The Virtual Wall, memorializing Vietnam casualties since 1997
The Virtual Wall, memorializing Vietnam casualties since 1997

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Hill 875

Hill 875 got its name from the height of its highest point above sea level in meters, peaking at approximately 2,700 feet above sea level. Hill 875 is about 8 kilometers from the Cambodian border and sat astride a major exit of the Ho Chi Minh Trail system into South Vietnam.

On November 19, 1967, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, was given the mission of securing Hill 875, estimated to be defended by a company of NVA regular troops fresh off the Ho Chi Minh Trail. What followed was one of the fiercest battles of the entire Vietnam War.

The NVA force that occupied Hill 875 was not a company, but rather two regiments. When A Company, 2/503rd, began their movement up the hill they came under withering fire from automatic weapons, mortars, and B-40 rockets. The NVA were firing from concealed positions constructed in March of 1967. By November the fast growing jungle had hidden all traces of the log-covered bunkers. Other NVA forces occupied nearby hilltops and were able to support the NVA on Hill 875 with mortar and artillery fire. As it became apparent that A/2/503 was badly outnumbered, the other companies of 2/503 were committed to the fight. However, the men of 2/503 had to stand alone for the rest of 19 November and through the night that followed.

HILL 875 HILL 875

On 20 November, three companies of the 4th Bn, 503rd Infantry, were inserted to reinforce the 2/503 and a battalion of the 12th Infantry was placed as a blocking force at the base of the hill to prevent NVA reinforcement or withdrawal. Toward the crest of the hill close-quarter hand-to-hand combat was interspersed with withdrawals to allow air and artillery strikes on the hilltop fortifications. The battle continued amidst the carnage wrought by bombs and artillery fire, but the hilltop could not be taken on the 21st. On the 22nd the 503rd's troops withdrew slightly to provide a 100-meter buffer zone, allowing further air and artillery strikes on the NVA positions. During the lull in the ground fighting the 503rd evacuated its dead and wounded, replenished and reorganized, and prepared for a push on the 23rd.

At 11 AM, 23 November, the two battalions of the 503rd began a two-pronged assault on the hilltop. The NVA on the surrounding hills placed mortar and artillery fire on their own positions on Hill 875, hoping to break up the US assault while counting on the fortifications to protect the NVA soldiers. The NVA effort failed and the paratroopers took the peak in a 30-minute assault. By 1430 the 1st Bn, 12th Infantry, reached the peak, having advanced up the southwestern slope to reach the summit. The combined US force cleared Hill 875 of North Vietnamese troops.

As day's end approached, the 503rd turned Hill 875 over to the 1/12 soldiers and began to count their losses.

HILL 875 HILL 875

Although one unofficial account of the fighting says "The 2nd and 4th Battalions of the 503rd Infantry suffered 33 Missing in Action, 158 Killed in Action and 411 evacuated wounded while fighting for Hill 875" the casualty page associated with that account lists 123 men. The Virtual Wall can identify 125 men who died in connection with the battle for Hill 875; of these, four could not be brought home for burial. The bodies of SGT Donald Iandoli, SP4 Jack L. Croxdale, PFC Benjamin D. De Herrera, and PFC David R. Reynolds have not been repatriated.

The following men are known to have died in the fighting on Hill 875. Those with memorials on The Virtual Wall are marked by links to their memorial pages:

  • 559th TFS, 12th TFW, 7th AF
    • 1stLt Charles C. Nelson, Minneapolis, MN

  • 173rd Eng Co
  • A Co (Admin), 173rd Spt Bn
  • A Btry, 3rd Bn, 319th Arty Rgt
    • 1LT Richard T. Busenlehner, Rowena, TX
    • SP4 Troy A. Galyan, Concord, NC
    • SP4 Jesse Sanchez, Union City, CA
    • 1LT Jerome C. Shomaker, Newport Beach, CA

  • HHC, 1st Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • PFC Valdez Sharp, McLean, TX

  • A Co, 2nd Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • PFC Bruce M. Benzing, Miami Springs, FL
    • SP4 David B. Betchel, Los Angeles, CA
    • SP4 Robert T. Bly, Toledo, OH
    • SGT Manfred F. Camarote, Philadelphia, PA
    • PFC Charles R. Crews, Starke, FL
    • PFC John D Agostino, New York, NY
    • PFC Robert P. Degen, Vancouver, WA
    • SP4 John M. Dunbar, Villa Park, IL
    • SP4 Michael L. Ellis, Valinda, CA
    • PFC Michael W. Ference, Chicago, IL
    • PFC Dennis Greenwald, Southfield, MI
    • PFC William A. Hawthorne, Eureka, KS
    • SP5 Aaron K. Hervas, Mobile, AL
    • CPT Michael J. Kiley, Long Beach, CA
    • PFC Witold J. Leszczynski, New York, NY
    • PFC Carlos J. Lozada, New York, NY (Medal of Honor)
    • PFC George M. Mattingly, Oxon Hill, MD
    • SGT Josh C. Noah, Hugo, OK
    • SP4 Andrew J. Orosz, New York, NY
    • PFC James R. Patterson, Orlando, FL
    • PFC Steven R. Powell, Danville, VA
    • PFC Gary D. Roerink, Pontiac, MI
    • SP4 Jack H. Shoop, Rural Ridge, PA
    • PFC James R. Speller, Windsor, NC
    • PFC Frank E. Stokes, Monticello, NY
    • SGT Robert T. Szymanski, Milwaukee, WI
    • PFC Nathaniel Thompson, St Louis, MO
    • PVT Ernesto Villarreal, Detroit, MI
    • SP4 Ronald W. Young, Tulsa, OK

  • B Co, 2nd Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
  • C Co, 2nd Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • SGT Michael E. Adams, Granite City, IL
    • PVT Gregory C. Bauer, Central Bridge, NY
    • PFC Neal I. Best, Myrtle Beach, SC
    • SP4 Roy J. Blackwell, Clinton, SC
    • PFC Mario A. Cisneros, Riverbank, CA
    • SP4 Jack L. Croxdale, Lake Charles, LA
    • PFC Benjamin D. De Herrera, Colorado Springs, CO
    • SP4 James W. Flynt, Pittsboro, NC
    • SFC James C. Frederick, Margate, FL
    • PFC Juan M. Garcia, Mammoth, AZ
    • SP4 Gerald L. George, Colorado Springs, CO
    • PFC Herbert H. Gray, Gray, GA
    • PSGT Bobby G. Hastings, Trumann, AR
    • SP4 Mark R. Hering, North Tonawanda, NY
    • PFC William C. Hinkle, Granite City, IL
    • SP4 Thomas P. Huddleston, Newnan, GA
    • SGT Donald Iandoli, Paterson, NJ
    • CPT Harold J. Kaufman, Spring Valley, NY
    • SGT Jeffrey W. Koonce, Union, NJ
    • 1LT Peter J. Lantz, Orlando, FL
    • SP4 James W. Nothern, Clarendon, AR
    • SGT Wallace L. Ogea, Bossier City, LA
    • SP4 Robert J. Sanders, Philadelphia, PA
    • 1LT Donald E. Smith, Columbus, GA
    • PFC Harry H. Spencer, Cleveland, OH
    • 1LT Richard W. Thompson, Atchison, KS
    • PFC Lester Tyler, New York, NY
    • SSG Remer G. Williams, Raleigh, NC
    • SSG John W. Wooten, Garten, WV

  • D Co, 2nd Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • SP4 Harvey L. Brown, St Louis, MO
    • PFC Larry A. D Entremont, Kittery Point, ME
    • PFC Casimiro Dianda, Yuma, AZ
    • SP4 Clarence Hall, Newport, KY
    • SP4 Kenneth J. Jacobson, Winslow, WA
    • SP4 Weston J. Langley, Houlton, ME
    • PFC John M. Ortiz, Chicago, IL
    • PFC Joseph Pannell, East St Louis, IL
    • SP4 Roy C. Payne, Saginaw, MI
    • PFC Arnold Pinn, Jamaica, NY
    • SP4 Walter D. Ray, Belmont, MA
    • SP4 Lewis B. Smith, Camden, NY
    • SP4 Harry E. Stephens, Richmond, VA
    • PFC Richard Walker, Chicago, IL
    • SP4 Lemuel T. Williams, St Louis, MO

  • HHC, 2nd Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • SP4 Ernesto S. Cantu, Encino, TX
    • PVT Claude L. Crawford, Los Angeles, CA
    • PFC James C. Farley, Cookeville, TN
    • SP4 William T. Hagerty, Vineyard Haven, MA
    • SP4 William D. Herst, El Paso, TX
    • PFC Richard N. Kimball, Granite City, IL
    • PVT Roger A. Kros, Lake Village, IN
    • PFC Robert C. La Vallee, Middletown, RI
    • SP4 Olis R. Rigby, Hays, KS
    • PFC William A. Ross, Columbus, GA
    • SP4 Ervin Spain, Chicago, IL
    • SP5 Ernest R. Taylor, Loveland, OH
    • PFC Rudolph N. Ward, Portsmouth, VA
    • PFC John R. Wolf, Renton, WA

  • A Co, 4th Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • PFC Louis G. Arnold, Detroit, MI
    • PFC John W. Smith, Celina, OH
    • SGT Arthur Turner, Mount Pleasant, SC

  • B Co, 4th Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • MSG William L. Cates, Stanfield, AZ
    • SP4 Thomas L. Corbett, Hampton, VA
    • PFC Angel R. Flores-Jimenez, New York, NY
    • PFC Gerald Klossek, Newark, NJ
    • SP4 Roy R. Lee, Dunn, NC
    • SP4 Robert W. Lindgren, Minneapolis, MN
    • SSG Roland W. Manuel, Asbury Park, NJ
    • PFC Richard F. Mason, Erwin, NC
    • SP4 Raymond W. Michalopoulos, Pawtucket, RI
    • PFC Kenneth G. Owens, Orlando, FL
    • SP4 Robert E. Paciorek, Ravenna, OH
    • PFC David R. Reynolds, Buffalo, NY
    • PFC Jesse E. Smith, Augusta, GA
    • PFC Thomas J. Wade, Antlers, OK
    • SP4 Earl K. Webb, New Orleans, LA
    • SP4 Merrel P. Whittington, Toppenish, WA
    • PFC Charles E. Willbanks, Mountain View, GA (Bronze Star "V")
    • PFC James R. Worrell, Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • C Co, 4th Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • PFC Billy R. Cubit, Chicago, IL
    • SGT Le Roy E. Fladry, Union City, PA
    • 1LT Tracy H. Murrey, Miles City, MT (Dist Svc Cross)

  • D Co, 4th Bn, 503rd Inf Rgt
    • PFC Roger D. Mabe, Haymarket, VA
    • PFC Leonard J. Richards, Mount Vernon, IL

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Honoring our losses since 1997

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Last updated on 03/06/2005