This story came to me through the site Chickasaw.tv. It is a video of a Chickasaw warrior by the name of Leonard Sealey sharing a bit of his own Vietnam experiences and his visit to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. twenty years after his return from Vietnam.
Sealey joined the army right out of high school and, after boot camp, was assigned to working on helicopters at Ft. Hood, Texas. While there, the Army formed the 1st Air Cavalry and Sealey was reassigned to the 1st Air Cav at Ft. Benning in Georgia. After training with his new unit, they were deployed to Vietnam.
The entire unit, along with their helicopters were put on board a ship in San Diego and then set sail for Vietnam. The crossing took 10-12 days in Sealey’s memory. And when they arrived off the coast of Vietnam, they boarded their helicopters and flew ashore to their base an An Khe.
His combat experience started almost immediately upon arrival.
The 1st Air Cavalry was in every sense what it implied. It was an air mobile cavalry, able to bring small and large units quickly into battle or to support other units who were in a serious contact with enemy forces. They flew Huey helicopters that were quick and agile and would come in hot and fast dropping off their soldiers quickly, often under intense enemy fire.
Listen as Sealey tells about how they did this and what it was like. Hear him as he remembers the loss of one of his friends. Sealey was the crew chief on his helicopter. He had just dropped his buddy off into a firefight, and had only just lifted off a few moments when they were told to go back and provide a medevac for the troops they had just inserted. He leapt off of the helicopter to help get the man aboard and realized it was his buddy. He had been killed in action in the first moments of his first action.
It hit Sealey hard.
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Some 20 years after Vietnam, with the support of the Chickasaw nation, Sealey was given an opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. to visit The Wall, where he was able to find the name of his friend carved into the surface of that memorial. Like countless other Vietnam veterans, it was a profoundly significant moment in his life.
The Veterans Site wishes to add its respect and thanks to Leonard Sealey for his willing service to the nation in Vietnam. It is our honor to say to him, Welcome Home, brother. We thank all the veterans from the Chickasaw People. May they all know quiet and peace among the people and in their private lives.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.