At 0400 hrs the CO (Captain John M. Yeatts, KIA 12 May 69) asked me to take the lead platoon and attempt to reach and secure a point 400 meters from our NDP (night defensive position), from which, if we could secure it, we'd be extracted by helicopter from the jungle. We'd been in the jungle fighting off and on for 22 days without relief, and for more than a week we'd engaged the NVA daily in deadly skirmishes. We made it through enemy lines (we were in enemy controlled terrain) under cover of darkness, thinking we were looking for a way out. Unknown to us, the planned extraction point was an enemy stronghold, complete with underground hospital, .51 caliber anti-aircraft machine-gun emplacements, and dug in and well concealed enemy bunker complexes.
My point man was struck down and killed and I was seriously wounded in the initial engagement that morning.
The company remained encirled on the highground of the ridge where I'd first engaged the enemy that morning for the next three days & nights, unable to move through the NVA around them. In one action on 8 Mar, 18 men of Company A were wounded and two killed by enemy mortars and hand grenades. They ran out of water and had to suck moisture from banana trees, sprinkled with cool-aid. On the third day at that location the remaining 32 men in the field were extracted by helicopter, about half of them wounded--according to two eyewitnesses.
The medic, Sp4 Brian Wolfe, who cared for me and other wounded for four hours while A Company vigorously engaged the NVA with organic weapons and tactical air support attempting to suppress enemy fire enough to get a medevac in, had been wounded himself (shrapnel) two days earlier on 4 Mar, but had stayed in the field to continue to aid and treat the wounded.
My regular platoon medic (SP5 Jack Peter De Lange was KIA on 5 Mar, the day before I was wounded, and the medic from second platoon, SP4 Brian Wolfe, of Ohio, became the only medic in the field with us at the time. When Jack was killed, and when I was wounded, Brian moved forward to my position from Captain Yeatts' command element (the rally point for skirmishes) making his way to us quickly through the enemy fire. This was a major feat on both occasions. Thank you, Brian. Click here to go to a page about SP5 De Lange and SP4 Brian Wolfe.
5 Selected Tien Phuoc Battle Map Locations
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The map above shows 5 specific locations where 3rd Platoon and I [A/1/52d Inf] engaged the NVA during the Battle for Tien Phuoc.
0955 hrs 26 Feb--At the yellow star my platoon engaged and killed an NVA soldier whose rice breakfast we found layed out on a glass-topped small field table near the entrance to a tunnel he used at BT134114. We captured his AK-47 & equipment. From this place enemy commo wire led several hundred meters into a long trench.
1716 hrs 26 Feb--At the green star I and SGT Robert Brown, and machine gunner Sp4 Robert Young engaged an NVA machine gunner on a hilltop where two enemy flags were flying. We killed the gunner and SGT Brown captured the machine gun (Soviet RPD) at BT142123. Specialist Young was wounded through the chest, laterally, in the engagement, but survived.
1558 hrs 3 Mar--At the blue star the engagement depicted at the 1/52d Inf Log page took place at BT148112.
0808 hrs 5 Mar--The purple star marks the location of the ambush in which Medic Sp5 Jack Peter De Lange was killed and four soldiers of my platoon were wounded (Vancy chest & arms, Leos w/head wd, Smith E w/leg wd, Satosky V w/leg wd). Prior to deploying my platoon at this proposed extraction site, I had done a reconnaisance and captured an enemy grenadier in his foxhole. I'd gotten the prisoner out of his foxhole and was reporting the capture to Captain Yeatts when the NVA opened up on me and SGT Scott Hasselback and my RTO, James, with automatic weapons from two sides, driving us back to my platoon's position at a run. My prisoner escaped and we were ambushed--at a location I was sent to secure as an extraction point for the company. BT148109
0710 hrs 6 Mar--I was wounded at the red star location at BT153108.
1/52d Area of Operations, Jan-Mar 69.
For a 1:50,000 map showing locations of LZ Professional and LZ Bowman
while I was with 1/52d Inf, and a more detailed map of the area in the map above,
with more easily readable map coordinates, click here.
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