Friends forged by fire

Arnold recalls battle where McCloughan showed his courage

Bill Arnold

Bill Arnold stands next to his medal earned during a seven-month combat tour in Vietnam. The wall includes photos of his grandsons who are currently serving in the military. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

May 13,1969, started horribly for Bellefontaine native Bill Arnold.

He had no idea if he would survive the beginning moments of a firefight in Vietnam nor that the crucible of battle would forge friendships that have lasted nearly 50 years.

During an air assault that day, his helicopter crashed in a rice paddy away from the rest of the 89-man strong blocking force. He was thrown from the helicopter and sustained a busted knee.

As platoon leader, he crawled up a rise and peered over to see 2,000 or so North Vietnamese Army soldiers rushing toward him and his Army mates.

“I thought to myself, ‘These guys have got uniforms,’” Arnold said, which meant he and the unit were facing well-armed, trained troops. “It looked like a bunch of ants there were so many of them.”

Read complete story in Saturday's Examiner
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