Sunday, January 6, 2013

Battle of Ia Drang Chaplain Nevin Snyder Remembered

From Bill Vagianos, President, Brevard Veteran's Memorial Center

In a place that came to be known as The Valley of Death, in a football field-sized clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and 400 young troopers from the elite newly formed American 7th "Air" Cavalry, were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers dug into the surrounding tunnel-pocked mountainside.

The ensuing battle was one of the most savage of the Vietnam War. Those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another continually reflect our Honor and Commitment in service to our country.

The battle was depicted in the book and movie, "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young" Nevin Snyder was there and served heroically.

Nevin served for many, many years as Chaplain to the Vietnam Veterans of Brevard, the Brevard Veteran's Council, the Brevard Veteran's Memorial Center, and also ministered to the Veteran population at-large on an ongoing basis.

Nevin Snyder fought his final battle January 2, 2013. He will buried, alongside his wife at the Brevard cemetery with full Military Honors on Friday, January 18, 2013 at 1500 hours.

JANUARY 5, 2013

My brother Nevin

My brother Nevin died Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 2, at Fellowship Manor in Whitehall, Pa. He was 84.

Nevin served as a pastor in Pennsylvania, where he grew up, before becoming a full-time army chaplain.

As a chaplain, his tours of duty included Vietnam and Thailand.

He was chaplain to the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Ia Drang where 72 American soldiers died, the first big loss of American lives in the Vietnam War. This battle was the basis for the movie We Were Soldiers, although the movie distorted the facts of the battle to try to make the story more upbeat.

It was not an upbeat story except for the honor of the soldiers who served and died. Retired General Hal Moore tells the real story in his book We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young on which the movie was loosely based.

The night before the battle, Nevin served communion to some of the 72 men who died the next day. After the battle, he was called upon to identify their bodies.

He told me that he smoked a cigar while identifying the bodies because the cigar smoke masked the smell of death. Otherwise, he said, he would have vomited. Better to look manly smoking a cigar than to break down.
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