Reunions should be just that - opportunities
to renew old friendships, catch up on news of families, remember
those with whom we served, tell a few stories and catch a beer
or two-or more. Military reunions tend to be in a class by themselves
because of shared adventure during stressful times and the death
of comrades in combat and while performing other duties. Military
reunions also have a forward looking component-the hope for good
health and prosperity for unit members, past, present, and future
and the sincere hope that our soldiers prevail in whatever missions
they are asked to undertake and return safely to their families.
For the surviving members of Detachment
A-342, 5th Special Forces Group, and some of you here for this
event, your reunion allowed us to renew relationships that began
forty-two years ago this month at Dong Xoai, Vietnam; relationships
that have grown stronger in recent years as we have found more
time to communicate and have great new tools with which to do
For those of us on the ground during
the Battle of Dong Xoai on 9-10 June 1965, this reunion has provided
a wonderful opportunity to thank the "sky soldiers"
who fought that fight and supported us so magnificently-gun ships
and "slicks" that provided aerial fire support, evacuated
the Special Forces and Seabee defenders, and brought to the Battle
the reinforcements that stabilized the area. The 145th Combat
Aviation Battalion pulled our "fat out of the fire,"
and we are ever mindful of that fact.
Detachment A-342 had been at Dong
Xoai for only a few days when the attack occurred, as was typical
on a dreary night of rain and fog. The attack that began shortly
before midnight on 9 June 1965 was anticipated, in a sense. Some
of you will recall that Song Be, a few miles to the north, had
been hit earlier in the month and that a strong Viet Cong presence
was believed to have remained in the area between War Zones C
and D. Several days before the attack, supporting Seabees arrived
without important construction equipment and Civilian Irregular
Defense Corps (CIDG) troops were air landed on short notice with
families, pigs and chickens.
Every combat veteran can speak with
experience about conflict intensity, a very personal concept.
The Viet Cong in the Dong Xoai attack were judged to be in excess
of two regiments. We all had a good look at Charlie's arsenal-antiaircraft
weapons, 75 mm pack howitzers, recoilless rifles, mortars, rocket
propelled grenades, machine guns galore, flamethrowers, satchel
charges and lots of AK-47s. All involved in a Ft. Benning-like
Mad Minute that stretched into 24 hours.
Casualties were significant during
the 9-10 June timeframe-Special Forces, Seabees, aircrew, U.S.
Advisors, Vietnamese forces, civilians, and thankfully "beaucoup
VC," as we said back then. The situation on the ground was
such that no medivac or resupply missions were flown and initial
Vietnamese efforts to reinforce the area by air were met by overwhelming
enemy resistance. In an act of heroic proportions, three helicopters
from the 118th Assault Helicopter Company and one from the 197th
Armed Helicopter Company descended from nowhere about 1400 hours
on 10 June and plucked the remaining defenders from two artillery
positions in the Dong Xoai District Headquarters.
Over the past several years we had
the pleasure of corresponding with Pete Booth and Bill Fraker,
and reviewing notes on the battle-what aircrews were doing and
what we were doing on the ground as our activities became intertwined.
We are grateful to Pete, Bill and all of you for allowing us
to participate in your reunion and meet others who were involve
in the fighting at Dong Xoai and Thuan Loc-pilots, door gunners
and ground crewmen. We greatly admire the skill and courage demonstrated
by elements of the 118th and 197th. Those of you who have been
saved by others will understand the meaning of our thanks.
Harold Crowe---Dallas Johnson---Dan
McLaughlin---Bill Stokes---Jim Taylor