BAY CITY - Bay City resident Edgar Eaton's harrowing experience in Vietnam will be one of the stories highlighted in the History Channel's premier of "Sniper: Deadliest Missions" next week.
The show's producers came across Eaton's story in a chapter of "Brave Men, Gentle Heroes" by Michael Takiff, Eaton said. The book compares stories from men in World War II to their sons' experience in Vietnam. In it, Takiff interviews Eaton's friend and fellow soldier, Mike Perkins.
Eaton and Perkins were stationed together in the Mekong Delta in early 1969. The chapter "He Came to Die With Me" tells of a mission the two were on while Eaton was a platoon sergeant and sniper with the 9th Infantry Division's River Raiders.
"We were on a night mission and we got shot down about midnight, and most everybody was wounded pretty severely," Eaton said. "Mike was probably the worst of the bunch... He was trying to cut his arm off."
Perkins had been pinned below part of the helicopter, but the injured men - about a dozen of them - were able to lift it off of him.
"It was a desperate situation for all and I, to be honest with you, was probably beat up the least amount," Eaton said. "I took it upon myself to defend the position from the top of the helicopter."
Eaton said he doesn't remember how many enemy fighters were coming at him, but there were two groups and he began picking them off.
He was able to keep the enemy at bay until help arrived.
"I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital before I could walk again, and then I went back into the field again after 30 days," Eaton said.
A sense of duty to his men called him back to the field, he said. "It was one of the stupidest things I did because I didn't have to."
Producers for the show tracked down Eaton about three months ago through his friends in the American Sniper Organization.
"A month ago they flew me down to Hollywood and stuck the camera in my face," he said with a laugh. "What was wonderful about it was being able to see my old friend."
It was a reunion with Perkins which hadn't occurred in about 20 years.
Originally from Milton-Freewater in northeast Oregon, Eaton came back home and got into the radio business, acquiring ownership in a Walla Walla, Wash. station.
Eaton moved to Tillamook in 2003 and took a job as the original manager of Coast 105.5 FM.
He has since retired and sold his interest in the stations. Today he and his wife Donita still live in Bay City.
The two-hour premiere of "Sniper: Deadliest Missions" on the History Channel airs at 5 p.m. (PST) Sept. 14.