198th Inf Bde Commander Wounded During Medivac Effort

In August 1970, the 198th Infantry Brigade Commander, COL William R. Richardson, was
wounded while using his command and control helicopter to complete an emergency medical
evacuation of three seriously wounded soldiers from D Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 198th
Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal).   A total of seventeen soldiers were wounded
and medically evacuated as a result of the initial booby trap incident and ensuing fire fight with the
Viet Cong..

On 13 August 1970, D Company’s mission, in part, was to conduct saturation patrols and
ambushes in the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry Tactical Area of Operations on the Batangan Peninsula
south of Chu Lai, Viet Nam.  Acting as part of Operation NANTUCKET BEACH,  D Company
was broken down into several elements to conduct ambushes at the following locations:
Headquarters element (D6-) at BS 691 911; part of 1st Platoon (D16) at BS 681 907; rest of 1st
Platoon (D15) at BS 678 906; 2nd Platoon (D25) at 690 909; and, 3rd Platoon (D36) at BS 696
923.  See Map.

For the next day, the D Company commander (D6-) planned to remain in position, while the other
elements would patrol during the day and set ambushes at night.  The 1st Platoon planned to
combine the D16 and D15 element for a daylight patrol eastward thru Lac Son (4) and then north
to the vicinity of Lac Son (1).  This movement was to be between BS 687 907 and BS 692 909.
Their planned night ambush location was to be in the vicinity of BS 696 906.

By 0640 hours on 14 August, the D16 and D15 elements had linked together (as D16) and were
moving on their daylight patrol.  They arrived at their first checkpoint, BS 692 909, by 0830
hours.  Proof that the VC were active in the general area was evident by 1037 hours.  A resupply
helicopter from the 176th Assault Helicopter Company, radio call sign Minuteman 27,  took 15-20
rounds small arms fire several hundred meters northeast of the D6(-) location.  A short time later,
a soldier from D36 (identified only as Line No.11) hit a booby trap at BS 695 928.  He suffered
only minor injuries to his hand and leg, but was airlifted to the 91st Evacuation Hospital by a Light
Observation Helicopter OH-6A, call sign Slow Motion 9.

At 1200 hours, the D16 platoon, while in the vicinity of BS 703 904 (northeast of Lac Son 4)
requested an urgent dustoff for four of the five soldiers wounded by a single mine that had
exploded.  COL Richardson, the 198th Infantry Brigade Commander, learned of the request.
Because his command and control helicopter was flying near the area, he promptly ordered the
aircraft to land to complete the medical evacuation dustoff.  While the wounded were being
loaded aboard, another mine detonated.  Twelve more soldiers were  wounded in the blast,
including COL Richardson and the 198th Infantry Brigade S-3, MAJ Ellisan B. Vickery, Jr.

A UH-1H medical evacuation helicopter, radio call sign Dustoff 80, arrived at the scene at 1235
hours and began the first of three flights to rescue the wounded personnel.  Gunships were
requested to ensure the security of the extraction and to aid the unit on the ground.  At 1300
hours, D16 reported taking M-79 rifle grenade fire from 300-400 meters N-NE of their position.
They also took small arms fire from several directions.  Some hand grenades landed within their
position, indicating that the VC were 50 meters or closer.  Apparently the VC had been alerted to
the exact location of the unit by the two explosions and the presence of the helicopters.

At 1310 hours, Slow Motion 9 confirmed  D16's  location,  completed an emergency ammunition
resupply for them, and extracted three of the wounded soldiers to the 27th Surgical Hospital in
Chu Lai.  A short time later, a helicopter gunship from the 116th Assault Helicopter Company,
radio call sign Stinger 83, arrived on station.  By 1350 hours, additional help arrived when Sabre
9 reported on station to aid the extraction of soldiers from the first platoon.  At 1445, Dustoff 80
had completed the second extraction of wounded.  By 1500 hours, the evacuation of the seriously
wounded soldiers from D16 was complete.

Three soldiers who had suffered slight fragmentation wounds remained behind with eleven others
to maintain the unit’s diminished defensive strength.   At 1415 hours, the decision was made to
use aircraft to extract D16 from their location and to insert additional forces.  By 1500 hours, the
remaining soldiers from D16 had been airlifted to join D6(-) at BS 691 911.

In an effort to locate and destroy the enemy soldiers who attacked the D16 element, soldiers from
B Company (B6 and subordinate elements), 1st Battalion 6th Infantry, were to be diverted from
their own combat patrols six miles to the south.  They would be airlifted into blocking positions at
BS 695 891 and BS 688 900.  At 1630 hours, a small quick-reaction infantry platoon from Troop
F, 8th Cavalry, 123rd Aviation Battalion, known as the Sabre Blues, were inserted into BS 715
915.  By 1740, the additional troops from B Company had been inserted.   In addition, a MACV
Advisory Team from Son Tinh in the vicinity of BS 7188 were advised to have the 103rd RF
Company set their blocking positions southeast of the Loc Son area.

By nightfall, the area adjacent to the D16 firefight was the site of many ambushes to ensnare any
VC who might evade from the scene.  D Company had assumed ambush locations to the north:
D16 combined with D6(-) at BS 691 911; D26 at BS 704 922; D25 at BS 709 010; D36 at BS
679 921; and by 2220 hours, D35 at BS 686 921.  B Company established ambush sites to the
west: B6(-) at BS 687 895; B16 at BS 697 920; B26 at 690 896; and, by 2145 hours B36 at BS
686 910.

That night, all the efforts to ambush the VC in the vicinity of the incident were unfruitful.  The
enemy either remained in their cleverly concealed positions in the dense hedgerows, or they
blended back into the local population.  At the time of the incident, two separate Viet Cong forces
were reported to be operating in the vicinity of the Lac Son hamlets.  The 95A Local Force
Sapper Company, with a strength of 47 men, was reported in the vicinity of BS 6891.  The K51
Local Force Weapons Company, with a reported strength of 15 men, was located in the vicinity of
BS 7191.  Both enemy units were capable of the attack on both D16 and the
aircraft involved in rescue efforts.

[The above analysis of the episode is based primarily on the S2/S3/S5 Daily Staff Journal entries
made on 14 August 1970 at the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry Tactical Operations Center at LZ Dottie
(BS 630 855).  The originals of those documents are now located at the National Archives II
facility in College Park, MD.

The phrase “seventeen soldiers were wounded” utilized in the preceding historical narrative does
not begin to explain the event in terms of the human suffering involved.  The bravery of these
soldiers and their incredible sacrifice can be appreciated all the more when the unvarnished facts
are clearly stated for subsequent generations to see.

Casualty records from the Americal Division indicate that a total of seventeen soldiers wounded in
the incident had to be evacuated to hospitals at Chu Lai for medical treatment. The slightly
wounded soldiers not named in the historical narrative presumably received treatment from their
own combat medics or the  Battalion Surgeon at the 1st Bn 6th Inf Medical Aid Station located at
LZ Dottie.

By cross-referencing Americal Division casualty records and the TOC log, it is possible to
determine that COL Richardson’s Command and Control aircraft apparently evacuated the
following soldiers to the 91st Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai:

Name                      Line No.  SSN     Wounds

SSG Johnson, Berry H.     ?   239-     Penetrating missile wound right frontal lobe, paralysis left
                                                               side, brain
???  Cask
???  Medic Jones

Dustoff 80 apparently evacuated the following soldiers to both hospitals in Chu Lai:

Name                       Line No.    SSN     Wounds

COL Richardson, William R.     238-     Fragment wounds right knee
MAJ Vickery, Ellisan B. Jr.       024-     Fragment wound right forearm
SGT Alarcon, Dennis          1     550-     Fragment wounds-back
PFC Barr, Dennis R.           5     506-     Massive fragment wounds both legs
PFC Belyeu, Herman L.      6     561-     Massive fragment wounds, both legs, left hand
SGT Bissett, James             8     228-     Fragment wounds-both legs
SGT Luna, Louis A.          62    460-      Massive fragment wounds, both legs
PFC Lyna, Raul F.             63    556-      Fragment wounds-both legs, chest
SP4 McGraw, Phillip         20    248-      Penetrating missile wound to right temple area,
                                                                       paralysis to left side, brain damage
???  Stock                        103                 (This could have been:
      PFC Scott, Michael A.        231-       Fragment wounds-buttocks)
SP4 Staples, Charlie                  426-       Fragment wounds-both legs
PFC Stoddard, Steven M.         518-        Massive fragment wounds back, both legs
The unit interpreter                    NA        Unknown

Slow Motion 9 apparently evacuated the following soldiers to the 27th Surgical Hospital Chu Lai:

PFC Erdman, Michael       27    479-     Massive fragment wounds both legs, right
SP4 Hamilton, Paul           37    005-     Fragment wounds, both arms
???  Stougle                     113               (This could have been:
      PFC Stoven, Paul S.           482-      Fragment wounds left neck and back)

One other soldier was evacuated to the 91st Evacuation Hospital, Chu Lai, but it was not possible
to determine by which aircraft:

PFC Bordner, Randal         ?     492-     Massive fragment wounds both legs

This episode represents but one part of one day of the many days of combat faced by the soldiers
of the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal).   The
U.S. Army suffered 254 soldiers killed, 740 wounded and 77 slightly wounded in combat during
Operation NANTUCKET BEACH on the Batangan Peninsula from 20 July 1969 to 1 March

Copyright 2000 by Wayne R. Johnston (1st Bn 6th Inf, 1970-71).

If you have personal knowledge about additional details of this episode, please contact wr9r@aol.

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