Max Cleland. The guy who found out the hard way that grenades are made for kiling the enemy, Not for playing with on the helicopter ride home
The True Story of Max Cleland's Vietnam Injuries.
The 2nd of the 12th Cavalry was engaged in a combat operation at the time of this incident. Max Cleland was with the Battalion Forward Command Post in heavy combat involving the attack of the 1st Cavalry Division up the valley to relieve the Marines who were besieged and surrounded at the Khe Shan Firebase. The whole surrounding area was an active combat zone (some might call the entire country of Vietnam a combat zone). (Is Iraq a combat zone?) Max, the Battalion Signal Officer, was engaged in a combat mission I personally ordered to increase the effectiveness of communications between the battalion combat forward and rear support elements: e.g. Erect a radio relay antenna on a mountain top. By the way, at one point the battalion rear elements came under enemy artillery fire so everyone was in harms way.
As they were getting off the helicopter, Max saw the grenade on the ground and he instinctively went for it. Soldiers in combat don't leave grenades lying around on the ground. Later, in the hospital, he said he thought it was his own but I doubt the concept of "ownership" went through his mind in the split seconds involved in reaching for the grenade. Nearly two decades later another soldier came forward and admitted it was actually his grenade. Does ownership of the grenade really matter? It does not.
Battalion Executive Officer
2d/12th Cavalry Battalion
1st Air Cavalry Division
During the assault on Khe Shan