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
by: Ray W. Stubbe (Chaplain)
Khe Sanh Combat Base
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01 MAR 1968
BENGE, LCPL Larry Wayne H&S/l/9
LCPL Ferren DOW by contracting pneumonia due to burns to the body while a crew member of the C-l30 that crashed and caught fire on l0 Feb.
02 MAR 1968
COOL, CPL Mark Douglas H&S/l/26
“Mark COOL was in the 8l section on the perimeter. He was my best friend.”
04 MAR 1968
MUTZ, LCPL Dennis Howard K/3/26
05 MAR 1968
HOLLIMON, PVT Billy Michael F/2/26
06 MAR 1968
ALDRIDGE, PFC Herbert Ray B/l/26
A C-l30K Provider, Callsign BOOKIE-762, #54-0590, broke out of the clouds and was ready to land with its 44 passengers and crew of 3. An Air Controller of MACTU-62 quickly scanned the runway to ensure it was clear of trucks, jeeps, people, etc., and to his shock spotted a little OlE Birddog prop aircraft making a landing from the opposite side of the runway. The OlE had descended through the clouds VFR and didn’t contact anyone. In fact, it had no radio communications. VNAF pilots were notorious for flying where they wanted without contacting control towers, and Special Forces noted that the Vietnamese pilots frequently tossed out radio gear in order to make their aircraft lighter for flying into higher zones and able to carry more passengers during emergency situations in Laos—which were almost always emergency. Since there was no comm., the C-l23, which did have comm, was waved-off to encircle while the OlE landed. It was piloted by a South Vietnamese and there was a US Special Forces Colonel in the back seat as passenger. The OlE never landed, but made a low pass. The C-l23 was shot and crashed at XD 933 404. The Air Controller got the numbers of the aircraft which did land the following day. He grabbed a shotgun and shot at the plane putting some holes in it, and was medevaced for mental stress.
SP4 ANSELMO and SGT RIOS had been manifested on another flight for Khe Sanh, however, the aircraft did not fly due to maintenance problems. No pas-sengers were manifested on the aircraft that crashed, but because both airmen were familiar with the aircrews (they both had been to Khe Sanh numerous times in the recent past), it is conceivable that they could have been aboard this aircraft. The aircraft was flown to Phu Bai where 44 passengers boarded for Khe Sanh. Personnel at Phu Bai recall 4 or 5 cases of beer, and ANSELMO and RIOS were known to have departed DaNang with this amount of beer.
Robert ELLISON is the photojournalist who took the famous photos of Khe Sanh that appeared in the March 18, l968, issue of Newsweek and who had photographed especially vividly the racial violence in Selma, Alabama. His photo of the ammo dump explosion on the cover of the magazine, plus the photos of the faces of those involved in bringing back Don Jacques that appeared in the magazine, were especially poignant records of life. He had lived in the trenches with the Marines of B/l/26 and had been accepted by them as one of them. He had just delivered his photos to Saigon and his boss said: These pictures are fine; don’t go back in. He replied: Well, I don’t want to get out of there until those Marines get out of there. He wanted to be with them. One of the reasons his photos were so good was that he was a very sensitive man.
ELLIOTT and KENNEDY had been on R&R together and were returning. Lt SMITH, for whom they worked, will never forget ELLIOTT as an unbelievable trooper with a photographic memory. He had handled the radios with the ammo dump exploded on 21 Jan. He had an incurable sense of humor. He could remember three or four sets of grid coordinates that people were throwing at him at once and repeat them flawlessly over the radio.
On 25 Mar, Co E/2/3 found the remains of the C-l12 at XD 933 406. A search of the area disclosed the remains of scattered skeletons which made even an estimate totally impossible, 6 identification tags. Official reports note: “Ground search parties from the 3d Marine Division searched the aircraft wreckage on 26 April, 24 June, and 3 July l968. On each occasion some human remains, dog tags and other identification media were recovered. The last two search parties demolished the wreckage prior to their departure. The remains and identification media could be identified with only l9 of the 44 known to have been aboard the aircraft.” On 05 NOV 1968, a patrol from C/l/4 found one body at XD 931 405 completely decomposed and fully clothed with flak jacket.
08 MAR 1968
CHAMBLIN, SGT Donald Ray Jr. l/l3
SGT CHAMBLIN, a Wire Chief of l/l3, was one of those who was always up and around the base, doing his work under continual NVA rocket and mortar attacks, exposing himself to possible injury and death by leaving the safety of his bunker in order to restore damaged wire lines to ensure communications between the FDC (Fire Direction Center) and the individual guns. He had been doing this since the base first was attacked on 21 Jan. Today while doing this work, an exploding rocket round amputated both of his legs, and he died.
09 MAR 1968
RUSSELL, SGT David Adams H&S/l/26
About ll00H, CPL WILLIAMS, CPL Rickey L. CHRAN, and LCPL John T. REILLY were working in the 2/26 mess tent and walked outside. An airplane delivering supplies by LAPSE experienced a malfunction in release of its load of pallets which were hung-up beneath the plane. As the plane passed over the battalion area it suddenly released the cargo. CPL CHRAN yelled and hit the deck, but LCPL REILLY didn’t hear the warning. CPL WILLIAMS, realizing he was unaware of the danger, pushed LCPL REILLY out of the way, but didn’t have time to move himself to safety. CPL WILLIAMS was instantly killed, and LCPL STRAUSBAUGH, who was also injured in this incident, later died.
SGT RUSSELL died at l4l5H at XD 848 4l7 from shrapnel wounds to his chest.
10 MAR 1968
MOORE, PFC Lewis Wayne A/3dEngineers
11 MAR 1968
BEAM, SGTMAJ Donald Wayne H&S/l/26
SGTMAJ BEAN was killed at l420H at XD 85l 4l6 as a result of shrapnel to his head and side from a mortar.
13 MAR 1968
DELANO, LCPL Jimmy Lynn SPT CO, 3d Engineers
HM3 MACAGBA died at l500H at XD 848 4l5 as a result of shrapnel from artillery resulting in multiple lacerations. He had been walking from the BAS to the “B” Company lines when an artillery round landed near him.
14 MAR 1968
SPICER, PFC Jonathan Nathaniel B/l/26
PFC SPICER, a Conscientious Objector who had been transferred to be the l/26 chaplain’s clerk (on paper) and to work in C-Med as a stretcher bearer had the reputation of remaining with wounded on stretchers during incoming while everyone else took cover. At l600H on 08 March, a chopper landed near C-Med to embark medevacs. Mortars began exploding near the aircraft, but SPICER continued, taking shrapnel to his heart. The C-Med doctors did open heart surgery, SPICER was evacuated eventually to the USAF Hospital, Tachikawa, Japan, but died on l4 March from infections. Also grievously wounded in this incident was the Catholic Chaplain, Walt DRISCOLL, who took a piece of shrapnel in his spine causing him to become a paraplegic, and Lt GAY, the Officer in Charge of the engineering detachment here, who was peppered all over his body with shrapnel.
HM3 TRYCZ of 2d Platoon of A/l/26 on Hill 86l (XD 803 443) received shrapnel to his back, face, and buttocks at ll00H when he tripped an enemy booby-trapped M26 grenade during a wire check.
15 MAR 1968
GAUGHAN, PFC Austin Michael A/3dShoreParty
SSGT WOODARD, in charge of Weapons Plt., was standing in the entrance to his bunker when a mortar round killed him. “Staff Sergeant Paul WOODARD—he was killed just five feet away from me that day—took a freak round just as we were going out on patrol.. and WOODY, being the Marine that he was—God bless him—he said, ‘Carl! Get that helmet on!’ I was just getting ready to put it on—and just then the round came in.. It hit on the right-hand side of the trench, right on the top part, and it exploded there, but a freak fragment got him. And what really hurt is WOODY—they had just adopted a baby boy, and WOODY used to send tapes home all the time..”
18 MAR 1968
GOI, CPL Louis Charles B/l/l3
“Lou GOI and myself and ‘Chief’—we were in a bunker.. We had a little dug-out for the three of us, a bunker, and he was cooking some C-rations. He did not have his flak jacket on. We always—always, always—put our flak jacket and helmet on. We slept in them sometimes. And he got tired of it. He got tired of the confinement. And we never went outside during daylight much unless we were on detail or had something to do specifically. But he got tired of it and said, Forget the flak jacket—and was outside cooking—or getting ready to cook some C-rations, and then a mortar landed right on top of the bunker next to him, and that was it. He was just literally blown away.”
20 MAR 1968
FELLOWS, COL Allen Eugene 20 TASS
MAJ FELLOWS launched from UBON Air Base, Thailand, in an O2A observation aircraft, #6721338, on a solo FAC mission (COVEY-6l6) to support Khe Sanh. The last voice contact with MAJ FELLOWS was at l435H with the ABCCC (HILLSBORO) when he was at XD 068 059, some 50 miles SW of Khe Sanh. Radar contact was maintained until approx. l500H. Loss of contact at this time did not cause any undue concern since this is a frequent occurrence for aircraft flying at low altitudes. When contact could not be reestablished, a communication check with other airfields was made to determine if the aircraft might have been diverted to one of them, with negative results. Aerial and electronic searches failed to find any trace of the missing aircraft or pilot.
22 MAR 1968
BUSH, l/Lt Paul William C/l/26
At about 2045H, the CP of C/l/26 in the BLUE Sector took a direct hit causing the roof to collapse and a fire. Gunny GROHMAN suffered shrapnel and concussion to face, both arms and legs and third degree burns. CAPT EGGER suffered 3d degree burns, partial decapitation of head, loss of right arm and left leg. SISSON suffered shrapnel to head. SHANNON suffered shrapnel in both arms, right leg, back, and head. The roof of the bunker had collapsed and there was a fire. While NVA incoming was still impacting nearby, PFC Terrell E. FITZGERALD (who had already received Purple Hearts for wounds on 21 Jan. and 24 Jan.) alerted his squad, made a hole in the smoldering bunker, and with his gas mask on, located LCPL MATTERN pinned down in the debris. He managed to get him out of the bunker, and then returned and rescued PFC JENKINS who had been burned on his hands and forearms. Meanwhile, CPL Michael A. GALLAGHER, PFC Dominic PARISE, LCPL Daniel J. BRADY made another hole in another bulkhead of the bunker, all while the bunker was on fire, collapsing, filled with choking gas, and enemy rounds were still impacting, and pulled LCPL CHAMGERLAIN free. PARISE found Gunny GROHMAN. Some l5 years later, Terry O’CONNELL was at the Wall in DC and wanted to know who the Gunny from C/l/26 that had enabled him to transfer out of Khe Sanh during the Siege to a CAC outfit and probably saved his life, was. He was told that it was Gunny GROHMAN. The next day, there was a red rose by the Gunny’s name. Terry said, No I can finally go to his name and say farewell. (Terry died in Aug of l993).
LYONS was hit in the stomach with a big chunk of shrapnel while on a working party at the ammo dump.
MAJ LYON was a pilot flying as No. 2 aircraft in a flight of 2 F4Cs against an enemy automatic weapons site and bunker complex in the vicinity of XD5842 in Laos. The plane had just marked the target for a bombing run by the other F4C and was lost. [Theodore Wilson GUY, with Major LYON, parachuted, was captured, and was released l6 Mar l973].
24 MAR 1968
ENZINNA, CPL John Joseph A/l/9
A NVA .50 cal. Machine-gun had been shooting at C-l30 aircraft dropping supplies and a patrol from l/9 assaulted the NVA position on 24 March. It was high noon at XD 8l8 427 when a sudden burst of automatic weapons fire cut down the Point Man, PFC POLT. POLT had two sisters who were nuns and two older brothers who were Roman Catholic priests, and their mother had a letter from the Pope. A Marine who came to assist him, CPL ENZINNA, was also killed. Then came the mortars, and it appeared the Marines were completely surrounded, but Lt HAYDEN had taken the precaution of positioning two squads together with a machine-gun to their rear. The AO, SOUTHERN HOTEL, riding with FINGERPRINT-3l, requested evacuation helicopters and armed gunships to assist. Just as HIGHBOY 3-2 was coming in for a pick-up, SEAWORTHY 4-23 was pulling off a gun run. Suddenly, while at an altitude of 800-ft., the pilot, CAPT HANLEY, felt a jolt and heard a noise as though someone had taken a sledge hammer and struck the side of his aircraft. The UH-lC, SEAWORTHY 4-23, #l5376l, WB-23, crashed at XD 823 4l4. Immediately upon impact, the tail boom separated, rotor head detached, and the aircraft burst into flames engulfing the aft portion and port side of the cabin. Following a very desperate retrieval, all four of the downed crew were immediately taken to “D” Med. LT HALL was given emergency treatment for 2d and 3d degree burns over 60% of his body, but succumbed from his burns at approximately 0400H on 25 March.
The l/9 patrol had cost 5 Marines killed (3 BNR) and l4 wounded (8 evacuated), plus the death of Lt HALL. The NVA losses were: 3l soldiers killed, 4 bunkers and two 60mm mortar positions destroyed. The complete absence of any racial tensions, which was how life was at Khe Sanh during the Siege, is reflected in the fact that HUTCHINSON was Black, ENZINNA was Mexican, POLT was Caucasian, and all were the best of friends—they literally were willing to die for each other. There is no racial separation in combat; all are brothers.
26 MAR 1968
KAMINSKI, PFC Kenneth B/l/9
Although unable to do much patrolling, daytime OPs were established to scope-out the surrounding areas. One such OP consisted of a small hill located some l50 meters in front of the B/l/9 lines. It had become a pattern to go there at pre-dawn, and the NVA were, by now, aware of this routine. A very thick fog blanketed the area the morning of 26 March as the Marines to man this OP began climbing that slope of the hill at 07l0H. Suddenly, NVA on top of the hill tossed a dozen or so ChiComs at the Marines. Fortunately they threw them a little too soon, and the Point Man was able to move everyone back safely. Two squads of B/l/9 were quickly mustered to check-out the area. 2/Lt TALONE led his Marines up the hill: “I was in the center when they opened up. On my left, a little bit in front of me, Sergeant MOSSO was hit [and killed], and the air was full of ChiComs. HN LONG moved through the intense enemy fire to administer aid. While he was rushing to the aid of PFC KAMINSKI, a mortar round exploded, killing both HN LONG and PFC KAMINSKI.
27 MAR 1968
BIXBY, PFC Thomas Eugene B/l/26
PFC BIXBY was killed at l405H at XD 85l 4l5 as a result of a gunshot wound to the stomach from a NVA sniper.
28 MAR 1968
BOYER, SFC Alan Lee FOB-4
From l20lH to l800H, KSCB and its outposts received approximately 70 rounds of incoming fire resulting in two KIA and 8 WIA (4 evacuated). In a peculiar way, the cause of PFC LACEY’s death occurred several days before the Siege began while he and his friend, Pat BRADY, were clearing fields of fire as Co L/3/26 prepared to occupy positions in the RED Sector perimeter. The Seabees had sprayed the foliage the previous day, and as the two Marines sat on a pile of foliage, their backs became saturated with the defoliant liquid. Soon thereafter LACEY developed large blisters on his back and was told to keep his bare back exposed to the air and sun. Today he was doing just that—no shirt, no flak jacket—and he was killed by shrapnel from incoming.
KENT and McRAE: “I got shot the first time on March 21st, l968, on a patrol out of Khe Sanh. I came in, and Dr. DEMAAGD sewed me up—gave me l06 stitches in my back. I was very fortunate and blessed because the bullet came into the right side of my back, hit my flak gear, and spinned inside my flak gear, over my spine, and out the other side of my back and came out. After that day I was at the Battalion Aid Station for a few days.. Dr. DEMAAGD let me go back down to my lines.. and a couple of my buddies came to my hootch to see how I was doing. They got called back to their lines. Right after they left my hootch a round came in right between them—KENT and McRAE. The round killed KENT. And I went down there with McRAE, and he died on the table holding my hand.” KENT was Caucasian and McRAE was Black, and the Marine they were visiting was black. Both KENT and McRAE had entered the Marine Corps on a buddy plan and they died the same date.]
LCDR WALLACE, a Navy pilot, was KIA at XD 642 241 while piloting a RF8G aircraft. [His remains were returned l6 Dec l988].
By the end of March, the KSCB airstrip had begun to look like a junk yard and a team was sent from HQ, lst Marine Air Wing, to retrieve what might be useable. Master Gunnery Sergeant Paul MAYER volunteered to supervise this operation. The team was able to palletize l2 critically needed jet engines, rotor blades, and other gear. He was preparing to depart from Khe Sanh when he was struck by shrapnel from a rocket and killed.
On 28 March, a SOG team, Patrol ASP, was on a wire-tap mission just south of the Khe Sanh Front HQ of the NVA in Laos—about 8 miles directly west of the DMZ [a subdivision of the B5 Front, called B5-T8]—came under fire and requested extraction from XD 434 574. A H-3 rescue helicopter arrived and due to terrain features and the absence of a LZ, the helicopter could not land and consequently had to use a rope ladder to extract the patrol. After the 7th man had climbed aboard, SGT BOYER was about to climb the ladder when it broke. Due to heavy ground fire the helicopter was forced to depart, leaving the three Americans of the team on the ground along with one Vietnamese. The SOG teams always ensured their indigenous personnel were cared for first, before they looked out for themselves. On 0l April 1968, a ground search team from FOB-4 entered the area and searched for 6 hours, but failed to locate any trace of the missing men.
30 MAR 1968
ALDRICH, CPL David Alan B/l/26
The specter of the terror and horror of 25 Feb continually gnawed the souls of those still alive, and the time had come for B/l/26 to move outside the perimeter with the mission of “recovering our fallen comrades and destroying enemy positions and personnel.” One platoon departed 0430H, another at 0537H, and the remainder of the company at 0612H; all units maneuvered to their preplanned positions behind the LOD by 0700H. At 0725H, B-2 crossed the LOD. During the assault the NVA positions (which had been in progress for some time) the company CP group took a direct hit by an estimated 20 rounds of 82mm mortars, killing the artillery observer, Lt “Hank” NORMAN, severely wounding CAPT PIPES in his shoulder, and causing PETERSON (NORMAN’s radioman) to loose his entire face as well as lower jaw.
PFC BRITT, a fire team leader, moved his team in rushes and boldly led his Marines through fortified trenchline, routed the NVA soldiers, and seized the positions as the outermost defensive position was secured. He was killed assaulting a NVA spiderhole.
CPL WARREN, a Platoon Right Guide, had volunteered to be part of a 4-man team to recover bodies from the 25 Feb patrol. Seeing one of the squad leaders wounded, CPL WARREN made his way through the intense fire to reach the pinned-down squad. Leading the squad back and regrouping them, CPL WARREN led the squad in an assault on the NVA positions, destroying two bunkers. After again moving the squad into the assault, he was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper.
LCPL MOORE was another member of the search team. In the midst of heavy automatic fire and disregarding his own personal safety, he moved forward across 25 meters of open terrain, aggressively assaulting a NVA machine-gun position. He destroyed the bunker and its occupants. He then moved to aid two of his fallen, wounded comrades. The squad then consolidated and resumed the assault. In order for the squad to advance, LCPL MOORE exposed himself and drew fire on himself so the squad could continue the attack. He was mortally wounded in so doing.
The 3d Squad, B-1, attacked through a hail of enemy fire under the leadership of LCPL Author SMITH who aggressively assaulted a NVA position, destroyed the bunker, silenced an automatic weapon, and killed a NVA officer inside the bunker. Noticing that fire from a camouflaged enemy position was the cause for many Marine casualties, LCPL SMITH took a fire team and moved towards the fire, but was mortally wounded, not however before he had destroyed the enemy position and the NVA soldier within it.
The withdrawal of Co B was costly. PFC RASH, who had bravely assaulted numerous enemy strongholds, remained brave to the end. During the pull-back, PFC RASH remained behind to provide effective suppressive fire to allow removal of the dead and wounded. During this, PFC RASH was mortally wounded by an incoming mortar.
PFC ANDERSON, with less than ten days to serve in Viet Nam, had been one of the volunteer members of the Search Team with First Squad, B-1. Leaving the relative safety of his trenchline position, he bravely moved through the fire-swept area to aid one of the wounded Marines and was mortally wounded while giving aid.
NVA gunners were not so totally preoccupied with the B/l/26 assault that they did not continue to shell. “..when dawn arose there was a NVA squad dug-in right in front of DELTA [l/9] lines, and this huge fire-fight erupted. They ended up killing all those NVA soldiers. I remember Captain SHAFFER—he was the Commanding Officer of DELTA, a real good officer. He was all excited. I remember him being at the CP bunker—he had this NVA officer’s belt on and was bragging about all the documents and all the NVA his men had killed and all this information they had found on these NVA soldiers. And that night, DELTA Company got mortared real bad, just when dawn was coming. Someone had brought up 60 mortar ammo on a mule or truck, and they were unloading it, and the NVA opened up with their mortars and I can’t remember now exactly how many men were killed—and Captain SHAFER was killed.. but what really hit us too was Corporal BEASLEY.. Corporal BEASLEY was the Colonel’s aide, a black guy who was real good-looking. He was always by the CP bunker, and every time you saw him, he was eating. He was the nicest guy and we used to kid him all the time.. he had been a Grunt and everything and just got picked for that job. He went over to DELTA Company’s lines that night to show the Company Gunny how to defuse a ChiCom grenade, and he just happened to be in the wrong place and was killed.” While visiting, CPL BEASLEY saw two wounded Marines lying in an exposed area, immediately left the security of his bunker, and moved to assist them. Aided by a companion, he moved one of the Marines to a covered position and then courageously returned to assist the other. Just then another mortar round exploded killing both of them.
31 MAR 1968
FERRARI, SGT Arnold Jay C/l/26
PFC Tom PRUIETT of Co K/3/26 on Hill 86l had played football and basketball for three years at his Coloma, MI, highschool. He had failed his junior year, and joined the Marine Corps on 06 Apr l967, completing his highschool in the service. In Dec ’67 he wrote home: “I am over here because I have to be, to protect those who are in school and those who like to burn draft cards, and all the families. I realize this, and I am proud to fight for my country, even if it does mean death.” During one of the regular mortar barrages that struck Hill 86l, one impacted on the edge of his foxhole, causing fragmentation wounds to his side, back, and shoulder, and he died.
SGT FERRARI was killed at l830H as a result of amputation of both legs and laceration of left hand by an 82mm mortar at XD 850 4l8. Two other Marines received non-serious wounds.