William Louis Cline
SGT William Louis Cline, referred to by his family as Billy, joined the Army through the US Army Recruiting Station at Fort Benning Georgia on 2 January 1969 and entered on active duty on 13 January 1969 in C Company of one of the training battalions, 1st Brigade, US Army Training Center, Fort Benning. He completed basic training on 10 March when he was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 3rd Advanced Individual Training (AIT) Brigade, Fort Benning. He completed AIT on 8 May 1969 and went home on leave prior to going to Vietnam. When he arrived in Vietnam, Billy was first assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 505th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
During the period Billy served with the 505th Infantry, 13 men from the 1st Battalion (5 from A Company), lost their lives, the majority of incidents from booby traps. The reason SGT Cline was reassigned in November was due to the drawdown of forces and the return of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne to Fort Bragg in December 1969. He served as a Rifleman with them from 17 June 1969 until 23 November when he was reassigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalary Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) but immediately re-assigned to Company C on the 24th of November.
On 14 February 1970, at 14:45 hours, a task force consisting of Charlie Company, 2nd Bn, 8th Cav, C Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cav Regiment (ACR), and M Company (Tank), 3rd Squadron, 11th ACR were conducting a ground reconnaisance when they began receivingsmall arms, automatic weapons, and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire. The enemy force was of an unknown size and the fire was coming from the North and West. They immediately engaged the enemy with organic weapons, artillery, and aerial rocket artillery (ARA) until the enemy broke contact at 15:15 hours. There were negative friendly casualties but a sweep of the immediate area found 2 NVA killed in action (KIA).
Ten minutes later while continuing their sweep, they received 10 rounds of 60mm mortars from the West which impacted in and around their area. At 16:15 hours, the force received more Small Arms and Automatic Weapons and Rocket Propelled Grenade fire from an unknown size enemy force from the west and northwest this time. Again, the enemy was engaged with organics, artillery, and Aerial Rocket Artillery and the contact continued sporadically until 18:40 hours when contact was lost when the enemy withdrew. The results of this on again off again contact resulted in 6 KIA for C/2-8th Cav, with 21 Wounded in action (WIA); and 2 Missing in Action (MIA); for the 11th ACR, 2xKIA, and 9xWIA. As it was getting dark, they force would have to conduct a search of the contact area on the 15th of February.
On the 15th, the bodies of the 2 missing soldiers from Charlie Company were recovered along with equipment. One tank and one armored cavalry recon vehicle were destroyed and one tank received moderate damage. The enemy lost 44 soldiers killed in action. Read more about this action here.
As a result of his actions during the events of this day, SGT Billy Cline was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action and the Purple Heart for the wounds that took his life. In addition, he was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service, Air Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.
Prior to his posthumous awards, Billy had been awarded the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with a bronze service star, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Marksman Badge with automatic rifle, machine gun, and rifle bars.
The 10 men from this task force who were killed in action on St. Valentines Day, February 14, 1970 were: Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cav Div (AM)
General Orders for Billy Cline's Silver Star
At the time of his death, Billy was survived by his father Smiley Cooper Cline (1912-1994). He was predeceased by his mother, Edna Louise Brice Cline (1918-1966), and his paternal grandparents, Dora Hamilton Cline (1884-1954) and William T Cline (1876-1940). Billy and his parents are buried in Crestlawn Cemetery Atlanta, Georgia.
SGT William 'BIlly' Louis Cline's Headstone
Crestwood Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia
-- The Virtual Wall, September 9, 2014, 2014
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