Hill 830
July 1967

4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne)
173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate)

Sky Soldiers

                     

During the summer of 1967, heavy contact with the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces in the area prompted the launching of Operation Greeley, a combined search and destroy effort by elements of the United States 4th Infantry Division, the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 42nd Infantry Regiment and Airborne units. The fighting was intense and lasted into the fall, when the North Vietnamese seemingly withdrew.

Hill 830 is located 12 kilometers South of the Village of Ben Het. It derives it's name from the height of its highest point above sea level in METERs. Therefore hill 830 is approximately 2,724 feet above sea level. Hill 830 is also approximately 14 kilometers from the Cambodian border and sat astride a major exit of the Ho Chi Minh Trail system.

On July 10, 1967, the 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne) of the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) engaged a large, well dug-in NVA force in a fierce two-day battle. Following is a detailed narrative of events taken from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Operational Report, Lessons Learned (ORLL), for the period ending 31 July 1967:

10 July 1967. At 0710 hours, the Tactical Command Post (TAC CP) received order to move to Objective # 49 at grid location YB 863147. With Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (B/4/503d) leading, the Battalion minus (-) initiated movement at 0900 hours. The order of march for the initial phase was as follows: B/4/503d Infantry leading, Delta Company, 4/503d next, then TAC CP, and Alpha Company, 4/503d following. At 1320 hours (1:30 p.m.), the Battalion Commander issued instructions to the Forward Command Post (CP) to disregard Objective # 49 and move to Objective # 40, located at grid YB 859138. The Battalion S3 (Operations) Officer informed A/4/503d Infantry to secure the objective at coordinates YB 855146, B/4/503d to secure at YB 855138 and D/4/503rd Infantry to secure at YB 855143. The battalion (-) began moving in column with A/4/503d Infantry leading, then D/4/503d, TAC CP, and B/4/503d. The companies were to 'harbor' at their respective objectives on the evening of 10 July 1967.

At 1545 hours (3:45 p.m), while conducting search and destroy operations in the vicinity of grid coordinates YB 860140, lead elements of Alpha Company, 4/503d Infantry received heavy small arms fire and automatic weapons fire from two bunkered light machine guns. The enemy force, initially estimated to be one North Vietnamese Army (NVA) rifle company, was entrenched in well prepare, fortified positions approximately thirty-five (35) meters to "A" Company's front (northwest).

Artillery support was directed on to the NVA positions as the first platoon maneuvered to the right to relieve pressure on the point platoon which had been pinned down. At this time, the Battalion S3 Officer requested that a light fire team be made available to support the action. The second platoon maneuvered to the right and immediately came under fire from two light machine guns. The Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, had lost contact by radio with his third platoon but previous instructions to the platoon was to maneuver to the right of the second platoon, which the third platoon did. Radio contact was not established again until later in the evening. Artillery, small arms and grenades silenced the light machine gun on the left of the first platoon. At this time, all three platoons of the 4th Battalion/503rd Infantry were in contact and were receiving heavy fire on the right flank.

Delta Company, 4/503d Infantry, who were following A/4/503d Infantry reported incoming mortar rounds. The Battalion S3 Officer instructed Delta Company to maneuver to the left of Alpha Company to relieve the pressure directed in that direction. As the lead platoon of Delta Company began moving, it came under heavy fire from it's right, at which time Bravo Company, echeloned right in the vicinity of YB 862141. Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, maneuvering to attack the enemy position from the northeast with two platoons and the Tactical Command Post (TAC CP), came under fire from two additional bunkered light machine guns, small arms fire, automatic weapons fire and 60 mm and 82mm mortar fire. The first platoon of Bravo Company remained in a reserve position on high ground to the rear of the contact point. The enemy force in this sector of the fight was estimated to be an additional NVA rifle company with supporting mortars and was positioned so that it was mutually supporting the unit engaged by Alpha Company. The battalion Commanding Officer, ordered Delta Company to maneuver to the right of Bravo Company to relieve the pressure now placed on that unit. All elements toncinued to receive mortar and automatic fire from the NVA force now believed to be a battalion (-). Bravo Company reported that they had begun to receive heavy fire from both flanks and to the front. At 1620 hours, the Operations Office (S3), the Artillery Forward Observer (FO) Team, and the B Company Commander will killed or wounded by incoming mortar fire.

Artillery supported the battalion elements with fires into NVA positions and with blocking fires on likely routes of NVA withdrawal or reinforcement to the west and southwest of the enemy positions.

At this time, Delta Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment was moving elements to reinforce Bravo Company now. Two platoons had begun to move toward B Company's location. Another was still in contact and receiving light fire where it had maneuvered to aid Alpha Company. "A" Company had broken contact and was moving towards Company B when the CO of D Company informed the CO of A Company that the terrain and distance would not permit the two companies to link up prior to darkness. Contact was broken with all elements at 1800 hours. The 4th battalion CO ordered "A" Company with one platoon from "D" Company to move back and harbor with the one reserve platoon from "B" Company at YB 861140. "D" Company had linked up with B Company and prepared to spend the night at grid YB 858140.

Perimeters were formed at this location and at YB 861140, where attempts were made to return the dead and wounded. MEDEVAC was attempted throughout the night. However, due to adverse weather conditions in the area, only three wounded in action were extracted. Companies harbored until daylight on 11 July 1967.

11 - 12 July 1967. The 4th Battalion continued Operation GREELEY in Area of Operations (AO) JANE. The Battalion reconsolidated and harbored into Objective # 40 (Hill 830) and prepared for the extraction of the wounded and the dead from the previous day's encounter. Extraction of the wounded and dead was delayed during the early morning from midnight until 0700 hours due to severe weather conditions in the AO. The first extraction was completed starting at 0710 hours and the last lift was 1918 hours (7:19 pm). The Battalion (-) continued search and destroy operations throughout the daylight hours of the 11th of July. Evidence of a well disciplined, trained and armed NVA force was found. Trench networks and emplacement were found to be quite extensive, running north-south and west along the ridge line where the contact was made. Delta Company, on a sweep of the area on 11 July, found an oval shaped base camp at YB 859141 consisting of 60 to 80 bunkers and foxholes on the outer perimeter. Fortifications had an estimated two feet of overhead cover consisting of logs and dirt. A small perimeter of command bunkers was found within the camp. Cooking areas were also found within the perimeter. At 1115 hours at coordinates YB 855136, Alpha and Delta Companies found another base camp of 20 bunkers. At 1430 hours, a 3rd base camp complex was found by Delta Company near grid YB 857138. Thirty (30) bunkers with two foot overhead log and dirt covers and two kitchen areas were found.

A thorough search of the battlefield produced a considerable amount of NVA equipment and sources of intelligence value. Most U.S. Equipment was recovered. At 1430 hours, a wounded NVA and took him prisoner who was immediately extracted to Dak To for interrogation.

North Vietnam Army losses were 9 killed in action; 1 prisoner of war; assorted weapons, ammunition, living materials, and utensils.

United States losses included 62 wounded in action and twenty-five US soldiers died in the fighting on the 10th of July 1967:

Many others were wounded in the engagement. On 15 Feb 1973, almost five years later, SP4 Peter G. Lechnir of Milwaukee, Wisconsin died from wounds he received on Hill 830 while serving with Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry. He was overlooked when the Wall was constructed, and his name was not added to the Wall until November 1991.

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