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On 8/2/2014 7:50 AM, Dan Cragg wrote:
I had the distinct honor of serving with YNCM Avera in Vietnam. He often spoke of his service on Operation Deep Freeze. We were in awe of his Wintering Over service medal.
In Vietnam we were both assigned to the Secretary of the Joint Staff Military History Branch, Military Assistance Command, where we worked on the command histories of the Vietnam War
Jerry and I shared quarters at the Metropole Bachelor Enlisted quarters on Tran Hung Dao Boulevard in Saigon in 1965. Early on the morning of December 4, 1965 the Vietcong blew
up our quarters with a car bomb. Our room was on the third floor of the building facing the street where the bomb went off. I was not there that morning but Jerry was.
At the first sound of gunfire as our guard exchanged shots with the terrorists, Jerry got up and took cover in the hallway as we were instructed to do in such
emergencies. When the firing finally died away Jerry thought the attack was over and went back into our room at the very moment the bomb went off.
A piece of fragment
struck him on the top of his head and dazed him. The blood from his wound blinded him so he staggered onto and fell down my bed and bled all over it. He spent a few days in
When we went there to award him his Purple Heart our colonel asked, "Avera, think you'll extend your tour again?" I won't tell you exactly what he replied.
The day after the bombing I was allowed back into our room to retrieve my personal gear. The room was a shambles, the windows blown out, the door ripped off and lying in the hallway.
When I picked it up I noticed a hole punched through the solid wood by the projectile that wounded Jerry. I stood the door up and observed the hole the fragment had made If I had
been standing there that morning instead of Jerry, that fragment would have hit me right in the Adam's apple.
Jerry Avera was a very talented man. I especially admired his natural talent as an artist Some of his cartoons were published in various newspapers he was so good. He could
take a pencil and in a few minutes produce a caricature that would make anybody laugh, some of me, which unfortunately I've lost now. The last time I saw him I was leaving the
Pentagon Building and we only had time to exchange greetings.
Jerry was a good shipmate at sea and everywhere else he ever wound up. He was taken from us too young. I think often of him and those days we served together and I miss him.
Sgt. Maj., USA (Ret.)
smadge9 at cox.net