This weekend was the worst of Twitter, and the best of Twitter

The worst was the horrible response of “comedian” Dean Obeidallah to a mild comment from Bill Presson on Twitter regarding a Tweet by Obeidallah dedicating Memorial Day to the anti-Trump Resistance. That mild comment from Presson was responded to by Obeidallah with a question about Presson’s profile pic: “Are u wearing a Nazi outfit?”

https://twitter.com/billpresson

To which Presson responded:

1. It’s my father and not me.
2. He was a captain in the US Army.
3. He was killed in Vietnam.
4. You’re embarrassing yourself.

https://twitter.com/billpresson/status/1000761401529585668

Obedeillah apologized, kind of, but of course had to put a dig in about Trump supporters:

@billpresson let me do something Trump and Trumpers will never do and apologize. I had no idea and I sincerely couldn’t tell that was an American uniform nor that the photo was your late father. Your father was a true patriot.

That’s the worst part of Twitter.

The best part of Twitter? I was able to make contact with Bill Presson, and learn more about his father.

Captain Billie Taylor Presson was killed in action on September 20, 1967, in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam. His son, Bill, related to me the following:

He was career Army and was a Captain when he was killed. He served in Vietnam with the 187th AHC and was KIA in September 20, 1967. During his career, he received the Army Commendation medal with V device, the Purple Heart with a bronze oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with three silver and three bronze oak oak leaf clusters and a V device, the Distinguished Flying Cross with a bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star and the Silver Star.

I was 5 when he was killed, so I only have a few scattered memories of him. I do remember the day the officers came to tell us. It was quite difficult for my mom so I went to my room and just sat for hours.

The  Incident Report gives the details of the death of Capt. Presson:

20 Sep 1967 – Captain Billie Presson a flight platoon leader of the 187th was killed during the last extraction from what appeared to be a secure PZ. He had led the Blackhawk flight through out the day conducting Eagle Flights for the 25th Infantry Division in the Hobo woods. Four ships were hit by enemy ground fire throughout the mission but continued to fly. Captain Pressen died from a bullet wound in the head while sitting in the PZ as the troops loaded.

He would be one of 44 members of the 187th who would be killed in action during the war.

Bill Presson managed to connect with others who served with Capt. Presson:

Their website is 187thahc.net. I stumbled across it one day several years ago while looking for things about him.

I reached out to the web managers and they invited me to a reunion. Ultimately, I was able to attend three different ones: Las Vegas, Dallas, and St Louis.

St Louis was the first and my younger brother attended with me. We got to meet Some of the other crew members and flight leaders. They all spoke very highly of him and told us a few stories. They also put me in touch with Wayne “Crash” Coe, a Warrant Officer that flew the mission with my dad the day he died. He went on to become a writer after his service. He asked if I wanted him to write up what happened that day and I told him I did with no exclusions. Not many people get that kind of detail about a war death. I really appreciated it.

If you visit the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. you can find Capt. Presson’s name at Panel 26E, Line 97.

http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/41615/BILLIE-T-PRESSON

His page at Virtual Wall contains remembrances, including these:

POSTED ON 9/27/16 – BY MICHAEL PRESSON

I am the youngest of two sons of Capt. Billie Presson. My name is Mike and I live in Fairhope, Al. My daughter told me about this page today. Thank you all for your kind words about my dad. I was 3 when he was killed and still miss him. I would love to speak with those who knew him.

POSTED ON 12/31/15 – BY ‘FRENCH’ GIBEAULT

This Memorial Tribute is a bit hard for me as Capt. Billie was my platoon leader in the 1st platoon, 187th Assault Helicopter Company. The things I remember the most about him was he would give his life for his men, in return we would gladly lay down our life for him. Capt. Billie led from the front, making every one of us feel like we mattered, rank be dammed. God Bless you Billie, see you in the next LZ.

Clear Right,
Frenchy

The 187th Assault Helicopter Company website has a lot of information, including a page linking to YouTube videos, including this video of their 2012 Reunion (Capt. Presson’s name is read at 12:20 in the video).

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We also remember three people we have covered for several years (click on name for archive)

Lt. Roslyn Schulte

Lt. Schulte is featured in the book, Profiles in Courage:

http://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/portraitsincourage/AF-PortraitsInCourage-VolV.pdf?ver=2017-07-31-134633-623

Cpl. Jonathan Daniel Porto

Some photos I had not seen before (along with the one of him touching his pregnant wife’s stomach before he shipped out, which we have run before):

And this one from his wedding, posted on his Legacy.com condolence page:

http://www.legacy.com/guestbooks/tampabaytimes/jonathan-d-porto-condolences/140771948?eid=0

CIA Officer Johnny “Mike” Spann

The movie 12 Strong was released, about the initial special forces soldiers and officers who rode on horseback as the initial group deployed after 9-11 in Afghanistan. This NY Post review reads, in part:

On Oct. 13, 2001, with the United States still reeling from the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, about a dozen Americans were aboard a plane flying to Uzbekistan….

These men were part of the US Army’s 5th Special Forces Group. They were en route to K2, a base in southeastern Uzbekistan, a helicopter ride away from Afghanistan, where they would soon start a war.

The new movie “12 Strong,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon, tells the true story of this small band of Special Forces soldiers who, with minimal preparation, led the ground fight against the Taliban’s 50,000-strong army in the early days of the war in Afghanistan.

“The means by which they did this is unique in American history because the Special Forces had never been used before as a lead element in military action,” Doug Stanton, writer of the book “Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan,” on which the film is based, told The Post. Stanton and the filmmakers changed most of the soldiers’ names….

They were victorious in Mazar-i-Sharif and achieved in just two months — for $70 million — what the Pentagon had expected to take more than a year. The Taliban was routed, the Northern Alliance was in charge, and the US would send thousands of troops to aid with the transition….

Most of the 5th Group returned home unscathed. One, Mike Spann, was killed by Taliban prisoners.

I’m reminded of this photo I found and posted earlier of Mike Spann on horseback in Afghanistan:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:GXDEEJjC5CcJ:devtsix.com/forum/viewtopic.php%3Ff%3D10%26t%3D11589%26start%3D40+&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

[CIA Officer Johnny “Mike” Spann on horseback in Afghanistan]