By Gail Parsons, Fort Riley Public AffairsSeptember 11, 2018
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Friday, Sept. 13, 1968 -- Ted Englemann was a young Air Force radio operator at Lai Khe Base Camp, Vietnam; Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, was observing the fighting from a helicopter near Loc Ninh, close to the Cambodian border.
Some moments of the day are fuzzy to Englemann, something he chalks up to the "fog of war." Other moments are deeply seared into his memory.
At Lai Khe, the Army and the Air Force shared a building. On that day, he was in the building and his job was to keep track of the pilots.
"We were making calls, checking in with people," he said. "Our job mainly was just to make sure nobody bumps into each other and everybody keeps it clean and straight, so we don't hurt each other and hurt other innocent people on the ground.
"We would have about a five-minute radio check on all the pilots airborne," he added. "We would have maybe three or four pilots doing different things at the same time. Sometimes, we were twisting buttons for different channels turned to talk to different people, pick up their conversations with the jets. 'What's going on? Where are you?' Things like that. With one radio it was, at times, kind of hard to keep track of everybody and all the things that were going on."
The Tactical Operations Center was partly underground. It was a rectangular building; Air Force was on the south side, Army was on the north, but each could hear what the other side was doing, he said.
When he noticed a sudden commotion on the Army side, he tried to continue his work while also trying to hear what the buzz was about.
"I'm perking up my ears trying to figure out what's going on," he said. "All of a sudden, the words come in, 'Danger 6 is down.'"
At that moment, no one knew for sure what happened. Was the helicopter shot down? Did it crash? Were there survivors? No one knew, Englemann said.
Danger 6 is the call sign for the commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division.
They would soon learn the full scope of the situation. The aircraft had crashed in the dense jungle. There were no survivors. General Ware, three staff officers and a crew of four perished.
The 52-year-old was the fourth American general killed in the Vietnam War; the first for the Army.
According to several published accounts of Ware's history and time in service, he was drafted in 1941 during World War II.
On December 26, 1944, then-Lt. Col. Ware was in command of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
The Military Hall of Honor website states, "Ware's battalion was attacking a heavily fortified German hilltop position. Finding one of the assault companies stalled and digging in under heavy fire, Ware went forward past their position and made a close reconnaissance of the German positions, deliberately drawing their fire in order to determine their location. After two hours, he returned to the company and brought back a small force -- 11 men and a tank -- in order to renew the attack; leading the advance personally, he disabled four machine-gun positions before the hill was secured."
Ware's actions earned him the Medal of Honor.
When Word War II ended, Ware remained in the Army becoming a career Soldier.
"He arrived in Vietnam shortly before the outbreak of the Tet Offensive in early 1968, serving as the Deputy Commander of II Field Force," said the Military Hall of Honor website. "Dispatched to Saigon immediately after the start of the Tet attacks, he assumed control of the American forces in the area, forming Task Force Ware. After several days of heavy fighting, he had stabilized the situation and the task force was dispersed. Following this, Ware was assigned to command the 1st Inf. Div. March 1968."
Englemann said he met the general a few times in passing and was keenly aware of Ware's history. The moment he heard "Danger 6 is down" his life changed, although the rest of that day is a blur.
"It was within days, a day, or two, or three, or four I started realizing that I was angry," he said. "I was acting in a passive-aggressive behavior, or maybe more aggressive than passive."
It would be a while before he would realize why he was changing. In World War I it was called shell shock. In World War II it was battle fatigue. Today, it's been identified as Post-traumatic stress disorder, but there was no name and no treatment during Vietnam for the emotional stress Soldiers were under.
He was angry, hurt and didn't understand why, he said.
"Later, I realized it was because I was on radios," Englemann said. "We were ready to call up for tactical air. Those would be the jets that would be supporting the general when he was in a C and C, his command and control chopper. He had his group of people, his executive officer, the chopper pilot and co-pilot -- all those that were with him -- they were up there trying to get his troops out of an ambush, and/or potential ambush, and we were calling up TACAIR to support him for troops in contact. Which means, we know what sort of ordinance to bring into the game to help the ground troops the most."
They were waiting for the call from either the ground or Danger Six to know what was happening. There were so many unknowns.
"What do they need? What do they want? Where is it? What's going on? What's the coordinates? Things like that," Englemann said. "I felt responsible for their death, for his death. Basically, nobody dies on my watch. That's what I was thinking. Right? And especially not a general -- damn right. Especially not Maj. Gen. Keith Ware. It would have been bad enough if some private had been blown away, but you know -- the major general of the division. Holy mackerel. That sort of stuff just doesn't happen."
He carried that guilt 16 years, it was especially difficult whenever a Friday the 13th would roll around. Finally, one day in 1984 he went to a veterans' center in Denver, Colorado and someone told him, "You are not responsible for that," Engleman said. "Finally, somebody said I was not responsible. That set me on a new path. I took myself off the hook for his death."
Although the intensity of the guilt has passed, when the anniversary rolls around, he knows to be prepared for a wave of emotion.
"In 2002, I was back in Hanoi and I realized it was Wednesday, Sept 11. I said, 'Oh sh**' Sept. 13 was two days away," he said. "I got scared. I called two of my Vietnamese friends in Hanoi. One was in the Army. One was an academic. I called them up and said, 'I have a problem. Can we go out? I need to be with somebody friendly.' They got a room for the three of us. We drank beer, got buzzed. All of us had been through this stuff on one side or another."
Englemann continues to hold Ware's memory close to his heart and strives to ensure the general's legacy is remembered for more than just being a name on a school or a ceremonial parade field. Today, he tells the story of veterans and war through his photography. In 2008, he was embedded with Soldiers in Afghanistan, documenting their experiences.
He shares his photography of war and conflict in the U. S., Vietnam, South Korea and Australia, and is working on a photo compilation.
Progress on his upcoming book, 'One Soldiers Heart,' can be seen on his web site at www.tedengelmann.com.
He describes the photo essay book as "a life-long effort, perhaps obsession, to understand the emotional effects of the American War in Vietnam that my generation and others experienced."