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Walt Shugart  

The Battle of Soui Tre

Day One

A cliche of army life is 'hurry up and wait.' That's what B Company, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry was doing on Palm Sunday of March, 1967. We had 'hurried up,' to be ready to move into a blocking position north of the area of interest for Operation Junction City II. The 173d Airborne Brigade would drive the VC north into our kill zone while searching for COSVN, the Central Office South Vietnam, the VC's and NVA's Pentagon in South Vietnam

Now, even though battle ready, fully armed and equipped, the mission had been changed for this light infantry company of about 125 men to provide half a perimeter of security for forward an artillery forward fire support base named Task Force 2/77.

The task force was to occupy fire support base Gold at a landing zone east of Tay Ninh City in War Zone C. Its mission was to provide close and continuous artillery support for the maneuvering brigades of the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions as well as 173d Airborne Brigade. On the map, FSB Gold looked like marshland about a thousand meters long and five hundred wide just west of a village, Ap Soui Tre. In the dry season, the dried marsh would be a good LZ. B Company would establish the eastern perimeter while A Company would secure the west.

Now we were waiting on the tarmac in the heat and humidity of Vietnam for the slicks. As we sweltered, I was reminded of Psalm 121 verse 6, "The sun shall not smite you by day...." The psalmist to the contrary, if not smitten, the men were fully abused by the sun with no shade to be found anywhere. The wait extended from thirty minutes to an hour to an hour and a half. Finally, I received word that while we waited, the LZ was being prepped with artillery and gunship fire to neutralize any enemy and make our landing unopposed.

The company plan was simple. We'd land in four lifts with the four platoons going in sequence first through weapons. The company command group of the Artillery FO, LT Pacheco, and his RTO and me and my two RTO's would accompany Lieutenant John Andrew's first platoon which would occupy the southern third of the company sector. 1SGT Jones and the company operations NCO, Richard Linneman would join Lieutenant Hinton Whitehead's second platoon to site the Company Command Post behind it. The platoon would hold the middle sector with Lieutenant Jim Slinkard's third platoon on its left flank tied into A Company. Lieutenant Mike Kaul's 81mm mortar platoon would be in the last lift to occupy a position about 100 meters behind 1st platoon and 50 meters south of the company command post.

Task Force 2/77 was composed of the two rifle companies for perimeter security, three artillery batteries, two sections of air defense artillery quad fifties employed in a ground defense role, and the infantry and artillery battalion headquarters. The strength of the fire base would be about 500 soldiers.The 2/77th artillery battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Vessey would command the fire base. He had just assumed command the day before when his predecessor was called home on emergency leave.

While waiting, platoon sergeants and squad leaders, some no more than Spec 4's who had been draftees a little more than a year before, reviewed the plan with their men and checked and rechecked their equipment and gear. All were fully trained professional soldiers, and there was little else to do except wait.

The brigade chaplain, Major Gene Alder, a Baptist, who in close company referred to himself as Rabbi Adler, announced a non-sectarian church call to mark the beginning of Holy Week for Christians at a point midway alongside the tarmac. The service would also serve to settle the nerves of those anticipating action with the combat assault. There were no palm fronds either to wave with shouts of Hosannah, provide shade for the bearers, or settle the dust on the tarmac. I attended the service to set an example and pray for personal strength, wisdom, courage, the accomplishment of the mission, and the welfare of the troops. I don't recall whether Palm Sunday was even included in the liturgy. The half hour service provided relief from the monotony of waiting as well as the anticipated action.

Around 10 AM, word finally came that the choppers were ten minutes out. The wait was over. The pick-up would go as planned with B company leading the way. The platoon sticks assembled on both sides of the runway since the Hueys landed in a column of twos. As the choppers flared for landing, the dust kicked up obscured the entire lift. In the resulting confusion, I ran head down toward what I thought was my assigned ship only to be jerked from behind by the Company RTO, SP4 Patrick Toyama, who yelled that the chopper I was about to board was for second platoon. Ours was the one just ahead to its left the trail helicopter of 1st platoon.

Once on board, we lifted off for the fifteen minute flight at 1,500 feet to LZ Gold. The helicopter doors were open to provide free fire for the door gunners. but also brought a breeze to cool us from the sweltering heat endured on the tarmac just moments before. About two minutes out before landing, I found the LZ on my map and observed a pair of gun ships making a final strafing run. The LZ was shrouded by smoke from the artillery and aerial bombardment. Nonetheless, 1st Platoon landed without incident, assembled and headed in skirmishes toward the tree line to the east which was a hundred meters short of its planned defensive position.

Toyama and I jumped from a following chopper as it hovered a few feet above the ground, landed on our feet, struggled to maintain our balance, and headed toward the tree line. After moving about 50 meters, a massive explosion to our rear blew us face down to the ground. Turning around on my knees, I saw the lead helicopter in the 2d Platoon lift disintegrate in a fireball. It was the helicopter Toyama had stopped me from boarding. All ten members from the platoon's second squad as well as the four air crewmen were killed instantly.

The following chopper, too was damaged by the blast. The troops on board abandoned the aircraft from about twenty feet above the ground. The pilots attempted to fly the plane out of the kill zone, and, as it passed over head, I could see the warning lights on the control panel flashing red before it crashed bursting into flames after about a 100 meters of flight killing the crew on board. Simultaneously with the explosion, 1st platoon began receiving small arms fire from the wood line ahead. Return fire by 1st Platoon suppressed the enemy fire and allowed 3rd and weapons platoons to land with no further loss of men or equipment.

The air assault continued bringing A Company then both battalion command elements into the landing zone. These were followed by heavy lift helicopters moving the artillery pieces, ammunition, the quad 50 dusters, and communications equipment into place while the infantrymen provided security and policed the battlefield. Four additional five hundred pound bombs rigged for detonation placed strategically around the LZ were found.

Had they been blown, the carnage could have been much worse. Within four hours of the initial landing, the LZ was secured and FSB Gold was fully operational providing direct 105mm howitzer support to the maneuvering elements as the mission required.

A Graves Registration team from II Field Force Vietnam removed the remains of the KIA from the LZ. Those who died in the helicopter crashes were scraped off the ground or what remained of the shell of the helicopters, scooped into metal canisters, and returned to parents, spouses, or next of kin[1]. I had no time to mourn. That time would come with my personal letters of condolence to next of kin written as soon as time permitted.

The decimation of 2d platoon during the assault disrupted the establishment of the B Company sector of the perimeter. Both 1SG Jones and Lieutenant Whitehead, who had jumped from the second damaged helicopter, were wounded. While wounded, they continued to provide leadership to establish the company CP and patch together with the 20 remaining second platoon soldiers to man its sector of the perimeter. After the chaos of the initial landing subsided, both were ordered from the fire base. They were evacuated along with 15 other wounded by Dust Off. B Company had sustained approximately 30% casualties during the assault.

It was now about 1800 hours. The battalion headquarters was up and operational. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Bender, summoned his commanders to the battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC) for a staff briefing. Before departing for the TOC, I instructed the platoon leaders to dig in, coordinate fire plans, and allow the soldiers to eat a third at a time to maintain basic security. I also ordered 1st and 3d platoons to begin security patrols two hundred meters into the woods to their front. The second platoon sergeant expressed concern that with his fifteen available troops he had little confidence in holding his portion of the perimeter in the event of an attack or even detecting infiltration by the enemy. The artillery forward observer had already begun to plan defensive concentrations of fire for the company sector before I left for battalion.

The battalion S2 Intelligence Officer began the staff briefing with the weather report which every soldier in the brigade could have given based on his personal experience of Vietnam weather during the dry season. He followed with the intelligence briefing which included that security elements of the 272 VC regiment of the 9th VC division had mined the LZ and inflicted the casualties with no more than a platoon sized element. The enemy regimental headquarters and attached battalions had withdrawn to avoid contact. Whether the enemy had suffered any casualties was unknown.

The S2 was followed by the battalion S3 Operations Officer who recounted the battalion losses suffered noting that B Company had been the hardest hit. He went on to say that the battalion Scout Platoon would be attached to the company, absorb the remains of 2d platoon and in effect become B Company's second platoon. Further, the battalion operations NCO, MSG Williams, would be assigned to B Company to replace 1SGT Jones. With those two actions, B Company was brought close to the strength it had at lift off from the tarmac seven hours before. The S3 continued saying that the 2/77 Artillery would provide a rifle platoon size reserve force for the fire base. A rehearsal of its commitment would be conducted prior to EENT that evening reinforcing the B Company perimeter in the 1st Platoon sector.

The S4 Supply officer continued the briefing by review of the status of supplies and summarizing expected resupply throughout the expected two week duration of Operation Junction City II. The troops could expect at least one hot meal a day plus a daily supply of sundry pacts which included candy, cigarettes, magazines, newspapers, cold beer and soda.

The staff briefing was concluded by the S1 Personnel Officer who began his portion on the prospects for replacements followed by his standard spiel regarding commanders' responsibilities for their troops' welfare. He could have read that portion verbatim from FM 101-5, Staff Organization and Procedures. Following the S1, LTC Bender concluded the meeting emphasizing the need to stay on the alert, that the enemy was obviously operating in the area in unknown strength, and that stand-to would be conducted 20 minutes prior to BMNT with all soldiers awake and alert, weapons loaded and pointed down range. Stand-to would conclude ten minutes past sunrise. The meeting was over and I returned to the company command post with MSG Williams in tow. The Scout Platoon with Lieutenant Kaminsky its leader followed us. He quickly realigned the squad sized remains of 2d platoon and filled the gaps in his sector. While I was absent, land line had been laid between the platoons, to the company CP, and to the battalion TOC providing a secure line of communication to every unit within the fire support base. Radio silence would be observed within the perimeter. Only hourly radio communications checks with the ambush patrols and listening posts would breaking the silence.

There was scarcely time to brief the company chain of command before the rehearsal of the reaction force. From alert to deployment to withdrawal to its several gun positions, the rehearsal lasted about an hour. All the while, the platoons were digging in, reinforcing positions, and attempting to resolve the personal issues which had emerged following the contested combat assault.

At about 2100 hrs, I foraged a C ration meal from my pack. It was the first food I had consumed since breakfast that morning. I would have loved to heat it quickly with C4 adding a cup of hot coffee, but there was neither time nor space for that. LT Pacheco and I huddled under a poncho, used red lensed flashlights to preserve our night vision, and reviewed his fire plan for my approval. With the company radio watch being shared by the company and battalion RTO's, 1SGT Williams and I made a visit to each platoon to introduce him as first sergeant, check progress being made toward improving the platoon positions, assure their understanding and compliance with the mission, and exhibit a presence on the battlefield.

We were pleased to find both the readiness of the platoons and the state of morale at a satisfactory level. We did not disturb the rest of those who had already turned-in anticipating their turn in two hours to be awake and alert. Returning to the CP, we exchanged thoughts about the mission and the status of the company. During that short time together, we forged a bond of mutual confidence, respect, and friendship which I had never achieved with 1SGT Jones.[2]

After saying goodnight, I went to sleep around 2230 hrs. It had been a long day to say the least. My sleep was interrupted by the hourly communications checks and outgoing H & I fires of the 2/77 Arty. But for me, day one at Soui Tre was over.

[1] One of those killed was Sp4 Fred Patterson of Appomattox, VA whose name is recorded on the wall at the Virginia War Memorial.
[2] 1SGT Williams was an infantry combat veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He passed away on 11 March of this year and is interred at the military cemetery at Ft. Benning, GA.


Day 2

The land line from battalion woke me from sleep at 0455 on Monday morning. It was 20 minutes prior to BMNT (Begin Morning Nautical Twilight).

Toyama, who was on radio watch, answered it and passed the message for stand-to on to the platoons. He also reminded them that the ambush patrols and listening posts established as forward security would be returning to friendly lines. There had been no contact with the enemy over night. None had been expected. Our experience with the enemy was hit and run. The VC recognized that attempting to stand and fight against the overwhelming fire power on call from direct support artillery and close air support was fruitless if not suicidal. Mining an LZ to inflict maximum casualties by surprise was his best chance to stall our thrust into his area of operations.

Once the patrols were secure behind friendly lines, the rifle platoons would, one at at time, conduct a squad sized security sweeps forward of the company front. The company remainder were to improve the positions initially occupied and prepare supplementary positions to their immediate rear for additional security. Even though an attack was considered unlikely, t the hot LZ on Sunday provided motivation for the troops to insure those positions were as well prepared as were the primary ones. As time permitted, connecting trenches were dug between positions and adjoining platoons. Of course, two soldiers dug while one provided security.

Following stand-to, I shaved, had breakfast, and visited the platoons to insure all understood and were following the stated priorities of work.

I spent more time with the Scout Platoon since they had just been integrated into the company. Lieutenant Kaminsky proved to be a quick study. By the time of my visit, he had completed coordination with the adjacent platoons, established a forward listening post, and submitted to the first sergeant his supply needs. The scout platoon had become a fully integrated team member within Bravo company in less than 12 hours.

At 1100 hours, I was advised that the 3d Brigade Commander, COL Marshall Garth, would visit FSB Gold at 1400 hrs to receive a staff briefing on the firebase operation. All commanders were required to attend.

He and his accompanying staff would in turn brief us on the brigade operation as part of Junction City II. In the mean time, improvement of our defensive positions continued as we lunched on C Rations swapping 'ham & lima beans' for 'beans & franks' or 'spaghetti with meat sauce.' Preference for the meat choices differed among soldiers. One could always find someone with whom to trade for his favorite.

After eating, I began writing the next of kin the ten letters of condolence for those 2d platoon members who had been blown to bits when their chopper tried to land on the hot LZ. What words of comfort and compassion can a twenty-six year old captain offer to console the loss of a son or husband? Truly, I had no idea, but tried to craft a response touching on the bravery, professionalism, and faithfulness of the one lost.

One of those killed had joined the company two days before from the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. He was part of an infusion program. An attempt by the Army to reduce the effect of those who deployed together rotating back to the states on the same day leaving the unit empty. It was another good idea in theory which in practice destroyed unit cohesion, esprit de corps, and its chain of command. All replacements were FNG's. In polite society, funny new guys. B Company did its best to integrate FNG's as well and as quickly as possible not only for their good but also as a matter of self-preservation.

When I finished those letters, I had no time for a note to my wife, Shirley. Command responsibility took priority over personal preferences.

Although she wrote me daily, I didn't hear from her on a regular basis. I had no idea what she was doing or the trials she faced on a daily basis thousands of miles away. My letters were repetitive words of endearment with little substance. Hers to me amounted to about the same.

It was 1400 hrs. I sealed and bundled the letters and dropped them off to the battalion S1 for posting on my way to the brigade commander's briefing. It was held in a GP Medium[1] tent in the middle of the fire base. With forty of us seated closely together, the atmosphere was stifling even with the tent sides rolled up and electric fans blowing. The starched jungle fatigues and spit shined boots of the brigade staff were in sharp contrast to our dirty boots and jungle fatigues soaked with sweat inside and out.

Colonel Garth began by saying that the Brigade Task Force was moving to link up with Fire Support Base Gold from about ten kilometers to our west. It was using search and destroy tactics. While encountering only light contact with the enemy, the Task Force was stalled about eight kilometers away by a nearly dry but still impassible stream called Suoi Dong Ken. The task force was composed of the 2/12th Infantry, the 2/22d Mechanized Infantry, and the 2/34th Armor battalions. Although parties had been sent in both up and down stream in search of a suitable fording site, none had been found. He concluded by saying that at the current rate, the Task Force would close on FSB Gold some time the following afternoon.

The resident artillery and infantry battalion staffs then briefed the brigade commander on their current estimates of the situation. My attention was brought to full focus when the artillery battalion S3 said that its batteries were equipped with 300 experimental Bee Hive rounds. He explained that they were 105 mm howitzer rounds filled with 6000 anti-personnel steel flechettes. In effect, a 105 mm howitzer artillery piece was being used as a shotgun. Since they were experimental rounds, he was vague as to their range or effectiveness. Since B Company was deployed in front of the artillery, I took a note to have our foxholes dug as deeply as possible for maximum personal protection.

After about an hour, the briefing concluded as Colonel Garth took leave of the battalion commanders while we strap hangers stood at attention waiting for him to depart. As he left the tent, he called to me, his former headquarters commandant, "Walter, please escort me to my helicopter." I moved through the cluster of superior officers who surrounded him and escorted him to the waiting chopper. His concern for me amounted to a health and welfare check. Whatever else he had to say was lost in the whirling blades as the chopper which was revved for take off. We exchanged salutes as he climbed on board following the still spic and span members of his staff. Soon after he was airborne and headed in a south easterly direction, he spotted a company sized VC element headed on foot further to the south east no more than three kilometers from 1st platoon's sector of the firebase perimeter. The 2/77 artillery responded to his call for fire, but with unknown results.

At 1600 hours, company resupply from the rear arrived with mail, ammunition, and a hot meal. 1SGT Williams supervised both the distribution of mail, supplies, and the meal while the platoon leaders gathered with me for the latest from battalion and orders for the night. Since COL Garth had sighted an enemy force, I stressed the importance of maintaining security.

Stand-to would be 20 minutes prior to BMNT at 0450 hours..1st and 3d Platoons were ordered to establish squad sized ambush patrols 1,500 meters to their fronts while Recon/2d Platoon would man a listening post 1,000 meters to its front. All would be in position after EENT (End Evening Nautical Twilight) at 1850 hours. My briefing concluded with a description and effectiveness of the bee hive round as I understood it. The platoon leaders seemed as baffled by the use of a 105 mm howitzer in the direct fire, anti-personnel role as I was.

Even though EENT was at 1850 hours, a half moon provided sufficient light to navigate the firebase without stumbling but also hindered concealment. I pondered again the psalmist's conviction regarding the beneficence of the sun and moon in Psalm 121, v6, "The sun shall not smite you by day nor the moon by night." Perhaps not, but neither did I consider them as helpers. As radio watch was set and I turned in for the night at 2200 hours concluding day two. We had experienced neither contact nor combat loss.

[1] GP Medium in Army parlance is a tent, General Purpose, medium in size. .


The Day of the Battle

The land line buzzed at 0300 hrs. It was 1st platoon saying its ambush patrol was hearing a lot of movement. If it continued, they would blow their claymores and withdraw to the perimeter. Terry Smith, on radio watch, woke me, gave me the information which I acknowledged. Then I went back to sleep.

Stand-to was announced an hour and a half later. I got up, put my boots on, filled my helmet with water to shave when all hell broke loose.

First, the ambush patrol blew its claymores, then 60mm and 82mm mortar shells began raining down across the fire base. The barrage was followed by a large scale ground assault. The point of attack was 1st platoon at the southeast corner of the perimeter.

The din of battle and ferocity of the enemy assault made communication with either platoons or battalion nearly impossible. While Lt. Pacheco made calls for fire and close air support, I directed the battle solely from gut reaction. FM radio communications among the troops on the ground were mute. All press to talk buttons were depressed by those seeking support, guidance, assistance, ammunition resupply, medical support, and a myriad of other calls relating combat completely blocked radio communication.

My first inclination was to dive into the foxhole prepared and improved upon the last two days. Finding no way to direct the battle from the bottom of the hole and assisted by 1SGT Williams, I attempted to conduct the defense above ground where I could perceive how well the company defense was being conducted. Above ground I could see enemy hoards advancing through 1st Platoon also over running the quad 50 at the south end of the company perimeter. The attempt by the enemy to turn the weapon on us occupying the interior was stopped by its crew and supporting fire from weapons platoon. The enemy climbing on the piece were killed and the weapon was rendered inoperable.

Still, nothing stopped the continuing human wave assault across the company front. Fearing that the penetration of 1st platoon would cause the defense to collapse, I called for the reserve from the 2/77 Artillery to reinforce 1st platoon. Providentially, the action took place exactly where it had been rehearsed on Sunday evening.

Even though the platoon position was reinforced, it was not stabilized. I ordered all platoons to withdraw to the supplementary positions. The weapons platoon provided covering fire for 1st Platoon which was most heavily engaged. LT Kaul coordinated the withdrawal of the remnants of LT Andrew's platoon. About that time, I shouted into the din, "Fix bayonets!" I have no idea whether anyone either heard me, obeyed the command, or took the time to disengage from hand to hand combat, draw bayonets, and attach them to their M16's. Quite frankly, it didn't matter.

All of B Company was engaged in a life or death struggle.

I was angry. No, I was damned mad! Those guys were killing my troops, my guys, my soldiers. I was determined to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible to preserve as many of my soldiers as possible with all means available. But those means, especially small arms ammunition and grenades, were being quickly depleted. 1SGT Williams and I moved together to redistribute what ammunition we had to 2d & 3d platoons. While low crawling out of the CP with enemy bullets snapping over our heads, a chicom grenade fell about five feet in front of us. We both ducked with our faces in the dirt and the grenade exploded harmlessly.

Sergeant Williams looked up at me, smiled, and said, "You know, Captain, a person could get killed out here." "No shit, First Sergeant!" In the midst of battle, close air support coordinated by two Forward Air Controllers flying in an L19 Birddog[1], was being directed by Lieutenant Pacheco. Succeeding strikes were walked ever closer to the first platoon lines. The sorties followed one another with near pin point accuracy. After four sorties, the FAC was hit by enemy fire. As it spiraled to earth the pilot calmly told LT Pacheco, "Well, I guess you'll have to get a new FAC." Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the crash. A new FAC was on station almost immediately. The sorties continued with strikes progressing ever closer to the 1st platoon. In desperation, I called for the next strike to be on top of the platoon position. I was writing them off as an unavoidable combat loss.

Recon platoon and third platoon were being pressured even though they had withdrawn to their supplementary positions. The battalion CP, positioned behind 3d platoon, saw its line faltering and called A Company for reinforcement. A platoon sized element from A company joined the fight linking Recon and 3d platoons. Although aware of its arrival, I relied on their soldier skills to conduct that portion of the battle with whatever was available.

With the battle raging at its peak, I saw Sp4 Linnemann, the company operations NCO, walking around in front of the company CP firing well aimed shoulder shots at the enemy. I was astounded, but Linnemann was unscathed despite wave after wave of attacking enemy advancing without letup.

At some point, I was visited by LTC Vessey and his sergeant major.

They crawled to the CP bringing small arms ammunition with them. They were the only friendly visitors we had during the battle. I neither saw nor heard from my battalion commander, LTC Bender, at any time.

The sustained attack found the enemy throughout the company. The fight was desperate. We were down to our last bullets with nothing left but our bare hands to continue the fight. With rank upon rank of enemy infantry still advancing, the 2/77th lowered its tubes for direct fire and unleashed successive volleys of beehive rounds. Each shot sounded like a massive swarm of bees had been unleashed. The advancing troops were mowed down like a reaper harvesting wheat. None the less, succeeding enemy files continued to advance disregarding the fate of their predecessors.

Just as all seemed lost, a stream of 3rd Brigade tanks, APC's, and infantry troops swept through the firebase from the southeast to the northwest driving the enemy out of the firebase. Like the cavalry in a western movie, the friendly forces arrived just in time to save our beleaguered force. Using shouted commands as well as hand and arm signals, I directed B Company to follow the counter attack to occupy its original positions. The battle was over. It had been four and a half hours of close continuous combat.

Now began accounting for losses. To my surprise and gratitude, the air strike called on 1st Platoon fell short not killing any of our troops.

Surviving 1st Platoon soldiers told me that they wanted the strike to land closer than it did. Four of the eight man 1st Platoon ambush patrol were killed as they attempted to withdraw to the perimeter. The remaining though wounded, played dead as the enemy advanced through their position. Of the thirty-three friendlies killed, ten were B Company's. An additional number from the Scout Platoon were also killed; however, Lt Kaminsky, reported these losses directly to HHC, so I never knew how many were his.

At the evening briefing, I learned that enemy losses were far greater - 647 by body count with an additional 200 estimated killed drawn from battlefield evidence. From the enemy dead, wounded, and captured, we learned that we had been attacked by the 271st and 272d Brigades of the 9th VC Division with a combined strength of 4,500 men. We had been outnumbered ten to one. The enemy mission was to annihilate the firebase as it had done to the 7th ARVN Regiment in the Michelin Plantation in November of 1965 - taking no captives and leaving no survivors. Although the enemy killed by conventional artillery and air strikes will never be known, the 40 beehive rounds proved the great equalizer. Enemy dead were found arms pinned to their chests by a multitude of flechettes. VTR's [2] with bulldozer blades dug trenches which served as mass graves for the vanquished.

COL Garth, who during the battle was overhead in an OV1[3] helicopter, landed as the tanks and mech infantry were clearing the battlefield. He waited on the ground until General Westmoreland and TV reporters from the three networks arrived three hours later. As Westmoreland and his party were landing, Colonel Garth sought me out to greet the general. I hesitated saying that I hadn't shaved. Colonel Garth assured me that given the situation being unshaven did not matter.

General Westmoreland landed wearing starched fatigues and soft cap.

He stood on the hood of a jeep to address the troops who were still in battle dress. He then pinned impact award Silver Stars on Mike, John, Sp4 David Hodges of weapons platoon, and three members of the 2/77th Arty. John Andrews, Mike Kaul, and I were interviewed by CBS. Knowing that Shirley watched the news each night, I was confident she would know within a day or two that I had survived the battle unharmed. My confidence was misplaced since my interview wound up on the cutting room floor. Shirley knowing that it was B Company that fought the battle could only wonder about the fate of its commander.

After General Westmoreland, his entourage, and the TV crews left around 1700 hours, I asked Chaplain Alder to conduct a service of thanksgiving for the victory for B Company. I was unaware that a reporter and photographer from the /New York Times/ attended. The lead story on the front page of newspaper the next day was about the battle. It was accompanied by a picture of the company gathered for worship. Proving the adage, "That there are no atheists in foxholes." Once the service was completed, the cycle of field operations resumed. A hot meal for the troops and a command meeting for me with the battalion staff. We would depart the firebase four days later. Our losses would be replaced and our supplies replenished before conducting search and destroy operations back to base camp. It was a 24 kilometers trek through triple canopy jungle to Dau Tieng, the site of the Michelin Rubber plantation. I passed the orders on to the platoon leaders. Forward listening posts and ambush patrols were established, and the first sergeant and I conducted rounds to each platoon CP. Showing our presence on the battlefield.

As LT Pacheco and I met to coordinate the company fire plan the rumble of an Arc Light[4] strike on the presumed enemy withdrawal route shook the ground. We remarked to each other that it was at least one day late. We then found ourselves grasping each other at what seemed to be ten feet in the air when the first H&I rounds of the evening left the firebase.

The rush of adrenaline begun early that morning had yet to subside.

Although B Company had suffered 50% casualties both killed and wounded, the victory brought the Psalmist to mind again, "A thousand shall fall at thy side...; but it shall not come nigh thee."[5] None the less, the day of the battle was over.

[1] L19 Birddog is a single engine,two seater, Cessna 150 extremely vulnerable to small arms fire.
[2] Vehicle Tank Retriever are tracked vehicles assigned to company and battalion maintenance sections of mechanized infantry and tank battalions.
[3] OV1, A two seat, Light observation Bell helicopter
[4] An Arc Light was a high altitude bombing run staged by B52's from Okinawa
[5] Psalm 91 vs 7.


Aftermath

It took the four days at Fire Base Gold to reconstitute the company and reshape it for battle. My time was spent writing letters of condolence to grieving loved ones and citations for awards to each soldier in the company. I submitted an upgrade to Distinguished Service Cross for the impact Silver Star General Westmoreland had pinned on Mike Kaul. Mike had coordinated support for the successful withdrawal of 1st Platoon and its survival.[1]

The search and destroy operation through the jungle to base camp took a week. In the interim, 2d platoon was reconstituted with new men and a new platoon leader fresh from the states. For a change, the battalion commander and staff followed the two companies moving abreast which made halts more frequent and security more stringent. Although probably tracked very closely by the enemy, we experienced no contact. Caches of rice, other food stuffs, some arms, ammunition, and equipment were discovered and either destroyed in place or evacuated to the rear.

As each day past, the filth remaining from the battle was augmented by the dirt of the jungle and the accumulation of sweat from the grind of the operation. The body stench became intense. Mike Kaul remarked one morning that during the night his nose had wound up under his arm pit. The odor woke him and made him think he had died. Knowing that a shower, clean clothes, cold beer, and a swim in the plantation swimming pool were waiting for them kept the troops motivated and moving toward base camp without disregarding security.

While the troops anticipated stand down, I planned to call on Colonel Garth at his office. On the way, I'd stop by to visit with 1SGT Elbert H.

Moore who served as my right arm as we deployed HHC 3d Brigade from Ft.

Lewis, Washington seven months before. An infantry combat veteran of Korea, he warned me as I took command of B Company, "Watch out for those human wave attacks, Captain. They're some bad shit." At the time it seemed implausible to me that the VC had the strength to mount a human wave. But, 1SGT Moore knew his stuff. A human wave attack was some bad shit.

B Company was in the van of the battalion as we reached the west bank of the Saigon River north of Dau Tieng. There being no ford, we turned south paralleling its west bank until reaching the bridge crossing that served the plantation. The company passed through the ARVN guarding the bridge and entered the base camp.

The French had constructed a luxury European style headquarters to manage the plantation in the early 1920's. There were offices, management residences, dining facilities all with running water and flush toilets, and a swimming pool. Ironically, the Michelin Company never used the infrastructure. The buildings always served as a military headquarters.

First, the Japanese during World War II. Then the French during the first IndoChina War were followed by the ARVN, displaced in turn by the 3d Brigade Headquarters of the 4th Division of the US Army.

While the swimming pool and Brigade PX were open to the troops, the battalions lived in tents and South East Asia huts constructed around the camp periphery as security for the camp and the air strip constructed to support resupply and combat operations. The atmosphere inside the wire was one of peace and tranquility while mortal combat defined the environment beyond. The ARVN district chief controlled and drew taxes from the plantation during the day and was replaced by the VC district chief who performed the same functions under the cover of darkness. More than likely, they were cousins. Sadly, the plantation workers just wanted to be left alone which is true of most populations in a war zone.

Once we closed the company area, I turned company administration over to the first sergeant while I showered, put on clean, starched jungle fatigues and spit shined boots to call on Colonel Garth in his air conditioned office. Three months before he had called me to his office and asked, "Walter, what do you want to do now?"

"I'd like to either be an infantry battalion S3 or XO."

"No, Walter, as an infantry captain, I want you to command a rifle company in combat. I'm sending you down to Jack Bender's battalion to command his B Company. You'll assume command tomorrow."

That settled, I returned to my quarters in one of the old office buildings, gathered my gear, and prepared to be B company's second commander.

Now, just three months later I was greeted as a battle hardened veteran. One of the brigade headquarters own had been part of the victory.

The brigade staff was assembling data to nominate TF 2/77 to receive a Presidential Unit Citation. If awarded, the citation was the equivalent of each task force soldier receiving the DSC.[2]

After chatting with several of the brigade officers and NCO's, the adjutant said COL Garth was ready to see me. Making sure my appearance was as straight as possible, I strode into his office, stopped three paces before his desk, stood at attention, saluted, and said, "Sir, Captain Shugart reporting as requested."

"Have a seat, Walter."

"No, sir. I'll remain standing to say what I want say."

"What on earth?"

"Sir, you set us up!"

"Oh, no, Walter. I'd never do anything like that. How can you say such a thing? Please sit down and let's talk about it."

"No, thank you. I'll remain standing. Sir, Although I didn't monitor it closely, all day Monday I was aware of the chatter among the brigade units to the west of us trying to cross a river to close with us. The word was that there was no crossing point even though it was a dry bed. Then on Tuesday morning when we at Gold were having our asses handed to us by an overwhelming force, suddenly the 2/12th Infantry, the 2/22d Mech Infantry, and the 2/34th Armor came streaming into the battle to rescue us, and thank God they did."

"Walter, the 2/22d sank a track in that river, and all the units crossed on top of that track."

"Sir, I served three years in Germany in an Armor and Mechanized Infantry task force at platoon, company, and battalion level. There's no way your task force could have crossed that dry bed across a single sunken track to reach us in time. And, why was the 2/77th supplied with beehive rounds if not to repel a human wave attack? Sir, I repeat, you set us up."

"Well, Walter, you're bordering on being insubordinate, but let me assure you, I didn't set you up. You must know how proud you and B Company made me and the brigade at Soui Tre."

With that, the interview was over. I thanked him for his commendation, said that I was equally proud of B Company and to have served with him and the brigade. I saluted and departed through a cluster of officers and NCO's gathered just outside his door. I wondered just how much of our conversation had been overheard.

On the way back to the company, I ran into 1SGT Moore who reminded me of his advice about human wave attacks. I assured him that in the middle of the advance of the third wave against us, I tried as best as I knew how to practice all the techniques of countering a human wave he'd shared with me.

We laughed together and I returned to the company area to finish writing letters of condolence and award citations.

[1] Mike was 6'4" and had played basketball at the University of Wyoming. The citation read, "...exposing himself to hostile fire...." When the company XO who was 5'10" reviewed the citation he remarked, "He could have stayed on his knees and been exposed to hostile fire."
[2] The PUC was approved and awarded in July 1968.


Epilogue

Those involved in close combat form a brotherhood. B Company holds a reunion every two years including all who served in the company from its activation at Ft. Lewis in the fall of 1965 to its deactivation in Vietnam in November 1970. 100 Bravo Regulars were killed in action during those five years. 20% of the KIA's occurred during my command tenure. Most of those were killed at Soui Tre. In alphabetical order here's what happened to some of those mentioned in the Soui Tre pieces.

LT John Andrews resigned his commission upon return from Vietnam, suffered severe symptoms of PTSD and eventually withdrew from society as a near recluse on a ranch in the California desert.

Major Gene Alder retired from the Army as Colonel and continued his Baptist ministry in Oklahoma City.

LTC Jack Bender retired from the Army as a Colonel following a thirty year career. His obituary in the USMA alumni magazine stated that he was part of "tethered goat" plan which led to the defeat of a large enemy force at the battle of Soui Tre during the the Vietnam War.

COL Marshall Garth retired as a Major General and Commander, 1st Infantry Division. When asked at press conference some days after the battle if FSB Gold was bait to draw an attack. He responded cryptically, "No, but it sure worked as one, didn't it?" Personally, you'll find my opinion in the Soui Tre - Aftermath piece. That said, he was both loyal and protective of his subordinates.

1SGT James Jones retired form the Army in the Ft. Lewis, Washington area as a Master Sergeant following a thirty year career.

Mike Kaul resigned his commission after completing an obligatory tour as an Ordnance officer to return to operate his ranch in Wyoming.

Richard Linnemann lives in the DC area but has no association with B Company.

Shirley Shugart remains my devoted wife. She had our daughter, Julia, during my second tour in Vietnam. As my wife, she established and expertly managed 14 separate households while assuring that our three children were nurtured, educated, and loved.

Walt Shugart retired as a Colonel at the conclusion of a 26 year career during which he was honored to command two companies and two battalions.

COL Garth was right. There's no greater service than commanding US troops in combat. Being responsible for the losses as noted above, he avoided attending reunions until urged to do so by Shirley. At that mini-reunion in DC, some 10 veterans with their spouses or significant others spent four hours around a breakfast table swapping lies. As breakfast concluded, he was struck that the only thing that exceeded the veterans' love for him was his for them. He and Shirley have attended every reunion since. Walt hosted the 2004 Bravo Regular reunion at Ft. Lee where General Vessey was the featured guest.

Jim Slinkard left the army and enjoyed a successful banking career in the Denver area.

Patrick Toyama was discharged in his native Honolulu. Retired from the Post Office Department and, as a fisherman, provides provides fresh fish to restaurants on the island of Oahu.

LTC Jack Vessey joined the Wisconsin National Guard as a private soldier in 1939 at age 16. During his 46 years of active duty, he held every pay with the exception of E8 & E9 and the warrant officer grades.[1] As a Colonel at age 48, he became qualified as a helicopter pilot prior to returning to Vietnam for his second tour. He was old enough to be the father of most and grandfather of some of his classmates.

He was appointed as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army during the Carter administration. During that tenure, I wrote him a note saying that I thought it was my prayers that brought off the victory at Soui Tre, but had found out was his. In a personal note in his own hand to me he said, "There were a whole lot of us praying that day. I shared your note with the General Officer Prayer Group here in the Pentagon. Anyone can join the group, but it's called the General Officer's prayer group because we're the worst sinners."

General Vessey retired[2] at the conclusion of the Carter presidency, but he was recalled to active duty to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by Ronald Reagan. Before completing his second term as Chairman, General Vessey retired once again on September 30, 1985 approaching the age of 64. Shortly after that retirement, President Reagan appointed him as a special envoy to Vietnam with a sevenfold task to assure there were no remaining POW's, account for all MIA's, seek the release of some 8,000 of our Vietnamese allies, establish a system to unite Vietnamese families with those residing in the states, evacuate Amerasian children, negotiate the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia, and to bring some sort of humanitarian aid directly to the Vietnamese people. President Reagan said he thought these tasks could be accomplished in about six months. General Vessey continued as the President's special emissary to Vietnam under the Bush and Clinton administrations.

General Vessey chose Operation Smile as the charity to provide surgery for cleft lips and palates which are endemic among children in the Vietnamese population.

During one of his many visits to Hanoi a new Deputy Minister of Defense[3] joined the discussion and sat next to General Vessey. At a break in the discussion, he leaned across the table and said to General Vessey, "I know you." General Vessey replied, "Of course you do. I've been in and out of your capital on numerous occasions, have been seen on your television, and pictured in your newspapers. Of course you know me."

The Vietnamese General responded, "No, I know you because I was the opposing commander at Soui Tre. You soundly defeated us. But, I know you for another reason. You brought Operation Smile to Vietnam and made my niece a whole person." With that, the Vietnamese General broke into tears and embraced General Vessey.

Now 94 years old, General Vessey lives near Garrison, Minnesota. A video of General Vessey's discussion of Soui Tre can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3UYucwCxkI.

LT Henmar Whitehead completed a twenty-year career in the army retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel to assume a position as a government civilian in logistics at Fort Carson, Colorado.

1SGT Earnest Williams completed a thirty year Army career retiring as a Master Sergeant.

[1] The super enlisted grades of E8 and E9 did not exist until the early 60's, and since he received a battlefield commission prior to the invasion of Anzio, he simply bypassed being a Warrant Officer.
[2] General Officers may leave active duty and receive retired pay; however, they are always subject to be recalled to active duty or assignment at the discretion of the President.
[3] General Vessey has never stated in writing the name of the Vietnamese General; however, my research, though inconclusive, suggests that it might have been General Hoang Minh Thao.


The Real Soldier's Story
by Shirley Shugart

A year alone waiting for your lover and husband to come home can be a long time especially if he's commanding a rifle company in a war which not only divided the country where he was fighting but also the our nation which he was serving.

We were together as a family at Fort Lewis - three of us Walt, our 18 month old toddler son, David, and I. The post was nearly empty when we arrived. The 4th Infantry Division to which Walt was assigned was at 46% strength. The division artillery, at that point, could not muster sufficient soldiers to man a single firing battery. The three infantry battalions assigned to 3d Brigade where Walt was assigned as the Headquarters & Headquarters Company Commander, could scarcely muster a two hundred man company among them. That all changed a month after we arrived.

According to what I was told, the division ballooned to well over a hundred percent strength filled with draftees from all over the nation who would be trained to fill the roles required of soldiers to fight as a combined arms team in Vietnam.

But, that was Walt's business, not mine. Having had a little experience as an army wife in Germany where we met and were married, I joined the brigade officers wives for teas and social activities, but since the men were training for war, the wives for the most part devoted themselves to supporting their husbands and being good mothers. As training for the division intensified, the men were in the field for extended periods of time, so neighbors looked out for neighbors, and the community drew closer together in anxiety and anticipation of the coming deployment.

The Army was as ill prepared for combat as we dependents were for the departure of our loved ones to combat. The soldiers were required to have green tee shirts and shorts as camouflage. None were available at either the clothing sales store or PX, so there was a rush to all retail sales outlets both military and civilian for green dye. I could never imagine that there could be so many different shades of green. Most of them were ghastly, but, fortunately, no uniform standard green color was imposed. A formation of men in their multi-shaded skivvies would have been hilarious.

Just as the pace of training increased, I became pregnant five months before Walt's scheduled date of departure for Vietnam. He seemed to me to be more dedicated to the troops he had trained in headquarters company than he was to David, our unborn, or me. I tried to understand and be empathic.

After all, he was a professional soldier and, at that point, the Army came first. We decided that I'd move back to my home town, Keene, New Hampshire, to be with my parents to have our baby.

As time for the brigade to depart grew closer, Colonel Garth, the Brigade Commander, held several officers' calls to ensure the brigade officers knew each other and would be comfortable operating together as a team. The wives were included, so the women, too, met and came to know those who comprised the leadership from platoon to brigade level. The socials were among the last times those who formed and trained the brigade would enjoy a relaxed fellowship where wives were included.

Moving time in a military family is always hectic. This time was even more so. Supervising packing and shipping of our household goods was usually a shared responsibility between Walt and me, but this time, Walt was packing and shipping headquarters company, so I was left to handle our stuff with only David as my helper. Once it was all packed in the eighteen wheeler moving van, David and I sat down on the curb outside our empty quarters staring at Mount Rainier through tears as the truck drove away holding all our earthly goods. We waited for Walt to come home from work to take us to the transient billets before our flight to New York City the next day.

We flew out of McChord Air Force Base which was next door to Ft. Lewis on a plane chartered by the Army. A nation wide air strike had grounded all other commercial flights. Getting from McChord Air Force Base to New York by air and was no problem; however, getting from New York to Keene with only rail or bus transportation available proved difficult. After spending the night in Manhattan in a seedy hotel, we took the train from Grand Central Station to Brattleboro, Vermont arranging for my Dad to pick us up there. Poor Walt had a pregnant wife, toddler, and four large suitcases to manhandle from the airport to the hotel to the train station as well as to board and disembark the train. I, of course, had David to corral, comfort, and care for. While that might have been frustrating enough, the train had no services other than communal rest rooms which, along with the packed seating compartments, were filthy. After six hours on the train meeting my father in Brattleboro for the half hour ride to Keene was pure pleasure.

My Dad wanted me to move back into my family home with him and Mom, but I refused knowing that it just wouldn't work with a toddler. With my refusal, he leased a two bedroom one bath room apartment in a brand new complex across town for me for $125 a month. David would have his crib in a room of his own while the baby would be in a bassinet by my bedside. The rest of the apartment was a combination kitchen, dining, and living room area. Always a father, my Dad visited me every day Walt was in Vietnam.

When I was growing up, Keene was a New England mill town with a small state college where I earned my degree in teaching. Downtown Keene is marked by Central Square which is actually a roundabout fronted with the Congregational Church and a park in the center with a statue of a union soldier standing watch at a Civil War memorial to New Hampshire's fallen. When I returned, Central Square was unchanged, but the textile mills had closed. The college had grown and expanded, but industry had shrunk to just two major manufacturing centers. One, American Optical, was where my mother worked inspecting sights for M48A2 tanks being used in Vietnam. The other, Miniature Precision Ball Bearing, was engaged also in production supporting the war effort. My neighbors in the apartment complex were a combination of academics, tradesmen, and small business people. My closest high school friend, Jane, lived near-by in Walpole, so we were able to spend time together as young mothers raising children.

I learned rather quickly that the attitude toward the war in Keene reflected the growing division within the nation. While the military community at Fort Lewis seemed completely unified in its support for the war, none such single-mindedness could be found in Keene. Shortly after Walt returned to Ft. Lewis and had deployed to Vietnam, my sister accompanied me to church. Following the gospel, the priest's homily was focused entirely on his opposition to the war and the involvement of our nation in Vietnam to him was a war crime. His argument included that US troops were baby killers and, since they were war criminals, none would come home alive. With that, my sister and I, a full eight months pregnant, stood up and left together. Despite my anger, I was comforted by the presence of my sister and her support. A few days later, one of my neighbors in the apartment complex, a professor at the college, invited me to join a protest in opposition to the war by students and faculty. Even though once again angered and shaken, I politely declined and tried to hide my frustration and emotions.

It was a beautiful, crisp, fall morning when our second son, Greg, was born. My father drove me to Elliot Community Hospital where the young receptionist thought he was the baby's father. Mrs. Turner, the receiving nurse, a lifetime friend of our family who knew both of us, smiled with amusement and contributed to the deception by saying, "You needn't stay with Shirley, Gerald. We'll be sure to call you in plenty of time for you to be here." That time was short. After arriving around 6:30 AM, Greg was in the hospital nursery by 9:30. Had I not been in labor upon arrival, I might have considered the incident at the admissions desk as humorous as it actually was.

The Red Cross notified Walt within a day of Greg's birth, and Greg received a welcome to the family letter from his father about two weeks later filled with his love for me telling Greg how lucky he was to have me for his mother. By that time, Walt had left Headquarters Company and was working as an assistant operations staff officer in the Brigade S3 shop.

The Brigade Headquarters occupied the offices of the old French Michelin Rubber Plantation. He stayed there in a relatively safe position until Colonel Garth directed his being assigned as the commander of Company B, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, a move from the rear area to the front lines. Walt had written me almost daily while assigned to Brigade headquarters, but as an infantry company commander, the frequent letters stopped. There were no other means of communication than snail mail, and often, because he was in the field on the move, the letters he did send were often out of sequence.

Nonetheless, I cherished each letter even if it had been written prior to the last one I had received and waited with anticipation for each day's mail. I remember that one of my letters to him complained of his absence while I was trying to potty train David to urinate thinking a male example might just do the trick.[1]

Although I did not call it that, like the troops in country, I kept a short timer's calendar counting down each day from the 365 day tour that would bring him home. Those days were spent as a mother, caring for and playing with the boys or visiting with friends and family. Although I had been raised in New Hampshire, the snow and cold of that winter alone seemed more severe than any I remembered from my childhood. Fortunately, because my principle responsibility was motherhood, the weather had little effect on my activities.

I kept track of the war Walt was fighting through newspapers, radio, and watching Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. I was shocked and shattered when Cronkite reported on the evening of March 23d that 3d Brigade had been engaged in combat inflicting extreme losses on with the enemy while suffering losses itself. The extensive report on TV included interviews with the Brigade commander, Colonel Garth, Lieutenant Colonel Bender, Walt's battalion commander, Lieutenant Mike Kaul, his weapons platoon leader, and Lieutenant John Andrews, his first platoon leader. John was almost incoherent in the interview saying that he had been overrun three times while his platoon absorbed the brunt of the main enemy attack.[2] It was obvious that Walt had been in the fight, but I could do nothing other than pray that he had survived.

In a panic, I first called my parents to share the news of the battle with them and then my mother-in-law, Mamie, in Texas who had heard the news, too, but to whom the interviewees and units involved meant nothing.

The next day, my Dad brought me copies of the Boston Globe and New York Times both of which had extensive coverage of the battle. Even the local Keene Evening Sentinel covered the battle, but did not mention any other name than General Westmoreland's. The /New York Times/ article included a picture of B Company gathered in a worship service following the battle, but I could not find Walt in the picture.

Despite the the fact that my family lived close by, the boys and I waited alone to hear of their daddy's fate. Two days after first hearing news of the battle, my heart sank when an Army staff car turned into the apartment complex. Although dreading it, I feared that it was the casualty assistance officer coming to notify me that Walt had been killed in action.

That meant Greg would never know his father, and David would scarcely remember him. I turned quickly from despair to renewed hope when the car passed by and stopped at another apartment. I thanked God that no one in uniform had come to call on me.

Days passed, each without hearing a word. It was a blessing that caring for an infant and toddler left me so exhausted that I had no trouble sleeping. But, each morning began a day without knowing and dragged on when no resolution came with the day's mail. Seven days after the report of the battle, a letter from him did come, but it made no mention of the battle. I was still left without resolution. Finally, the next day, the word I was seeking came in a letter from Walt saying that there had been a fierce fight, that he and the troops had been engaged in close combat, and that the ultimate victory was in doubt for five and a half of the six hour battle. He went on to say that the company had suffered 50% casualties combining both killed and wounded in action. The enemy had outnumbered the 3d Brigade force by more than ten to one. At last, I could breathe more easily knowing that at least, for the moment, I would not have to raise my boys alone. A week later, issues of both Newsweek and Time carried stories quoting Walt citing the valor B Company's soldiers displayed. No doubt they had been sustained by the prayers of their loved ones 8,000 miles away.

Five months later, Walt came home to us. David and I with Greg in my arms stood ready to meet him at the Keene airport when his plane, a puddle jumper from Boston, was due to arrive at midmorning. As we stood there, we heard the plane make two passes over the runway then turn, climb, and head west. I gathered the boys and proceeded to the operations desk to find out what was going on. I was told that low visibility had prohibited the landing, and that the plane had proceeded to Albany where it would pick up passengers for a return flight to Boston making an intervening stop back at Keene. It was scheduled to land at Keene around 1 o'clock that afternoon. Although disappointed, it seemed to fit as an end to a short year filled with very long days.

[1] While I saved all Walt's letters, he, as a matter of security, had to destroy all his by burning.
{2} For their actions, Mike Kaul was awarded the DSC while John Andrews received the Silver Star.

Walt Shugart <swshugart@verizon.net>
USA - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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