I first met Harold B. Muller at the Dak To base camp when I was assigned to C/1/503. I was assigned to 2nd platoon and was introduced to Harold by my new squad leader SSgt.O'Brien. Harold was introduced as Chief. From that day on he was always Chief to me. He was an American Indian but I am not sure of the tribe he belonged. I want to say he was Navaho but am not sure.
Charlie Company was guarding the perimeter of the Dak To base and I was put with Chief at his foxhole. Chief took me under his wing and taught me how to survive from day one. He was a PFC and I was a SPC 4 but he had the knowledge and I was assigned to his fireteam. I remember the first thing he did was to go through my rucksack and throw out all the non-essentials. The air mattress and other comfort items went first and were not repacked. While humping the boonies on search and destroy missions it was necessary only to hump the essentials. Even Ham and Lima beans were thrown out. Chief taught me every thing from what to hump, what to do in a firefight, how to cook the c-rations with C4 explosive, how to dig-in, etc. My survival is a direct result of everything Chief taught me.
We became good friends and warriors. We shared many foxholes, ambush patrols, and listening posts together for many months. Everyone in the Company loved Chief and respected him for his skills in the field. He always had a smile that said you were his friend and you could trust him with any mission.
In March of 1968 I went on R&R to Bancock. As I had been in country for 8 months and had earned a break. Before I left some of us in 2nd platoon had asked for Chief to be sent to the rear to finish out his tour as he was a short timer. Instead they put him in the platoon CP which should have been safer being inside the perimeter.
Second platoon was put on a hill to protect some artillery ammo that had been dropped there. An Artillery support base was to be set up on that hill the next day. That night a soldier fell asleep on guard duty on the perimeter and the NVA burst through that position killing that soldier and rushing the platoon CP (command post). Chief was killed in the platoon CP by the NVA. This happened while I was in Bancock.
When I arrived back to the company's rear echelon from R&R I was told of what had happened. I was stunned and angry and saddened by the news. Chief only had a couple of weeks until DEROS. I was so angry and sad that I almost became physically sick. I carried alot of anger that he wasn't allowed to be sent to the rear earlier and that a stupid decision to place a lone platoon on a hill deep in enemy territory was asking for big trouble.
I can still see Chief's face with that big smile. He will forever be 20 years old. He will forever be in my heart as a true warrior and friend. I still think of him often.
"C" Co., 1st Bn., 503rd Parachute Infantry
173d Airborne Brigade (Sep.)