Port Lavaca Wave
By MELONY OVERTON
Jul 5, 2017
Holmes’ fellow soldier and friend Sgt. Johnnie Mitchell Wahl was shot in the neck and died in Holmes’ arms.
It was Thanksgiving Day 1969. Weldon Holmes and his platoon were in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam not too far from the demilitarized zone.
“We were sitting around arguing over who was going to get the peaches and the pound cake out of the C-rations that went along with the turkey and dressing. The lieutenant came and said, ‘Why don’t you all load up,’” into armored personnel carriers, Holmes said.
Leading up to that fateful day, Holmes had facilitated seven days of R and R (rest and recuperation) to Sydney Australia to celebrate his 21st birthday Nov. 20.
“I really didn’t want to come back, but I couldn’t see leaving friends and brothers that…you get real close when you have to depend on somebody to protect your life 24/7. I got back to my unit on Nov. 23,” he said.
The platoon watched as jets 3,000 meters away flew their missions.
“You could still feel the ground shake. We got off (out of the carriers) to pick up bodies (of the enemy). We tried to do the right thing by leaving them for their families because the Viet Cong came from that area,” he said. “Arms were here. A leg was there next to a torso mutilated from explosions.”
“I was the only one to call them about Johnnie. They were told his whole company had been wiped out and that the ones who died were missing in action, but that made me mad because he (Johnnie) was never missing in action. We didn’t leave them behind because their bodies would have been mutilated so badly if we did,” Holmes said.read more here