Today on WDEL we are going to be talking about our brother Kevin Flaherty, who died in Viet Nam. We are on 1-4 Eastern, we will talk about Kev at 2:30.
Here are two versions of his death: One from the Army, in a commendation he received for heroism.
My name is, Jack Godfrey and I am writing, to share with you, my relationship with your son, Kevin, during our time, in Viet Nam.
I have just returned, from our company’s, Viet Nam, reunion, at Branson, Missouri, where I had the opportunity, to meet your youngest son, John. It was, a very, meaningful time for us all, but the best and most, meaningful experience, for me was the time, I got to spend, with your son.
To be able to share, with him and your family, the time I spent, with Kevin, while in the States, as well as over seas, was well enough, alone, worth the trip, to the reunion. I was transferred, to Ft. Hood, in November, of 1966, after starting my basic training, at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
I was two, weeks, into basic, when I was, transferred, to Texas. I had, the privilege, of starting basic, all over again as part, of the 2nd, Armored Division, at Ft. Hood. The 2nd, Armored Div., was General, George Patten’s, beloved armored division, both during, World War II and after. I completed, my basic and AIT., training and was, in the regular, Army, for about two, months, when the 198th, Brigade, was re-activated.
I was, then transferred, to Bravo, Company, 1st, of the 52nd, where Lt., Flaherty was, the 3rd, Platoon leader. Shortly, after my arrival, to the Third, I became Lt., Flaherty’s, RTO. and remained until, he, left us.
I felt, from the very first, he was without a doubt, the best platoon, leader, in the Company. I quickly recognized, that Captain, Goldman felt, the same. As the platoon, RTO., I was always, with Kevin. My responsibilities dealt, with communication and supply distribution, between the command, level and throughout, the 3rd, Platoon and with each, squad leader.
Because of this, Kevin and I, became very close, as was also the case, with his replacement, later on. When I, got shot, my actual condition and what, had occurred was never shared, with the Platoon, or the guys, I left behind.
I was, with Kevin at the time, he left us and after talking, with your son, at the reunion I wanted, to personally, write you and share, with you what took place, on that night. For some time, I have felt, Kevin, gave his life, for the others, but also, he saved mine.
Because. of his commitment, to his men and his action he is, in Heaven with our Creator, as the Bible, tells us. xxxxx The company was just south, of Chu Lai, at a field, location, called Doc Fu. Doc Fu, is located just in land, of a peninsula, off, the Ocean.
Lt., Flaherty, two squads and I left base camp, about 18, hundred hours, that evening. Our mission was, to move out, about four clicks and set up, an observation post. It was more, of a scouting, mission, than anything else. We had only, moved, about one click, when our base, camp perimeter, opened fire, on us.
Nothing came close, but the time, it took them to understand, we were under friendly fire, it had altered our operation. After getting, that action, under control, we proceeded, with our mission. Kevin moved out, first and I, quickly followed, with the other, squads, right behind. I remember thinking, at the time, this was not, what should happen, with Kevin out, front first.
I felt with the disruption, of friendly fire, Kevin quickly moved, out, to regain the time lost, to our destined, position, for the night. When I asked, Kevin, about our move, he responded with, “we need, to get, to our position.” By this time, it was dark – and in Viet Nam, when it, is dark, it is very, very dark, pitch black.
After marching, another click we came upon, a river crossing. By this time, Kevin and the team, had established our normal spacing, for the march, which placed, each man, at about 10, yards, from each other. We had moved, to an existing, path, to regain, our time and this path lead directly, to what had, been, a concrete bridge.
The bridge, had been bombed and the only, thing, that remained was the structure, on each bank, bridge, as debris, in the river. Kevin had already, reached, the river and some how, crossed, with out interruption, he was climbing, out, on the other, side, when I started, into the water. I had only, moved, a couple, of yards into the water, when I hit, the first piece, of concrete debris. When the concrete, edge, hit my chin, I stopped, with some pain and moved, a little, to the right.
I then ran into another, which moved me, again, farther, to the right and around the bridge buttress, where I finally, could move straight, through, to the other side. When I reached, the other side and climbed out, Wiggins, was close behind, me, who was followed, by Seus, just starting across, Seus also carried a radio, as a forward, observer, for our artillery, support unit, back at Battalion, base camp.
The remainder, of the team, followed. I later thought, the delay caused, by the friendly, fire, put us at the river, crossing, about the time, the ocean tide, was changing and receding. As we started to cross, the tide change, continued, to cause, the river current, flow, to the ocean, to increase dramatically, moving us further, to the right, as were crossing. Kevin and I, had moved, about 30, yards further, when I first, heard, the Seus, had unknowingly, stepped off, the edge of a large, hole and was, in trouble.
We later found, a whole to be there, because of the sharp bend, in the river. As I returned, to the edge, of the river, Wiggins, had already removed, his gear and jumped back, in the water, to help Seuis. I had removed, my radio and extra ammo and was going, to the river’s, edge, when Kevin grabbed, my shoulder and said, “you stay with the radio – I will go.”
He then dropped, his rifle and extra gear and entered, the water. It was so dark, that we could see nothing, but could hear the sound, of the men struggling, in the river.
By this time, the current was, at its peak, flowing, to the Ocean. In the darkness, no one knew which way, to go and I’am sure each, of them felt, he had to go back, the way they went in, making there struggle, even greater. After I reached, base camp and could coordinate, flares, to mark and light, our position, we then could, see, that had they, let the current, just carry them, along, they were only, a short distance, from the bank, at the bend, of the river.
I was, the last man to see, your son.
He had saved my life, that night, by going out, there, himself and ordering me to stay, on the riverbank.
It was, a very long, night and all, three members, that went down, were, a great loss to each, of us, in the platoon. During my time with Kevin, both before going, to Viet Nam and our time, there, that was, the kind, of man, he was.
He was, very respected, by everyone, in our platoon and the company. He was there for each, of us, as well, as his command. For me, the reunion was very rewarding, in several ways, but I felt, the greatest part, was, to meet Kevin’s, brother and to be, able, to tell him, about my time, shared, with Kevin. To share, with him, not only, his loss and your loss, but also, what a loss it was, for me, as well.
Although, I was, later wounded and would have, to come home to recover, I always remembered, how Kevin, gave his life that night, for others. He definitely, gave me mine.
I hope, this will give, you, some peace knowing what had, taken place, for Kevin, on that night. It is, a part, of Kevin, that showed, his quality and values, values, he placed, on human life and the lives, the quality leader, he was. I thank you, for the time-shared, with your son and I share, in your loss.
Also, here are some recordings from past shows where people who were with him that night talked about it: