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A Final Farewell to Randy “Doc” Lose,

1st Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry, Medic of the “Lost Platoon”,

Ia Drang Valley Ambush, Vietnam, November 1965.


From November 14 -17, 1965, then Lt. Col Hal Moore and his men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, found themselves in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.  Shortly after making an air assault landing, Moore and his men were attacked by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAV) in a valley northwest of Plei Me in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.  The Ia Drang Valley, named after the Ia Drang River, hosted two U.S. landing zones (LZs), X-Ray and Albany.  Colonel Moore’s battalion fought in the first battle at LZ X-Ray. The 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was ambushed in a subsequent battle at LZ Albany.

By November 17, 1965, the American forces in the Ia Drang Valley had swelled to include the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry.   The story of the Ia Drang Valley battles was retold in the critically acclaimed book and movie, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, written by Hal Moore and Joe Galloway.

On the first day, November 14, then Captain John Herren ordered three platoons to advance toward the Chu Pong Mountain that dominated the terrain.  The 2nd platoon under Lt. Henry Herrick aggressively pursued a group of enemy soldiers, but ran into a large force of enemy coming off the mountain, and was cut off and surrounded.  Despite suffering heavy losses while engaging the American platoon in the first few minutes, the North Vietnamese continued the assault, killing six men in the platoon within the first 30 minutes, including Lt. Herrick.  An additional two men would be killed and thirteen wounded before the rest of Captain Herren’s company and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry linked up with the platoon and brought them back to the LZ the next day.

The odds against any man surviving in the cut off platoon were huge.  Credit for this remarkable survival is given to Sgt. Ernie Savage, who repeatedly called in artillery fire support around the platoon’s position, and the outstanding care of the platoon’s medic, Randy Lose.  Wounded himself in the foot, twenty-two year old Lose kept the wounded alive throughout the twenty-six hour ordeal.  He crawled from man to man throughout the fighting, plugging their holes with C-ration toilet paper when he ran out of bandages.  “Doc” Lose earned a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in saving the lives of the wounded under his care.

The Final Good-Bye

On April 3, 2009, “Doc” Lose, 1st Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry, was buried in the National Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi.  His former captain, (Ret.) Col. John Herren, recounts the final good-bye to this fine young soldier and remarkable human being.

“Doc Lose” was given an outstanding military honors farewell at the Biloxi National Cemetery on 3 April under blue and sunny skies.  Mark Lose, his nephew and former Navy man, organized the service that featured a former 82nd Airborne Reverend presiding, and a former XVIII Airborne Corps bandsman singing a solo and doing the readings. The local National Guard and Reserves were there in dress blues to handle the presentation of the flag to Pam Gerald, Randy’s daughter, and to sound taps. 

About 45 minutes before the service, the Mississippi Patriot Guard motorcycle group rolled in with American flags flying to honor Randy and to guard the service against any anti-war protesters who may have had plans to disrupt this military funeral, as they have tried to do at similar funerals in other parts of the country. 

The Reverend Thack Dyson recapped Randy Lose’s battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other related problems, which he was never able to overcome.  Ernie Savage, Ed Times, another B Company member and I made some short comments about Randy and his heroic actions at LZ X-Ray with the cut-off platoon.  About 20 members of Randy’s family attended as well as Billy Smith and Jim Ertle from my former Company and a member of the 1st Battalion, 21st Artillery that provided the fire support that kept the 2nd platoon alive during their 26-hour ordeal. Following the funeral service, some of us were able to attend a Lose family gathering in Saraland, Alabama, where we were warmly welcomed and feasted on good southern cooking. 

I am sure that Randy would have been proud and honored by his sendoff and we will all miss that brave medic-soldier who helped save many of his fellow troopers at LZ X-Ray.

“Garry Owen”, Sir.  

John Herren

Note:  If you wish to contact (Ret.) Col. Herren, please contact St. John at stjohnjournals@comcast.net.  Ms. St. John will forward your information to (Ret.) Col. Herren.