A Pair Of Boots
Bob Tackitt was born in Longmont, Colorado, lived a short while in Utah before moving to Fallon, Nevada in 1966. Bob was talked into a Marine deferred deployment enlistment by his friend Bill Smiley. After graduating from high school in 1968 Bob and Bill reported for August basic training in San Diego as part of the Nevada Platoon.
In January, 1969, Lance Corporal Bob Tackitt landed in Da Nang, Viet Nam as part of the 3rd Marine Division, 4th Battalion, Mike Company, Bravo Squad, with an MOS 0351 (armorer) and carrying an M79 (grenade launcher). His first impression; “It’s f****** hot here!”
Bob was in the bush 5 months and 20 days, encamped on Hill 241, which was 9 klicks from the infamous Rockpile near the Demilitarized Zone. Every other week they would go out on 5 day patrols. On the fateful day the patrol positions were established - Bob was in third position, Bob's best friend, Gary, was in the second position. Then it was discovered that the person who was supposed to be point man had taken off his boots during the night (a huge no no), and was having trouble getting his boots on because of swollen feet, so SGT Cahill had everyone move up one position. This put Gary on point, Bob was in second position and Williams moved up to third position.
A short time into the patrol a command detonated Claymore mine went off. Bob was blown back with shrapnel wounds in his throat and spine. He was laying on his back wondering why he couldn’t move his body when he looked over and saw a severed leg, “I guess that’s why I can’t move my leg”, he thought (the leg was from Williams).
Gary, who was also wounded, ran up and saw that although Bob wasn’t moving his eyes were blinking. The ambush was in full swing so Gary grabbed Bob and drug him to some shelter and began working on him to save his life by stopping the bleeding.
Williams, the man who had replaced Bob in the third position, was killed. Bob and Gary were the only survivors of the first three positions because of a pair of boots. Gary would be in a hospital for a year but recovered. Bob was now a quadriplegic, but he was alive and would make it home and walk with the aid of leg braces and a cane. He would make it home to go to college, marry and have a son. He would make it home to become a high level Black Rank in Goju-Shorei Weapons and instill fear and inspiration in many other GSW Black Ranks. He would make it home because of a pair of boots.
Such a small thing, a pair of boots, but it was life altering for Bob.
Gary (the person who saved Bob’s life) last saw Bob in a hospital in Guam. Bob was strapped in to a bed, totally paralyzed from the neck down. Until I found Gary in November he thought he had sentenced Bob to a life of being trapped in a non-functioning body. For 47 years he had been living with great guilt about Bob. I hope my phone call was his Pair Of Boots.