These "empty chairs" sit at the table which is the life of Paul Edwards:
We were 10 Navy Hospital Corpsmen in a sea of Marine warriors. We were trained in the way of the Marines but we had a different outlook. We mothered these Marine warriors as a mother hen would mother her chicks and they treated us as equals. We were honed to a medical peak in battlefield medicine. The only thing that the Marines expected of us was when they yelled "Corpsman Up" we would brave hell to get there and we did. But we were still not really warriors we saved lives. I was in charge of those 10 men. I was the Senior NCO(non-commissioned officer) and it was my job to look after them when I could, make sure they took no un-necessary risks because 10 men in charge of as many as 300 Marines lives didn't go far.
When the disaster happened, we got bombed by our own planes and had something like 70 Marines down on our side of the river. 6 of the Medical Corpsmen had already crossed the river they had caught us at and couldn't get back across. That left us 4. I had one already dead (John Grachtrup); one who had only been in Vietnam four days and had his arm blown off and was hysterical; me and Don Rion. I had one leg shot off and couldn't walk, I asked about Don who was at a different place than I and they said he was evacuating wounded. I asked to be dragged to where he was and they told me that the wounded where I was needed me too badly so I didn't get to him. I treated and got all the wounded out of my area and so did he and as I asked again to be taken to him I went into shock and as I learned later he ordered me evacuated and then he died. I learned later that he had both legs shot off and the tourniquits that were applied weren't enough.
I have felt all these years if I had demanded that I be taken to him I would have saw how badly he was hurt and ordered him out and that's the job of a boss' to take care of your men and I didn't take care of him. We were both 24 years old. I was in the hospital over a year and yes he should have been the one to return.