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November 8, 1965: Not Forgotten

November 8, 1965: 47 years later this date is not lost on a select group of veterans and Americans.

On that date in 1965, the 173rd Airborne Brigade during Operation Hump was ambushed by over 1200 North Vietnamese soldiers in Vietnam.  Forty-eight American soldiers lost their lives that day.

One South Dakotan was there.  Niles Harris of Deadwood.

Just 19-years-old, Harris was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.  Harris was among the score of Americans wounded in that battle.  His right leg from knee to hip was raked by machine gun fire.

Niles Harris was the inspiration for Big & Rich to write “8th Of November.”  According to Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino, Niles met Big & Rich in 2002, while the aspiring country duo was performing in Deadwood. “I met ‘em that night at the Buffalo Bar, and we got along pretty well. I took them out to some abandoned gold mines in the Black Hills a few days later, and they enjoyed it,” Niles said. “While we were hanging out, I gave them this story of a battle I was in in Vietnam.”

And to thank Niles for sharing his story, they gave him a customized “8th of November” chopper, built by Big Rick Hoffman of Logic Motors in Salem, Ohio.

While browsing the posts on our Facebook page,  I came across this post from Greg Machmiller who wrote, “I am an American veteran. When duty called I answered. I swore an oath to defend America and our way of life. Anything worth loving is worth fighting for. I have not waivered nor have I forgotten. My service to our country is my gift and I gave it freely. God bless America. Remember Vetertan’s Day is your to give back to those who gave you so many priceless gifts.”

On the anniversary of Operation Hump and on Veterans Day, we thank Greg and Niles and the multitudes of our veterans by saying thank you and God Bless you!  Somehow, these words don’t seem like they’re enough.

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