Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Procter Jr.
"Daddy Dragon"

No chronicle of the "25 Infantry Division" in combat in Vietnam would be complete without the specific mention of the leadership of Gilbert Procter, Jr., who, as a Lt. Colonel in 1966, was the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry (Golden Dragons).  The fact that he led the battalion for a full year's combat tour in those days of career motivated "ticket punching", command changes that seemed to average every 6 months, is in itself testimony to his leadership.

The 1st of the 14th was one of three Infantry Battalions deployed in January, 1966, as part of the 25th Infantry Division's 3d Brigade Task Force to Pleiku, located in Vietnam's central highlands. Having assumed command of the battalion almost 18 months prior to deployment from Hawaii, LTC Procter had employed a conditioning and training standard that many of us later realized helped to save lives in combat later on.  In keeping with the Brigade's mission of preventing the North Vietnamese from cutting South Vietnam in half, the Golden Dragons spent  the majority of 1966 operating along the Cambodian border, much of it in and around the infamous Ia Drang River Valley area that had been the site of the 1st Air Cavalry's battle in November, 1965.

Exactly one year later, on November 13th and November 19th, elements of the 1st of the 14th Infantry engaged  what turned out to be two battalions of the North Vietnamese Army's 33rd Regiment, LE LOI Division.  Conservative estimates of the enemy's losses after the battle accounted for over 500 KIA. Two members of the Golden Dragon were awarded posthumous Congressional Medals of Honor for their gallantry.  On December 5, 1966 a formal Award and Change of Command ceremony was held for LTC Proctor at the Brigade's base camp near Pleiku. In presenting LTC Proctor the Silver Star for his gallant actions and inspiring leadership in battle, Lt. General Stanley R. Larsen commanding General of  I  Field Forces, Vietnam made the following comments to the assembled Golden Dragons, as reported in the 3" Brigade's "Bronco Bugle" newsletter:

"I envy Col. Procter and I envy your fine battalion.  Today you are the most experienced, the longest combat veterans in country, and I don't think you have to take your hat off to any other unit in this country.  You've been led by a truly outstanding soldier. He's the only battalion commander that I know of in all of Vietnam who has kept a battalion for a full year while he was in Vietnam.  I'm very proud to stand here in front of a group of men that wears the same patch that I wore so proudly a long time ago when I served with the 25 Infantry 'Tropic Lightning' Division."

Thirty two years later, I am proud to have a photo of "Daddy Dragon" in his Command and Control helicopter hanging on my office wall.  It was taken by a close friend, Captain Dick Beal, who was our Battalion S-2 and spent a good deal of his time moving about the area with the Colonel.  The photo shares a frame with what has to be one of the finest spontaneous tributes a fighting man can bestowupon his leader.  It is a poem, written in 1995, composed around Colonel Procter's name by one of our "kids"... one of the magnificent 18 and 19 year old warriors who helped carry the battle in the Ia Drang valley.  Greg Lunsford was a member of the Recon Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry.  He was wounded on November 19, 1966.  The poem says it all on behalf of everyone who proudly served with "Daddy Dragon".                  ... by Tom Jones

Gilbert Procter Jr.  a poem by Greg Lunsford