Photo courtesy of the 1969 yearbook
CPL - E4 - Army - Selective Service
26 year old Single, Caucasian, Male
Born on Nov 04, 1942
From GEORGETOWN, TEXAS
His tour of duty began on Jan 10, 1969
Casualty was on Apr 27, 1969
in HUA NGHIA, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
ARTILLERY, ROCKET, or MORTAR
Body was recovered
Religion: EVANGELICAL, REFORMED
Panel 26W - - Line 66
More information on April 27th, 1969
THE GREATEST TEXAN
He was the greatest Texan I have ever known. Like myself, Richard Oman was a teacher when he went to Vietnam, having taught Agriculture in Georgetown, Texas. I had trained to be a teacher before going directly from College to Vietnam. The two of us worked in the Fire Direction Center of the 4.2 Mortar Section in the 1/5 Mech of the 25th Infantry Division. Oman spoke fondly of a state championship football team. I had played on the baseball and soccer teams at Berea College.
Our jobs kept us on duty around the clock. We monitored all of the radios for all the companies in the Battalion. When they had enemy contact, we prepared firing data for our mortar sections to fire in support of our troops.
The heat of the day brought the re-supply convoy from CuChi, our division base camp. Ammo had to be dealt with first, breaking open cases of mortar rounds attaching the proper fuses and allotting rounds to all gun crews to prepare for future fire missions.
Toward the afternoon, Oman and I would get data from 1/8 Artillery for night firing H&I's as well as plotting def cons (defense concentration) in case of an enemy attack. Lastly we plotted on our maps the night operations of all the line companies as well as observation posts and night ambush locations in addition to all ARVN units operating in our area of operation.
You really get close to someone during the life and death decisions you make that affect so many others. We talked about many things in the long night hours. But mostly Oman talked about Georgetown, Texas and I told him of the hill country of Kentucky.
We listened to music on armed forces radio. It signed off with the National Anthem at midnight and signed back on around 5:00 AM in the morning with Crounaur's "Good Morning Vietnam."
On the evening of April 26, 1969, at Fire Support Base Patton, Omar and I had plotted all data on our maps for the night and were sitting on the hatch of the command track singing "Galveston" along with Glen Campbell on armed forces radio, one of Oman's favorite songs. It reminded him of Texas and home.
At 3:30 am on the morning of April 27, 1969, the NVA began to drop mortars on our 4.2 position. Oman and I had switched sleeping places for the first time in months. I slept in his bunker and he slept outside on my cot. The first round hit Oman killing him instantly. I remember helping carry Jimmy, Mahi, and then Washington across the perimeter to the medic track. I have made that trip daily in my mind, in the surreal light from illumination rounds and blasts from incoming. When I returned to the FDC track, I realized Oman was not inside. I found him alongside the track where he had been killed instantly by a Chinese 81 mortor shell. Some will say they have found closure on the war. I have not and I am not sure I ever will. Oman was my best friend.
It does haunt me at times as to why that night but never before, why Oman and not me? Like many others that served in Vietnam, there has not been a day in thirty-four years that I have not thought about Vietnam and of Oman. Someday I hope I can face going to Georgetown, Texas to visit his grave.
War was brutal in 1968, 69, and 70 in the HOBO Woods, the Boi Loi's, the Citadel and the Iron Triangle. The war was also very impersonal. At first light, I packed Oman's belongings, mounted a recon track, and moved out to survey in a new patrol base, to be named Devins. Of course when I returned, Oman and the wounded had been dusted off and the war continued on.
As I write this, at 03:30 in the morning thirty-four years later, I suppose I just wanted someone to remember Richard Oman and all the best he represented for America. Oman was my best friend, he died serving his Country, he was the pride of Georgetown, Texas and he was the greatest Texan I have ever known.
Perry County Sheriff
Buckhorn, KY 41721
HHC 1/5 Mech. 25th Inf. Div
Vietnam - Nov 1968 - Jan 1970