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We would like to take a moment of peaceful reflection and recognize some of America's finest.
The following casualty list is a tribute in recognition of those killed and wounded in action on 11 July 1969 at Hill 996 in the A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province, I Corps area, Republic of Vietnam.
These men were our brothers-in-arms in the 1st of the 506th.
This listing is in memory of
CPL Elbert J Baker, Jr.
SGT Norman H Bloomfield
CPL Mark Bruner
CPL Richard Corriveau
CPL Thomas "Doc" Fenush
CPL Curtiss Fernhoff
PFC Claudie Fowler
SP4 George Fry
PFC Alan Geissinger
SP4 Joe Glassburn
LTC Arnold Hayward
PFC Bradley Klukas
PFC Larry "Doc" Motley
CPL Marvin Richardson
PFC Michael F. Rogers
SSGT Byron Stewart
PFC George Tear
PFC Allan Thibou
2LT Dan Yarbrough
PFC Russell Yost
and the 26 men wounded in this action.
To my knowledge these men have never been recognized as a group, as having fought together in a single mission to take Hill 996 from the North Vietnamese Army, as having seized control of the surrounding area. To my understanding, this mission was mounted to thwart a summer offensive by the North Vietnamese Army.
Contrary to the stories circulating through America of United States soldiers in Vietnam being unwilling to fight, these men fought and did it against all odds. Nothing was ever mentioned about their sacrifice.
By all signs observed they knew that they could be outnumbered and in the NVA's back yard.
We were told, before assaulting the Hill, that there would be no artillery preparation or support, no gunship or Aerial Rocket Artillery support, and no tactical air support in the initial assault. To the US infantryman in Vietnam, artillery and air support were the only equalizers. The North Vietnamese Army had the manpower, the terrain, and the tactics. We had the fire power and the mobility ... but not on this day.
No-one liked the idea or the expected odds, but the men of the 101st Airborne Division went heads-up against the North Vietnamese Army anyway, in the worst possible terrain you could imagine, in the rain, into an NVA stronghold.
The NVA were tactical experts on their own ground. They were unparallelled at using fire and maneuver tactics in this mountain jungle region of the A Shau valley.
From hitting hot landing zones to being pinned under fire in the open, from blazing sunlight to nighttime cold to the wind and rain of a waning typhoon centered off Hue, these men continued. Following sporadic contact with the enemy, enough to ensure little or no sleep on the night of 10/11 July, on the morning of 11 July these men rucked up and moved out in a hard rain toward the objective. Tired, wet, knowing for some reason (perhaps the weather) there would be no support, they went into the face of a ready, waiting, and well-prepared enemy.
The early loss of our radio communications was unexpected and devastating. Communications are so vital that one radio-telephone operator from Delta 1/506 by himself literally gave up his life in order to restore both the Company and Battalion radio nets. There were many individual acts of heroism which blended into a total team effort to gain control over the situation. Confusion? Yes, but no-one gave up. We took Hill 996 on 11 July 1969.
This is a short, clean, summary, without distracting details, of a very long and complex ordeal. Details would be raw and ugly, and would not do justice to men who did what they had to do and did it with all the grace, style, and determination that comes to mind when America thinks of her heros.
One of my Hill 996 buddies, Gregory Denton, said, and correctly so,
" No one will ever knowHe was killed in action 17 days later.
what happened here."
The units involved in the assault on Hill 996 were
Richard "Doc" Daniels
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Last updated on 14 April 2001