The Only Son
Kay M. Massengill
My story begins like every other story. It’s begins in a small farming community, Meadow. It’s about eight miles from a small town, Benson, in North Carolina. It had a country store and school. Also, there was a sweet potatoes warehouse because Meadow was known for their sweet potatoes. My story is about a young Christian boy that grew up to be a young man that went to fight for his country. He was born on 22 November 1946 to Alton and Ruby Hayes. His name was Lee Albert Hayes. He had ten sisters. His father was a farmer that worked for a family that owned a large farm. He comes from a low income family. They lived in a house down a path away from the road. His father also operated a mill house that was the community center where people came to play cards, checker, and pool. They sometimes even talk some gossip about the neighborhood. Growing up, he helped his father on the farm just like the rest of the family. He went to school at Meadow Community School. He did not graduate from high school. He later went to Johnston Technical College and received his GED. The nearest town was Benson. The town was noted for cruising. This is when the young people drove their cars up and down Main Street. He meets a girl named Jeannie Parker thru a blind date that was set up by a friend. They had dated for four months before he asked her to get married. He asked her father for his blessing. Jeannie father gave them his blessing. They were married on 15 December 1966 at Reverend Rossi Blackmon House. At this time, the United States was in a War in a country named Vietnam. It was all over the news on television. Later, he decided to join the Army instead of being drafted. He was the only son in the family. His mother begged him not to join. He told her that he wanted to join the Army and fight for his country. During any war, it was noted that the only son did not have to serve in the armed forces. He went to the office of the draft board and sign up for the Army. He reported to Raleigh, North Carolina to take his physical and a battery of test. He then was loaded on bus for the short ride to the Reception Station at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He took his basic training here. He was assigned to Company B 1st Brigade 1st Battalion. After eight weeks of training, he graduated. He was shipped to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Infantry Training. After this, he was issued orders for Vietnam. He took a short furlough of two weeks. He caught a bus to report to Oakland, California. After receiving his shots and army gear, he was loaded on a plane to Vietnam. The flight took fourteen hours. He left one day and arrived in Vietnam on the same day. He soon arrived at an air field in Saigon, Vietnam on 15 January 1967. He went thru the processing center and was assigned to B Company 25th Infantry Division. He was told then to report to his unit. He was very nervous and a little afraid because this was the first time away from home and family. His tour was for twelve months. He was a rifleman in an infantry unit. He was assigned to Camp Cho Chei. He was transported to the camp by deuce and half truck with other soldiers. When he arrived at the camp, it was surrounded by wire and they were position set up ever 25 feet or less. The new recruits were assigned to their squad. They were told were they would be sleeping. The First Sargent told them this would be their home for the next twelve months. Later, he was promoted to Squad Leader. About two weeks later, his squad became friends with a local Vietnamese boy. The boy father had been killed by the Viet Cong. The squad gave the boy food for his family. The boy did chores like cleaning their huts, polishing their boots and other to repay them. The first mission they went on was a search and destroy mission. While on this mission, they were ambushed. They were pinned down for 3 days and 2 nights. They were fired on and attacked continuous the whole time. Finally, the officer in charge calls for an artillery attack. They were then evacuated from the area. Eight soldiers of the unit were killed. Some were wounded by their own arterilly. Everything went good around the camp. He received notice to be careful around any locals. He was told the reason was that a local child had walked up to a group of soldiers and exploded a grenade. Some of the soldiers were killed and hurt. Later, they went on a mission called Junction City. The unit was walking thru a rice field. They were moving slow just in case they came upon some Viet Cong soldiers. Lee Albert was with his squad at the time. He came upon a mound that divides the rice fields. When he stepped over, he stepped on a mine that he didn’t see. When it exploded, he got most of the blast. Some of his squad members were wounded by the shrapnel. The radio operator was told to call for an evac helicopter. When it arrived, Lee Albert and other wounded soldiers were loaded on the helicopter. They were taken to a mash unit in Saigon where they were stabilized. They were then taken to another hospital in Japan. They were then taken to Anchorage, Alaska. They were then taken to Washington, D.C. This is where an officer came on the plane an awarded Lee Albert his Purple Heart. He was then taken to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. When he arrived there, he was taken to Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was visited by his family and friends. The doctors told him that he would never walk again. He had numerous surgeries. He was in a full cast from his head to his toes. Later, his cast was taken off. He then went thru a lot of physical therapy. He finally was able to walk on his own despite what the doctors said. Later, he was given orders to go to Washington, D.C. He was there to stand on the steps of the Capital. They were going to be a demonstration against the war in Vietnam. He was there to keep the demonstrator from getting into the Capital. He saw the demonstrator burn the American flag and piss on the Capital steps. He was then taken back to Fort Bragg. In December of 1968, he was discharged from the Army. He then went home to his wife and family. He got a job with the North Carolina Prison System. He worked for them for 30 years before he retired. After he retired, he still worked for the prison system on contract. One morning, he was driving to work. He began hurting in his left arm. His first thought was that he was having a heart attack He drove himself to Wake Med Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was admitted into the hospital. He later had open heart surgery. He fully recovered. Some years later, he was diagnosis with cancer. He was given treatment for this. His cancer is in submission now. During his life, he became a deacon of his church; join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War Organization. He now lives in Benson, North Carolina with his family, children’s, and grandchildren’s. He is a disabled veteran. I am proud to have him as a brother in law. He is a person that is a great role model for everyone. Thank you, Lee Albert Hayes for your service to your country. You are one reason that we have our freedom.