From the 1/14th Daily Journal for 13 NOVEMBER 1966.
1966 Today Company A stepped into the fight of their lives, and
Company C gave their buddies in Company A the kind of help you know the
Dragons will always produce when their friends are in trouble. Any
description of this battle is going to fall short of portraying the
intensity of it, and the heroism displayed by Alfa Army and Charging
Co B's 1st Platoon left LZ Lane at
0730, headed Northwest. At 0907 Company B (-) under Capt. Ware left LZ
Lane. The mission of Co B was to find, secure and improve an LZ in the
vicinity of YA603550 so that the 1/12th Infantry of the 2nd
Bde, 4th Division could move into it. Their 1st
Platoon swept an intermediate objective at YA597542, and by 1200 hours, Co
B had reached and secured their objective.
At 0805, Co A left the LZ which they had
occupied with Co C during the night at YA587517. They were operating with
their normal organization, TF Alfa and TF Army. They moved West and
slightly North so that by 0930 they were at YA570516 (Alfa) and YA574518
(Army). They moved West and then swung South and East through an
area of low, heavy brush.
At 1110, as they were approaching a stream from
its West side, they made heavy contact. The 1st Platoon under
Lt. Riviere, and the 2nd Platoon, under Lt. Bainbridge, took
the PAVN under fire, killing 8 of them. Mortar fire dropped on the Platoon
during the attack, and with the small arms fire and the mortars, a total
of 10 men in Alfa Army were wounded, but none were killed.
At 1115, Col. Procter ordered Co C to move to a
position vicinity YA573506 to block. By 1137 Company C was on the move,
rushing to set up their blocking position.
At 1150, Capt. Boss had begun to pull back for
an air strike, and to find an LZ for Dust Off. They began to clear the
brushy area at YA564510. By 1220 the air strike was going in, and Alfa
Army had secured their area and were chopping out the LZ, Col. Procter and
Maj. Hoyt went to Co A's location, and checked progress with Co C.
Col. Procter instructed Co A to move across the
creek, once they had evacuated their casualties, to check a suspect area
at YA572503. Co C was to remain in the vicinity of YA573506 to block, and
then they would link up and move to hill 283, where they had spent the
previous night. Little did we suspect that the PAVN were using this time
to maneuver a battalion around Alfa's LZ.
The Dust Off came in at 1330, and at 1332 Co A
reported being mortared while the Dust Off was trying to evacuate the
wounded. Capt. Boss asked for a FAC. Four minutes later an O-1 was
overhead. By 1438, Dust Off had completed the evacuation of the 10 WIA.
At 1502 Co A, now operating in one unit as a
team, moved out to the East toward the streambed.
At 1522 , with the lead elements of the 3rd
Platoon just across the creek, they hit a PAVN company. The fighting was
extremely fierce immediately. The last portion of the 2nd
Platoon began receiving fire from the West.
With the company now being hit from 3
directions, Capt. Boss issued orders to pull back into the LZ and
instructed Lt. Grant to begin forming a perimeter.
Mortar fire was coming into the LZ from the
North and West. Lt. Grant got the 2nd and 1st
Platoons in place in the West and North side of the LZ and immediately a
"Human Wave" struck. Many of the men on the perimeter were wounded, but
they held their ground and killed the PAVN as they came in. The small
arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire were intense. The 3rd
Platoon, under Lt. O'Brian, was fighting its way back into the LZ. Capt.
Boss moved back and forth through the fire getting people into position
and coordinating the fires. Lt. O'Brian's Platoon was being hit by a
company. He was all over the area shouting instructions and covering the
wounded. Lt. Bainbridge was doing his best to keep the Platoon organized,
and succeeded beautifully until he was hit in the back. His wound was
massive, breaking the bones in his left scapula and shoulder.
Lt. Grant brought three people with
him and carried Lt. Bainbridge back to a small fold in the ground. Lt.
Bainbridge was lying on his stomach. When Lt. Grant reached him the fire
was intense. Lt. Bainbridge showed the spirit of Alfa Army by telling Lt.
Grant "If I'm going to die, don't turn me over. Let me die here with my
men. Get somebody else out." But Lt. Grant pulled him out anyway. In doing
this, Lt. Grant caught a round in the shoulder and was wounded in the leg.
Capt. Boss and Lt. Grant moved back and forth across the area, keeping
ammo distributed and giving encouragement and instructions. The small
arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire would not let up. Lt. Grant went
out to bring in a wounded man and was pinned down by a well-placed machine
gun. He took three men and some grenades up to the machine gun and
personally destroyed it. Then he and his party dragged the wounded men
into a covered position. Again, the incredible Lt. Grant took 5 men and
went out to bring back Lt. O'Brian, who had been shot in both legs. The
party reached Lt. O'Brian, who was fighting along with three other wounded
men. They pulled them out and started back to the perimeter. Three or four
mortar rounds landed directly on the group and killed all ten instantly.
Lt. Riviere, Sergeant hatch, Sergeant Douglas, Sgt. Davis and all other
leaders in the perimeter urged their men to hold, but the men of Alfa Army
were rock steady and took more "Human Waves" from the North and West.
During the entire day, Battery B, 2nd
Bn , 9th Artillery, under Capt. Osborne, kept a ring a fire
around Co A's perimeter. Their outstanding fire support undoubtedly saved
many lives, and they certainly killed a large number of PAVN.
At 1605 Col. Procter, over the fight in the C & C,
ordered Co C to move through the jungle at top speed to relieve the
pressure on Co A. They started from YA575518 and did the incredible feat
of moving 800 to 1000 meters, through the dense jungle in 30 minutes.
When Capt. Federline got to the point where he
made contact with the enemy, he pulled the 1st Platoon (Lt.
Lamotte) and the 3rd Platoon (Lt. Shipley) up on line, and they
fanned out in an assault formation. The reserve Platoon, under Lt. Conale,
began picking snipers out of the trees in the area. Capt. Boss and Capt.
Federline coordinated their cease fires on the radio, and Capt. Federline,
the radio useless in the deafening firing, ordered Charlie Chargers to
"Charge". Without a moment's hesitation, the men of Charging Charlie swept
forward into the enemy., firing and calling out to Alfa Army. The PAVN,
unaware of Company C's presence, thought they were being attacked from the
rear by at least a Battalion of Dragons. Two of Company C's men, Sp/4
Linder and PFC Cole ran forward to get their machine gun into the line of
rifleman. A PAVN soldier jumped out in front of them and killed them
instantly with a clip from his AK47. PFC Witaker, with them, was hit in
the left shoulder and leg. But Charging Charlie charged on, the yelling
and firing driving the PAVN before them. The enemy broke and ran, Co C
drove right into Co A's perimeter. The men of Co A heard the screaming and
firing and braced themselves to repel another human wave, but the wave
turned out to be a wave of friends. At 1650 the link was made, and by 1700
the fight had subsided. The PAVN had dragged their dead with them, but the
area to the North and East of the LZ still contained dozens of PAVN bodies
and the jungle was red with blood from those whose bodies were dragged
off. During the day, with no real effort possible to police the battle
area, 34 bodies were counted. But the Dragons had killed, by conservative
estimate, 180 PAVN during the afternoon. At 1705, Co B had pushed into LZ
Lane to be ready to go into Co A and Co C's location to help.
At 1730, the evacuation of the dead and wounded
had begun with resupply and Dust Off ships and it was completed by 1815.
Mortar fire still fell in the area and, since they were only 1000 meters
from the Cambodian Border, Col. Procter ordered Co A and Co C to move back
east to hill 283, where they spent the previous
night. The officers and men who died in this fight gave their lives in the
highest tradition of gallantry and self sacrifice. They will never be
forgotten by the Golden Dragons. They were
1/Lt Joseph X. Grant,
1/Lt Terrance O'Brian,
Sgt. Aaron Blanding,
Sp/4 Robert Hatton,
Sp/4 Frederick Lider,
Pfc James Northern,
Pfc Louis Potempa,
Shultz, Sp/4 William Sperry,
Pfc Donald Vaughan,
Pfc Terry Weber.
There were 35 WIA from Co A, 2 from HHC (Co A's medics Keller and Brown)
and one, Whitaker, from Co C. At 1825, with Company C leading, the two
companies began the march to the LZ at Hill 283 (YA584515). The Spooky
Bird from Pleiku got up and dropped flares to help Co C find the LZ. At
about 2000 hours, with both companies still moving, an airstrike was
called on the scene of today's battle. The FAC was still receiving ground
fire. During the day we had gotten outstanding support from our FAC's and
the Air Force was always up there helping.
They even held an illuminating round, and
finally, at midnight, the Companies moved into their LZ. But the LZ, bits
of fog and smoke drifting over it in the dim light, was not as safe and
friendly looking as they might have wished. "Charlie" had been there
during the day, and the two Companies "Wagon Trained" and spent an alert