A CO, 2ND BN, 506TH INF RGT, 101 ABN DIV
From Santa Fe, New Mexico
14 February 1951 - 09 February 1971
On the anniversary date of his sacrifice, we remember Phillip Sandoval. Though normally assigned to 2nd Platoon of A Co, 2/506 Inf, Phillip and his entire squad had been temporaily assigned to a 4th Platoon made up of one squad from 2nd, one from 3rd and two squads of South Vietnamese Regional/Popular forces under my command. Our mission was to conduct search and destroy operations in the Lowlands southwest of Camp Evans toward FSB Rakkasan in Thua Thien Province. It was our unit's only venture into the Lowlands surrounding Camp Evans in my tour. The RF/PF troops with us were supposed to know the location of the local VC operations and weapon's caches.
The mission started out well with the platoon making contact with a VC "runner" on the second day out. The next morning I divided the platoon in half with SSGT Whitecotton taking one half of the platoon on patrol to the south and me taking the other half to the west in a typical cloverleaf patrol around our Night Defensive Position. We were to meet back at the NDP site around noon. Phillip was with Cotton's patrol to the south.
Around mid-morning we heard a single explosion from the direction of Cotton's patrol and soon heard their request for a medevac chopper. The request stated that there was one casualty. The medevac arrived in short order and the casualty was on his way to the nearest field hospital.
When we regrouped at the NDP, Cotton gave me the following details of the incident. The patrol had come upon a rice paddy and were moving across the dike of the paddy. Phillip was either on point or slack as they moved across. One of them, the point or slack man, tripped a booby trap. It was a hand grenade placed in a C-Ration can attached to a trip wire. Both men realized what had happened and ran away from the grenade. The grenade exploded hitting Phillip in the back with as I remember one piece of shrapnel from the grenade. The original prognosis was that Phillip would be fine as the wound did not appear life threatening. However, we received word one or two nights later from our 1SGT in the rear that Phillip had died of wounds received in the incident. We were shocked and devastated over the loss of Phillip. He had been well liked and well respected by all of us that knew him. He was our brother.
I know that Phillip still has family in New Mexico and should any of them read this, I want them to know that he has constantly been in my thoughts for these past 34 years. I pray that they may find some comfort in the knowledge that none of us who served with Phillip have ever nor will ever forget him and the sacrifice he made for us all.
From his Platoon Leader,
23 Feb 2005
Last updated 08/10/2009