In his 1968 U.S. Army training at Fort Lewis, Washington, Grady was housed in World War II-era barracks like these still standing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. There were once 5,000 of these buildings. Now there are 2,000, and those are slated to be demolished in the next two years. Nearby are huge, modern, multi-story dormitories, like those on a giant college campus. Photo by Julie Titone
The barracks are an important setting in the training chapters of "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War." In this drawing, Grady depicts himself and a fellow trainee peering down at other men who are carrying footlockers as part of discipline meted out by the drill sergeant.
Grady Myers, aka "Hoss," never made it to the Charlie Company reunions, which began in 2006 as part of the annual Veterans Day festivities in Branson, Missouri. But he would've loved the spirit ... and probably have designed a logo. Shown here, from left, are Butch Mauldin, Andy Day, Bob Robbins, Frank Wernet, Van Dyne Waugh, Robert (Bud) Langan, Pat Carnes and Teddy Fisher. Butch, Andy, Bob, Bud and Teddy were involved in the March 9, 1969 ambush in which Hoss was wounded.
Frank Wernet, Van Dyne Waugh and Bob Robbins carry the Charlie Company banner in the parade. You can learn more about the unit's history at its website.
Bud Langan was injured in the same ambush as Grady. And now he's riding about in a big red wheelchair -- just like Grady did in his last few years. In the reunion pictures provided by Bob Robbins, Bud has a huge grin on his face.
Ever since the war, Alan Lee has wondered what happened to Grady Myers, the big guy with thick glasses who went through advanced infantry training with him in the fall of 1968. Every so often, he'd try to find Grady. When he went to Boise, Grady's hometown, he'd check the phone book looking for his name. He even looked for Grady's name among the dead and missing listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial when a replica of the Wall came to Lewiston, Idaho.
Lewiston is where Alan has lived all of his life. He was reading the local paper recently when he saw this photograph of Grady, just as Alan remembered him. That's when he learned Grady had survived the war. The picture illustrated an article about "Boocoo Dinky Dow" that was published before my book reading in nearby Clarkston, Wash. Alan had to work that day, but his wife came and asked me to sign a copy of the book for him.
Alan and I chatted on the phone this week. After expressing his sadness that Grady had died last year, he told me what he remembered about Grady. One thing was that Grady was always hungry -- most of the guys were during training. The food, in Alan's words, "wasn't the best," and Grady describes in the memoir how men were never given enough time to finish what was on their plates. One time, the trainees got a rare chance to leave Fort Lewis and couldn't wait to chow down on restaurant food. "We went to get hamburgers and Grady ordered three of them," Alan said.
Unlike Grady, Alan was wasn't wounded in Vietnam. Still, he said, "It was a tough year." Looking back, he doesn't know how he handled the living conditions, including constant dampness. "Once, I wore the same clothes for 63 days." The only thing he changed was his socks. "They would drop us clean socks from helicopters."
That was one thing soldiers in Vietnam all had in common ... counting days and hoping to survive to 365.
Julie Titone is co-author of the Grady Myers memoir "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War." Grady was an M-60 machine gunner in The U.S. Army's Company C’s 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in late 1968 and early 1969. His Charlie Company comrades knew him as Hoss. Thoughts, comments? Send Julie an email.