Quarter Horse Trooper Stories

UNFORGETTABLE CHARCTER

by Mike O'Conner, B Troop, 2nd Platoon


I met Charles Joseph Macdonald at the replacement center for the 1st Inf. Div. in Jan 1969. I guess he arrived on the same airplane that I did. We were both assigned to B Troop 1/4 Cav. Chuck had some 18 years in the army at the time. After filling sand bags or what ever duty could be assigned to us while waiting to be processed, we somehow always found our way to the club.

Chuck was full of stories and could make you laugh at any time with his antics. He got along with everyone. I think that this was his second or third tour in Vietnam. I know that he did not like stateside duty.

Chuck became the B Troop Como Chief, I was assigned to 2d plt.

I remember that there was a horse tied up outside of the NCO hooch in Di An. The horse had a food bucket with rice in it. After a couple of days, Chuck noticed that the horse was not eating. He checked and the rice was sour. Chuck went to the mess hall and gathered food for the horse.

The next day, Chuck got coffee, eggs and toast for the horse. He said horses like the same thing as humans. I think he just made it up but, the horse liked it. The horse would have about a gallon of coffee with cream and sugar every morning if Chuck was there. I think he gave him a beer once a day also.

I recall another time when 2d plt got back to Di An for a couple of days. A heavy rain started. The horse decided to come into the NCO hooch to get out of the rain. Several shouts of "Get that horse out" could be heard. Chuck would have none of that. He persuaded everyone to let the horse remain in the hooch until the rain let up. He loved that horse.

We were not supposed to keep liquor in the Troop area. Chuck always had a bottle in his wall locker. I remember one day that the CO decided to inspect all of the lockers for contraband.

Chuck opened his locker and stood next to it like the rest of us. My locker was next to his. As the CO was looking in my locker, Chuck reached into his locker and removed his bourbon bottle. He simply held it behind his back and turned to face the CO. The CO checked the top of his locker and then bent and checked the bottom. At the time, Chuck just simply placed the bottle back on the shelf. The bourbon was not noticed.

It was a typical Chuck antic. Probably the kind of thing that kept him in trouble. He never did anything seriously wrong, he just had to break a rule or two and always with a sly grin.

Another time after we had relocated back to Lai Khe, The CO wanted to have a barbecue for the troops. I don't remember the occasion. Perhaps it was his way of saying good-bye because we got a new troop CO after that. The problem with the barbecue was that the mess Sgt. did not have much rations that would make a good barbecue.

Chuck jumped in and said, "I am the best scrounger you have ever met." It was agreed that the CO would give him what few SP packs that were left over and off chuck went in that old 3/4 ton truck.

A few hours later, Chuck retuned with a mountain of frozen steaks, hamburger, hot-dogs, and assorted other items. The barbecue turned out great. I have to believe he was the best scrounger "I" ever met. He made the day for all of us.

The new CO arrived and Chuck seemed to always be with him wherever he went. It was common to see chuck in the field any time Capt. Guthridge was in the field.

I recall one day that 2d plt came into one of the Thunder fire bases. (I think that is where we were.) We had been out and lined up to top-off the tanks and tracks. As the column inched along, each stopping long enough at the tanker truck for fuel, one of the tracked vehicles disturbed some sand bags on a bunker. Apparently this caused a hand grenade to come loose from where it was sitting on a sand bag. (At least that is what was explained to me by the Plt Ldr.)

I remember the explosion. I was about 2 vehicles back from where it happened. There was some confusion as to whether we were receiving "incoming."

Chuck was killed by that hand grenade as was Cpt. John Howard Guthridge, our CO. The date was 29 Aug, 1969.

I have only one picture of Chuck. The picture was taken in Lai Khe at about the time of the barbecue. I am pretty sure that he and I had gone to the DivArty club because you could get bourbon there. The picture shows Chuck on the left and me on the right.

Chuck, my friend, I miss your humor, your stories, your antics. You are a part of 1/4 cav that should always be remembered.


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This page was last updated on 4 Feb 2017