William Forbes Eisenbraun
The son of Alfred Emanuel Eisenbraun and Elizabeth Anna Rickenberg Eisenbraun born in Los Angeles, California. He was married to Esther O. Eisenbraun and they had one daughter Elizabeth Anna. He was living in Santa Ana, California when he left for Vietnam.
Captain William "Ike" Eisenbraun was attached to the 17th Infantry regiment of the Seventh Division ("Buffalos") when he fought in Korea. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in Korea. In 1961, CPT. Eisenbraun volunteered for duty in Vietnam because he believed in what we were trying to accomplish there. He was one of the earliest to go to Southeast Asia as an advisor to the Royal Lao and South Vietnamese Armies.
On his fourth tour of duty, Eisenbraun was Senior Advisor, Headquarters MACV, U.S. Army Special Forces. He was at jungle outpost Ba Gia near Quang Ngai in South Vietnam. A little over a month before he was captured by the Viet Cong, CPT Eisenbraun was involved in a contact between a mixed force of ARVN and Regional forces. As a result, he was awarded a Bronze Star with "V" device. It reads:
On 5 July, he was at grid BS 495780, Ba Gia, 17 kilometers west-northwest of Quang Ngai City, when the post was overrun by an estimated 1000-1500 Viet Cong force. Newspapers described it as "one of the bloodiest battles of the war to date". A survivor told newsmen the Viet Cong attacked in "human waves and couldn't be stopped." There were only 180 men defending the outpost. Captain Eisenbraun was initially reported killed in action. There were 3 US soldiers killed in the attack. They were:
It was determined from a group of captured Americans, that Eisenbraun was captured and in their group that was moved around to various locations, but there were conflicting reports from freed prisoners in 1973, as to whether Eisenbraun died as a result of disease, injury, or torture in 1967.
Robert Garwood, another prisoner, added that Ike had provided leadership for the prisoners at the camp, and was an obstacle to the Viet Cong in interrogating the other prisoners. He also spoke fluent Vietnamese, which made him a definite problem. Garwood and Eisenbraun had been held alone together at one point in their captivity, and Ike taught Bobby the secrets of survival he had learned in SF training, and in his years in the jungle. Bobby states that Ike knew and taught him which insects could be eaten to fend off common jungle diseases.
Garwood said that Ike had been severely beaten following the escape attempt, and that one night he was taken from his cage and not returned. The next morning, Garwood was told that Ike had fallen from his hammock and died.
Ike Eisenbraun was buried at the camp in Quang Nam Province along with other POWs who had died of torture and starvation. His grave was marked with a rock inscribed by Garwood. A map has been provided to the U.S. showing the precise location of the little cemetery and grave, yet Ike's remains have not been returned. You can read more here about the group of prisoners that were held in the same location and time as Eisenbraun.
CPT Eisenbraun was posthumously awarded a Silver Star -
There is a Cenotaph memorial marker, at the Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, Orange County
California. He is buried with his parents, Elizabeth (1898 - 1978) and Alfred (1899 - 1988) Eisenbraun.
- - The Virtual Wall, June 21, 2014
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