William D Wilson

Specialist Five
Army of the United States
09 June 1947 - 30 November 1967
Kansas City, Missouri
Panel 31E Line 019


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William D Wilson

24 Dec 2007

I write this memorial to Billy on Christmas Eve 2007, forty years after he was killed on a lonely road in Vietnam.

We were crewmen on tank #35 of the third platoon, Company C, 1st Bn, 69th Armor. Our unit was assigned to the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

We rumbled on Route 19 from the dusty town of Pleiku to the Mang Yang Pass. Always on the go! Escorting supply convoys (God bless those truck drivers), road security, bridge security, adding our fire power at various firebases and the endless search and destroy missions.

During the battle of Dak To in November 1967, we were assigned to escort supply convoys north along Route 14 from Kontum to the base at Dak To. Then at night we protected the vital bridges on Route 14.

The night of the firefight at the bridge, Billy was assigned to another tank as their driver. My tank was just north of his position. The night was just another uneventful night until the radio crackled that Billy's tank and our platoon leader's tank were receiving small arms and mortar fire and they need assistance.

It was only a matter of minutes we arrived at their location, when our tank was struck by an RPG. As we crossed the bridge, we observed a tank on fire with flames pouring out of the turret.

Billy's tank received five RPG rocket hits and he was found on the side of the road by other crewmembers, suffering from severe burns. He was medevaced and died of his wounds.

When you live with someone on a tank, literally, like we did, you get to know the person. Billy was a soft-spoken person, happy and personable, loved the Vietnamese people and was well liked by the men who served with him. I will never forget him.

SP5 Martin M. McKenna
3rd Plt, C Co, 1st Bn, 69th Armor
3523 Fillmore Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11234

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The action described by Mr. McKenna took place on 27 November 1967 at a bridge about 3 kilometers northwest of Kontum City. SP5 Wilson died three days afterwards.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 24 Dec 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009