Our Honored Dead: Vietnam
Tribute for Pfc
Tommy Joe Dixon was
my best friend in Nam. We served together in the same squad of the 1st
Platoon (the Apaches)
of C, 1/14. The following personal narrative supplements the
Daily Staff Journals for the last few days of his life.
On 7 March 1969, A
1/14 and C 1/14 commenced BDA operations in Arc Light areas west of Kontum
in the general
vicinity of Polei Kleng. The first three days of the mission were uneventful
for our company, and I believe likewise
for A 1/14. But the situation would change on the fourth day.
According to the
journals, On March 10 A 1/14 started to patrol from grid 978914 and we moved
out from 976960.
About mid-day on March 10, A Company came under enemy fire. What initially
was reported as sniper fire would
escalate to incoming B-40 rockets and mortar rounds. C 1/14 was sent to
reinforce. As I recall, it was about a
two-hour hump to their location. Enroute we received a little sniper fire
but I don't recall anyone being hit. We linked
up with A 1/14 at grid 992992 about an hour or so before dark. By the time
we got to their location, they had 5 KIAs
and multiple WIAs. Dustoffs had been completed for most of the wounded. We
helped load the dead into an APC
from theA 1/69 Armor element that was on location.
According to the
information provided by this web site, the five men from A Company killed in
action that day were:
SP4 Jesse Archer
SGT James Cameron
SP4 Leon Coit
Sp4 Arthur George-Pizarro
PFC John Lortz III
Not long after we linked up, Charlie greeted us with incoming
mortar rounds. The journal indicates 10 incoming rounds
with C 1/14 receiving 4 WIA. I recall only one WIA in our platoon, a
fellow who received a bad looking abdominal
One of the incoming was a dud round; it hit the rucksack being
worn by another fellow in our platoon. I believe it was
an 82mm mortar round. A tremendous amount of artillery and air fire was
placed on the suspected enemy positions
and this continued through the night. According to the journals, we received
artillery support from LZ Mile High,
LZ Bass, and LZ Bunker Hill.
That night, Tom and I dug one hell of a foxhole. The thing was
some deep. That night we also talked about the possibility
of joining the REMFs by signing up for an additional year of service. We
decided that we would pursue the possibility
with 1-6 the next day. During the night there was movement and lights at
several points outside the perimeter, but no
incoming fire as I recall. The next morning our company was told to move
out. As we were policing up our gear, Charlie
started peppering us again with 82 mm rounds. Despite the previous B-52
strikes during the Arc Light operations and the
tremendous amount of artillery and air fire laid on Charlie the previous day
and night, there he was still out there and
sending us shells. He sure was one formidable foe!
Several of us were hit in the attack. I don't know the numbers,
but there were quite a few WIA. Tom Dixon took
the worst hit. I didn't see him but I was told he had severe facial and
I was on the last
dustoff that morning. When I arrived at the 71st Evacuation
Hospital in Pleiku, I was placed in a preop
room that was accommodating several other guys from C 1/14. I was told that
Tom was the guy in the bed at the end
of our row of beds, the guy with his head and face completely wrapped with
tubes sticking out. I couldn't understand
why he wasn't in OR; he arrived a good while before we did. For the hour or
so that I was in that room before
surgery, nothing was being done for Tom other than being checked
occasionally by a nurse, and I couldn't understand
that. I knew nothing about the treatment of Category 4s.
I don't know if Tom
eventually had an operation, but I doubt that he did. His injuries were
probably too severe, he was
probably classified as a 4. He died a few days later.
Tommy Joe Dixon was
a damn good soldier. I know that because we were side by side most of our
time in Vietnam.
He was alert and careful, much more so than I ever was. Yet, when it came
time for us to leave that country, and we
left at about the same time, possibly the same day, Tom left in a body bag
and I left with a million-dollar wound.
There is something wrong with that.
Submitted by Charlie Koon, 11B4H, C 1/14, RVN 11/68-03/69