022

MAX SHEPHERD

(Reading time 4 minutes)

Max Shepherd served with a Marine Corp military police unit in Vietnam.  The unit was assigned to the central highlands, about 15 miles from the Ho Chi Minh trail.  On a routine scouting detail, the platoon was ambushed by an enemy patrol.  All of the troupes were lost, except Chuck Yokum, a Corporal from New Jersey, and Max Shepherd, whom he befriended at the headquarters camp.

There was considerable mortar fire and Chuck thought for sure he and Max were the only survivors. But, where is Max?  Chuck heard a rustling in the brush, and saw there his best friend Max, bleeding from a wound to the leg. Max was being very quiet, suffering the pain noiselessly, lest they be discovered.  When Max realized that his friend Chuck was only a few feet away, he struggled to move by his side.    They both waited for the passing enemy patrol to move out. which seemed like hours.  What to do?  Surely, if they did not return to base, a search party would be dispatched.  Chuck was not seriously injured himself, so he made a sled with a couple of tree limbs and his shirt stretched between them, to drag Max back to base with his injured leg.  On the trip to the base, Chuck fell into a bungee hole, impaling his leg on a bamboo spike.  The spike was coated with deadly feces, as was common in Vietnam warfare.  Max knew that this would be the end of his best friend in all of the world, if he didn’t go for help.  He climbed off of the sled, meant for dragging him to safety, and painfully limped with a bleeding leg. Max crawled in the direction he knew, only by instinct that would bring help.  It was the hardest thing Max had ever done, leaving his best friend Chuck helplessly impaled in the bungee hole, while he searched for help.  Within minutes, he knew he was on the right path.  When Max arrived at the base, he succeeded in convincing the few troupes in the platoon, to follow him back and help Chuck.    A medic bandaged Max’s wounded leg.

A small contingent of four or five men was dispatched and followed Max, who led them right to the spot where Chuck was.  Chuck was drifting in and out of consciousness.  You may say, what is so special about this story?  Any friend would have done the same thing for his buddy.

There is just one thing that I didn’t tell you yet about Max.    Max Shepherd was not a regular soldier.  Max was a war dog.  The men pulled Chuck from the bungee pit.  His leg was in serious condition, packed with festering blood and excrement from the sharpened bamboo spike.   There was a happy ending, but it took months to treat Chuck for his wounds.  Part of his foot that had to be amputated, but he lived.

Corporal Chuck himself was discharged and sent home, Max however stayed behind with the company as their War Dog. Chuck and Max never met again.  Max was another unsung hero.  The best he would get for his heroism was a few extra bones and a pat on the head. His friend Chuck was gone forever.  It was often speculated, by the other members of the company, that the sad look Max had, was from lamenting the loss of his best friend in the world, Chuck Yokum.

(582 words. Approximate reading time, 4 min.)