A BIBLE STORY
A heart-warming story about the return of
Dempsey Parrot's bible to his wife after a long journey of 46 years from the
A Shau Valley jungle to North Carolina.
On January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese launched the largest military campaign of the Vietnam War, commonly known as the Tet Offensive. Our unit, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), was ordered to deploy north to attack enemy forces who had seized the old imperial city of Hue and threatened Quang Tri, to relieve the siege of the US 26th Marine Regiment at Khe Sanh in early April, and to attack enemy forces in the A Shau Valley and destroy their supply depots in late April. For more details on the A Shau Valley operation, see http://www.eagerarms.com/khesanhashauvalleyoperations.html
Dempsey Parrot was a medic attached to Blackfoot Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Bn, 8th Cav Regt. Respectfully known as “Doc”, Dempsey was highly thought of by all, a very good friend to many and a highly dedicated professional whose duties repeatedly exposed him to dangerous enemy fire when treating our wounded troopers. He was married to Brenda and all his buddies knew that they had a very special relationship.
Bravo Company departed Landing Zone Cecile on 4 May with the mission of conducting search and destroy operations along the jungle trails and road network on the west side of the A Shau Valley. Enemy forces had established a well-camouflaged ambush position covering two jungle trails but were surprised by the approach of Blackfoot Platoon from a different direction and this caused them to activate their ambush early. After a short firefight the enemy disengaged and blood trails show that they evacuated several casualties. It was a very sad day for Blackfoot Platoon troopers as our casualties included two killed in action and two wounded in action. Dempsey was one of these and was killed while moving forward to treat a wounded trooper.
While evacuating Dempsey from the ambush area to a hastily cleared helicopter Landing Zone, his bible fell out of his pocket and fortunately it was picked-up by our company medic, Ray Bono. Ray was still carrying Dempsey’s bible in his pocket when he was medically evacuated several months later and treated for pericarditis at nine different hospitals in Vietnam, Japan and in the U.S.
These were the days before the internet when returning a Bible or making contact with a combat buddy was a very difficult task. This problem was solved when we launched our website www.eagerarms.com in 2008 and we now have contact with a large group who served in Bravo Company during 1967-68 and many attend our annual reunions. At one of our recent reunions, Ray Bono met Mike Brinchek. Mike not only served in the same platoon as Dempsey, but they were also close friends and Mike resides close to where Dempsey used to live. Ray asked Mike to return Dempsey’s bible to his family and by a sheer coincidence, Mike had recently met Bruce Williamson who knew one of Dempsey’s school friends, Robbie Parrish. Robbie was one of Dempsey’s close friends during high school and he was able to contact Brenda, now Brenda Albritton.
Brenda said she would be highly honored to receive Dempsey’s bible at a ceremony hosted by the Kenly American Legion Post 328 on October 23, 2014. Approximately 70 gathered to recall the life of Dempsey Parrot and to return the Bible to the family. Attendees included Brenda Albritton and members of her family, relatives and friends of Dempsey Parrot, Mike Brinchek, Bruce Williamson, Robbie Parrish, the Army National Guard honor unit, and members of Kenly American Legion. Following opening remarks by Post Commander Randy Cash, a slideshow of images from Vietnam was shown along with comments by Mike Brinchek, who fought back tears when relating that “Dempsey was a good guy who prayed to us every night and took care of the wounded. He was a great person and was my hero. We were a family, we loved each other and we prayed for each other. He was always fun to be around.” Bruce Williamson called the evening “a wonderful, special occasion, to pay tribute to a fallen hero.” Brenda Albritton said “the ceremony was gratifying but also extremely difficult for her. We’re honoring Dempsey’s memory tonight and that’s what is important. I had no contact with anyone over the years and had no idea Mike Brinchek was in Kenly. This is just wonderful news and means so much to me, it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and it gives closure. I’m just overwhelmed and all I’ve been able to do all day today is cry. Just knowing Mike was with him is an awesome thing.”
By a combination of fate and good fortune, Dempsey’s Bible is back home again after a long journey of 46 years from the A Shau Valley jungle to North Carolina.
Prepared by Peter O’Sullivan based on input from Ray Bono, Mike Brinchek and Jim Smith
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