Patrick Joseph StrayerStaff Sergeant
C TRP, 3RD SQD, 4TH CAV RGT, 25 INF DIV
Army of the United States
11 June 1943 - 31 January 1968
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The database page for Patrick Joseph Strayer
About five years after your Dad's death I stopped for a visit in Cleveland. You were about six or seven years old. You asked me "What was my Daddy like?" and was I his high school friend? I didn't know what to tell you at that time or what your age would allow you to understand. Now I've lost contact with you and your family after these many years but I still want to answer your questions.
Let me tell you about your father, you already know his military record, and he was every bit a hero. No, Colleen, I did not go to high school with him, but I can still tell you what he was like. We were both stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where you were born. Pat and I were both in the Army for about eight years or so. Your mom and my wife were friends and your dad and I were the very best of friends. I believe we are only given one true friend in life, all others are just acquaintances. I knew your dad four or five years before you were born. What was he like? He was very proud the day you were born. I was in your house, at a party, and your entrance broke the party up real fast. That was the night you were born.
Patrick and I spent every free minute together hunting and fishing. We would take our old dogs out all day. Your dad's dog was named Toby, he was a bird dog, and I had a beagle (rabbit dog) named Traveler after Robert E. Lees' famous horse. We would go for the weekend camping and fishing. We would sit up all night with a little bourbon, our fishing poles and the dogs. We really didn't care if we caught any fish. We just talked, joked around, told stories and planned for the future.
We planned to finish our enlistments and give the Army up. We talked about moving to Idaho. We heard of the good fishing, hunting and jobs out there. Your Dad loved to play practical jokes and your Mom was usually at the butt end of those jokes.
Pat could see things around him that I never noticed. I guess he had so much feeling for his fellow man. One day a few weeks before Christmas, we had been deer hunting off post, we stopped at a bar for sandwiches and beer. It was cold and snowing. There was a car in the parking lot with three little children in it. Your Dad noticed this while I just walked by, do you see what I mean. Well, we went in the bar, there were three civilians, drinking at the bar. Your Dad asked who's car it was... Well, there are three Kentucky civilians who will not forget your Dad or ever leave children to freeze in a car again.
The day Pat left for Nam he gave me a few things to keep for him. To this day, I still have them. If you ever read this letter I would like for you to have those things back. They belong to you. I loved your Dad more than any man or person in my family. He has been my only friend. I have never hunted again. I tried fishing but it was just not the same.
If you ever see this letter you may contact me and I would be proud to tell you all about your Dad.
I was supposed to be your godfather and my ex-wife to be your godmother. Since I was not Catholic the church would not allow this. That really hurt your Dad, he really wanted me to be your godfather. I never had any children. I did take a discharge from the Army after Nam and nine years military service but I never moved to Idaho. I now live in the Tennesee Mountains. I guess this is as close to Idaho as I will ever be.
This note is to Pat's daughter, Colleen.
I am your Uncle Carl Estenik. Your dad and I and your Uncle John pretty much grew up together in Cleveland. Pat and I both went into the Army at about the same time and we both ended up in viet Nam.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with your dad while we were in country. He was a really fine guy and a lot of fun to be around.
I am now living in St. Petersburg, Florida. You can e-mail me at email@example.com.
A Note from The Virtual WallOn 31 Jan 1968, Charlie Troop, 3/4th Cav, provided a reaction force in support of Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The after-action report states what happened in typically sterile military language:
"On 31 January Troop C (-) reacted to Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The Troop was ambushed outside gate 051. The Squadron reacted with Troop D and Troop B (+). The results of action was 3 APC completely lost, 1 Tank completely lost, 7 APC damaged, 14 US KHA, 64 US WHA, 309 VC KIA (BC), 24 VC PW ..."The Charlie Troop casualties were
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009