PleiDjereng.jpg (71991 bytes)

From an Article that appeared in the "Bonco Bugle", Vol. 1, No. 24,  Monday, November 21, 1966.


On Sunday, November 13th, the Sabbath and a day of rest in the Christian world, Company A "Alpha Army" lst Battalion, 14th Infantry, a part of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Task Force, found themselves living through more than 18 hours of living hell.

The company was on a search and destroy mission approximately 2,000 meters from the Cambodian border when, as Captain Ora L. Boss, the "Alpha Army" commander, put it, "we stepped into trouble up to our ear lobes,"  Here is the story of the day's events as told by Captain Boss:

We started out approximately 0730 on what apparently was to be a normal, everyday type, search and destroy patrol.

I had split my company into two groups, one commanded by me, and the other commanded by Lieutenant Joseph Grant, my executive officer.

After he had traveled about 2,500 meters through the extremely thick secondary growth, we came to a stream and just as we were about to cross it, we came under enemy fire.

We had a helluva good fire-fight there!  It lasted for about 30 minutes.  At the time we were fighting what I estimated to be an NVA (North Vietnamese Army) company size unit, we began to receive about six to eight 60mm mortar rounds on our position.

The mortars didn't cause many casualties, but some of my men suffered concussion as a result.

As soon as the mortars started dropping in on us, I called for artillery and air strikes to knock out the enemy mortar position.  The mortars stopped coming, so I guess the artillery and Air Force did good job.

Shortly after the artillery and air support began, the enemy ceased their attack and started to break contact.

We checked out the battle area, and found nine NVA bodies.  Evacuation of the friendly wounded was my next major concern, so we then moved to a better area so we could cut an LZ out of the jungle to enable 'dustoff' choppers to get in and evacuate the injured men.

The evacuation took about an hour and a half because there was only one 'dustoff' ship available.

After the wounded had been evacuated at about two-thirty in the afternoon, we moved out to the east.  As we were heading for high ground, about three or four hundred meters from the LZ, the patrol's lead element made contact with what was again estimated to be an NVA company.

The thick undergrowth made it nearly impossible to maneuver, and the last element of the company had just cleared the LZ when the contact was made.  Therefore, I gave the order to pull back to the LZ so we could maneuver to the north flank of the enemy's position.

As soon as the rear-element re-entered the LZ, they cane under extremely heavy small arms and machine gun fire, and I realized then that we were being attacked from both the north and the west.  I called Lt. Grant and told him to start putting the platoons into a company perimeter defensive position as they re-entered the LZ.

During the period required earlier to evacuate the wounded it was necessary to call off all artillery fire and air strikes to insure that the 'dustoff' ship wasn't hit.  I am sure 'Charlie' took advantage of this maneuver and practically encircled our position.

As the rear platoons were re-entering the LZ, they came under a "human wave" attack from the north side.  Lt. Grant took charge of the two platoons that had re-entered and repelled the enemy's assault.  We only received "human wave" assaults from the north, but we could hear and see a mass of people gathering on the east and west, and if it hadn't been for the artillery and air strikes right among them, I an sure we would have been "human waved" from three directions.

I couldn't call for artillery on the north where the major "human wave" attack was coming from because C Company had been operating to the northeast and as soon as we made contact the second time, about 1500 hrs, C Company had been ordered by Col. Procter, the Battalion Commander, to close in with "Alpha Army" and I didn't want to take the chance of hitting friendly troops.

For more than an hour my company took everything that "Charlie" could throw at us; we were hit with enemy 82mm mortars from the north and west and 60mm mortars from the south, which totaled approximately 60 rounds.  We repelled "human wave" after "human wave" attack from an estimated battalion size unit.

The mortars and "human wave" attacks hit the company hard and two of the three platoon leaders were killed or wounded, but the men continued to fight as a unit in a manner that makes me proud to have associated with each one.  Every act of heroism that has ever been committed by an American unit in combat was committed sometime or another in this little LZ that day.

As ammunition became a critical item, we braced ourselves for what could have been the last "human wave" assault. "Charging Charlie" Company broke through the thick underbrush screaming and hollering and attacked the enemy from the rear.  When C Company appeared, the enemy broke contact and almost immediately the fighting stopped.  Needless to say C Company was a welcome sight.  I Could have kissed every man.  The company was 800 or 1,000 meters away, and in less than one half hour they had cut their way through the thick underbrush to our position.

We didn't have time to survey the battle area, but the way the artillery and air strikes were falling among the enemy, combined with the company's small arms fire into the "human wave" attacks, I would say no less than 180 enemy soldiers had been killed.  In support of the operation there were 4 FAC missions called in, and more than 930 rounds were fired by B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 9th Artillery.

Colonel James G. Shanahan, the commander of the 3rd Brigade Task Force, 25th Infantry Division and combat veteran of World War II and Korea, stated "I have never seen, in all my experiences, a unit hit as hard as this company was hit and yet maintain its unit integrity and its command control.  It is evident that the superb leadership and the discipline of well trained men is the major factor which prevented this company from being overrun."

As the dead and wounded were being evacuated and the company began moving back to the battalion command post to prepare for the next day's activities, Captain Boss stated that he had never seen a group of men fight so courageously or with greater valor against such overwhelming odds as did the men of "Alpha Army" and he felt that his company, although hit hard, had dealt a far greater blow to the NVA.

Note: Lee Boss is now a pastor of a large Christian congregation in Austin, Texas

NOVEMBER 13, 1966