William R HolbrookStaff Sergeant
A CO, 1ST BN, 35TH INF RGT, 25 INF DIV
Army of the United States
31 May 1942 - 15 March 1966
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The database page for William R Holbrook
Thank you, Staff Sergeant Holbrook, for your heroism in battle and your dedication and service to your country.
A Note from The Virtual WallIn early March 1966 elements of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, were operating in the vicinity of Buon Brieng, SVN. On the evening of 14 March, a reinforced squad-size ambush patrol moving west from the Battalion base camp encountered North Vietnamese Army elements moving toward the base camp. After a sharp firefight and with night fallen, the patrol was directed to return to the defensive perimeter and did so without casualties. During the night the two forces exchanged mortar fire, with the NVA placing 150 or so mortar rounds on an unoccupied part of the landing zone.
At dawn, A Company's 3rd Platoon was sent on patrol to the area where the firefight occurred the previous night. Considerable evidence was found of NVA casualties, but no NVA troops were encountered until about noon when 3rd Plt reached a point 2500 meters west of the defensive perimeter. In a meeting engagement, the 3rd Plt leader, 2LT Pat Lenz, was wounded and two of his squad leaders, SSgt Holbrook and SSgt Williams, were killed. Realizing he was severely outnumbered, Lieutenant Lenz ordered a withdrawal toward a clearing at his right rear and called for reinforcements.
The 170th Assault Helicopter Company provided airlift for the 1st and 2nd Platoons into the clearing, but at the cost of a dead pilot and three wounded aircrewmen. While air and artillery strikes were used to cordon the area around the clearing, the NVA and friendly forces were too close together to allow remote fires to directly affect the fight.
By 1500, with B Company airlifted into position about 2000 meters further west and sweeping east, it became clear that the bulk of the enemy was withdrawing behind a covering force. By 1630 A Company had reduced the NVA covering force, and B Company joined at 1730.
Forty-eight dead NVA troops were found, but ten infantrymen and one UH-1 pilot also were dead:
Staff Sergeant Holbrook had been wounded during his first five month tour in Vietnam, where he had volunteered for duty as a helicopter door gunner. After recovering in Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, he returned to Viet Nam with A/1/35 Infantry. He was decorated with the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Good Conduct Medal. SSgt Holbrook also held the Combat Infantryman and Parachutist Badges.
35th Infantry site
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16 Nov 2003
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 11/16/2003