Benjamin Gareth Wells
First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
Madison, Alabama
September 07, 1941 to May 25, 1967
BENJAMIN G WELLS is on the Wall at Panel 20E, Line 108


2 May 2001

I knew Gary Wells. He graduated from Infantry OCS in Class 8-66. He had been in the 101st Airborne previous to attending OCS, serving in the 502d Airborne Battle Group. He was very proud of that unit, known in the Army as the " Oh-Deuce."

He was one of the few natural leaders I ever knew, and a terrific guy. He went to the 1st Brigade (Separate) 101st Airborne Division in 1967. He was a platoon leader in 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, another excellent organization.

I was at the Battalion C. P. on the day he was killed, taking photos for the Brigade P.I.O. We heard the ambush which killed him and half of his platoon, even though it happened about a mile away across the valley. It started out abruptly and attained the level of a loud roar in about a second. I heard some of the radio transmissions, but kind of blanked out when I heard he was killed. The troops who found the dead troopers said the spider holes of the NVA were so close to the trail where the ambush happened that you could have touched them with your muzzle. Platoon Sgt. Edward Tieman, who had been an instructor at jump school, ran from the back of the unit to the front to attack the strongest point, and was killed before Gary was.

I got this information from the RTO, who I think was the only American up on that hill who survived. Half the platoon had been left behind on another mission, so Gary only had half his men with him. When the last of the troops was brought out they brought out the scout dog, a German Shepherd, that had been killed with them. I wondered about that for years, why they would bring the dog out? In 1993 I met the Battalion Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major Linn, who is just a unique soldier with a unique military biography, and I asked him if he remembered Gary. He said he couldn't because in the month of his death the SGM said they had so many casualties that he couldn't remember them all. But when I described the dog and asked him why it was brought out, for instance if it was a custom of the service, he said it wasn't custom, but now that I mentioned the dog, he remembered the incident and that the dog had been brought out because it had been with the men when they were killed, I suppose as a kind of token of respect.

These soldiers did not die alone, although they were far from home. Their buddies loved them, comforted them as much as they could, and miss them to this day.

From a friend,
John Yeager, Jr.


A Note from The Virtual Wall

Nine men from Charlie 1/327 are known to have died in the ambush mentioned above:
  • 1LT Benjamin G. Wells, Madison, AL
  • SFC Edward L. Tieman, Carlinville, IL (Silver Star)
  • SSG Alfred G. Kircher, Ozone Park, NY
  • SP4 Leonard A. Enos, Scottsdale, AZ
  • SP4 Joe A. Funk, Wellsburg, WV
  • SP4 Peter J. Gerspach, Eggertsville, NY
  • PFC Alan W. Bonney, Easton, PA
  • PFC Terry A. Harding, Vallejo, CA
  • PFC Edward M. McMullan, New York, NY
In addition, Sergeant Gary A. Rathbun and his dog of the 42nd Scout Dog Platoon were killed. The dog's body was brought out with the men he served. According to one report, he was killed while mauling an NVA soldier - and had a piece of the soldier in his mouth when he was brought in. Some reports give the dog's name as "Thunder", but the Vietnam Dog Handlers' Association shows only one dog killed on 25 May 1967 - Rex, tag number 8X60.

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