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Old 04-23-2016, 11:35   #1
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Lt. Col. Clark Welch (ret), RIP

RIP Warrior, Vaya con Dios..
My sincere condolences to the family..

Vietnam War hero dies in Leesburg, by Lauren Ritchie Lauren, April 22, 2016

Ret. Lt. Col. Clark Welch was known for caring about 'his' soldiers

Maybe Clark Welch would still be alive today if the U.S. Army had been a little more gentle with that body of his.

The retired lieutenant colonel — probably Lake County's most highly decorated veteran — had shrapnel permanently jammed against his chest wall, which didn't help when it came to fighting a debilitating lung disease. He had no triceps muscle in one arm — it was blown off in combat. And over his 31-year career in the Army, he had broken more bones than his family could count, which took a lingering toll on his 76-year-old body.

Welch, an Airborne Ranger who loved his soldiers like a father, died April 12 in Leesburg.

The lieutenant colonel owned a piece of history in the Vietnam War that unfortunately was shrouded in lies by the U.S. government until a 2004 book by a Pulitzer Prize winner exposed the truth. For 25 years, the United States had portrayed the 1967 battle at Ong Thanh as a marvelous victory, when in truth it was a heartbreaking rout that left 60 men unnecessarily dead.

For his courageous part in the battle, Welch was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest medal America awards for extraordinary heroism in combat.

Welch led a battle-weary crew of men into a fight on Oct. 17 that he knew was marching straight into a nest of Viet Cong.

He recalled the situation in an interview in 2014: "I couldn't say 'I'm not going.' But it was beginning to be obvious that this thing didn't make sense. I didn't want to stand up and say, 'Sir, you're stupid.' "

Of course, Welch and his 70-some men went — right into a three-sided ambush.

"There was a tremendous burst of fire — bang, boom, burst of bullets, the leaves on the trees were getting blown down. When the firing started, it was kind of a whoosh — almost like a wind, a heavy wind blowing through there so you couldn't see them, you couldn't get to them," Welch said of the enemy.

A contingent of men from another company all dropped at the same time.

"I yelled to head toward them, but they're gone. They've blown them up. We didn't have anything to hide behind, and they were down in holes. My rifle got shot in the side and wasn't good anymore. I reached for my pistol, and I saw two of the enemy staring at me over a machine gun.

"I shot the first one, and the second one shot me."

The bullet ripped off Welch's left triceps.

A tourniquet wrapped around his arm to stanch the blood flow, Welch kept fighting. He was shot three times more in the chest and once in the leg. During the six-hour battle, he would black out, come to, and fight again, taking crazy chances by running through the thick of the battle to rescue his soldiers, despite a second tourniquet around his leg.

To hear Welch humbly tell the story was spellbinding, a fascinating piece of history that transforms the listener into a witness on the battlefield.

His son, Bryan, acknowledged his gift for bringing tales alive in his obituary:

"Those closest to him remember him as a brave soldier and a natural born leader. He was known for his absolute integrity. He was funny, and a great story teller."

Bryan, 53, worshipped his dad. Both he and his younger brother Michael did stints serving in the Army. Their mother Lacy, a registered nurse, kept things ship-shape at home. The couple were married 53 years, he said.

"I don't know how she did it — two crazy boys and one crazy Dad," he said.

Bryan said his father spent considerable time with him and his brother, despite his demanding job.

"Any time I needed him, he was there. He was out doing magical things for the country, but I never looked up and said, 'Where's my dad?' He was always available."

Welch's care for others didn't stop or start at the door of his home.

"His entire focus was on making things better for other people. It was always 'my' soldiers, not 'the' soldiers. It was always Ranger students or his privates in Vietnam, his lieutenants in Fort Carson, his Range instructors in Fort Benning," Bryan said.

Born in Dover, N.H., Welch was a 1957 graduate of Oyster River High School and president of the senior class. He enlisted in the Army two days after graduating.

Welch served as an Airborne Ranger in the 1st Infantry Division and Special Forces. He spent 31 years in the service and was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame. In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Welch was awarded three Silver Stars with "V" device signaling valor in combat, two Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit, among others.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Denver and a master of science in engineering management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

He was an expert marksman and taught combat to soldiers around the world. At one time, he was commander of the Ranger Training Brigade.

No services are planned for him in Leesburg, but family members said he will be buried with full military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery when arrangements can be made.

"He did spectacular things," Bryan said of his father. "He died well — he died peacefully. He had a lot of years jammed in those 76."

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Go raibh tú leathuair ar Neamh sula mbeadh a fhios ag an diabhal go bhfuil tú marbh

"May you be a half hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead"
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Old 04-23-2016, 20:12   #2
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Rest In Peace, Warrior and thank you for your service and sacrifice!
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Old 04-26-2016, 17:49   #3
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Rest in Peace LT COL Welch, thank you for your service.
My Heroes wear camouflage.
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Old 04-26-2016, 17:57   #4
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Rest In God's Own Peace, a true American Hero.

Thoughts and prayers out.
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Old 04-26-2016, 18:56   #5
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Old 04-26-2016, 21:32   #6
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Rest in Peace LTC you have certainly earned !
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Old 04-26-2016, 22:47   #7
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RIP, hermano.

Thank you for your service, and your sacrifices

Prayers out.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2017
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