My time with Ron in Vietnam
By Charlie Asencio
I'll start by saying how sad and sorry this has made me feel. That Ron's mother took her life. I guess that the entire family became a casualty of war. I wish I would have had a way to contact his family years ago. (Sorry)
All I can tell you is that Ron and I were in different helicopters and his was under hostile fire. His chopper was shot down and we were told that there weren't any survivors. My platoon Sergeant told me: I have bad news for you kid, your friend Lcpl. Longanecker was in the chopper that was shot down. I didn't see Ron's helicopter when it got hit. It never crossed my mind that Ron was in the chopper that got shot down.
I spent almost six weeks with Ron and two other Marines on top of a mountain called Dong Den. Our mission was to observe Viet Cong activities and not make any contact. Ron would talk about his family a lot and he carried their pictures and his girl's picture dancing ballet in a black outfit. Ron and I became close friends and as a rule you should never make friends with anyone while you're in combat. But we broke this rule and we counted on each other and that was more important to us. Now I'm thinking of all the things in life he missed out on.
I'm glad Ron has someone other than me who thinks about him. Now George must be a good friend of Ron's!!! What he wrote was very moving. As for talking about Vietnam I still have a difficult time with the subject, but I'm willing to try and tell you whatever you need to know about Ron and our unit. I can tell you he showed me a picture of this pretty girl, and had me write a letter to her. Well about a month later the girl answered my letter. And you would not believe this but the girl turned out to be his little sister. I'm pretty sure it wasn't her picture he showed me. I think his sister was about 7 years old maybe younger. We found this to be very funny.
I wrote on Ron's page about our friendship the way we said good-bye! And we probably both felt something was going to happen to one of us. In July Ron and I were taken to the post called "Dong Den" which was not far from Ba-Na. We were relieved from this post and returned to Camp Reasoner. We were separated and sent on a mission in different choppers. We joked about us making it through the war without being a KIA casualty. As we said good-bye and hugged there was a strange feeling and even stranger look in each others eyes. I felt that this was the last time I would see Ron. I wasn't sure which one of us was going to survive. But I remember thinking in my mind I hope we both make it. I knew from being there a year that this operation we were going on was known as a V.C. stronghold and high enemy activity area. Also an area we were getting high casualties. We then got into different choppers and waved at each other giving the thumbs up sign. That was the last time I saw Ron. Ron's chopper was shot down.
I served in Vietnam from July 1965 until July 1966. I left two weeks after Ron's death. Felt horrible that my friend was killed and wanted to stay to avenge his death. I think I was one of the youngest Marines in combat at the time. My Dad wrote a letter to the President about my being in combat. But by the time they found me I had already been in country 6 months and had already turned 18. I finished my tour and was ordered home. Patti and George, thank you both for keeping our friend alive on your mind this many years.
The following is written by Lcpl Charles Asencio to Lcpl. Ron Longanecker on the Vietnam Memorial Wall Page (http://thewall-usa.com/)
A Friend who served together.
You will always live forever in my mind.
Ron: I'll always remember you teaching me how to read the bible. And when we got on different choppers to leave the mountain called Ba-Na, and how we said good-bye July 1966. I know you're up there still looking out for you family. My friend you will live forever in my mind. There hasn't been a year that I don't think of you. Thank you! Your Friend Rican Recon Lcpl.C.Asencio Thursday, September 16, 2004