Paul Bazar served in Vietnam with the 3rd Battalion, 5th
Marines, Mike Company. His name stands proudly on the Mike
3/5 Wall of Honor alongside his fellow Marines and Corpsmen. His
friends miss him still, and think about him every day and every night.
Semper fi, Brother Marine.
was my radioman
arrived at Mike Company while we were in the first phase of Operation
Taylor Common in December, 1968. He wound up being delivered to Third
Squad, Third Platoon. Mike 3 Charlie was our call sign.
we were actually in the beginning of a relatively slow period of combat,
none of us really knew that at the time. Contact with enemy forces
still occurred but was not severe and would continue that way for
December of 1968, and part of January of 1969.
I had not received any new people for a while and as squad leader
needed to insure that Paul was quickly and adequately trained so that
he could be a contributing member of the unit as soon as possible.
The easiest way to accomplish this was to make Paul the new radioman
for the squad.
Paul was of large frame so it was clear that he could handle the extra
weight on his back, and by putting him into a position where he had
to stay by my side 24 hours per day, I could insure that he would
hear and see all that I did. He would be able to see all that I did,
and any orders I received and gave. My old radioman was very good
at everything at the time, so it made sense to move him to fire team
Paul very quickly earned basic respect from the squad. We were in
the mountains at the time, and moving through this type of terrain
with some 70 pounds of gear on you is very difficult and exhausting.
Paul was not yet physically acclimatized to Vietnam, or the level
of physical requirements for a grunt there. It was very obvious that
Paul, with some extra 15 or 20 pounds on him, was being extremely
taxed, yet he did it without complaint or passing out. And he took
all the ribbing about being the "Nebraska corn farmer" that
is normally dished out by fellow Marines. Within a few days, the only
thing left for his basic, "in the bush" training in Vietnam
was to be in the middle of the "real thing" --- Combat.
I remember Paul's first time under direct fire from the enemy. I had
to give him special notice during this because he was new, carried
the communications capability for the squad, and he was physically
closer to me than anybody else. If he was not going to be able to
cope with the abrupt terror, it would be up to me to salvage what
I could for the safety of the squad, myself, and him.
We came under very sudden and very heavy small arms fire on a mountain
trail. The sound of the attack was amplified by the terrain as was
the fear it generated in us. We hit the deck immediately as we were
showered with tree branches and other vegetation that fell from the
hail of bullets. I immediately swiveled around to get the radio handset
from Paul so that I could find out exactly what was known about the
location and size of the enemy force. I checked his face as I did
this remembering that I was also going to have to watch him for "panic"
Paul was ashen faced as he faced that all too horrible moment that
we all had to face at some point when we were new in Vietnam. That
moment when the war becomes very real to you. That first time you
realize that somebody is trying to kill YOU. I had my hand extended
to him as a request for the handset without saying anything. He quickly
handed it to me. He even began moving his body closer to me to insure
that the handset would be able to reach my ear.
As I tried to listen to what was going on around me and what was coming
over the radio, I kept my eye on Paul. I began to relax as I saw him
successfully summoning all of his inner strength to keep himself together.
He was focusing on doing his job to fight the fear welling up in him.
This is the ultimate sign that the person is probably going to hold
up. He was resorting to his training, Marine esprit de corps, and
keeping a focus on what was going on around him.
After a couple of exchanges on the radio with somebody, I talked as
calmly as I could to him to let him know what was going on. I let
him know that we would be staying where we were at for the moment
and we would just strengthen our defense here. I had Paul move a couple
of feet to a better covered position and told him how to cover the
area in front of him and about looking under the bushes and looking
for leaf movement. He was immediately responding and understanding
the temporary shift from radioman to rifleman. Yes, he was going to
be one more good Marine for this squad.
I had been pulled back to the combat base at An Hoa to do some work
for Regiment and some 2 or 3 days later Paul was killed in action
on April 21, 1969. That day I received a message from the Mike Company
clerk regarding the incident. He knew that Paul had been my radioman
when I was a squad leader. I talked to other people when they came
Paul had moved up to platoon radioman and, doing his job well as always,
followed Lieutenant Hatton as he attempted to make his way to the
front of the column. They were on one of those double rice paddy dikes
that formed sort of an irrigation passage in between them. As they
stepped from one rice paddy dike to the other, Paul stepped on a large
booby trap. Probably a 155mm artillery round buried in the ground.
Paul and the corpsman, Curran Jones, were killed instantly. The squad
leader, Calvin Turner, and one other who I can't remember were severely
wounded. I believe both of these survived. Lieutenant Hatton received
a wound that was not life threatening.
Paul had made many friends amongst his fellow Marines and his death
caused more than a ripple. Doug Maier provided the photo of Paul.
Doug was in the hospital in Danang when Paul was killed. Doug was
called on to identify Paul when his body was taken there. After all
the combat that Doug saw and some thirty odd years, Paul was the first
one Doug mentioned to me when we got back together on the Mike Company
site this year. He has never been forgotten by those who served with
To My Friend, My Brother, we’ll never forget you
Thiel, Austin and Myself were proud to have
even known you. We were NFGs (New Guys) as it was called when the
three of us arrived in Mike Company. In being an NFG, it’s very hard
to understand the way you were treated at times. The new guy is kind
of an outcast, everyone stays distant from you, just to know one's
name is to know too much. The reasoning behind this method being it
RIGHT or be it WRONG, who’s to say? You would have had to have been
there to answer this judgment call.
I remember that feeling, and was fortunate enough to have been
taken under the wings of two Combat Proven Vets after the first 4
weeks or so, (Pappy and Hillbilly), later Hillbilly was killed with
only 28 days left in country. It was at this point I started realizing
the reason and rhyme of getting to know a person in combat, so I too
later put the method described above into play towards NFGs. But you
were different some how.
was a special bond of friendship that developed between Thiel, Austin
and I through that NFG period, we found ourselves scrambling around
after all those fire fights to make sure each of us were OK. Then
it became a foursome the first day you arrived in the bush and put
in 3rd Platoon. The Radio Man position was vacant on your
arrival and offered to you, but you were very indecisive of taking
the position. I remember you saying that you didn’t know anything
about radios, and I told you that (OJT) on the job training is the
way you train for any position here in Vietnam. As an NFG, I told
you of the pros & cons of taking the radio, and later that evening
you decided to take it, and you took to it like a Duck does to Water.
I introduced you to Austin and Thiel, and
like us, you later found yourself scrambling around after firefights
when you could to make sure all of us were OK. I often
wonder how such a nice guy like you could ever get tied up with the
likes of us three. We were more on the rowdy side and you weren’t,
and your smile, you always had it on your face most of the time, kind
of a half grin and half smile with a little bit of your pearly whites
now my friend, I Salute You, and could never say Good Bye, as you
occupy a very special place deep down in my Heart and Soul.
See You Later & SEMPER FI >~Cpl.