Phillip John Vander Weg

Sergeant First Class
Army of the United States
18 May 1934 - 27 November 1965
Wayland, Michigan
Panel 03E Line 115

Phillip J Vander Weg
MACV ADVISORS Combat Infantry

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

Army Senior Parachutist

The database page for Phillip John Vander Weg

27 Nov 2001

SFC P J Vander Weg

SFC Phillip John Vander Weg was killed in action on November 27, 1965, while serving as an advisor at the Michelin Plantation when the plantation was overrun, suffering huge losses. He left behind three children and a wife. We only wish that he had been able to see his Grandchildren. We are sure he would have been proud of them!

From his daughter and her family,
the Swedhins

04 Nov 2002

My name is James Hildreth and I met Phillip while I was a medical
advisor in Dau Tieng. I recall the night of the battle in
which he was killed. I still have vivid memories of the Michelin
plantation. I am sorry for his family's loss.

From a friend,
James Hildreth

17 May 2004

I know Phillip's great-nephew and he told me to come to this site.

I'm really glad because this guy sounds like he was a great man, with a lot of heart for his country!

I'm sure a lot of people had that same kind of heart.
God bless America!!!
I'm PROUD to be an American!!!

From his great-nephew's friend,

17 Oct 2004

Phillip was my great-uncle. Most every year at school I have given a presentation on him. I have some of his patches from his flight suit and his whistle that my grandpa (his brother) gave me. I am VERY proud of what he was and what he did. I wish for anyone that knew him from Vietnam to please e-mail me.

From his great-nephew,
Zach Vander Weg

30 Jul 2005

I'm Phillip's Grandson, Phillip, and I'm extremely proud of what he did in Vietnam. My mom (Liana Alter, Phillip's daughter) has a suitcase full of his letters home and his medals.

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
- General George S. Patton -

From his grandson,
Phillip Alter

02 Sep 2005

My cousin was Captain James McNeely. I typed his name in The Virtual Wall and I only get this site. He was my older cousin, volunteered for his second tour of duty in Viet Nam, left 6 children (his wife was pregnant for twins at the time of his death), and was the first person from Norwich, Connecticut, to die in Viet Nam. He was loved and is still missed greatly.

From a cousin,
E-mail address is not available.

08 Feb 2007

I served with the 3rd Bde, 25th Infantry Division at Dau Tieng from 1967-1968 and was very moved by your memorial. It brought back many memories. Thank you for keeping the memory of your loved one alive.

Emanuel Roth

Rangers Find Dead Regiment
Associated Press photographer Horst Faas accompanied South Vietnamese reinforcements to the scene of a savage Communist attack on a rubber plantation 45 miles from Saigon. Here is his report.
DAU TIENG, Vietnam-(AP) South Vietnam's 7th Regiment died at 8 a.m. Saturday.
    It died on the sprawling Michelin rubber plantation after trying desperately to fight off hordes of Communist soldiers charging in waves through the rubber trees.
    Most of the Vietnamese troopers, with their American advisers, fought to the last bullet.
    The senior U.S. adviser to the slain regimental commander was found Sunday sprawled dead beside a foxhole. At 7 a.m. Saturday he had radioed a nearby Ranger battalion adviser: "My radio operator has just been killed, and we can't hold out much longer unless we get air strikes immediately. Put the strikes right among us, that's where the Communists are."
    A few minutes later the adviser, his voice still calm, called, "I'll have to get out of here. We're folding up."
    He didn't make it.
    A VIETNAMESE machine gunner was sprawled in his foxhole, spent shells up to his knees. The Viet Cong had shot off the barrel of his weapon, then killed him with a bullet through the brain.
    Some of the regiment tried to give up, but were rounded up and massacred by the Reds, a wounded U.S. adviser reported.
    The dead lay scattered among fallen branches and in the deep foxholes they had dug in the four days they had been in the area.
    Most of the dead had been killed with bullets in the head and neck.
    There were no Communist bodies. The Viet Cong had dragged their dead and wounded away.
    The Vietnamese Rangers who had come to help fight no longer were looking for any enemy. They were looking for their comrades. By early afternoon they had gathered up 100 bodies. There were many more.
AP photo

- A Vietnamese machine gunner lies dead in his foxhole with hundreds of shells surrounding him. The knee-deep spent shells are silent proof that he fought to his death when Viet Cong overran his position at the Michelin Rubber Plantation, 45 miles northwest of Saigon. The battleground was retaken today and over a hundred corpses recovered.
AP Wire Photo Nov. 1965
Mom's Letter Told Fallen GI Of Christmas He'll Miss

    The pages of the letter fluttered among the debris of battle.
    Nearby, lying half out of a foxhole, was the body of a young American Army sergeant. His tall body was crumpled in the shadow of the trees, his arms flung out.
    The letter had been scattered by the Viet Cong who killed him and many Vietnamese soldiers Saturday in a bloody two hours on the plantation. The Viet Cong had gone through the wallets of all the men and had taken their money and valuables.
    They had left the letter behind.
    It was from the sergeant's mother.
    "Dear Sarge," she wrote affectionately. She spoke of the plans she made for Christmas. She did not expect him home, she wrote, because he had several months left to serve in Vietnam.
    But she knew he would be interested in Christmas back home.
    Then she turned to more serious matters,
"We read your letters, and we understand how difficult it is over there.
"There's a great group of mothers and wives and children in the United States this year who won't have their loved ones home for Christmas. But oh, how we think of you,"
    His mother discussed the demonstrations in the United States against American involvement in Vietnam.
"Many people at home seem to be against what you are doing, but we know you are doing good.
"We pray you'll achieve what is right over there. I want to assure you this Christmastime that your mother and your family are completely behind you all the way.
"But we don't have to tell you that, do we? You already know."
Phillip J Vander Weg

POSTHUMOUS AWARDS - Mrs. Johanna Vander Weg receives the posthumous awards of the Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal from General Joseph W. Stilwell, commander of the John F. Kennedy Center for Special Warfare. SFC Phillip Vander Weg was killed during the battle of Tri Nam, Viet Nam, last November. Before leaving for Viet Nam, Sgt. Vander Weg was with the Army Parachute Team. Looking on during the ceremony is Maj. James L. Anderson, former commander of the Army team.

U.S. Army Photo by SP5 Cooper

Notes from The Virtual Wall

SFC P J Vander Weg

Sergeant First Class Vander Weg had served with the Army's "Golden Knights" parachute demonstration team. He is remembered, together with seven other teammates who died in Vietnam, by the Golden Knights.

The Michelin Rubber Plantation near Dau Tieng was a hotbed of VC and NVA activity. The action in which SFC Vander Weg died involved the VC 272nd Regiment, which overran the South Vietnamese 7th Regiment in the Michelin Plantation.

Although the news reports above make it clear that three US Advisors were killed in the battle - the senior advisor, his radioman, and SFC Vander Weg - it is certain at least four Americans were involved. Other available information indicates SFC Vander Weg "... and an American captain, a lieutenant and a private first class were attached to the 1st Battalion, 7th Regt., 5th South Viet Nam Infantry Division..." The captain was Captain James W. McNeely, and the lieutenant was 1LT Carl A. Gray. Seven US military advisors died in battle on 27 Nov 1965; since this memorial was first published it has become possible to place all seven with the 7th ARVN Infantry Regiment:

  • MAJ Guy H. McCarey, Tampa, FL
  • CPT James W. McNeely, Norwich, CT
  • 1LT Carl A. Gray, Morganton, NC
  • SFC Phillip J. Vander Weg, Wayland, MI
  • SGT William H. Crisman, Detroit, MI
  • PFC John M. Grasso, New Britain, CT
  • PFC Lester J. Kersten, Chicago, IL

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 27 Nov 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009