Yeaw, third from left, poses with UDT Class 37 in 1966. The training was grueling
with only 13 of the 39 applicants making it to graduation.
Go to www.abondunbroken.com
for more information on their story.
there to greet a man he’d known for only a few hours but with
whom he had shared a lifetime of scars and repercussions.
Minh had taken shrapnel in the chest and abdomen, spending
weeks in an Army hospital. Ron, with numerous wounds,
including a nearly severed foot, was evacuated to a hospital in
Japan and then to Philadelphia, where he recovered. He would
return to Vietnam voluntarily for two more tours.
REUNITED AT SEAL MUSEUM
In the 2013 reunion at the SEAL Museum, Minh didn’t immediately
recognize Ron. But then, he beamed, calling out repeatedly,
“Mr. Yeaw, Mr. Yeaw!”
Ron was a man of amazingly droll humor and humanity. He
leaned into Minh and said, “I’m the one who got you all shot up,
all along here,” indicating Minh’s right side. Then he smiled and
said, “You’re welcome.”
Their handshake, embrace and recognition of the price each
had paid before arriving at this point, represented more than just
a shared military action. It was an indicator of the unique connection
that they, and only a few others, could comprehend.
The next two hours they poured over a hand-drawn rendering
Ron had made of the hooch and surrounding area, reliving the
operation and its etched details, including the long slog to the
medevac helicopter, Ron hobbling on one leg using his weapon
as a crutch, Minh being carried by members of the squad. Additional
helicopters, Sea Wolf pilots, coming in to lay down cover
as they extracted. The laboring medevac struggling to take flight
with the heavy load of too many passengers.
“I was squeezed in between the pilot and co-pilot, and I could
see the red-light indicator,” Ron recalled in our interview. “The
pilot pulls the stick, and not much happens, we got one foot in
the air and the helo starts taking fire, it’s shaking like an SOB.
It moves forward a bit, slowly gets up speed, tips forward, has
enough air, and finally gets off the ground shuddering the whole
way.” He had clarity aplenty of the night’s events.
nearby. The platoons functioned entirely independently,
planning and executing their own ops and answering
only to a spot-rep that had to be written up after each action.
There were no night goggles, no GPS, no overhead
satellites positioning targets. They were armed, dangerous,
exceptionally well trained – and utterly fearless.
On the night of March 12-13, both squads encountered
the enemy and were forced to end the mission, never
having found the POW.
Peterson’s squad was pursued through heavily
vegetated jungle, under fire by hundreds of Viet Cong,
extracting via helicopter. Ron and his squad met the
enemy inside a hooch that appeared to be a probable
POW camp. Ron and three others, including Minh, were
wounded by a tossed chi-com, a Chinese-made grenade.
My interview with him, recalling their encounter,
raised the hair on my arms.
The territory was infested with enemy Viet Cong, and
during the extraction fire fight, a lone medevac helicopter
pilot was courageous enough to set down in a hot
landing zone and pick up Ron and his wounded team.
THEY LOST TOUCH
After his recovery, through the next five years of the
war, Minh worked with every SEAL platoon that came
to My Tho. And then, they lost contact, and the SEALs
he operated with often wondered about his fate, fearing
he’d been killed.
When Minh was discovered alive in 2008, the SEALs
mounted a gallant campaign for his immigration to the
U.S. Ron, by then a retired captain, was one of the important
voices supporting the campaign. His letter reads, in
part: “I strongly recommend that Mr. Minh be accorded
every opportunity to immigrate to the United States. We
both shared our blood for a common cause and served
that cause with distinction.”
But Minh’s visa request was denied.
Instead, the SEALS raised funds to bring him to the
states for a reunion with his old comrades. Ron was
Before joining the 7th Platoon in Vietnam, Yeaw operated with
the 6th and 8th platoons in Vinh Long and Can Tho in 1967.
Port St. Lucie Magazine 27