In a recent letter
to the family of Phil McDonald, Mike reflects on the events of June
Members of 1st Platoon of Alpha
Company prior to 7 Jun 68
On the morning of June 7, 1968, our platoon
Lieutenant told us we were going on a three-day ambush about 6
clicks away from the rest of our company. Our Captain decided to
send a platoon instead of a squad. I remember we were mad as hell
because we knew you should never send an element of your company
that far away without company support.
We left our company early and humped (walked) most of the day. We
were near the area our ambush was to set up. Our platoon had just
walked down a steep mountain and started up the next when our point
man (leading the platoon) William Sapp was shot in both legs. Our
Lt. ordered us to turn around and go back up the mountain we had
come down to set up a medevac helicopter for Sapp. When we tried to
go back up the mountain the rear of our platoon was taking enemy
fire. The enemy let us pass by them until they had us boxed in.
Then we started to receive mortars at our location.
Soon after the mortars, I was shot by an AK-47 rifle in
my right knee. I put my field dressing on my wound and was told to
go to the command post. The mortars were getting real heavy and our
platoon sergeant told our Lt. we had to get the hell out of there.
The Lt. saw a creek bed on his map. His plan was to
travel down the creek to the bottom of the mountain.
Phil "Preacher" McDonald (with
newspaper) posing with friends.
When we started to move my right knee buckled
and gave out on me. I remember "Doc" giving me a shot of morphine.
We made it to the creek and were still receiving a lot of small arms
fire. I remember the Lt. telling everyone that gunships,
(helicopters with M-60 machine guns) would fire on both sides of the
ridge and for us to run down the creek while the enemy heads were
down. We had about six wounded and I don't remember who helped me
down the creek bed. I remember getting more morphine because the
pain was horrible. I do not remember who helped me down the
mountain, but I remember it was two people helping me.
This is, I believe, when
Phil McDonald gave his platoon
covering fire with the M-60 machine gun. He lost his life to save
Golden Dragons. I believe the M-60 machine gun was our squad's
machine gunner, Smiddy. Smiddy had been seriously wounded. I
remember seeing two people carrying him down the mountain and I
remember in Pleiku hospital after my surgery seeing Smiddy next to
me with all kinds of IVs and tubes in him. When we reached the
bottom of the mountain it was almost totally dark. I remember our
Lt. telling our company commander we had to be extracted right now.
I believe our battalion commander wanted us to wait until morning.
We held cigarette lighters so the choppers could land at our
location. I can truthfully say if it hadn't been for Phil's actions
many more Golden Dragons and I would not be here to tell you what
happened on that chaotic day. I do not know if anyone who was
wounded that day died later.
Michael Sampson, September 8, 2000