Operation Swift. The mission, involving forces of the 1st Marine Division,
was carried out to rescue two Marine companies which had been previously ambushed by the North Vietnamese
Army. Launched on September 4,
the ensuing battles killed 127 Americans and an estimated 600 North Vietnamese. Despite their withdrawal
after having suffered much higher losses, the NVA had accomplished their objective of inflicting remarkable
The operation, intended to be the fourth and the last of the 1967 operations in the Que Son Valley,
began unofficially the morning of September 4 when Delta Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines (1/5) was
attacked before dawn by a superior PAVN force while setup in a night-time defensive perimeter next to
the village of Dong Son.
The local Battalion Commander, Lt.Colonel Peter Hilgartener, sent 1/5's Bravo Company to
Delta's relief, which was all he had at the time. With Bravo and Delta companies heavily engaged,
Mike and Kilo companies from the adjacent 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5) were sent to relieve them.
Ambushed and aggressively attacked, these two companies were also pinned down in separate enclaves by
the early afternoon, fighting and holding off subsequent attacks over 8 hours of combat.
Marine artillery fire and Marine jet fighter-bombers prevented the Marine infantry companies from being overrun.
a fresh Marine company launched a dawn counterattack September 5. This pressed the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN)
into breaking contact. With all engaged companies now relieved Colonel Stanley Davis, commanding the
5th Marines, ordered 1/5 and 3/5 to pursue the withdrawing PAVN. This officially began Operation Swift.
In the early afternoon of September 6 two battalions of the NLF 1st Regiment attacked Bravo company,
the lead company of the 1st Battalion. Bravo 1/5 was isolated and nearly overrun but held.
The nearby 3rd Battalion was also heavily engaged a few hours later. India Company, dispatched to attack
a hill held by the enemy, was isolated and nearly overrun by the NLF 1st Regiment's previously uncommitted
3rd Battalion. Kilo Company fought through the NLF and relieved India but the two companies were then found
to have too many casualties to move. Two determined night assaults by the NLF were repulsed, and Mike Company
eventually fought through against weakening opposition as the NLF withdrew.
It was during this fighting on the 7th of September that PFC William Franklin Miller was mortally wounded with
gunshot wounds to the head and left thigh. As the enemy withdrew, the Marine battalions continued to press them
in a series of bitter engagements. By September 15, the PAVN 2nd Division and NLF 1st Regiment had largely given
up contesting the southern half of the Que Son Valley.
PFC William Franklin Miller (Frankie) was the only Mike Company Marine killed on the 7th. PFC Talmadge W Carnell
was another Marine
killed from Mike Company on September 12, 1967. The other 16 men serving in Mike company
during Operation Swift were all killed in the fighting on the 4th of September 1967. The casualties were:
LCPL Jack Albert Berry, Lubbock, TX
PFC Talmadge Wayne Carnell, Moro, IL
LCPL Steven Thomas Cornell, New York, NY
PFC David Francois Fisher, Alta Loma, CA
LCPL Thomas William Fisher, Allentown, PA (Navy Cross)
PFC Tony Eiddie Gabaldon, Reedley, CA
LCPL Andrew Mix Giordano, Smithtown, NY (Silver Star)
LCPL Richard Guerrero, Jr, Corpus Christi, TX
PFC Raymond George Hengels, Downers Grove, IL
HM3 Armando G. Leal, San Antonio, TX (Navy Cross)
PFC Charles Frederick Martin, Littleton, CO
PFC James Calvin Mc Kenzie, Yorba Linda, CA
PFC William Franklin Miller, Jerseyville, IL
PFC Gene Al Mortensen, Salt Lake City, UT
SGT Lawrence David Peters, Binghamton, NY (Medal of Honor)
LCPL Albert Willard Santos, Fall River, MA
PFC Steven James Wright, Norco, CA
CPL William Russell Young, Jr., Barnesville, OH
-- The Virtual Wall