Today’s Midtown Patch Picture of the Day is in honor of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms while serving our country. Specifically, it is a tribute to Atlanta native and Grady High School graduate, Class of 1962, U.S. Army Captain Merrill Dale Reich, Jr.
In the courtyard of the 999 Peachtree building is a marker honoring CPT Reich that was dedicated in 1996 by the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association on behalf of all who served their country. The inscription reads:
To Those Who Fight For It Life Has A Flavor The Protected Never Know
Reich was captain of the Grady football team and also played football at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he graduated from in 1966. A college teammate, Bruce Mulkey, writes here about Reich being "pound-for-pound ... arguably the toughest guy on the team."
Reich voluntarily entered the United States Army in the summer of 1966 and joined the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Vietnam in May of 1968. He had been there just 12 days when he was killed in action at the age of 23 during an enemy ambush in Khanh Hoa Province, South Vietnam.
On May 27, 1968 while providing security for the right flank of an ambush operation, CPT Reich observed the point squad of a large North Vietnamese Army force stalking his unit's position. Realizing that the proximity of the rapidly approaching enemy force prevented enough time for a warning, CPT Reich leaped up and engaged the insurgents at point blank range, inflicting severe casualties. Although severely wounded himself, and in the face of intense rocket and machine gun fire, CPT Reich held his position and continued to fire into the advancing enemy main force, allowing the thirteen other Americans enough time to reorganize and shift positions to counter the surprise attack. CPT Reich fought tenaciously until mortally wounded, inspiring his fellow soldiers to smash the numerically superior enemy's advance and drive it back. For his gallantry in action, at the cost of his life, CPT Reich was awarded the Silver Star.
To CPT Merrill Dale Reich, Jr., and to all those who have answered the bravest of calls to protect our freedoms, Midtown Patch says thank you and thank you a hundred times over and over and over.