William Stanley Geary
24 March 2001
Missing you still after all these years.
Keep an eye on all of us.
From his brother,
During the month of April 1969, the Battalion was engaged primarily in sweeping and clearing operations. However, on 3 April 1969, the battalion engaged an enemy force estimated to be battalion size in the Phong Nhat area (Grid BT 023607). Contacts with the enemy varied from light to heavy and lasted for approximately nine days.
The Battalion accounted for 119 Viet Cong/NVA killed in action with another 13 KIA credited to air strikes and artillery missions. Documents captured in the area of contact indicated the enemy force was comprised of elements of the elusive VC Q-82nd Battalion and the 36th NVA Regiment. During the month, India Company spent 14 days in the field, Kilo 17 days, and Lima Company spent 20 days in the field, involved in their Battalion's Mobile operations.
On 4 April 1969, Lima Company commenced a sweep to the southeast, approximately 1500 meters from the Battalion perimeter. Company I was ordered to sweep along the Song La Tho River toward the railroad berm. Sporadic sniper fire was received by all units and 3 Marines from Company I were wounded by a Surprise Firing Device (SFD) but not evacuated. They destroyed 43 bunkers and approximately 450 pounds of rice were discovered. On the evening of 4 April, a 3 company perimeter was formed for their night defensive position.
On 05 April 1969, starting at 0730 hours, India, Kilo, and Lima Companies, 3/1 Marines, began conducting sweeps in Quang Nam Province heading in an easterly direction. Kilo in the center, India on the left and Lima on the right. At 0845 Company I received small arms fire and while evading the fire, a Marine tripped an M-26 surprise firing device (SFD) resulting in 3 wounded who were evacuated. At 0955 hours, India Company received additional fire from the direction of BT019605. Artillery was called in and they continued to move.
Company L reached the Song Tam Giap River and began crossing at grid BT023603 at the only crossing point - a footbridge. While securing the far bank - one man across - the enemy opened fire with intense small arms and RPG fire. Four men were wounded while crossing. At this point, two platoons were on line in the brush along the river, unseen by the enemy. The heavy return fire by Lima Company killed 11 VC/NVA on the opposite side of the river in an open field. Artillery and air support were called in as the heavy exchange of fire continued, killing another 13 of the enemy. All friendly casualties were recovered by Company L - 11 additional WIAs.
At this time, India Company was ordered to cross the Song La Tho River at 017607 and hold along the Song Thanh Quit River. Company K was ordered to move from 014625 toward 022614. Company D, 1/1 Marines, OPCON to 1/1 Marines was also into the fray, along with the Battalion Command Group on the move to link with Company I.
At 1330 hours, India 3/1 was ordered to cross the river toward the enemy from a flanking position and proceeded to do so following the trace of the river. India, however, found the enemy well entrenced at center of mass as 023608. Heavy fighting continued, with India in place and Lima continuing it's fierce exchange of fire with the enemy along the river bank.
The Battalion headquarters directed fire support within 10 - 50 meters of the Marines. The Marines pressed the attack and by 1730 the NVA began to withdraw and by 1915 hours, all firing ceased. The enemy had withdrawn, leaving 74 bodies behind. No attempt was made to estimate the number of enemy casualties not sighted; however, from the equipment, uniforms, and documents discovered on 7 April 1969, it's believed that enemy casualties far exceeded the 30 bodies counted by Company I at their point of heaviest contact at BT023608.
The assault had been costly to the Americans, though, with 11 men killed and 53 wounded in the action - and one of the wounded died later in the day; 5 suffered from heat prostration. The dead were:
3/1 suffered another loss as well that day - LCpl Jimmie Lee Forrest of Winona, Mississippi, assigned to Kilo 3/1, was hit and killed by a bomb fragment during an air strike on a separate group of NVA soldiers.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, William was a 1963 graduate of Council Rock North High School in Newtown. The yearbook notes he was "Noted yodler ... political devotee ... student council election organizer ... friendly ... adroit 4H worker. He was in Chorus and baseball, going to County and District Chorus in his Junior and Senior years.
He was one of 13 Council Rock students killed during the Vietnam War; the school lost two more inwar, one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. William entered on active duty 31 May 1968 at Quantico, Virginia after graduation from Temple University.
In February 1971, his school honors those who served. Part of the memorial article reads:
Second Lt. Geary, 23, class of '63, son of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Geary, Arline Ave., Roslyn.
He was a hard worker with high ambition. Following graduation from Council Rock, where he was a varsity wrestler and sang in district chorus, Geary went to Temple University. He worked anywhere he could to put himself through, and was assisted in obtaining his political science degree by a three year senatorial scholarship.
2LT William S Geary was survived by his parents, Madeline "Polly" (nee Hopkins) and William Franics Geary (1923-2007); sisters Diane and Joan and brothers John and Glenn. William is buried, along with his father, in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
- - The Virtual Wall, November 13, 2014
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