The database page for William Charles Lawson
To Uncle Bill
I hold your mother's hand as she looks far away
Specialist William Lawson (86th Transportation Company, 1st Log Comd) was killed in Vietnam on August 25, 1968.
The Army has given our family a couple of different explanations about what happened to him, but my grandmother and grandfather had been told that he had been leading a convoy and in an ambush situation he called off the other trucks behind him and died fighting. He was an expert marksman - he had learned to shoot as a child to help feed his family with venison and rabbit when times were often very lean. He was so loved by his parents and his brother and two sisters that his death broke their hearts and they were never quite the same again. He had learned how to drive a truck early too, working with log trucks on the windy logging roads in our steep mountainous countryside.
I have been to The Wall, and touched his name in the black marble. He was a man who, even forty years later, is still missed.
He had Basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington beginning June 12, 1967. In Vietnam, he served in three different Transportation Companies - he was a light vehicle driver in the 87th Trans Co (22 Oct 67) and in the 261st (03 Mar 68), and finally as a heavy vehicle driver (beginning 31 Jul 68) for the 86th.
From his niece,
A Note from The Virtual WallIn a guerilla war there are no "rear areas", and there were none in Vietnam. The maneuver battalions and aviation units required tremendous amounts of resupply, and the transportation units delivered it - frequently along roads which were not secure from enemy attack.
On 25 August 1968 units of the 48th Transportation Group were running a resupply convoy from Long Binh to Tay Ninh, where Allied units were heavily engaged with NVA and VC forces. Near Ap Nhi the convoy was anbushed by a reinforced battalion of the North Vietnamese Army. At least seven American troops died in the engagement, and one of them - Sergeant William W. Seay - received a posthumous Medal of Honor. The Citation gives a sense of what occurred:
"As the main elements of the convoy entered the ambush killing zone, they were struck by intense rocket, machinegun and automatic weapon fire from the well concealed and entrenched enemy force. When his convoy was forced to stop, SGT Seay immediately dismounted and took a defensive position behind the wheels of a vehicle loaded with high-explosive ammunition. As the violent North Vietnamese assault approached to within 10 meters of the road, SGT Seay opened fire, killing 2 of the enemy. He then spotted a sniper in a tree approximately 75 meters to his front and killed him. When an enemy grenade was thrown under an ammunition trailer near his position, without regard for his own safety he left his protective cover, exposing himself to intense enemy fire, picked up the grenade, and threw it back to the North Vietnamese position, killing 4 more of the enemy and saving the lives of the men around him. Another enemy grenade landed approximately 3 meters from SGT Seay's position. Again SGT Seay left his covered position and threw the armed grenade back upon the assaulting enemy. After returning to his position he was painfully wounded in the right wrist; however, SGT Seay continued to give encouragement and direction to his fellow soldiers. After moving to the relative cover of a shallow ditch, he detected 3 enemy soldiers who had penetrated the position and were preparing to fire on his comrades. Although weak from loss of blood and with his right hand immobilized, SGT Seay stood up and fired his rifle with his left hand, killing all 3 and saving the lives of the other men in his location. ... SGT Seay was mortally wounded by a sniper's bullet."US forces in the area responded rapidly and violently, with two infantry companies and an armored troop arriving on scene. The ambush became a day-long fight that ended after night fell. Nineteen US soldiers were killed in the incident, eleven from the convoy personnel and nine from the reaction force. They were
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 Jun 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009