Although Phil Price's time in Vietnam as a soldier was short, he says it was nothing short of astounding.
Price, now 70, was the lieutenant in charge and had four other men with him on September 4, 1969.
That day, he said, was bittersweet.
"My sergeant, they shot him through the stomach and it came out his back. My second sergeant came running up, jumped on beside me and we were shooting M-16s at the time. And he got hit right in the widow's peak and knocked him out. My driver, he got shot across the cheek. And I said, ‘Well, can you still drive?' and he said, ‘Yes.' And he kept driving and he got shot again. He wasn't wearing a helmet. He got shot in the head. My radio operator, he was handing (the gun) to me and I was loading and he got shot through the neck and I looked at him and he just kind of withered and went down," Price said.
Price was the only one left unwounded. But that did not last long.
"I was caulking my .50 caliber and I thought someone kicked me. I went all the way back," he said.
Price said he got shot twice, once in the arm and once in his shoulder. He said he feared if he didn't fall back, a third bullet would have gone through his chest. But Price kept fighting.
"They thought they killed me. They thought they killed us all. And I rose back up and they started running. But one of them had a grenade," said Price.
"He flipped it and I kept (thinking) 'How many seconds does it take for it to fire and do I have time to grab it and throw it back? I only got one arm. What's going to happen if I blow my other arm off?' We would have all been killed," Price said.
He said all the others with him were unconscious but still alive, so he was their only hope.
"They (enemy soldiers) were all laying in trenches so we couldn't see them until we got right on top of them. And I saw the guy and he saw me and I shot him six times. He died quickly," Price recalled.
But Price will never say he saved their lives. Instead, he said, "I just happened to be the only one still awake."
Although that day was 44 years ago, Price said it will forever be imprinted in his mind and in his heart.
Price is a Purple Heart recipient and has been awarded a Bronze Star with a V device for Valor, among other awards. He was also instrumental in the creation and funding of the Lubbock Area Veterans War Memorial. Price is also on the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument committee that will be dedicated in Austin on March 29, 2014.
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