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Vietnam Veteran in Middlesboro remembers those fallen on anniversary of ambush of Landing Zone Albany

Ray Welch says that each year, the holidays bring about memories of his fallen comrades.
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 6:38 PM EST
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MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT) - While most families prepare for Thanksgiving festivities, one Vietnam veteran in Bell County is reminded of those he lost more than a half-century ago.

Ray Welch served in the United States Army from 1964 until 1981 including a tour in Vietnam. It was November 17, 1965, when North Vietnamese soldiers ambushed and killed Lt. Don Cornett and 154 troops from the second battalion, which was part of the seventh regiment in the La Drang Valley at a small clearing known as Landing Zone Albany.

Welch as in one of the seven battalions in the area when the battle took place as his group helped clear bodies and weapons from the ambush site. Welch says that more than five decades later, the painful memories are still there.

“Every October, November those memories trigger,” Welch said. “And you lose people that you knew way back when. It’s just part of it, but it is tough.”

Despite the loss at Albany, the battle of La Drang Valley is considered one of the great victories by American forces during the Vietnam War.

Welch says that he still feels a sense of guilt, an emotion that comes back to him every year.

“Sometimes you wonder why you survived,” Welch said. “And I think the PTSD people call that survivor guilt.”

What he wants people to remember most, is that those who died did so to protect their country.

“Many of those people went in good faith and they did their jobs,” Welch said. “And they did what was asked of them.”

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