Monday, July 11, 2011

A Vietnam Memorial In Madison County

Southeast of DeRuyter, New York sits a Hughes UH1 Helicopter in a grassy field among flags and statues, and surrounded by pine and hardwood trees. A few years ago Bill Middleton,  First Sergeant, Army (Retired), had it delivered there on his own dime. He's a member of a very exclusive club: Survivors of the Battle of Ia Drang.

This protracted fight, which pitted the First Cavalry Division against hardcore North Vietnamese troops, was fought from 14-18 November 1965. This engagement was the first major battle between regular troops of North Vietnam and American forces. It was chronicled in the book, "We Were Soldiers Once..And Young", as well as the movie based on it. Cavalry troopers like Bill Middleton were elite soldiers and the "Huey chopper" got them to the battlefield, making Vietnam our first helicopter war.

The battle was hard-fought and bloody: First Sergeant Middleton was wounded. Another Madison County resident, William B. Bradley of Wampsville, was killed in action. Some American platoons were nearly wiped out.

The UH1 chopper is the centerpiece of Bill Middleton's memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Ia Drang, as well as to other veterans and the heroes of September 11. It is located on Mariposa Road. Take Crumb Hill Road (County Highway 58) east from DeRuyter to Mariposa Road. Turn right. The memorial is on the right hand side about 3/4 of a mile.It is something to see and and is very moving.

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