Billy Lane Lauffer

Private First Class
Army of the United States
20 October 1945 - 21 September 1966
Tucson, Arizona
Panel 10E Line 129

Medal of Honor

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Billy Lane Lauffer

10 Mar 2007


A Middle School in Tucson, Arizona, was dedicated to him in November 2005

His father, Howard Lauffer, died 3 weeks before the dedication ceremony.

I am a friend of Howard's; we worked together at the Tucson Police Department.

Mary Jane Bish

A Note from The Virtual Wall

At mid-morning 21 September Charlie Company, 2/5 Cavalry, was airlifted into LZ Pelham, located in a rocky and mountainous area, covered with dense vegetation. After securing the LZ for a follow-on landing by Delta 2/5, Charlie moved north toward a small hill. As they approached the Company Commander split his force, with 3rd Plt moving around the west side of the hill, while 1st and 2nd Plts moved around the east side. When 1st Plt was hit hard by what appeared to be an entrenched enemy platoon, 2nd and 3rd Plts were ordered to maneuver in support of 1st Plt - and an afternoon-long fight was underway.

Bravo 2/5 was lifted in and moved north to link with Charlie 2/5. At the same time, 1st Plt was directed to move west (clockwise) around the hill to meet Bravo 2/5 when it arrived. As it did so it moved into an area covered by previously inactive enemy troops and two bunkered machine guns opened fire on 1st Plt, pinning them in place. Once the machine guns were silenced, 1st Plt could disengage. As night fell Bravo 2/5 linked with Charlie 2/5 and the combined force withdrew slightly to establish a night defensive perimeter. By daylight on the 22nd the NVA/VC had withdrawn from the small hill and disappeared into the nearby mountains.

The engagement cost the lives of 7 US soldiers:

  • C Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cav Div, USARV
    • SSG Robert B. Jackson, Laurel, MS
    • SGT Frank Arrey, Norwalk, CA
    • SGT Louis C. Hines, Tiplersville, MS
    • PFC Arthur C. Alterwisher, Yonkers, NY
    • PFC Billy L. Lauffer, Tucson, AZ (Medal of Honor)
    • PFC Anthony B. Phillips, Los Angeles, CA
    • PFC Ronald F. Van Raemdonck, Detroit, MI
PFC Lauffler had been in Vietnam for 6 days.

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

Private First Class
United States Army

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Lauffer's squad, a part of Company C, was suddenly struck at close range by an intense machine gun crossfire from 2 concealed bunkers astride the squad's route. Pfc. Lauffer, the second man in the column, saw the lead man fall and noted that the remainder of the squad was unable to move. Two comrades, previously wounded and being carried on litters, were lying helpless in the beaten zone of the enemy fire. Reacting instinctively, Pfc. Lauffer quickly engaged both bunkers with fire from his rifle, but when the other squad members attempted to maneuver under his covering fire, the enemy fusillade increased in volume and thwarted every attempt to move. Seeing this and his wounded comrades helpless in the open, Pfc. Lauffer rose to his feet and charged the enemy machine gun positions, firing his weapon and drawing the enemy's attention. Keeping the enemy confused and off balance, his 1-man assault provided the crucial moments for the wounded point man to crawl to a covered position, the squad to move the exposed litter patients to safety, and his comrades to gain more advantageous positions. Pfc. Lauffer was fatally wounded during his selfless act of courage and devotion to his fellow soldiers. His gallantry at the cost of his life served as an inspiration to his comrades and saved the lives of an untold number of his companions. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

As noted above, the Billy Lane Lauffer Middle School in Tucson, Arizona, was dedicated 15 Nov 2005. In the photo below, PFC Lauffer's brother Rhodney Lauffer is shown accepting a plaque from Colonel Jonathan Hunter of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 10 Mar 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009