Home of the Veterans who served at Khe Sanh Combat Base, Hill 950, Hill 881, Hill 861, Hill 861-A, Hill 558 Khe Sanh Village, Lang-Vei and Surrounding Area
The Battle Of Khe Sanh
1968 45th Anniversary 2013
45 Years Ago This Month
Data compiled from the book, Battalion of Kings
01 APR 1968
VAN DER SHANS, Donald Ed HN H&S/1/9
02 APR 1968
PATTON, Barry Michael L/Cpl. H&S/2/3
Pfc. SANTISTEVAN DOW received 02 Mar l968.
03 APR 1968
CRANEY, Pfc. Leslie Lee F/2/1
04 APR 1968
BRIDGES, SGT Ernest Larry C/1/9
1/9 (minus “B” Co) departed the Rock Quarry area on 04 Apr and assaulted Hill 47l (XD 846 393). While the line companies assaulted the hill, the CP, at the base of the hill, was struck by l22mm rockets, killing the Battalion Air Officer, CAPT JONES, and seriously wounding the S-3, Maj HENDERSON. The battalion CO, LTCOL CAHILL, and the Artillery Officer, Lt J. LE BLOND, were both wounded, but able to continue operations. One of the radiomen in the CP group recalls:
“A round came in. It landed
right where I was in the CP group. I was the S-3 radioman, so I’m doing
all this heavy communications for the Major.. The Colonel’s sitting right
there, and this particular couple of rounds that came in landed right by
us and it killed Capt. JONES, the FAC officer—was standing up with his
binoculars and he was observing this fire-fight because he was getting
ready to call in fixed-wing, and it killed him. And CAVAZOS—my real good
friend CAVAZOS—was on the right side of me, and he was talking to me. Just
before the round came in he was kidding—he was throwing little rocks at my
leg or something because his radio wasn’t busy and he was trying to make
me goof-up on the radio so I’d look like a fool. And he was killed right
next to me.”
LTCOL RUNKLE, CO of 1-5 CAV, was killed during the attack on NVA positions on the Old French Fort (XD 859 383) which was being defended by an estimated NVA battalion.
05 APR 1968
BUCIOR, CPL Anthony Zbigniew C/1/9
L/Cpl. OSTAPCHUK DOW received on 04 April. A NVA force attempted to retake Hill 47l and made a desperate assault during the night of 04/05 April. As the battle ended, CPL BUCIOR raised from his hole to ensure the enemy were not regrouping. Just then a mortar round hit within 20 feet, instantly killing him.
06 APR 1968
JORDAN, l/Lt Allan Harold B/1/13
On 06 Apr l968, 2/26 broke out of its fortified position on Hill 558 as Go G swept SW to determine if NVA occupied the high ridge XD 806 435 to XD 823 425. NVA forces indeed did occupy the terrain, and a desperate fire-fight ensued after the NVA permitted the point to advance within their mutually-supporting spider traps and bunkers before firing. Co G withdrew, leaving four Marine KIA as defensive arty was called. After the arty, the attack was renewed, but the enemy force had not been neutralized, and two more Marines were killed attempting to retrieve the bodies of the four previously killed Marines. Co G withdrew for the night to 558. The cost of today’s battle: 3 USMC KIA, ll USMC MIA, 49 USMC WIA (and evacuated). Pfc. PEPPER and CPL TRIMBLE took refuse in a bomb crater at XD 8l25 4324 [to use 8-digit coordinates] that took a direct hit from a mortar round. After several attempts to recover their remains, G/2/26 was forced to withdraw, leaving them behind. On 07 Apr, the Marines returned to the battle area and recovered the remains of 8 individuals, but the remains of PEPPER and TRIMBLE were not located.
07 APR 1968
ADAME, Pfc. Gilbert Jimmie 2/26
At 0500H, Co F departed Hill 558 under cover of darkness and moved to renew the attack. At 0700H, Co G departed Hill 558 at first light to draw the NVA’s attention from Co F. Pfc. John A. AMBRIFI gave a sworn statement in connection with this battle, noting the deaths of some of the men:
“ADAME was killed to my left by a sniper round through the chest (he was lying down when he was killed). l630 SNYDER was killed by a Bangalore torpedo while trying to retrieve JOHNSON. 1630 JOHNSON was killed trying to take spider hole and was wounded. 1700 MEADOWS was shot in head while trying to kill sniper in hole. 1830 BAYES was killed by sniper while pinned down, he was shot through the chest.”
LstLt McMURRAY was the pilot on an OH-13S observation helicopter on an armed reconnaissance mission in the vicinity of Khe Sanh. An AH-1G chase ship was also assigned to the mission. Capt McMURRAY was flying low level when he reported seeing camouflaged bunkers. As he marked the location with a smoke grenade to allow the AH-1G to shoot its rockets, he reported enemy troops and began engaging them with his door gunner. CAPT McMURRAY’s aircraft was struck by enemy weapons fire and crashed at XD 925 512 and burned. SGT James J. POWERS was spotted in a bomb crater and air-lifted from the area. He had been thrown clear of the aircraft, but was critically burned.
08 APR 1968
CONNELL, SGT Edwin Douglas F/2/26
CPL PRUITT was killed by fragmentation wounds to his body when a grenade accidentally detonated as a result of being too close to a fire.
During a medevac, Pfc. PHELPS, a combat engineer attached to C/1/9, helped load wounded Marines aboard a medevac chopper while in the midst of a NVA mortar barrage. In so doing, he was mortally wounded.
Corpsman SMITH was burning trash out of the trench line in BRAVO, Recon area, and while pouring fuel on the already burning trash, caught himself on fire. He had run out of kerosene and poured JP-4 aviation fuel on the fire. When he threw it on the fire, the wind changed and blew the flames back on him. As he ran wildly, engulfed in flames, SSGT Delbert WEIDLER tackled him and smothered the flames with his own body and hands. HN SMITH kept yelling, “Get me to the Philippines.” His father was a doctor there, but he died enroute.
CPL SEDILLO (nicknamed “CHICO”) was with MAJ DONNELLY (1/9 XO) as his radioman. He was due to depart Khe Sanh in two days to attend a special comm school [COMSEC], a big deal for a Corporal. “He was going in a couple of days. He didn’t know why he was going, but I knew. And he just got it, in that crater down there. He took his helmet off, and got hit right in the head.” “..we were waiting at the base of the hill when CHARLIE Company was coming-through to go up the hill, and I said, ‘Hey, CHICO, what’d you say?’ And you expect him—cause he’s standing next to the Major—to say, like, Yeah, too bad!--or something like that—or Yeah, OK. He says: This sucks!--as loud as he could—and right next to the Major!--and I about died laughing! But 15 minutes later, all of a sudden all these tubes are popping and.. it turned out that CHICO was killed.. and Pfc. JONES that was in comm that I knew real well, a round landed in the hole and blew his legs off and he [later] died [on 24 APR].”
09 APR 1968
CAMPBELL, Pfc. Thomas Francis A/1/9
On Hill 88l-S, HM3 STEINBERG shared a bunker with L/Cpl. FRANCAVILLA, a mortar man. They had talked for dozens and dozens of hours. Suddenly the cry was heard, “Corpsman up!” and STEINBERG raced to the top of the hill to treat casualties while FRANCAVILLA remained in the bunker to await his return. When STEINBERG returned, the bunker was gone, and so was FRANCAVILLA: it had taken a direct hit.
At 0600H, 1/9 crossed the LOD moving under cover of darkness and arrived on Hill 689 at first light. Within ten minutes of successfully seizing 689, a NVA mortar squad plastered the Marines with a devastating mortar barrage which killed or wounded twenty Marines. One round had landed between a corpsman’s feet and didn’t detonate. Some of the Marines had taken a breather in a large crater about 25-ft. wide and 7-ft. deep. “Like they say, You never hear the one that gets you. An explosion. The next thing I remember is saying, O my God, I’m dead—but I can’t be dead if I can talk to myself! But I couldn’t see. My sight came back to me in three or four minutes, but I could feel warm fluids coming down off my head. I looked down at my arm and it was ripped open. SILINOVITCH was looking at me and said, Well, I won’t see you no more! I looked up and there was [Pfc. Thomas F] CAMPBELL. I kept talking to him, but CAMPBELL didn’t move; CAMPBELL was dead.”
CAMPBELL was LT LOVELY’s radioman. “I seen him run right up to a bunker and throw grenades in there and blow [it] up.. but he never got credit for it.”
10 APR 1968
ROBINSON, CPL Lionel Lareu A/1/9
While A/l/26 patrolled, a branch pulled the pin on a grenade Lt WILLIAMS was wearing, detonated, and killed him.
11 APR 1968
ALLEN, CPL Paul James VMO-6
[NOTE: DAVIDSON, ERWIN, and FINLEY were passengers; GANNON was pilot of the H-34 and HOLDEN the co-pilot, McMILLAN was the pilot of the UH-1E and RIEDE the co-pilot]
At 0705H, SEAWORTHY 4-5 and 4-6 of VMO-6, led by CAPT McMILLAN, launched to the Khe Sanh area to provide escort for HIGHBOY 6-l and 6-2 flight to pick up emergency medevacs. The two sections launched separately and joined at Khe Sanh and then both headed for Dong Ha in separate sections. Seven miles west of Dong Ha, with a 1500-ft. broken cloud coverage, CAPT McMILLAN’s aircraft and HIGHBOY 6-l collided in mid-air. The H-34 came apart before reaching the ground and the UH-lE burned upon impact. No survivors of either aircraft were found.
BELCHER was in the communications section of 3/26 with some exotic MOS for which a battalion didn’t even have the equipment, so he spent his time humping a radio for a line company part time and H&S Comm Section the other part of the time. “He was one of those guys that belonged on a recruiting poster: He looked the part. He looked like he came out of a John Wayne movie. He was good looking, and he was one of the nicest people I ever met.”
12 APR 1968
BIERLEIN, Pfc. Patrick M R A/l/26
“When we pulled out [of KSCB on Operation PEGASUS] we went by Hill 88l, and one time we were digging inside of a hill, and there was this guy by the name of BIERLEIN. He was digging in his foxhole, and I guess he was dug-in already and his other buddy was still digging. He was sitting down having some C-rats. And they had a short round from Khe Sanh [Combat Base] come out, and it hit him right in the head. It was only about 50yards away from me. He wasn’t ‘green’ in country either; he had about a month and a half, two months, to go.”
13 APR 1968
POILANE, Felix Civilian
A USAF C-130, Mission #603, landed after one missed approach. The aircraft left the runway, crashed through GPES twister equipment, six abandoned GPES loads, a Marine truck, and a fork-lift. The fuel cells in the right wing split and flames immediately engulfed the right wing, the forward section of the fuselage, and the plane’s interior. Felix POILANE was killed, two crew members and three passengers were injured, and the remaining 12 passengers were in a dazed condition. Felix, son of the original coffee planter in the area, Eugene (who had been assassinated by the VC in 1964) was returning to look over his coffee plantation now that “the Siege had been lifted,” and, it was assumed, the battle ended. It truly was not so!
14 APR 1968
ALENCASTRE, PVT Anthony Albert L/3/26
During the Siege over 5,000 rockets had been fired from Hill 88l-North. At midnight, Co L/3/26 led a battalion-sized assault on that hill position as it moved down the northern slope of 88l-South. The remainder of 3/26 followed the same route used earlier by CAPT DABNEY on 20 January. During the action:
Pfc. ALENCASTRE advanced up the right flank with First Squad, L-3, when he observed a NVA soldier preparing to fire at a fellow Marine. Completely disregarding his own safety, he yelled and rushed forward to kill the North Vietnamese soldier before he could shoot the Marine. In the process, he himself was killed, but he had saved the life of his fellow Marine.
SGT Ronald CLARK’s 3d Squad had been pinned down by automatic weapons fire and was unable to advance. CPL McMAKINS from the Rockets section moved ahead. Although unable to use his 3.5” due to the situation, he advanced up the hill with just grenades, doing this for most of the firefight until he was shot and killed.
MAJ George QUAMO was a type of “Lawrence of Arabia,” having had the “Special Projects” (CIA) program of developing a guerrilla force in Laos and operating out of FOB-3. He frequently visited A-l0l. He supplied information to COL LOWNDS directly which was only meant for ears in Saigon and Washington—in a round-about manner such as “If you’re thinking of putting in a string of sensors, I would suggest you put them here,” or, “If you’re going to place a B-52 Arclight strike, I might suggest this place.” One Marine Gunny in charge of the Radio Battalion detachment at Khe Sanh said that if QUAMO said “Follow me, we’re going into Laos” and this was in the middle of the Siege, “I’d follow him.” It was QUAMO and SGTMAJ PEGRAM of FOB-3 who went on a suicidal rescue mission to Lang Vei to retrieve the survivors.
There had been a proposed operation in which QUAMO and the CO of FOB-3 would go into Laos and the cover story would be that they were captured and MIA when actually they’d be underground forming the guerrilla force. QUAMO was very young, and very proficient in foreign languages. “I was the last one to see him alive. I took George down to the aircraft there at Khe Sanh and put him on board. There were two Vietnamese pilots, and they took-off.” He had with him a very Top Secret report that the CO of FOB-3 had one of his officers type—no clerks—it was so classified. His plane, a U-17, was lost by ground radar at l645H in the vicinity of AT9887. It was presumed that he had been lost at sea, but in June, l974, the commingled remains of two Mongoloids and one Caucasian along with an ID card with the name “QUAMO” were recovered from a crash site at AT 968 927, Quang Nam Province. On l5 August 1974 the Review Board announced the approval of the identification.
On 16 August 1974 the remains of Major QUAMO were released to the Air Force for onward movement to CONUS, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
15 APR 1968
CORRY, SP5 Charles Michael FOB-3
On 15 April, 3/26 ironically took more casualties during their withdrawal from Khe Sanh than they had the day before in battle taking 88l-N. Co K had heli-lifted about half the company when NVA mortars began pounding the LZ. Several mortars landed amid those waiting for the choppers. 2/Lt FORDHAM was hit as he ran for the helicopter.
CORRY and SANDOVAL “..heard incoming. They all hit the deck. Right where they were, a foot or 18-inches above the trench line, was a steel post holding the sandbags in place. The round hit right on the end of that steel post—just sprayed the whole trenchline. There was no way they knew what hit them.”
16 APR 1968
ADAMS, SWF2 Edward Cody CBMU-301 Det B
Lt AMMON had written home concerning the austere living conditions on Hill 88l-S during the Siege and his parents had shared these with local newspapers, and eventually a Congressional Inquiry (CONGRINT) developed in which very high-ranking USMC officers countered that living conditions were actually quite good on the hill! But Lt AMMON came to a tragic end. “He was well-respected by the troops because he was not only a professional Marine, but he cared about his men too, and when he got orders to do things that’s absolutely asinine, he would question them. He wasn’t afraid to question and say, ‘wait a minute; there’s probably a better way to do this.’ He got a lot of respect for that. The round that struck his body is the one that blew into me. I was only about ten feet from him, and it was a l52 artillery round. Hit him direct—hit his body. When I got medevaced out of Khe Sanh I went to Dong Ha for about 30 minutes and then I got choppered out on the SANCTUARY, and I had a big plastic sandwich bag with his two feet and his two hands in it. That’s all that was left. He vaporized. When I got off [the chopper], I remember real clearly, real visibly when the chopper landed and they went to move my particular stretcher off the chopper, a kid came up and I handed him this bag. It was a clear bag. It was obvious what was inside of it. And the kid just bent over and started peuking right there.”
At 1430H, a rocket landed in the shops area of CBMU-301 and instantly killed SWF2 ADAMS.
On 16 April, Co A/1/9 was ordered to conduct a search and clear operation to the SW of Hill 689, the high ground from XD 793 399 to XD 788 404. The assumption was that there would be little or no enemy soldiers remaining in that area. As it turned out, this was to be the costliest day as far as friendly casualties of Khe Sanh—eventhough it technically was not part of the casualty figures for “the Siege” since that had been lifted! There was a total of 40 KIA, 1 DOW, 15 WIAE, and 17 WIANE, for a total of 73 as of 2300H, 17 April, when three companies of 1/9 became ensnared in a desperate battle.
Lt CARTER’s platoon was taken under fire from NVA in spider traps, bunkers, and bomb craters, and Lt CARTER received a shattered forearm from enemy fire and shrapnel to his jaw, but continued to lead the assault. CPL HURLBURT, Pfc. MOORE, and Pfc. Richard W. JOHNSTON were killed during this assault. At the same time, Lt CARTER’s right flank advanced 75 meters during which CPL RUIZ, the Squad Leader, and Pfc. GUILLORY were killed. RUIZ’s Silver Star Medal Citation reads: “Quickly reorganizing the unit, he ably led an aggressive assault on the hostile emplacements, and when the platoon sustained additional casualties, he rapidly treated the injured Marines. Alertly observing one of his men fall wounded in an area dangerously exposed to the hostile fire, he fearlessly jumped in front of the man and, while shielding his injured comrade from the enemy fire, was mortally wounded.”
SSGT WEST of C-2 was moving with CPL REDENIUS’s squad when he observed a wounded Marine lying in a forward area. Ignoring danger to his own life as he dashed across rounds of a deadly sniper who had already taken a great toll of Marines, he reached the wounded man. While administering first aid, he was mortally wounded by the sniper.
CAPT HIMMER, CO of C/1/9, was accompanying 2d Squad, C-1, when they became pinned down by a sniper and CAPT HIMMER was shot in the neck, but not killed. “CAPR HIMMER got shot in the neck.. and went down. Five minutes later he was up and went back out of the crater. About ten minutes later I got the word he had been shot in the mouth.. One of the guys, REDENIUS, got shot in the head. He was bleeding real bad and went down right away and going into convulsions..”
Much later, Pfc. MARTINEZ threw his body over CPL HOLLAND to shield him from incoming rounds and was fatally wounded. CAPT HIMMER was again wounded, receiving three shots in his back. Two days later, everyone else having departed the battlefield, CPL HUMMICUTT and CAPT HIMMER were still there, awake. CAPT HIMMER could hardly speak. He had lost much blood. He called HUNICUTT: “Marine, help me!” I said, “Skipper we got to get out of this place, but we can’t move right now; we’ll just wait about another five or ten minutes.” He said “Okay.” Eventually they became separated and HUNICUTT was picked up by an Army helicopter.
At the beginning of the battle, “The first shot that was fired went through LITTLEFIELD and about hit me. I thought he was going to live. And I was carrying down the body of a wounded buy.. Toward dark I saw LITTLEFIELD still laying there, but by then he was dead.” A-1, as Point, proceeded up a hill, XD 783 422, and the Platoon Sergeant, HAGARA, was killed. He had extended in Vietnam so his son could have an operation by him staying in the service.
At 1345H on 16 April, 1/1 commenced a heliborne displacement to KSCB, CHOPing to 26MAR at 1400H, and deploying to occupy Hills 88lS, 86l, 950, and 558. As the last chopper came in to Khe Sanh, it landed in a mine field. The men on the chopper panicked, thought the bird was on fire, and began pushing people off the rear end into the friendly mine field, killing the battalion Artillery FO and wounding ten.
17 APR 1968
DELAPLANE, HN James Charles H&S/2/26
Pfc. DOLAN was wounded during the l6 April action by a sniper round as he ran bent over, head-first, like a bull, in which the bullet struck his helmet and penetrated into his skull.
On 17 April, 2/26 reassembled at Hill 558, the first time the entire battalion was again together in one place since late Jan. It was to be a day of rest and relaxation for 2/26 since 1/1 had moved into 558 and assumed responsibility for its defense. “..they passed the word that there was a stream down there.. to take baths.. that we could go down. So we was all happy about that. Spirits were up. And we moved down there.. Everybody cleaned up and we was coming back. There was about 20 of us.. I didn’t even have my helmet on. I had just washed my hair. I wasn’t too happy about getting it dirty again.. About half-way back something made me put my helmet on.. The next thing I knew, all I could feel was hot air and I was flying through the air..” Rockets had struck XD 821 444 at 1648H killing two corpsmen and wounding 14 (all evacuated). Among those killed: HM2 LAGENFIELD, senior corpsman of E/2/26, who had so heroically assisted his wounded Marines the terrible night of 05 Feb.
At 1645H, Co D/1/1 received 37 rounds of l22mm rockets resulting in three Marines killed and 21 WIAE.
“That’s when I got wounded—the very last day that we [2/26] were there [at Khe Sanh]—never a scratch before that.. There’s l2, l5 of us went back up the hill [from the river], and we’re spread out the way we’re supposed to. I remember the first round hit the top of this little hill closer toward 558—we were going toward Khe Sanh from 558. Two rounds, and I heard one of them hiss right over the top of my head. Looked to the right, watched it explode about 25 feet to my right—one of those l22 rockets. The kid in front of me—his name was DELAPLANE, a corpsman—it blew his head right off his shoulders, and the kid behind me, a black Marine—I remember his femur sticking out with no knee, and he lost his leg, and all I got was a little shrapnel wound. And I looked back, further down the hill where the other rocket hit—and all the corpsmen were interspersed too—was what was really peculiar. It killed [and wounded] only Navy guys; not one Marine got killed in this.. Nobody knew it was coming. It was just right there and you were gone. There was no warning.”
18 APR 1968
CLARKE, Pfc. James Phillip G/2/3
19 APR 1968
MARCANO,CPL Carlos Alberto K/3/4
“I have been looking for information about my brother, Pfc. Michael Glenn LIPSIUS.., KIA 4/l9/68. He participated in Operation PEGASUS to relieve Khe Sanh.. where he was shot down. My brother and I were from a broken family. He did not know where my dad was, we did not know where he was, for l2 years. While in Vietnam, Mike somehow got our dad’s address and wrote home. The next day we got the telegram. All these years I have had a difficult time knowing him only as ‘the remains,’ and pretending he never existed is not possible. Any information or assistance you could offer would be greatly appreciated.”
20 APR 1968
CLAYTON, L/Cpl. Michael Marshall A/1/1
“I can shed light on L/Cpl. Michael Marshall CLAYTON since I [HN Charles David BUNNER] and Doc TURA were administering first aid to him.
We went out from Hill 86l on patrol looking for VC mortars on our second patrol. He was hit by mortar fire after the jet pilots blasted the area where the spotter pilot had dropped his flare. Needless to say, they did one heck of a job at that flare point. The only problem being the spotter pilot missed by 500 yards.
After the jets flew away, their mortar group opened up on us. L/Cpl. CLAYTON was in a crater hole with his machine-gun attempting to hit the mortar group from a distance. When the mortars opened up on his position, he was hit along the left side of his body and head. Doc TURA and I both responded to him being wounded when we heard the call for ‘Corpsman Up.’ We got to him and decided immediately to move him back about 15 yards where we had more room in a 500 pound crater hole in order to work on him. After we moved him and was attempting to keep his airway open and bandage him up, I happened to look up at the top of the crater. I saw a stunned Marine standing there looking down at us. I immediately yelled at him to get down before he drew the enemy fire down on us.
As I was saying this, I realized that it was too late because the mortars was encircling our position. Then a mortar was centered in the pattern which landed about 5 yards to my left. We had 2 Marines standing by waiting to transport L/Cpl. CLAYTON once we had him stabilized. They were hit down their backsides. Doc TURA was hit down his right side. I was hit down my left side. I was the only one left conscious and called out for other corpsman for help. I could only watch L/Cpl. CLAYTON breath his last breath. Due to the seriousness of my wounds, I couldn’t get to the 2 Marines or Doc TURA to check them out.
Finally other corpsmen came in and attempted to check me out first. I refused being treated first since I didn’t know the status of the other three. By the time I was treated I was crying because of my concern for them and I couldn’t stand not knowing how they were. L/Cpl. CLAYTON was the first man I ever had to die in front of me in which I felt powerless. I couldn’t have handled it if the other three were also dead. Later on, I found out that only L/Cpl. CLAYTON had died. Doc TURA’s injuries resulted in him losing l8 inches of his small bowel. One of the Marines had to wear a leg brace on his leg. The other Marine’s injuries I’m not sure of. My injuries were the worse of the lot which resulted in my eventually being medically discharged…
I hope that by telling you what happened on the day I was wounded that perhaps L/Cpl. CLAYTON’s family will find out how their son died on that hill a long time ago… Maybe as the story is being told about Khe Sanh, all of the truth will come out about all the KIAs so that their families can also have finally peace of mind. It has been hard for me to sit down to write this letter to you…”
21 APR 1968
BARROWS, Pfc. Irving Donald E/2/1
At 0830H, a platoon of G/2/3 at XD 927 443 received 2 incoming rounds believed to be l22mm rockets which ignited a pile of ammunition that had been staged in a LZ resulting in 4 USMC KIA, 7 USMC WIAZ (and evacuated) and one wounded, not evacuated.
“My best friend, L/Cpl. TURNER (a radio operator with the CP) was killed as we prepared to abandon a lookout post.. Up until that point, the lookout post duty on the hill (at XD 927 443) had been pretty good. The hill sat between Route 9 and a river… That morning we got the word to rejoin the rest of the company. It was light and we had a small bonfire going in the bottom of one of the bomb craters on the top of the hill. I was by the bonfire heating up some mocha (a mixture of C-ration coffee, cocoa, sugar, and creamer) when the two rockets came in. We had no warning. I heard nothing until this terrific explosion. Something hit me in the back of my shoulder, almost knocking me into the fire. It was TURNER. I looked across the fire at him; he was dead. We treated and evaced our wounded and bagged up the dead. Our Lieutenant was also killed. We found a piece of what was believed was his foot, put it into a radio battery bag, tied a medical tag on it, and sent it out with the rest of the body bags. Later that morning we were picked up by helicopters.”
Co H/2/3 was in the process of retrieving all the 1/9 bodies from the l6 April battle: “My best friend was killed on that hill—Kevin CASSELL.. Evidently he was laying right on top of a spider hole and there was somebody right underneath him, and they shot him. I was talking to him; he wasn’t 5-feet from me. We were on line waiting to go over to the top of the hill, on a skirmish line. Then we got the word to move out, and when he stood up, that’s when he got shot. All we found of Kevin was just his head and his leg. And this other guy, KEARSLEY, he was killed up there too. He went crazy or what, but he was shot in the head.”
Another man recalls: “I lost a real good friend there. He was from Sandusky, Ohio--[Pfc. Ronald KEARSLEY]. He tried to get up on a bunker there, and they shot him out through the bunker. You could hardly see the bunker. [KEARSLEY] was in mortars. I was in the 3.5 [rockets] team. We got there and we started digging in. And—I can see it now—a guy’s arm kept coming out of this hole throwing ChiComs at us. I said: Get down! BOOM! BOOM! They’d go off. We’d start scratching some more, trying to get a hole. He [KEARSLEY] started up there towards it. And a mortar team leader—was BENTLEY—kept telling him to get back—you don’t know where they’re at. He got him back about two different times. They kept throwing them ChiComs, and he just took all he could take I guess. ‘I’m going to get him!’ He started out and he took a couple rounds in the top of the head. BENTLEY run up there and threw a grenade in and killed them. But dark was setting in and KEARSLEY—couldn’t get a chopper in for him and he died 3 or 4 times; the corpsman kept bringing him back, but then they finally lost him. Took the top of his head off. He probably would of been a vegetable anyway.”
22 APR 1968
PARCEL, L/Cpl. John William G/2/3
23 APR 1968
MURPHY, CPL David D/1/1
24 APR 1968
JONES, Pfc. Larry Allen H&S/1/9
Pfc. JONES’ legs were blown off on 08 April and today he DOW.
25 APR 1968
BALKIT, Pfc. Donald D/1/1
At 2100H, Tank C-21 accompanied by one squad of infantry from G/2/3 was on a road patrol heading east on Route 9 in the vicinity of LANG KAT (XD 904 398). The night was extremely dark and after moving not more than 300 meters the patrol was ambushed with satchel charges, RPG rockets and grenades. One RPG struck the turret and was deflected off the front and down on the driver, killing him.
26 APR 1968
BURGESS, Russell David Pfc. F/2/3
29 APR 1968
DODD, CPL James William D/1/1
30 APR 1968
TERRY, CPL Allen Lee H/2/3