Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 49

THE ROLE OF CHARACTER MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 In 1967, the Army had pulled a young signal officer out of school and assigned him as the squadron signal officer under Otis. The lieutenant confessed his fear of failing to his new leader. Otis sat beside him, looked him squarely in the eyes, and tapped him on the knee. Otis encouraged the lieutenant, saying he only needed to follow him—and the lieutenant would be fine. The young officer believed Otis. Eventually, that lieutenant forgot the name of every other officer he knew in Vietnam, but he remembered Glenn Otis all his life because he was a man first, and a colonel second. Otis had a great sense of humor. During a contact with North Vietnamese Army forces in Hoc Mon in 1968, shortly after taking command of the squadron, he landed near one of the C Troop tanks. The tank commander kept a pet monkey tied to the cupola on a leash. When Otis arrived, the commander was NARA as the armored vehicles moved through the village. The soldiers did not like doing that because it was so dangerous. On occasion, Otis would dismount and go out on flank security with an infantry squad. One of the troopers who hated those missions said that when he saw Otis dismounted with them, he felt he could not complain about his duties. One of the troublesome areas along the highway was near the village of An Duc, north of Cu Chi where the Viet Cong repeatedly placed mines in a culvert under the road. Birdwell and Nolan describe an incident in which Birdwell’s section in Charlie Troop was assigned the mission of overseeing the culvert area during the hours of darkness. The small unit was carefully concealed in a location near the culvert, waiting patiently and watching for signs of any enemy movement. Suddenly, Birdwell said he heard a low, rumbling noise. It came closer and closer from behind his location. Finally, in the darkness, he could make out a command track vehicle and the silhouette of Otis on top. The vehicle stopped. After several minutes, Otis quietly contacted him by radio. From his location, Otis, using a night-vision scope, could see a group of Viet Cong moving quietly toward the road