their canteens up and put purification tablets in them before proceeding to the ambush site where the bodies lay. It was late in the afternoon getting toward dark but enough light that Captain Wolfe, Lieutenant and I remember a couple more guys leaving the column file and going through that same hedgerow, and as some of the guys were looking every direction knelt down in preparedness of what might be. Suddenly there was that sound that resonates in my ears to this day and I turned to look to see what it was and what was going on, seeing that dirt hurled into the sky and that unmistakable smell of gun powder and the shouts behind the hedgerow yelling, “Medic, Medic, Doc, come quick , hurry Doc”. I grabbed my aid bag and everyone else was on high alert of readiness. I took off toward the dust cloud not knowing what I would see and made my way to the other side of it and see Captain Wolfe laying face down and he was on fire. I can’t name the GI’s that assisted me, helping with the compressions, holding the IV , helping me with tape or whatever was needed. I couldn’t find a vain in Captain Wolfe’s arm because they had collapsed and so I had to apply the IV in the back of his leg to hit a vain. He stopped breathing 2 or 3 times and between chest compressions and mouth to mouth he was alive when we dusted him off. I am sorry I don’t remember the other men’s names. I believe one or two didn’t have life threatening wounds and after getting Captain Wolfe dusted off we left the area and got to our ambush site for the night.
I’ll never forget this one GI had a plastic hand wind film projector that looked like a toy and one other guy and he were looking at a porno flick. For some reason that took me back that they were so detached or callus is a strong word but when arriving into FSB Kein I would hear the guys say when something happened that “it don’t mean nothing” and I guess that’s the way they thought to not to show emotion .. I crawled to the Lt. and asked if he’d heard anything about Captain Wolf and he told me “No” but when he did he would let me know. About 1 ½ -2 hours Lieutenant eased over to me and said “Doc, Captain Wolf didn’t make it”. He told me they don’t know how he lasted as long as he did. Well, that didn’t make me feel any better because a week before while talking to the platoon he had a bandage on his hand or finger and was taking some ribbing from a couple of the men and he was riding along with it too but when he walked past me, Captain Wolfe paused and said, “but I won’t have to worry about anything because you’ll take care of me , won’t ya Doc”?
Between those words and him telling me one day at dinner chow inside the fire support base that his wife was expecting either there 2nd or 3rd child and all the while doing anything I could to save his life all those excerpts kept running in my mind, asking myself what the hell is he doing over in this GOD forsaken part of the world playing war when he had a family and a baby on the way and here it was December the 14th, just 11 days till Santa and his sleigh and all the egg nog, the Christmas cheer and his little children and now a widowed wife to celebrate without their father or her husband. The rest of that kill master (RIF) was a blur in my memory but I did visit Captain Wolf at the wall along with all the Heroes that fell for our country but I wonder what they would say if they could come back and see what America has become and turned into giving it away to people that only want the greed and milk and honey and don’t care how many lies they have to tell to achieve it…
This story was told to me about Cpt Hiram Wolfe IV. Hiram was a rare soldier being assigned to the 2/12th. He was commissioned as a Tank Commander in Armor and was the C.O. of Delta Company from September 14th until the 4th of December, 1969. Michael Duncan served with the 2/12th for 10 months with 6-7 of those months in the field with Delta Co. before transferring to the 67th Evac Hospital in Qui Nhon. Michael was a surgical tech., but he was assigned to be a medic at Dau Tieng. He wanted to use the skills he was trained for so he asked to be transferred.
Michael writes down that this all took place on December 14th and not the 4th, which all the casualty transcripts show.