Ft Campbell, KY – 48 years ago this week, Captain Lee Sanders (pictured above, next to the current commander of Charlie company 3/187 infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and one of the platoon leaders, both intently listening to Lee speak about leadership) lead Delta Company 3/187th infantry, 101st Airborne Division up a 3,074 foot mountain in the highlands of South Vietnam’s Thien Hue province. Rising from the floor of the western A Shau Valley on the Laotian border, it is a looming, solitary massif, unconnected to the ridges of the surrounding Annamite range. It dominates the northern valley. Local tribesmen call Ap Bia “the mountain of the crouching beast”. It would later be known to the Americans as Hamburger Hill.
Lee was MEDEVACed off of the battlefield with another company commander and 7 Lieutenant Platoon leaders; his wounds would cause him to retire from the military and still cobble him today. The battalion lost 70 dead and counted 300 more wounded. Lee and his troopers read the names of their fallen last night at a dinner in their honor. It was an incredibly emotional experience for everyone present, from the 18 year old active duty Privates of Charlie Company 3/187 who assisted the “Hill Veterans” all week while they were visiting Ft. Campbell, to the 88 year old Korean War veteran that came to show his respect. I’m not sure how to articulate it but the intensity of emotion in that room of warriors was almost a physical presence all on its own.
This is why we reunite. It transcends age and what war you fought in. We are truly a band of brothers.
Beau Brumfield, Delta Company, 3-187th Infantry Regiment, Gulf War