JF-52_In the boonies, Bob Titus (CA), Victor "Vic" Girling (MN) with the machete, Joseph "Pic" Picarelli (NJ) in foreground in front of a poncho tent with C rations. Captain Robert "Bob" Leinen, Sr. (MI) sitting crosslegged in front of the tent, and Angelo M. Galuppo (NJ) on his left. Pic was the CO's radio operator and was killed on 15 May 68. Vic spent 14 months in the field as the A Co Artillery Recon Sergeant. On 15 May 68, in a poorly conceived and fatal maneuver, Company A was directed to advance across a saddle between two hilltops on the Nui Hoac ridge south of LZ Center. The command group came under heavy fire, CPT Leinen jumped over a tree log to recover Picarelli. Pic had gone over the log, got caught in an NVA crossfire, and was stuck in a exposed sitting position because his pack was hung on a tree stump. Men were pulling on Pic, but he couldn't be freed until Leinen jumped over the log. Just as they got Pic over the log, Leinen, who was still on the exposed side of the log, got hit in both legs. He was evacuated to Chu Lai, stabilized, and sent to Camp Zama, Japan. He then went back to the states. He couldn't walk for 6 months. (Leinen and Pic also were wounded on 29 April, so each man got two Purple Hearts.)
George Meek, Arty FO For Co. A, says, "I had never heard the story of how Capt. Leinen pulled Pic over the log. It does not surprise me. When I got to the scene, they were all lying down in the open and not moving. After I put the artillery on the target we all moved out to get them to the MedEvac area. Pic was still alive when we put him on his poncho. I thought Capt. Leinen was dead, there was so much blood. He did not seem to be responding at the time. Anyway, Pic died before we got him to the helo pad. Very sad, sad day.
"I really respected CPT. Leinen and realized that he had some pretty big shoes to fill. I can tell you that he made some great decisions that I think kept us out of harm's way more than once. He was a great leader that day we took Hill 352.
"Another time I remember," said Meek, "we were moving through some hills, very dense vegetation, and set up camp in the only reasonably defendable area. Leinen made the gooks think that was where we would be. At dusk he made us move up into a wooded area and sure enough after it got dark the gooks hit where we had been.
"That was the night Pic stood out on the perimeter with the strobe light and kept our gunships from blowing us away. It's where he earned his Silver Star." (Note the stick on the tent going from poncho hood to poncho hood--it kept rain from going down the hood and inside.)