William Byron Stutes

United States Marine Corps
07 October 1941 - 10 September 1967
Oceanside, California
Panel 26E Line 052


Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William Byron Stutes

29 May 2006

William Byron Stutes was my brother. I don't remember too much about him because I was only 12 years old when he was killed. I do remember one trip that we took to Arkansas after his first tour of duty. He was very upset about the things that went on over in Vietnam and the friends and buddies that he lost. I remember this grown man sitting on our mother's lap and crying like a baby. The night before we left for Arkansas my brother and my older sister got in a water fight and then it became a mud fight. They were covered from head to toe with mud - my mother took the hose and hosed them down. I don't think I will ever forget the way they looked.

From his sister,
Gina McGregor

28 May 2007

William Byron "Bud" Stutes was my brother, my best friend, and a good Marine. We met at Columbia Elementary school in El Monte, California, in September 1955 and became the best of friends. His mother Annie took me under her wing like I was one of her own as my parents did Bud. We were separated in 1956 and remet in March 1957 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where again we became brothers. We worked together at Uncle John's Pancake House and we played together doing things that I still laugh at today. We joined the Marine Corps together on the buddy system on July 15, 1960 but then got separated after boot camp. After we were released from active duty in 1964 he decided to re-up and wanted me to go with him. I had a broken shoulder at that time and I asked him to wait until my shoulder healed and I would go. But Bud did not want to wait and went without me. That was the last time that I saw him.

He was shot and killed in action September 10, 1967 during a search-and-destroy mission in Quang Tin Province. Bud was a good Marine, a good friend, and my Brother. I loved Bud and I miss him.

Linn M. Moncrief

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Operation SWIFT was an unplanned response to a major attack on Delta 1/5 Marines' night defensive position in the Que Son Valley before dawn on 04 Sep 1967. Bravo 1/5 was dispatched from Que Son to assist Delta but was itself engaged before it could reach the Delta 1/5 position. Kilo and Mike 3/5 Marines, together with the 1/5 Command Group, were helo-lifted into position northeast of where Delta and Bravo 1/5 were engaged. By midafternoon, all four rifle companies were heavily engaged with what turned out to be a regimental-plus NVA force. India 3/5 was committed late in the day, and Delta 1/1 was brought in during the night of 04/05 Sep. On the morning of 05 Sep, the Marine line-up consisted of
  • 1/5 Command Group with three rifle companies - India, Kilo, and Mike 3/5
  • 3/5 Command Group with three rifle companies - Bravo and Delta 1/5, Delta 1/1
05 September was spent policing the battlefield, reorganizing and resupplying, and medevacing the casualties from 04 Sept. The two Command Groups exchanged rifle companies and began active pursuit of the NVA on the morning of 06 Sep. By midday the 1/5 force to the north was fully engaged with the 1st NVA Regiment while the 3/5 force to the south was engaged with a reinforced battalion forces. Additional Marine forces were brought in during the night of 06/07 Sep.

07 Sept was spent in reorganization, resupply, and preparation for a deliberate sweep to contact planned for 09 Sep. Eleven Marine rifle companies were now in hand:

  • 1st Bn, 5th Marines to the north with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta 1/5; Delta 1/1; and India 3/1
  • 3rd Bn, 5th Marines to the south with India, Kilo, Lima, and Mike 3/5; Hotel 2/5
Although the sweep which began on 09 Sep was very productive in terms of captured arms and supplies, the NVA commanders apparently were not willing to again engage the Marines in a stand-up fight - with two exceptions, contacts on 09-14 Sep were infrequent and when they did occur the NVA attempted to slip away rather than stand their ground.

One exception was at Hill 43, which had been the scene of heavy fighting on 06 Sep. When a platoon from Hotel 2/5 approached Hill 43 on 10 Sep they found an NVA company had reoccupied the hill. Hotel 2/5, supported by heavy air and artillery strikes, took Hill 63 by storm but lost nine men in the effort:

  • 2ndLt Allan J. Herman, Evanston, IL
  • Sgt William B. Stutes, Oceanside, CA
  • Cpl Stephen L. Irvin, Columbia, MO (Silver Star)
  • LCpl Leo C. Aukland, Bison, SD
  • LCpl James P. Braswell, New York, NY
  • LCpl Charles W. Horvath, Bethlehem, PA
  • LCpl Kenneth C. Johnson, Bradley, IL
  • LCpl Michael F. Wolf, Beulah, ND
  • Pfc Martin A. Rosales, Bethel, KS
The second exception, and the NVA's last effort against the Marines, was a night attack on the 3/5 Command Post. As the NVA troops, estimated to be in company-plus strength, approached the command post they were engaged by a larger force of Marines. After losing 35 men killed and at least 18 WIAs the NVA dispersed.

Operation SWIFT was a Marine reaction to a well-planned and executed NVA incursion into the Que Son Valley. The Marines' flexibility and maneuverability and the availability of air and artillery support turned the tide. The NVA lost 540 confirmed dead and 47 POWs, and there was evidence that 600 or more bodies had been removed as the NVA withdrew.

Although SWIFT was a very decided win for the Marines, it came at a high price: 138 Marines and sailors killed in action, 368 evacuated with wounds.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 May 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009