TO HONOR THE LIFE OF CHARLES S. SEKETA
Thank you for attending and
celebrating the life of Chuck Seketa.
My name is Charles Davis.
Through a story, an anecdote, I
would like to demonstrate Chuck’s character and leadership skills,
not only felt by me, but by all of the men of the 1st
Battalion, 20th Infantry, Americal division.
In another time, and in another
place, I was Lt. Davis, 3rd Platoon Leader, Delta
Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th
Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Chuck was my Company Commander.
In other words, he was my boss.
I arrived in Saigon from the
United States in the morning. The U.S. Army asked for volunteers to
immediately go to the Americal Division, in southern I Corps,
in the northern part of the country. I volunteered!! I was
quickly whisked onto a plane, and in about 2 hours arrived at the
Americal base camp at Chu Lai. As I exited the airplane, in my
travel uniform, a liaison officer, said,” Lt. Davis, follow me.”
These are Army words that you do not want to hear.
I was led to a room where field
fatigues, boots, ruck-sack, weapons and gear were awaiting. The
officer asked if I could change in a hurry, as a helicopter was
waiting, just for me. He took my paperwork and personal
That morning, I was the sole
passenger on a Huey helicopter out-bound to the field. Had been in
country less than 5 hours.
I asked the pilot where “we” we
going. He laughed and said “we”? “You are going to LZ Center, which
has been under attack for about a week.”
If I knew then, what I later
discovered, that LZ Center, and its near-by LZ Ross, were the
Devils’ gift to the Infantry. You shuttered when you heard “Center”,
In-bound, as the helicopter
circled and LOWERED to the mountain landing zone, with both its
door-gunners firing concentrated rounds for my safe exit, there was
this unmistakable sound of “ping”, as incoming enemy rounds struck
the helicopter, and “crack” as bullets whizzed by my head, through
the helicopter, from one open door through the other.
As we hovered, the pilot
ordered me to jump onto the mountaintop, as he could not land, or
linger, or risked being shot down.
As I, and my 100 pound pack,
rolled onto the mountain mud and rock, here comes Captain Seketa,
Chuck, crawling quickly, over to me. With certainty in his eyes,
concentration in his face, and, in that firm and consoling voice of
leadership, he put out his hand to shake mine, and said, “Welcome to
Vietnam, Lieutenant.” And he added, “In case you are wondering, it
only gets worse.” I was, now, in country, less than 8 hours.
Fast forward, if you might,
plus or minus 40 years, to our Officer’s Call in Indianapolis,
Indiana, where Chuck pulled me aside and said, “I want to apologize
for the entire U.S.Army, for what they did to you that day, was both
criminal and inconceivable.” I have felt horrible for 40 years.”
That was Chuck.
Reasonable and demanding! Demanding and forgiving! A
born leader, who got more calm, and more in control, as the
situation tumbled more out-of-control. He was a man’s man.
He was the very best of what an infantryman can say of each other…a
warrior. And, a friend for life.
© 2010 - Charles H. Davis, II - All Rights Reserved