Roosevelt Wallace: ‘We had firefights from 12 o’clock at night to daybreak’
Roosevelt Wallace of Darlington suffered two wounds in Vietnam when he was 21 years old. The first was the worst.
It was 1968 and he was in the Army Infantry. “We were going to set up an ambush, and we got ambushed,” recalled Wallace, 72, who describes himself as a lifelong Darlington resident.
“There were eight of us in that squad, and they hit six of us,” Wallace said. “Nobody got killed.” Wallace was hit in the neck – what could have been a fatal wound. He had to wait 11 or 12 hours to be airlifted off the battlefield. “I bled a lot,” he said. “I lost consciousness.”
The Army sent him to Japan to recover. That was Purple Heart No. 1 for Wallace, in the fall of 1968. The second was in 1969, when, back in action, Wallace and 75 to 100 U.S. troops were attacked by “waves” of enemy regulars.
Wallace said they were outnumbered at least 2-1. “We had firefights from 12 o’clock at night to daybreak. … I got it in the arm that time.” That was Purple Heart No. 2. In addition to those honors, Wallace also holds a Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters and other citations.
Wallace said the war is a complicated thing to talk about. “It wasn’t a war we were sent there to win. That’s what makes it complicated.”