Michael Joseph WhitakerSpecialist Four
B BTRY, 1ST BN, 39TH ARTILLERY, XXIV CORPS, USARV
Army of the United States
03 August 1951 - 25 June 1971
Los Angeles, California
Panel 03W Line 089
The database page for Michael Joseph Whitaker
My good friend, Donald W. Gray, Plattsmouth, Nebraska was best friends with Mike Whitaker. On the night Mike was killed, they had flipped a coin, a dime, to see which side of the foxhole each of them got. Mike was killed, and Don lived. Several years ago Don asked me to write a poem as a tribute to his friend. It took me nearly a year, but I wrote it. Don found his friend's name on The Moving Wall when it rested here in Skidmore, Missouri in 1996. He finally found some peace.
I will add the poem, I hope it doesn't exceed the word limit. It is called simply "Mike's Poem."
From a friend of his friend,
A Note from The Virtual WallFire Support Base Fuller was on Hill 544 about two miles north of Highway 9 towards the western end of the Cam Lo Valley. On 24 June 1971 the North Vietnamese Army mounted a major attack on the base, beginning with a 500-round artillery barrage from guns emplaced within the DMZ.
On 25 June five Americans were killed in Quang Tri Province.
Two were infantrymen, one killed in an accident and the other by an explosive device.
Two were artillerymen, killed by enemy "artillery, rocket, or mortar" fire - SP4 Michael J. Whitaker, Los Angeles, California, and PVT Wayne S. Murphy, Dallas, Oregon, both from B Battery, 1st Bn, 39th Artillery.
The fifth was a Cobra gunship copilot who was hit by ground fire just southeast of FSB Fuller - CPT Albert P. Carden, Morgantown, WV, from D Co, 158th Assault Helo Battalion.
If the UTM coordinates in the Army's TAGCEN file are correct, Bravo 1/39 wasn't at FSB Fuller but rather in the Cam Lo Valley southeast of FSB Fuller. They were still well within range of the NVA guns in the DMZ, and of course the reverse was true too - their M110 self-propelled artillery pieces could reach the NVA as well. Captain Carden was hit while operating between FSB Fuller and B/1/39's position and could have been flying in support of either artillery unit.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 13 Nov 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009