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Monumental Moments

The name Monumental Moments is a reflection of my experience with C 4/3 in 1968. One moment everything is fine and the next moment I might need a monument. I present the following Charlie Company moments because they stand out in terms of causalities by volume. These events helped shape Charlie Company's legacy, they need not be forgotten.

January 13, 1968

Charlie Company was in the third day of what would become a 28 day patrol. This would be the first M-16A1 AP mine, 'Bouncing Betty', Co. C, 4/3 would encounter in Vietnam. The first "S" mine was the Schrapnellmine 35 (SMi-35). The SMi 35 was buried with just its ignites protruding above ground or connected to trip wires. When tripped, the SMi 35 ejected a small cylinder that scattered some 350 small steel balls over an area of 164 yards. The Allies dubbed these the "Bouncing Betty." The Stock mine operated on a similar principle to the SMi 35; however, the device was fixed on a wooded stake above ground. These are sometimes referred to as "stake mines". The body of the SMi 35 was comprised of a concrete cylinder that held the charge and the shrapnel. The shrapnel was scattered when the trip wire was moved.

At 1243 PM Co C. have hit mine at coord. 588833; We have 6 casualties, 1 serious, need medivac. At 1300 dustoff over Co. C now. Unable to land. At wounded person's position. Picking LZ at this Time. (Dustoff completed 1315) At 1328, Co. C: spot report. Ref. mines, 2 KHA-Lt. Scully, PFC Hall; 2 serious wounded-SSG Conroy, SGT Montgomery, Not seriously wounded, SGT. Walker., SP4 Thrasher, PFC Garner, SP4 Elston, PFC Henderson and PFC Howes. At 1329, Ref Co C mine report. Plat penetrated old defensive Wire 300 meters. Point man stepped on mine. 2 KHA, 3 WHA serious, 5 WHA not serious.

April 19-25, 1968

The events of this week are noteworthy. They are well documented in a paper titled, Seven Days in April. The mission was to cordon off an area we called, 'Sniper Alley'. The plan said, put a ring around the area, drop CS gas in the middle and shoot whatever runs out of the smoke. It took us three days to move into position, one day to pass gas and 3 days to hump out of the area. We hit 7 mines, suffered 6 dead and 13 wounded.

At 0856, Co C request dustoff for 3 US WHA due to detonation of booby trapped AP mine Vic. BS533853 DUSTOFF completed 0902. 1 other US KHA. Pers concerned: SP4 Pennamon, R. (KHA); 2LT O'Neill, J. (WHA); PFC Hargrove, L.(KHA); Finn. WHA

At 0715 Co. C. request dustoff coord. BS504875: 1 US litter, gunshot stomach wound. Dustoff completed 0724, 1 US WHA Sgt. Fox Donald. At 0920 Co. C. requested Dustoff. 1 USA WHA Sgt Jeffrety, Richard, 1 USA KHA PFC Price Michael, G. cause, antipersonnel mine

At1405 Co. C. req Dustoff for 2 US WHA from detonating Bouncing Betty AP mine. DUSTOFF completed 1420. At 1511 Co. C. requested a Dustoff for 2 US KHA Vic. BS 527853, resulting from detonation of M16 AP mine. Lewis Harmon, KHA, Russel lee Mathney, KHA

At 1836 Co. C. requested a Dustoff coord. BS535801. Tripped booby trap resulting in 3 US WHA; Pfc. John Pollte, Pvt. Thomas Brzoska, Pvt. Peyton Leslie, DUSTOFF completed 1850.

At 1520 Co. C. requested Dustoff Vic. BS533798. Result of M16A1 AP mine. Pfc. Eric Ficklin, KHA. SP4 George Jacobs, WHA. Pfc. George Daise, WHA. At 1627 Co. C. requested a Dustoff for 2 psychological casualties.


This Battle took place approx. 7 clicks South Southwest of LZ BUF. Charlie Co. 4/3, mounted on APC's, is sweeping the Horseshoe on the north side of the SONG TRA KHUC river. The Journal log summary tells the story; 4/3 Inf. Continues offensive search and sweep operations in the BUF AO. At 0915H Company D received AW fire from BS556825 w/1 US WHA and evacuated by C&C at 0924H. At 1030H Company C apprehended 20 VCS (Viet cong suspect), MAM's (military age males) and the VCS were brought to LZ BUF. At 1305H Co C requested DUSTOFF for 1 US WHA by SA fire in the head and the DUSTOFF was completed at 1335H. Later the US died of wounds.

At 1345H Company C made contact with a platoon size VC/NVA element at BS510765. The enemy was using AW and RPG's against the APC's.

4 US were WHA from the APC's by the RPG fire. Company C then spotted Bunkers and Concertina wire. The Company directed Fast-movers and Cobra Gun ships to suppress the enemy fire. At 1420H Co C had 5 US WHA and DUSTED off at 1445H from the contact. At 1630H Company C moved to a Ville East of OP #1. At this point Co C observed persons moving around positioning themselves in the Ville and some were moving out of the Western portion of the Ville.

Company B (which had CA'd into BS524774) moved to the contact area and received heavy AW fire resulting in 6 US WHA and 4 US KHA. Company B then linked up with company C and they conducted a coordinated attack. Company C then received 1 US KHA and 3 US WHA. An air strike was placed on the suspected enemy location and at 1700H 4/3 Inf. Request reinforcements from the 198th LIB. The last air strike drew heavy AW fire from BS532769. At 1930H Company B 5/36 CA'd into reinforce 4/3 Inf. Elements.

At 1927H Recon platoon CA'd from LZ BUF to contact area. At 1945H SPOOKY came on station and worked over the enemy location. At 2015H contact with the enemy had ceased. The result of the days contact were: S WHA from Co D. 11 US WHA, 1 US KHA, 3 US MHA from Company C. 4 KHA from Co B 4/3. A complete list of casualties can be found in SITREP-69.

Charlie Company Casualties included John F Brooks (WIA), Kennith Gibbs (WIA), Jim Alexander (WIA), Jack Bearden (WIA), Clinton Deacon (WIA), Frank Esteves (WIA), Lorendo Herrera (WIA), Larry Machart (WIA), John McCall (WIA), Jose Rivras (WIA), Danny Snider (WIA), Harold Titus (WIA), Russel Meyers (WIA), Michael Haynes (KIA), Charles Merril (KIA), Clarence Templeton (KIA) and Randall Simmons (KIA)


In 2005, I asked Mr Mike Shinn what happened, and by October of the next year, he sent me the following response (below). I thank him very much for his input -- Another mystery addressed.

During Lam Son 719 the basic mission of 4-3 was to patrol and guard the northern flank of a portion of highway 9 that ran from Quang Tri past Khe San and into Laos. (I'll answer your Email about Lam Son 719 later -- I'm still coming across some interesting references I had not found before). The northern flank of the highway was high hills and deep ravines. The hills were a combination of deep grasslands surrounded by dense jungle. Our strategy evolved into placing mech ambushes on the jungle trails and in the ravines. Our squad checked our mechs and changed their position each day. Unfortunately, the squad that Ayres, Pichon, and Wright were in got a little lazy. They left a mech in the same place for several days and only went out to check it each day. It was located in grove that was surrounded by grassland, and they had to cross about a hundred yards of grass to get to the grove from the jungle area where they had their perimeter setup. The NVA, who occupied a position on top of one of the hills, were able to spot them going to their mech location one day. The next day the NVA had an ambush setup when they went to check the mech and Ayres, Pichon, and Wright killed. Either Wright or Pichon was the RTO, and we heard him screaming a call for help and then the radio went dead. Our squad was about a click away and we ran up to assist, but they were already dusting off our buddies by the time we got there. Ayres was the only one I knew since he was a fellow point man who Bob Besso (the other half of our point team) and I admired very much. He was the only one I met in Nam who carried an M14. His squad said they saw him returning fire with it when he went down. ~ Mike

Charlie Company KHA Casualties include Douglas Edward Ayres, Harmon Edward Pich and Michael Dale Wright

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