"Frank Vinales' Story
Rifleman, Squad Leader, 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company
Sgt. Frank Vinales,
paratrooper/squad leader, 3rd
Platoon, Company C, native
of the Bronx, New York City, New York. Frank enlisted in the military in July
1965 and took his Basic Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He also completed AIT
at Fort Dix in October 1965, followed by Jump School in December 1965 at Fort
Benning, Georgia. In 1966, he also completed Recondo School at Fort Campbell,
Kentucky and Jungle School in Panama. Frank deployed to South Vietnam
along with the original group of 3-506 Currahees aboard the USNS William Weigel
in October 1967.
Sgt. Vinales was seriously wounded during the Battle at Phu Bon
Hamlet on February 6, 1968. The battle claimed the lives of two Currahees—one
of them was Frank’s close friend, Sgt. Paul Cline. Sgt. Cline was wounded
during the heat of battle and caught in the open under intense enemy fire.
Several futile attempts were made to rescue him, and Sgt. Vinales felt compelled
to help his friend. Without regard for his own safety, Frank crawled through the
chaos of the battle under constant enemy automatic weapons fire toward Sgt.
By the time he reached Sgt. Cline’s position, Frank was
thankful to find his friend still alive. He managed to fire a LAW into the enemy
bunker to his front; but twice, enemy bullets ripped into Sgt. Vinales, as the
enemy concentrated a vigorous volley of fire on the two exposed paratroopers.
Sgt. Vinales recalls, “After I fired the M72, there was a great deal of enemy
fire directed towards us. Suddenly, Paul, with what little strength he had left
in him, grabbed hold of me and rolled over on top of me, shielding my body from
the relentless enemy fire. I could feel the enemy bullets hitting Paul, as he
protected me from the enemy fire.”
Sgt. Vinales lay very still underneath Paul’s lifeless body
until darkness began to fall on the battlefield. Under the cover of darkness, he
managed to crawl back to the security his platoon’s position; but was wounded
twice more during his arduous escape from the battlefield. Sgt. Vinales was
evacuated to a field hospital, then on to Japan for treatment of his wounds. He
eventually returned to the States for further treatment at Fort Devens,
Massachusetts. After his seven-month recovery, Frank was discharged from
For his actions in battle on February 6, 1968, Sgt. Frank
Vinales was awarded the Silver Star Medal. His close friend, Sgt. Paul Cline,
who unselfishly gave his own life to save Frank, was posthumously awarded the
Distinguished Service Cross—the second highest medal awarded by the U. S. Army
to a soldier in combat. Frank Vinales currently resides in Chandler,
Arizona and is employed by Cox Cable Communications as a Field Team Coordinator.
From the time he served as a young paratrooper in Vietnam until now, Frank still
swells with pride when he hears the word “Currahee”. He has attended several
3-506 annual reunions, and still keeps in touch with his fellow Currahee
brothers. Frank feels that all of the warriors who didn’t come home are the
real heroes of war—and like his close friend, Paul Cline, should never be
can read more about Sgt. Frank Vinales in the detailed account of
at Phu Bon Hamlet” Also, be sure to read "The Frank Vinales Story" in the "VETERANS
DAY STORIES" in the Archives Section.
Note: For those
of you reading this story and were wounded in Vietnam or Cambodia and
medevaced to hospitals in Vietnam or Japan, please contact me. I am
attempting to document for our unit history those WIAs.
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