Share the Foxhole

SHARING THE FOXHOLE

by John Vargas

 

On a warm January afternoon I drove with anticipation to the home of a WWII Veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor. I was honored to meet and chat with a real “Hero.” Mr. James John “Jimmy” Doyle.

His lovely wife, Susan of 67 years, warmly greeted me at their front door. A white haired gentleman with twinkling eyes and a pleasant smile waited for me in a room filled with glowing sunlight. Jimmy was in his comfy leather recliner.  He shook my hand and instantly a Veteran connection was evident.  As with most Heroes, they don’t consider themselves extraordinary, just another soldier doing his duty for his comrades and Country.

Jimmy was born on October 13, 1923 on a ranch in Meeker, Colorado. His father was a cowboy. It was lined with 22 horses over 200 head of cattle and a few nasty buffalos that kept him fleet a foot as they chased him on more than one occasion.  A friend of his father had a crop duster and at 14 Jimmy experienced his first flight and subsequently learned how to fly. Eager to “spread” his own wings, he joined the Navy at 17 and was sent to Boot Camp in San Diego, CA. He enlisted in what was then called “Air Pilots” and had to learn how to fly the Navy Way! “I guess that meant not flying upside down for thrills,” he said with a chuckle. His talent with a camera was quickly discovered and Jimmy became an air reconnaissance photographer.

On that infamous day (12/7/1941), Jimmy was quartered in a hanger on the west side of Pearl Harbor.  When he came out the entire sky was filled with buzzing planes. Some were flying just above street and building levels. It was a sickening feeling to see ships and buildings burning while bombs were exploding and spreading the smell of death all over. I’ll never get over that scene!

He was on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington and was also in the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was shot down twice.  The latter was while ferrying planes to Guadalcanal. For his combat wounds he was awarded two Purple Hearts. He also received the Air Medal and for his heroic deeds as a combat photographer, he was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross.

His parting gift to me was a humble smile and a warm handshake. Neither which I’ll ever forget! For I had just left the home of a “True American Hero.” Jimmy Doyle.

 

 

 

SHARING THE FOXHOLE

By JA Vargas 1/2016                                                                      October 2016

 

I often ask myself this question: Why are Heroes so humble?

A prime example is Robert (Bob) A. Tydingco.  Both he and his friendly lab welcomed me to his lovely home in Green Mt. Estates, Lakewood Colorado. His picturesque views from his living room and deck were glorious. Robert’s home is warm and inviting. Many Native American artifacts, family photos and his military shadow box adorned the walls.

 

Robert was born in Guam, the largest of the Mariana Islands and a territory of the USA. A site of heavy fighting between Japanese and US troops during WWII. Robert celebrated his 75th birthday in September with his lovely bride Karen of twenty years. Karen is a Rehab Service Manager in the private sector. He has two sons Troy Allen a Park Ranger living in Alaska, and Daniel J, a troubleshooter for Chevron Oil.

 

Robert was drafted into the US Army in January of 1962 and sent to Schofield Barracks Hawaii for Basic Training and to be a Helicopter Gunner on the H-21 Hilo. Upon completion of training, he was sent to South Vietnam attached to MAC V supporting the Special Forces. After Vietnam, he was sent to Hawaii, Thailand for jungle training and then Germany where he received his GED. Then, to Ft. Reily Kansas to train young recruits. Not long thereafter, Robert was sent back to Vietnam, as part of an Advance Party with the 11th Armed Cav/Tank division to set up a base camp.

 

On March 19th and 20th, 1967, typical rainy, hot and humid days, Robert and his armored tracked vehicles were conducting military operations near Bau Bang South Vietnam when they came under heavy enemy fire from recoilless rifles. His vehicle had received a direct hit to the engine compartment. The possibility of a fire was imminent but as the commander (Sgt Tydingco) refused to abandon or retreat. Instead, he directed his crew to close a gap in the perimeter that was created by an immobile tank.  This was a bold move as the possibility of fire was heightened and exposed them to more intensive enemy fire. Sgt. Tydingco was seriously wounded and in pain, nevertheless he and his men effectively repelled numerous attempts by the VC. This battle lasted two days. Sgt. Tydingco’s dynamic bravery and leadership not only inspired his men but they held the attacks until reinforcements arrived and drove the remaining VC back into the jungle.

 

For his leadership and heroic actions Sgt. Robert A. Tydingco was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device for Valor. He completed an eight-year Military career at Ft. Carson, Colorado with e rank of SSG E6.

 

Our Nation, the Military, his family and our Purple Heart Chapter 1041 are honored and proud of Staff Sergeant Robert A. Tydingco for his dedication and service to this Country. Today, he continues to remain a “Humble and quite Hero”

Today, he continues to remain a   “Humble and quiet Hero.”

 

 

 

*Robert died at his Lakewood home on Monday, November 13, 2017.