The 1st Battalion 6th Infantry became a part
of Task Force Miracle on 7 February 1968
when III MAF tasked the Americal Division to provide a two battalion Task Force to become
OPCON to the 1st Marine Division. The Task Force was formed because of the enemy
offensive threat against Da Nang during the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet), 1968. The
Task Force was composed of two US Army units (1st Bn, 6th Inf from the 198th Inf Bde,
and the 2nd Bn, 1st Inf from the 196th Inf Bde). It was established by verbal orders later
confirmed by Americal Division Fragmentary Order 2-68.
After four days of fierce fighting,
the threat to Da Nang was obliterated. Americal units
killed 308 enemy, while the Marines accounted for 411 enemy KIA. A total of 31 crew
served and well over a hundred individual weapons were captured along with hundreds of
grenades, thousands of rounds of ammunition and tons of rice. On 12 Feb 68, the unit
returned to the Americal area of operations and was placed under the operational control
of the 3d Bde, 4th Infantry Division to participate in Operation Wheeler/Wallowa.
[Click here to read a detailed account of
the battle based on the official After Action Report
and interviews with survivors.]
[The following information about the VUA and an account of the battle
were provided by Don
Kaiser, 3/A/1-6 Inf 1968-69; details on the award from Dave Ross, HHC/1-6, 1967-68]
VALOROUS UNIT AWARD (HQDA General Order Number 73)
"II. VALOROUS UNIT AWARD. By direction of the Secretary
of the Army, under the
provisions of paragraph 202.1, AR 672-5-2, the Valorous Unit Award is awarded to the
following named units of the United States Army for extraordinary heroism while engaged
in military operations during the periods indicated." The citation reads as follows:
"REGULARS DEFEAT NVA IN VICIOUS FIGHT"
"By SFC Snow L. Wilson" [198th Infantry Brigade Information Office]
[Note: According to an editorial note on the press release, SFC
Wilson's account of the battle was
published and distributed to soldiers in the unit to call attention and recognition to "The Regulars"
outstanding performance in the face of a well armed enemy.]
"(Ye Nen (2) Da Nang, Vietnam) Less than forty-eight hours after
it had been landed by helicopters
from Chu Lai [on] February 7, LTC William Baxley Jr's (Dillion, South Carolina) First Battalion,
Sixth Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade, was counting its confirmed NVA and Viet Cong kill in the
hundreds. Action was so heavy during the first 24 hours that one company was left without
officers and another with a 20 year old lieutenant in command. The enemy body count had
reached almost 160 and the total after 48 hours reached 240.
Landing in the early evening some elements
were barely on the ground before they were engaged
with the enemy. The battalion was called in as part of the 1st Marine Division Task Force Miracle
to stop a determined NVA and Viet Cong attack on the hugh Da Nang military complex.
Heroism was common in these first few hours.
Perhaps the most spectacular were the men of
Captain Francis Brennan's (Boston, Massachusetts) Company A who killed more than 150 NVA
and hard-core Viet Cong in a fierce hand to hand battle that raged for three hours across a 500 yard
rice paddy within the sight of Da Nang air field.
By late afternoon of the first day, February
8, howitzers of the 198th Battery D, 1st Battalion,
14th Artillery had joined the battalion and were hurling shell after shell into enemy positions.
The battery, commanded by Captain Elvis Farrow (Shidler, Oklahoma) had been lifted by CH47
"Chinook Helicopters" from Chu Lai that day.
As each company of his battalion arrived at
the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines' base camp about 6,000
meters south of Da Nang and Headquarters for the 1st Marine Division's newly formed Task Force
Miracle, Baxley moved them out in the darkness to blocking positions in the north and southeast.
Although unknown at the time, Brennan's Company A, and Captain Max Bradley's (Athens, Georgia)
Company C were moving straight into the middle of an enemy battalion. (Intelligence later estimated the
unit was 60 to 70 percent NVA soldiers).
As the helicopters arrived, marines led the
198th soldiers to assembly areas with a minimum of delay.
So anxious were the Marines to help that one jumped on a truck carrying men of Captain Dal Prather's
(Dimmit, Texas) to its attack position the following day. The young Marine had fought in company B's
toughest battles for a day and a half before he obeyed a direct order to return to his unit.
Action started for the "Regulars" (a name won
the the Sixth Infantry in the War of 1812) when a
small Marine outpost at Lo Giang, just across the river from Da Nang, was hit at 3:45 a.m. The
Marines had taken about 25 mortar rounds and saw 20 to 25 enemy in OD uniforms moving to
the northeast toward Company A's position.
Brennan started moving his company at first
light from his position near a hamlet called Thon Giant
to a blocking position at Lo Giang (1). In the meantime Bradley was moving his company from Mieu
Dong (1) on a northeast sweep to Brennan's new position. As they began to move, both companies
started to immediately receive fire.
While crossing a swamp at 9:40 p.m. [a.m.]
just west of Quang Chau (2) Bradley's force suddenly
came under intense fire from an enemy force of unknown size. With his forward elements pinned down
in the open, Bradley called for helicopter gunships. Although an enemy 50 caliber machine gun swept
the skies for them, the gunships dived in firing their rockets and mini-guns at the Viet Cong positions,
allowing Company C's pinned down platoon to escape. The enemy ground fire, however, continued
with such intensity that Bradley's company could still not move forward.
At 11:30 a.m. Company A was moving toward the
village of Lo Giang (1) when it was hit by heavy
automatic weapons fire from that hamlet and another called Co Man. As the men started to deploy to
a position south of Thon Giang hamlet, the Marines at Lo Giang radioed they were surrounded by 200
to 300 enemy.
Continuing on toward the cluster of huts, Company
A found itself again under heavy fire shortly
after noon. An enemy mortar then opened up from the village at 12:40 and a few minutes later Brennan
pulled his company back out of range. Rockets and intense small arms fire then started hitting Company
A from enemy positions southwest of Thon Giang.
By now, Brennan, who won a Silver Star on a previous combat tour in Vietnam, knew he had a battle.
Pinning them down by flanking fire in the middle
of a hugh rice paddy, the estimated Viet Cong
battalion came charging out of the hamlet of Lo Giang (1). In human waves, the black-pajammed,
and brown-uniformed NVA and Viet Cong swept forward as machine gunners, riflemen and
grenadiers of Company A met them with a hail of death. So determined was the enemy attack
that its momentum carried it into the company positions. Hundreds of fierce isolated hand to hand
battles swirled through the rice field as Brennan's men fought for their lives in individual combat.
A thousand yards to the southwest, Company
C was getting hit by mortars as it moved forward to
help Company A. Prather's Company B, followed by the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Company G,
was on the way in trucks.
On Prather's north, Brennan's Company was in
a life and death struggle and at 1:30 p.m. the
young captain himself was hit. Somehow they (Companies A & B) managed to keep contact with
each other as they fought in mud sometimes waist deep in the paddy. By 2:10 p.m. Brennan's radio
was calling urgently for gunships and a dust-off (medical evacuation helicopter) for the wounded.
Getting his men and wounded back to what protection
a Vietnamese graveyard afforded, the
seriously wounded Company A commander radioed his unit could count 78 NVA bodies -- but
two more enemy companies were now moving to his south.
Gunships arrived just in time over his position
to blast the enemy ranks with rockets and mini-guns
and Air Force fighter bombers swept in firing 20 millimeter cannons as they dive-bombed. To the
south, Bradley's Company C was still under an intense mortar attack. His officers continued to
command their platoons despite serious wounds.
Prather, of Company B, and the Marines of Company
G, 2d Battalion, 3rd Marines, now started
their sweep to link up with Company C. Their two companies were receiving enemy small arms fire.
The combination of individual heroism by Brennan's
men in their heroic stand against outrageous
odds, helicopter gunships braving fierce anti-aircraft fire and pin-point accuracy of Air Force jets,
finally turned the tide for Company A. Sporadic fire from enemy weapons continued to hit the
company for another hour, but by then 152 NVA and VC lay dead on the battlefield. Enough
enemy weapons were left strewn about the rice paddy to outfit a company.
Mortar rounds continued to hit Company C and
Bradley moved his men to a safer position as
an Air Force air strike and helicopter gunships came in to knock out the enemy weapons.
At 3:30 p.m. Company B came into range of enemy
mortars and were hit by small arms fire.
Prather's mortarmen soon silenced the enemy crew with continuous counter-fire, but not before
Bradley radioed he had been wounded and no officers were left uninjured in Company C.
The hard fighting "Regulars" were too much
for the now decimated NVA and Viet Cong
battalion. As it attempted to escape encirclement in the late afternoon, Baxley flew Captain John
Hurtado (Sanger, California) his intelligence officer out to take command of Company C and
ordered the evacuation of Captain Bradley.
Now admitting the seriousness of his wound,
but knowing his company was still able to fight,
Brennan turned his company over to 2LT William B. Wendover (Orange, California), a 20 year-
old platoon leader, described as a natural leader, mature far beyond his years.
With most of the "Medevac" helicopters desperately
carrying the battalion's most seriously
wounded from the battlefield within sight of Da Nang, those who could walk, began straggling
into the Marine's base camp. It was not until late in the night an accurate count of those killed,
wounded, or missing could be made.
By morning, for all reasons and purpose, the
battle was over. All that was left was to secure
the area. As the day wore on, mounds of enemy equipment was collected, the enemy dead
counted, and an estimate made of how bad the enemy force had been smashed.
By evening, the count had reached almost 250
enemy dead with most of Baxley's "Regulars"
firmly convinced there were still more to be found. Battalion casualties were 22 killed and 62
[Far to the south], at the 198th's base camp,
word of the ferocious battle reached several of
the "Regulars" about to depart on R&R. Tearing up their orders, they rushed back to catch the
first helicopter going north to where their battalion needed every man it could get. And one
sergeant, supposed to be in Chu Lai shepherding replacements through their processing,
suddenly appeared at the battalion's advanced position near Da Nang. He didn't say how he
got there -- and no one asked him."
"The men of the First Battalion, Sixth United States Infantry proved themselves as 'Brave and Bold' ."
[End of article].
[The following article is from the Americal News Sheet, Sunday Edition, "Volume 1, Number 297
A MIRACLE EVERY MINUTE February 11, 1968" A copy of the article was provided by
Alan Allen (A/1-6 Inf 1967-68) firstname.lastname@example.org]
ELEMENTS OF THE MIRACLE DIVISION KILL 171 ENEMY
CHU LAI (AMERICAL IO) -- Americal Division units operating in the southern
I Corps region
reported killing 171 enemy soldiers in action yesterday. One-hundred and forty-one of these were
from the fierce battle which has been raging in the Operation Wheeler/Wallowa area. Americal
forces suffered three infantrymen killed and 23 soldiers wounded in action yesterday.
In two days of fighting ten miles south of Da Nang two battalions of
the Americal Division tangled
with elements of the 1st Regiment of the 2nd NVA Division resulting in 308 enemy killed and 42
weapons captured. The two battalions are the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry from the 198th Brigade
and the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry of the 196th Brigade. These two battalions were called to stop
an attack on the hugh Da Nang complex.
The 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry commanded by LTC William J. Baxley,
Jr (Dillon, N.J.) was in the
heaviest contact during the operation killing 266 NVA and VC soldiers.
Less than 48 hours after the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry landed by helicopter
on February 2nd, [sic]
the 198th element had killed over 150 NVA and VC soldiers. Adding to the strength of the
battalion was the arrival of a battery of the 1st Battalion, 14th Artillery which started shelling enemy
positions late Thursday afternoon. The battery, commanded by CPT Elvis Farrow (Fhillon, Okla)
had been lifted by CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Chu Lai that same day. Ground action began
for the battalion at 3:45 a.m., on February 8th when the Marine outpost at Lo-Ginag [sic] across
the river from Da Nang received a mortar attack. A company of the battalion was pinned down
in the middle of a hugh rice paddy. The company, commanded by CPT George [sic - Francis]
Brennan (Boston, Mass), was suddenly hit by a VC battalion which charged out of hidden positions
only 10 meters from the company's forward positions. Human waves of both NVA and VC s
oldiers swept through the rice paddy and met in close quarters fighting with the U.S. company.
At 1:30 p.m., the company reported that 78 enemy were killed in the action. The company
moved to a night position only to go out in search of the enemy again the following day. Another
company of the battalion led by CPT Max Bradley (Athens, Ga) came under intense automatic
weapons fire. Their forward position was pinned down. Air support was called for. Gunships
found it difficult to penetrate the enemy's .50 caliber machine gun. After a few futile attempts the
gunships finally were able to fire their rockets on the enemy. Intense fire still continued after the
air strike. Finally, CPT Bradley moved his company to a safer position taking along his dead
and wounded. Ten enemy were killed in this action. CPT Brennan at this time was exchanging
fire with a force of unknown size. The fighting began at 11:20 a.m., near the village of Lo-Ginag
[sic]. As the company started to deploy to a new position south of there, the Marines called to
say that they were surrounded by 200-300 enemy soldiers. The company moved in the direction
of the Marines only to come under severe attack. Automatic weapons and mortar fire were used
on the company. The company then moved back in order to get out of the way of the incoming
mortar rounds, only to be met with a barrage of rocket fire. Gunships arrived just in time to blast
the enemy's ranks with rockets and tactical air strikes. The individual heroism by Brennan's
company and their fantastic stand against overwhelming odds, plus the support of helicopters who
dodged anti-air-craft [sic] fire, and the pinpoint air strikes by the Air Force finally turned the tide
for CPT Brennan's company. After the skirmish was over, [??]  NVA and VC were lying
dead around CPT Brennan's position.
Yesterday the action was quiet. The 1st Battalion 6th Infantry did conduct a search of their area
in which they found fresh graves containing 26 enemy soldiers. No figures were available on
American casualties at this time.
[End of Article]
Select additional history from the index at left, or link to the 1st
Bn 6th Inf Home Page