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September 1968:  First Brigade at the DMZ

By September, units of the Red Devil Brigade routinely went into the DMZ [a perspective not shared and emphatically denied by our commander-in-chief, but he wasn't there] during tactical infantry operations, and in four days of heavy fighting, hundreds of North Vietnamese infantrymen were killed.  But it was not a happy month for the 1/11th. nor for the 1/61st.  I was formulating the opinion that the VC were not freedom fighters [no matter what Jane Fonda said three years later] for any front, let alone a people's front.  They are low-class hoods, fighting for the right to pillage peasants' villages, and to rape young girls.  They are Vietnamese killing their own people, and we found some of the mutilated remnants of peasants' bodies, which tended to pop up almost anywhere unexpected.  Mostly, these were villagers who had befriended Americans or South Vietnamese openly.  When I talked to them in French, they had the sound reasoning and desires and down-to-earth sense of peasants everywhere -- they just wanted to be left alone, to tend their land, and to provide for their families; what went on in Saì Gòn or Hà Nôi meant little to them.  But we disturbed them, and the South Vietnamese disturbed them, and the VC and the NVA disturbed their peace too.  They were very hospitable, and were eager to speak French.  On more than one occasion, their advice warned us of danger, and saved some of our lives.  Mostly, the victims tended to be old men, but on one occasion, the entire family was slaughtered and left in the middle of the village [which was deserted by the time we walked through].

Fig. 1: September, 1968: You can hang your clothes, but they won't dry because of the persistently high humidity.
Fig 2: September, 1968: Camp Red Devil POW-WOW.
Fig 3: September, 1968: CPL Raffin, on the road.
Excerpt from the Annual Historical Supplement 1968, 1st. Battalion, 11th. Infantry, APO San Francisco 96477 - The Pioneer Battalion "The First Team" copy received from Sidney Collins on 13 November 2000 and authored by Emil N. Tepsitch, Command Sergeant Major, Unit Historical NCO:  "To contain and preclude enemy utilization of the 1/11 area of operations, the maximum amount of troops available were sent to the field to seek out and destroy the enemy wherever he could be found.  Hunter-killer teams were deployed, ambushes established, air observers sent aloft, and continual pressure applied via patrols throughout the AO.  Initials signs of success were forthcoming as enemy shelling of the fire base diminished.  The enemy could no longer move at will, his ability to mass was restricted and he resorted to utilization of 1-3 man patrols who found, to their chagrin, that any enemy movement would result in a fusillade of withering fire."

"Monday 2 September 1968:  I am on TDY with Delta Company, 1/61st. Infantry [Mechanized] - Guess they needed another M-60 and I'll have to do.  We remain a good team because we trained intensely together at Ft. Carson, and some have become friends, but the 1/61st. is not the same home I had with the 1/11th.  The Battalion is not starting the month out very well.  PFC Mike J. Stanley, from Bravo Company, 1st Bn, 61st Inf Reg, 19 years old, from Philadelphia, was fatally wounded in a firefight.

An e-mail from {SP4} Jim Korolowicz, Bravo Company, 1/11th, received on 1 April 2001 documents this loss in graphic detail:  "... Michael and I had just meet a day or two earlier, he did not come with the rest of us from Ft. Carson. He was the first replacement. Both of us sat on a hill over looking a valley, when we were told to saddle up and move to a different location. We started to move across the top of the next hill when one of the guys on top of a Tank (1/77) was pointing at the edge of the hill, he was then shot in the shoulder by a sniper. All hell broke loose after that. Me and Michael jumped into an old foxhole. As we both tried to figure out what was happening, one of the four NVA Sappers in the holes in front of us tossed a grenade at our hole, I jumped out and started to crawl back towards the tanks rather quickly when the grenade went off. I was hit in the leg and ass. I stopped and crawled back to Michael a few feet away ( I can only guess that when I jumped so did Michael) I grabbed his leg and said lets go on the count of three, he never moved. One of my buddies Larry Peoples ran over and carried me back to the Tanks and APC's (tracks). Later on the Medivac Chopper, I saw Michael again his young face was slightly burned from the blast, I believe they also shot Michael as he laid stunned from the blast of the grenade. I forgot to tell you that just before we moved to the next hill Michael showed me a picture of his wife, they had been married just before he left for VN, he was in country no more than a week or so before he was a KIA. I still think of him daily and how I could of helped more. Also you should know that Sgt. Richard Dennis Joy received the Bronze Star for Valor he protected the Tanker and advanced on the NVA. SGT Joy was KIA 20 June 1969, one month before he would have taken the Freedom Bird home. I finished my tour in July of 69 and went home. This is the first time I have told this story outside my squad ..." {


According to the "Operational Report: Lessons learned of 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) for Period Ending 1 November 1968, RCS, CSDOR-65 (RI).", Dated 7 March 1969, Page 3:

Operations were conducted on what was then the enemy's ground and demonstrated that the enemy was a worthy foe. On 4 September 1968, A/1-61 Inf (M) was sent to the relief of an engaged Marine company. In the two and a half hour fight that followed, 9 enemy KIA were inflicted at the cost of 3 friendly KIA and 27 WIA. The majority of the friendly casualties were the result of enemy RPG hits on APC's. The arrival of darkness and a typhoon precluded an exact determination of enemy casualties."

Wednesday 4 September 1968:  Very heavy rains today.  Alpha Company went on a sweep mission west in the morning, north-west of Côn Thiên to pick up some marines from the 3rd. Battalion, 9th. Regiment, 3rd. Division and bring them back to base.  By early afternoon, the marines had reported seeing NVA in the area, some 4 km North West of Cam Lô, and by mid-afternoon Alpha Company had picked them up.  Heavy fighting began around 1600 hours.  SP4 Barry Wells from Alpha Company (1/61st. INF) was killed by a fragmentation grenade, he was 21 years old.  Our first officer casualty was 2LT David Sullivan, a 24-year old artillery commander and forward observer from Bravo Battery, 5/4th. ART.  He was from Missoula, MT, and he used to brag about this delightful and wondrous God's country where the cattle outnumbered the people. He was an only son, but had sisters. He was born exactly 7 days after I was. LT Sullivan's Recon SGT, Tommy Doris, called for artillery support which he accurately zeroed in to within 75 meters of his own position.   Later, it became apparent that if it hadn't been for Alpha Company, we probably would have had more casualties.  By late afternoon, one of its platoons had become mired, APC's stuck in the mud, and pinned down as it received heavy enemy fire, but its commander, although wounded when a rocket hit his APC, went berserk {and he was kind of gung-ho already anyway} and led his men against enemy positions.  His advance must have surprised the enemy, and their distraction allowed our units to move forward as well.  We, at the time, remained unaware that this is what allowed us to progress when we were finally sent in.  But unlike berserkers, he then directed the evacuation of his own wounded until finally he had to be med-evac'd.  [Later correspondence claimed he was a CPT Vernon].  In the same firefight, PFC {Emil} Smevold [Alpha Company, 1/61st] was killed at 21 years of age (one day shy of a month after his 21st birthday) by a grenade.  Alpha Company also lost 20-year old Bill Lucas who was killed by mortar fire -- about 1 month before his 21st. birthday.  SP5 Wolf D. Dietz, a combat engineer from Alpha Company, 7th. Engineers, was killed in intense mortar fire at 22 years of age. E-mail received 10 September 2016 unsigned indicates that the Coffelt data base indicates he may have been killed by friendly fire from ambush squad of B/1/77th Armor.  Med-Evacs were called in  and were also fired at by the RPG's from the enemy {the 123rd. NVA Regiment}.  At night, our units took up positions on Hill 162 {altitude of the hill}, one day's walk from the 5/4th. C-2 support base, and north-west of Cam Lô. 27 of our guys were wounded that day.  Later, one was to find out that this action was part of Operation Kentucky.

Thursday 5 September 1968:  Return to base camp uneventful.  We counted 23 dead enemies from yesterday's encounter.

9 September 1968:  The First Brigade is bleeding and three more of our guys were killed in action today: PFC Domingo M. Terronez, PVT David R. Lilly, SGT Howard Burke -- all from Charley Company, 1/61st. INF when it came under heavy rocket and mortar fire in the hills West of Ðông Hà.  Throughout the firefight, SGT Tommy Doris, although wounded, continued to fight until the last chopper left late in the afternoon.  {ex post facto additional information thanks to Michael Mullenix, received 8 December 2000: Alpha Company had occupied the hill before Charley Company, and when it took enemy fire it moved out. Subsequently with casualties, Alpha Company had to move back a bit for med-evac, which forced C Company back on top of the hill where it became pinned downed by heavy mortar and rocket fire.  Lilly and Terronez were literally blown to pieces.  Burke was the Forward Observer for the mortar platoon, and was trying to determine where the rockets and mortars were coming from when he was hit. Every time the chopper came in to take the wounded from C Company, it drew heavy enemy fire, so not many were able to get in at a time.  C Company took more wounded when the chopper drew fire and left. Survivors who stayed behind took remaining pieces of Lilly and Terronez, and hid in a stream bed all night and walked out in the morning}.  

An E-mail received from Michael L. Mullenix (8 December 2000 @ 18:48 Hours): " ... The entry for 9 September referred to Lilly and Terronez being killed along with Burke.  I was so close to Lilly and Terronez that I got pieces of them on my flak hacket.  One  was a piece of a stomach about 6" in diameter, with the navel right in the middle.  Burke was the F.O. from the mortar platoon and was trying to determine where the rockets and mortars were coming from instead of being down when he was killed. ...

... The facts are that we were under attack from rockets and mortars and a shot was never fired by anyone in the company the entire day.  There was nothing to shoot at.  As far as the last chopper, there was only one out, and not many got on it because it drew mortar fire every time it tried to land.  We took more wounded when the chopper drew fire and left.  We carried the pieces of Lilly and Terronez with us, hid in a stream bed all night and walked out in the morning ...

... For history again, we were put in that situation by Alpha Company, who had occupied the hill before us, they were taking fire and moved out, we were almost across it ourselves when Alpha had heat casualties and had to move back a bit for Med-evac.  We were forced back on top of the hill where we were pinned down by the fire, waiting for Alpha to move.  That is when we took the casualties. ..."

A great discussion, exchange, fine details can be found at:  http://one-six-one.fifthinfantrydivision.com/kenty.htm

Here is inserted a December, 2000 exchange between Tommy Dorris (FO A/1/61) and Mike Mullenix(RTO C/1/61). Both of these men were part of the operations recorded in this diary.

From: Tommy Dorris To: Michael L. Mullenix I just read the article about you in the Sept. 69 fight. I knew C 1/61 was there but didn't know y'all had came up. We were sent up that morning with just one platoon and the rest of the A Company was trying to get to us. I wonder if the FO from the mortar platoon was the same that was with me. He taped my arm to my chest and gave me a good shot of dope and we set there calling in Artillery and mortars all afternoon till they made me get on a chopper and leave. I remember all of us camping out overnight before we went up the next day. I all so remember that a company from 1/11th was in between us and where the firing was come from. They could hear the rounds leaving the tube and me and the mortar FO could see the smoke from them. I must of called in 50 rounds that afternoon, never did get to find out how it came out and never did see the rest of the company because it was getting dark when I left. Tommy

From:Michael L. Mullenix To: Tommy Dorris Glen Mutter was my C.O. I remember when I came off that hill, I was carrying the radio for the 2nd Plt. Sgt. and we sat down just after cresting the hill and watched the rest of the company come off the hill. When Cpt. Mutter came off (he was one of the last to un-ass that hill) he looked like an old man. I asked him if he was O.K., and he said yes. About that time came the guys carrying the remains of Lilly and Terrones and I never saw a person look sadder than he did. I didn't know who the bodies were. I thought the two were missing. Dave Lilly was a drinking buddy back at Carson, and he was best friends with Terry Hyde. Terry was not along on that mission and blames himself to this day for what happened. I told Terry's wife that had he been along, he would have been in that hole with Dave instead of Terrones. Mike

From: Michael L. Mullenix To: Tommy Dorris The whole battalion was stretched out on a long ridge where the choppers had dropped us off the afternoon before. A Co. led off the next morning after a couple Phantom jets did some low strafing before we moved out. As they were strafing, A Co. started moving out and as they crossed the short valley between our position they started drawing mortar or rocket fire, intermittently. As they cleared the next hill, we moved out and the rest is the story I gave to Raffin. The mortar F.O. was from our 4th platoon and was, I believe, with our platoon leader (?). I believe the round that got him also wounded the LT. (Bill Claus) and his RTO (Cagle). He may have been with Cpt. Mutter. Is that why they call it "Mutter's Ridge"? Later, before dark, when we were hiding in the creek bed, I SAW THE NVA F.O. who had been calling in the stuff on us. He had been behind us all the while, because he was walking on the side of the opposite hill where we had come from. I saw him talking on his radio, and he was alone. He was no more than 150 meters from us and the Platoon Sgt. wouldn't let me shoot because he was afraid we would give away our position. I believe Bruce Money and Greg Lorensen saw him too. That has always preyed on my mind. Mike

From: Tommy Dorris To: Michael L. Mullenix Yea, I remember the Phantom we had to take a break on the way up that morning so they could come in. The mortar FO was a SP-5 and had a name that ended in "ski" or something like that. He was a big guy maybe 200 lb.'s. I had worked with him before and he seemed like a good guy. I never did figure why they sent one PLT up first, but we had just got the new CO for A Co. and I didn't even know the new LT from the Artillery. I did get to talk to him on the radio that day and told him to keep his head down. It's call Mutter's Ridge and also call Rocket Ridge, I don't think it was named after Mutter. I do remember that it was our first off the track operation and one of the biggest. Tommy

From: "Michael L. Mullenix" To: Tommy Dorris - Tommy, Back on the subject of Rocket Ridge, after we cleared the hill, the med-evac started to come in on a small perimeter we had established a short distance from the crest and a couple people had got on and they were bringing the two bodies up and we received more incoming. Moose was wounded in the leg and the chopper took off, leaving us to our own devices. I think someone else was wounded too. We proceeded down the hill and into a wooded area containing a small stream bed, and changed direction (we went left) for a short distance until the whole unit was in it then we stopped. The enemy walked incoming the direction we had been going in hopes of getting more of us. After a time it stopped. I guess they lost us. (Basic tactics when fleeing incoming. Get into a woodline and change dirtection.) some time after that is when I saw the NVA FO looking for us. Later, Cpt. Mutter was on the horn with a spotter plane trying to let him know our location. we could see the plane right over us but he was never able to spot us, so the word was to settle in for the night. Before leaving the hill we were instructed to "lighten the load" because we were going to run. Of course, the first thing we all got rid of was the gas masks. We dumped almost everything from our packs except ammo, so of course, the only ones who had rations was those who had disregarded orders (mainly one or two guys who didn't share). After dark it rained like hell and the stream became very deep and swift. The bamks were very steep and I remember Curling myself around a small tree or bush (it was dark) to keep from falling back into the stream. Talk about being in hell! The next morning we moved out up the stream and up another hill, down the other side, changed direction, waded down the middle of another stream for some distance and finally emerged and started up another hill where our tracks were waiting on us. The drivers were about halfway down the hill, passing out C-rations and helping us up the hill. All the while, those poor bastards were dragging the bodies in ponchos, I think there were 4 guys to a poncho, struggling through the bush the whole way. I can't remember who they were but they all deserve a medal. The Marines would have buried them and gone back and tried to find them later. Cpt. Mutter said they went out with us and they were coming back with us. I praise him for that. More later Mike

An E-Mail received from  SP4 Tom Harwood, received 4 August 2007, reveals additional details.

" ... My name is Tom Harwood and I was Capt. Glen Mutter's RTO. I have rarely talked about that day with anyone and those I have really can't comprehend what it was like. Yours is the first email address I have come across from someone that was there that day.  I will try to explain the events as I remember them.

I remember the Company taking helicopters to the hill being used as our landing zone and all of us jumping out and a perimeter was set up. During the offloading there was one soldier that twisted his ankle, so he claimed, and we had to call in a medi-vac to get him out. We had to pop a smoke grenade for the chopper to come in and get him. It wasn't long after he was medi-vaced out that the shelling started. I personally believe that it was the popping of smoke that got us into trouble, I may be wrong. I know we had a perimeter set up and Capt. Mutter made sure everyone was aware that a ground assault might happen if and when the shelling stopped. I remember that he and I were laying next to each other with the Company and Battalion radios so we had communication with everyone. He and I were half way down on the side of a B-52 bomb crater. I remember there being water in the bottom of it. Lilly and another guy were just above us just outside the crater trying to dig a hole. We had all of the wounded brought to the crater and had them laid around the inside of it for the medics to work on them. They kept bringing in more wounded after every barrage. A Company was in a location where they could hear the report of the NVA artillery. Every time they heard a report, they would radio me that incoming was on the way. I in turn would yell into the Company radio that incoming was on the way and everyone was to take cover as best as possible. This seemed to go on forever and I dreaded every time I got a transmission from the A Company commander that there was going to be incoming. On one of the times I got a transmission from him and I yelled into the Company radio that incoming was on the way and we yelled incoming, it seemed that a shell landed right next to us. I remember the dirt falling on top of Capt. Mutter and myself and he slapped at the back of my flack jacket for something. About then, the Gooks started jamming the Battalion radio with jabber since they found our frequency. Capt. Mutter told me to change the frequency on the radio to another but when I looked up at the radio, Lilly's torso was laying on it. What Capt. Mutter had slapped from my back was a chunk of human flesh. A shell had landed exactly where Lilly and the other soldier were digging in. I didn't change the frequency on that radio, I got another radio to use. I remember there being about 45 WIA and 3 KIA. The 45 WIA were in the crater with us and we couldn't get any Army medi-vac to come in. They said it was too hot with all the shelling going on. It seemed as though we were going to be stuck on that hill for a while and there was nothing we could do about it. Then we got a call from a pilot of a Marine Jolly Green Giant helicopter saying he was coming in and he wanted only the wounded put aboard and no way in hell had we better try to put the KIA's on, just the wounded. Smoke was popped for him right at the edge of the crater and he set down. To this day I can see his helmet visor and his head turned looking out the window of his helicopter watching Capt. Mutter and I and waiting for us to give him a thumbs up that all the wounded were aboard and he was clear to lift off. For some reason there was no incoming while he was on the ground having the wounded loaded, I couldn't understand why and I still don't today. After all the wounded were loaded, we gave him the thumbs up and he returned the sign and he lifted off. Capt. Mutter immediately got on the Company radio and told everyone to get off of the hill and head down to a small stream. We had the bodies of Lilly and the other 2 KIA wrapped in ponchos and had them laid behind us in the stream for the night. The next morning at sunlight we headed along the stream to meet up with our APC's.

You may remember that what happened to Lilly was why we stopped wearing two dog tags around our necks. One was subsequently laced into one of our boots and the other kept around our necks. I wish I had known the Marine Pilot's name that came in to get the wounded out, I would have loved to have met him. That man had to have the biggest set of brass balls ever to do what he did.

As I remember it, there were about 45 men wounded that day and 3 killed.  September the 9th, 1968. Two days before my 20th birthday.  I know this is a short email trying to explain what I remember, it seemed to be an eternity that day.  I would also like to know where Capt. Mutter is so that I may contact him. I have several phone numbers of a Glen Mutter around the country and I am going to call them on the hopes that one might be him ..."

Tuesday 10 September 1968:  We were sent out to help rout Mr. Charles and any NVA we could come across.  I think HQ had good information this time, and we had a big firefight the next day.

11 September 1968:  Our sister unit Bravo Company, 1/11th. lost 23 year-old PFC Gorschboth to a grenade, SGT Bill Gagnier, 21 years old, to a sniper and SP4 Tom Smith, at 20 years of age, to mortar shrapnel.  The NVA seemed to throw everything they had at us - rockets, mortars, grenades, machine gun fire, and Bravo Company lost four more guys:  PFC Robert L. Scott, who had just joined the unit two weeks [to the day] earlier was shot to death the day before his 20th. birthday - a typically cocky, though carefree, happy-go-lucky kind of  kid; SP4 Vini Santucci [we kidded him about being  a mafioso Godfather because he was from Chicago] was lost to a mortar and rocket artillery barrage which also killed SP4 Harry Van Alst -  2 months after his 21st. birthday, but still a kid; and PFC Gary Waldorf, 20 years of age --- his weapon had either jammed or he ran out of ammo - probably a jam, and a rocket blew up right next to him.  Many of the hits we took were by such deadly, but well-aimed mortar fire, like the enemy knew exactly where we were going to be at any one instant and zeroed in on us.  We were pinned down for some time, so the medic couldn't reach some of the wounded in time to save them.  It's very hard to run up and down hills, chasing the elusive enemy, and then to encounter him in fortified embankments or bunkers, or hidden in caves loaded with booby traps and tunnel complexes.

According to an E-Mail received 23 March 2001 from Harvey Hahn, Bravo Company, 1/11th, concerning the events of Wednesday 11 September 1968: " ...Wed. was the third night that Bravo Company would stay on the same position after doing whatever they had us doing out in that area all day. This is significant because on the second night, two of us on radio watch saw a wet charge come out of a mortar off to our west, got a direction on it and reported it to be checked out.

That next evening as we sat on our foxholes eating chow, that mortar began to zero on us and comenced to walking rounds around our perimeter, dropping some in on our guys down in their holes. That is what killed my friend Sgt. Bill Gagnier, and his mortar gunner with the 81's SP/4 Vini Santucci. I think they were down in the same hole. And the others who died there also from this mortar attack, my friend Sgt. Ron Fraser died later from wounds in this mortar attack if his death took place three days later. There was no other ground action except what our crazy CO had us doing. Like sending us off the hill in the total darkness in all different directions. If there had been any VC in the area waiting for us, we would have been chopped meat..."

Excerpt from the Annual Historical Supplement 1968, 1st. Battalion, 11th. Infantry, APO San Francisco 96477 - The Pioneer Battalion "The First Team" copy received from Sidney Collins on 13 November 2000 and authored by Emil N. Tepsitch, Command Sergeant Major, Unit Historical NCO: "On 11 September 1968, Company D supported by one platoon of tanks from Company C, 1/77th. Armor, moved into the "Market Place", vicinity YD 130725, and again engaged the same enemy unit which they had mauled previously.  Apparently unconvinced that they were no longer in control of the area, the enemy struck with a dogged tenacity utilizing hedgerows, dikes and heavy vegetation for concealment of his well-fortified bunker complex.  His defensive posture offered overlapping fire defense in depth, and fields of fire that theoretically gave the battlefield advantage entirely to the enemy.  However, theory did not materialize into fact, as Company D and the tanks attacked, bunker by bunker, in a systematic destructive effort that raised chaos within the enemy positions and when the smoke of battle cleared, forty-four (44) North Vietnamese Army Soldiers lay dead and seven (7) of their comrades were prisoners.  One friendly wounded was sustained and the comparative results indicated, once again, a clear cut victory for the Pioneer forces.  Application of pressure continued throughout the AO as Company A, supported by Company A, 4/12 Armored Cavalry, conducted a sweep out of A-3 toward the DMZ on 13 September 1968.  Eight (8) enemy NVA were killed and as in all previous battalion actions, enemy weapons and equipment were captured.  Success breeds success and on the following day Company B, on a routine patrol, killed nine (9) NVA."


According to the "Operational Report: Lessons learned of 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) for Period Ending 1 November 1968, RCS, CSDOR-65 (RI).", Dated 7 March 1969, Page 3: (2) Combined Arms Operation: The Brigade's far ranging operations soon denied the enemy freedom of action and movement. On 13 September 1968, the combined arms concept practiced at Fort Carson, was applied on the battlefield.

In an attack into the DMZ, the objective area was the location of the action where the enemy had previously avoided engagement. a tank heavy TF, 1-77 Armor, went for the objective with a tank team securing the left flank and an infantry/cavalry team the right flank. Contacts on the flanks did not distract the Brigadeand the operation went as planned with the armor/mechanized infantry force driving through the objective. This combined olperation was in conjunction with the 2nd ARVN regt which attacked northeast of A-2 and then turned south toward A-1. The surprised enemy was overrun, losing 35 EN/KIA as well as large quantities of 60mm mortar, 82mm mortar and RPG ammunition, which was destroyed. The successful use of all means - including a pre-strike by B-52s, naval gunfire, close air support and close cooperation with ARVN units kept casualties down to 15 friendly WIA.

The Brigade was not slow to appreciate that it had a winning formula in its mobility, firepower, and staying power."

Saturday 14 September 1968:  Bravo Company [1/11th.] lost yet another of its men as SGT Ron Fraser succumbed to wounds received during a mortar attack on 11 September 1968.  By now, these events should have alerted the battalion that the enemy was not going to be surprised by our presence, but at the time we didn't pay attention to such details.  We figured we had the enemy on the run.  We had a minor skirmish and killed one enemy, the others ran off.

Sunday 15 September 1968:  We are fighting very hard, but our right flank lost its Commander, 1LT Pete Rich from Headquarters Company [1/61st.] {This is an error in my diary as LT Rich was in Charley Company according to information received from Michael Mullenix, his RTO, received on 8 December 2000.  LT Rich was killed by AK-47 fire when he came upon a wounded, dying NVA, who fired a burst which killed both Rich and Gilbert Carvalho -- a SGT  (with a reputation as talented artist who could do excellent sketches in a jif) from Charley Company [1/61st.].  The enemy by any reasonable guess is getting slaughtered here, but there always seems to be more coming.   We, as a battalion, have chalked up over 85 kills this week.

17 September 1968: Word of mouth has it that we jost one dust-off East of Côn Thiên working with Delta Company, 1/11th. E-Mail received from Michael L. Mullenix received 8 December 2000 at 18:48 Hours: " ... The entry for 15 September has LT Pete Rich in HQ.  He was in Charlie Company.  I was his RTO and he was killed by AK-47 fire not three feet in front of me. He ran up on a wounded and dying NVA, who fired a burst and stitched LT from the top of his boot to his lower jaw (left side) before he died.  Gil Carvelho was killed right next to me in the same wild burst ... "

Excerpt from the Annual Historical Supplement 1968, 1st. Battalion, 11th. Infantry, APO San Francisco 96477 - The Pioneer Battalion "The First Team" copy received from Sidney Collins on 13 November 2000 and authored by Emil N. Tepsitch, Command Sergeant Major, Unit Historical NCO:  "On 17 September 1968, Company D, with its platoon of tanks in support, once again made contact with an enemy force of unknown size in the vicinity of the "Market Place".  With the support of tactical air, Company D broke through the initial line of defense causing the enemy to break contact and leaving behind thirteen (13) dead.  With their foe on the run, the Pioneers were expecting another smashing victory but were forced to stop and set up security for a downed medevac chopper.  Friendly casualties were light as only seven (7) pioneers received minor wounds.  A combined sweep team consisting of Companies A, B and C, lined up and began a sweep of the Ao to uncover any enemy who still possessed the desire to engage the Pioneer Battalion.  On 18 September 1968, Company B drew blood - engaging a strong NVA force, vicinity YD 129723, "Battling Bravo" stormed across the enemy defenses, putting him to rout, and decimated his ranks by killing twenty-nine (29) of his sorely needed troops.  Additional benefits were reaped as the enemy in his haste to disengage, abandoned valuable documents and weapons which provided a wealth of intelligence information. An aura of calm and serenity seemed to follow this engagement."


According to the "Operational Report: Lessons learned of 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) for Period Ending 1 November 1968, RCS, CSDOR-65 (RI).", Dated 7 March 1969, Page 3: (3) Infantry Operation: Foot infantry continued to prove their worth. On 15 September 1968, D-1-11 Inf encountered an enemy company in a fortified position. Contact was maintained with the enemy for two days at the cost of 41 EN/KIA with the loss of only 11 friendly WIA.

20 September 1968:  Today is very humid, an uncomfortable day to fight, but it is also a terrible day.  We're running up and down hills [which we may already run up and down and over several times before] and that's no fun at all with our helmets, flak jackets, lugging ammo belts and always being afraid of stepping on a mine or being picked off.  Killed seven enemies in a brief encounter.

21 September 1968:  Delta Company from 1/11th. reports a serious enemy encounter and SP4 Bob Lhota [an elderly man - a whole year older than myself] and SP4 Dave White [21 years of age] were killed by small arms fire.  From other platoons in Delta Company [1/11th.], PFC Dave Clark was killed by AK-47 - we used to kid him about having gone underground from the Dave Clark 5 and asked him where the other 4 were hiding.  Delta Company also lost:  PFC Frank Charles [SIR Charles - to differentiate him from the VC] who was 18 years old, to AK-47;  and Squad Leader SGT Mike Hanneman, who used to brag about being a draftee rather than a lifer, was one of the first ones hit in the terrible encounter - at age 24."

Headquarters 5TH INFANTRY DIVISION APO San Francisco 96477 GENERAL ORDERS NUMBER 5470 AWARD OF THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS 1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously. LHOTA, ROBERT ERxxxxxxxx SPECIALIST FOUR United States Army Co D, 1st Bn, 11th Infantry, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross Date action: 21 September 1968 Theater: Republic of Vietnam Reason: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Specialist Four Lhota distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 21 September 1968 while serving as an assistant machine gunner on a search and destroy mission in Quang Tri Province. His platoon was suddenly attacked by an enemy force occupying well concealed bunkers, and became pinned down by the aggressors' cross fire. Specialist Lhota took a machine gun from a wounded man and placed effective fire on the hostile emplacements, enabling his fellow soldiers to begin a withdrawal. The enemy concentrated on his position, and he was seriously wounded by a rocket that exploded next to him. Refusing to be evacuated, he continued to man the machine gun until he was hit a second time and his weapon was damaged. A comrade attempted to carry him to safety, but Specialist Lhota resisted, and instead began shooting his rifle at the communists. He was struck again by the hostile fusillade and was mortally wounded. Through bravery and self-sacrifice most of the platoon escaped the murderous barrage. Specialist Lhota's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved 25 July 1963. FOR THE COMMANDER: Chief of Staff OFFICIAL: Adjutant General

Excerpt from the Annual Historical Supplement 1968, 1st. Battalion, 11th. Infantry, APO San Francisco 96477 - The Pioneer Battalion "The First Team" copy received from Sidney Collins on 13 November 2000 and authored by Emil N. Tepsitch, Command Sergeant Major, Unit Historical NCO: "The 'Easy Days' for the Pioneers were extremely short in duration, however, as the battalion relinquished control of A-4 and A-3 and assumed control of another firebase designated as C-2, vicinity of YD 134645, to include the vital C-2 bridge connecting both fire bases.  Although the sudden move was somewhat hectic, the new area of operations was lucrative in nature as Companies C and D contacted an enemy force hidden in bunkers West of C-2, killing thirteen (13) enemy with the usual capture of weapons and equipment.  September drew to a close with battalion patrols uncovering numerous enemy arms caches made up mainly of hidden ammunition, rockets, and mines, obviously stored for future utilization against allied forces."


According to the "Operational Report: Lessons learned of 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) for Period Ending 1 November 1968, RCS, CSDOR-65 (RI).", Dated 7 March 1969, Page 3: On 26 September 1968, 1-11 Inf conducted a three company attack near C-2. Elements of the 2d ARVN Regt attacked west of C-2 and south of 1-11. By 4 October 1968, 1-11 Inf had captured 600 rounds of 82mm mortar ammunition and 10,000 rounds of 12.7mm MG ammunition."


RIP: PFC Michael J. Stanley, B CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 2 September 1968, 19 years old, near Tân Thanh, Quang Tri Province, RVN

























RIP: SP4 Barry S. Wells, A CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 4 September 1968, 21 years old, 4 km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN

























RIP: 2Lt David Sullivan, B BTRY, 5TH BN, 4TH ARTILLERY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 4 September 1968, 24 years old, 6 km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN















RIP: PFC Emil H. Smevold, A CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 4 September 1968, 21 years old, 6 km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN























RIP: SP4 William H. Lucas, A CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 4 September 1968, 20 years old, 6 km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN
























RIP: SP5 Wolf-Dieter Dietz, A CO, 7TH ENG BN, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 4 September 1968, 22 years old, 6 km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN



















RIP: SGT Howard D. Burke, C CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 9 September 1968, 28 years old, Hill 158 SW of CônThiên, Quang Tri Province, RVN

















RIP: PFC Domingo M. Terronez, C CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 9 September 1968, 23 years old, Hill 158 (8 km SW of CônThiên), Quang Tri Province, RVN
























RIP: PVT David R. Lilly, C CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 9 September 1968, 26 years old, Hill 158 (8 km SW of CônThiên), Quang Tri Province, RVN
























RIP: PFC Roland Gorschboth, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 23 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN



















RIP: SGT William (Bill) J. Gagnier, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 21 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN























RIP: SP4 Thomas D. Smith, 3RD PLT, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 20 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN























RIP: PFC Robert Scott, 3RD PLT, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 19 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN
















RIP: SP4 Vini Santucci, 4TH PLT, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 24 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN














RIP: SP4 Harry L. Van Alst, Jr,, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 21 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN


















RIP: PFC Gary A. Waldorf, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 11 September 1968, 20 years old, 8km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN



















RIP: SGT Ronald M Fraser, 3RD PLT, B CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 14 September 1968, 22 years old, Hill 158 (8 km SW of CônThiên), Quang Tri Province, RVN




















RIP: 1LT Peter B. Rich, C CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 15 September 1968, autmomatic weapons fire, 23 years old, Hill 158 (8 km SW of CônThiên), Quang Tri Province, RVN




















RIP: SGT Gilbert Carvalho, C CO, 1ST BN, 61ST INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 15 September 1968, autmomatic weapons fire, 32 years old, Hill 158 (8 km SW of CônThiên), Quang Tri Province, RVN






















RIP: SP4 Robert A. Lhota, D CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV (Mech), USARV, KIA 21 September 1968, Firefight, 18 years old, 5km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN



















RIP: PFC Francis Charles, D CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV, USARV, KIA 21 September 1968, Firefight, 18 years old, 5km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN
























RIP: PFC David Leroy Clark, D CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV, USARV, KIA 21 September 1968, Firefight, 18 years old, 5km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN






















RIP: SGT Michael I. Hanneman, D CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV, USARV, KIA 21 September 1968, Firefight, 24 years old, 5km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN






















RIP: SP4 David L. White, D CO, 1ST BN, 11TH INFANTRY, 1ST BDE, 5TH INF DIV, USARV, KIA 21 September 1968, Firefight, 21 years old, 5km North West of Cam Lô, Quang Tri Province, RVN













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