I wasn't there at the fire fight in Vietnam when Chuck Hagel, a young squad leader and severely wounded, rescued one of his men, a nineteen year old who also happened to be his own brother. When I read the whole story, you know, how Chuck ordered his abusive drunken father out of his house and the old man promptly died, how Chuck started working at age seven, how he was a squad leader in Vietnam who rescued his own brother who was more seriously wounded than he himself was I can't help thinking about Fort Wadsworth and also a fellow clerk at Fort Lewis in Washington where I spent several months prior t getting my orders to go to Vietnam (see my post( "How I tripped over a wrinkle in the Uniform Code of Military Justice") where the guy who slept in the bunk under my bunk was a sole surviving son, a son of the Great State of Washington and not ever to be sent into combat.
Fort Wadsworth was mainly peopled by soldiers who had orders for Vietnam who were petitioning for compassionate reassignments. They had got the attention of their members of Congress who had in turn referred their cases to the Red Cross.
Now, I haven't found it in writing but at the time I was in the Army (July 1967 through July 1969) it was commonly understood that two siblings would never be assigned to the same combat unit and that the precedent that made that into a law was the tragedy of the Sullivan brothers, cited in the wiki excerpts above.
Now, Chuck and his brother were in the same combat unt in Vietnam, not only a very rare coincidence but contrary to what was at least commonly understood practice. Not only was this practice meant to prevent a repeat of the Sullivan brothers tragedy but to prevent things like favoritism to a sibling by a superior and to prevent emotionally charged lapses in judgement or military procedure.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Sole Survivor Policy or DoD Directive 1315.15 "Special Separation Policies
for Survivorship" describes a set of regulations in the U.S. military that are
they have already lost family members in military service.\....
The need for the regulations first caught public attention after the five Sullivan brothers
enacted as law in 1948. No peacetime restriction was in place until 1964 during the Vietnam
War; in 1971, Congress amended the law to include not only the sole surviving son or
daughter but also any son or daughter who had a combat related death in the family. Since
then, each branch of the military has made its own policies with regard to separating
immediate family members.