FACES IN THE CROWD
by JESSICA FAZ, SPECIAL TO THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Published 05:30 a.m., Thursday, September 23, 2010
Memories of Vietnam War never go completely away – Chu Moor
Alvin man survived seven days of hell in southeast Asia
Clothes tattered and stained, faces streaked with grime and blood, five weary men hunch next to a tree atop a charred mountain, their eyes alive with horror.
Above their heads, a mortar round, lodged in gnarled tree bark, hisses and smokes.
A sheepish grin creeps across one man’s face, crinkling the corners of his pale blue eyes, as he realizes the round failed to ignite.
After surviving seven days of hell, this soldier will make it off of Chu Moor Mountain.
That was four decades ago.
Nowadays, that man, Arthur Hauser, scarcely looks the part of a hero as he speeds down the streets of Alvin on his motorcycle with faded jeans, worn cap and crooked grin.
However, in 1968, he earned three of the military’s highest decorations while serving in Vietnam.
Drafted into the Army, Hauser, then 23, began his first tour in Vietnam in 1968. Working as a cannoneer providing artillery support, he began his deployment with the 4/42 Artillery C Battery 105 unit.
In late April 1968, Hauser volunteered as a radio telephone operator to accompany the 1/22 Infantry C Company on a search-and-destroy mission.
On April 24, Hauser and his unit reached Chu Moor Mountain near the Cambodian border.
“We advanced up the hill and were immediately pinned done by enemy fire,” he said.
During the seven-day assault, the unit was cut off from supplies and sustained heavy casualties.
The only ammunition they received was dropped from helicopters, Hauser said.
While the wounded were being evacuated, a mortar explosion sent razor-sharp bits of shrapnel into Hauser’s knee. Despite his wound, he continued to load soldiers into medical evacuation helicopters.
For his bravery, he was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and the Army Commendation Medal. After the battle , Hauser completed two tours in Vietnam and was honorably discharged.
To most people, Hauser is a NASCAR enthusiast who can be found working on his car or at the short-track races.
However, those close to him know the war left more than shrapnel in his knee. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, in which anxiety can develop after a terrifying event.
“If I hear a loud boom or fireworks, I’m suddenly back again, jumping from fox hole to fox hole, watching my friends get blown to pieces,” Hauser said. “It’s something you just can’t escape.”
Jessica Faz is a journalism student at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.