ANATOMY OF AN INFANTRY BATTALION
The 4/39 Infantry in Vietnam
A
ANYTHING - ANYWHERE - ANYTIME - BAR NONE

The 4/39 Infantry Battalion arrived in Vietnam from Fort Riley, Kansas, on January 3, 1967, and was assigned to the 1st Brigade at the Division Bearcat base camp in Long Thanh North (southeast of Saigon in III Corps Tactical Zone). Under the command of LTC Clyde B. Bell, Jr. (January - August 1967) battalion operations were conducted predominately north of the Mekong Delta in the provinces surrounding Saigon. The terrain was hilly and fairly solid ground. Fatalities were incurred in Phouc Tuy, Go Cong, Hau Nghia, Bien Hoa, and Kien Tuong Provinces - 13 KIA (13 hostile).
 
15JAN67 PFC Jerry W. Sprouse AUS Kien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
15JAN67 SSG Charles W. Faggett, RA Phouc Tuy Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
03FEB67 SP-4 Wendell Spencer RA Go Cong Province Hostile Misadventure
04FEB67 PFC Charles M. Shelton AUS Go Cong Province Hostile Drowning
05FEB67 PFC Clifford D. Beeler AUS Go Cong Province Hostile Gunshot
06FEB67 CPL Eddie L. Sullivan AUS Go Cong Province Hostile Gunshot
20FEB67 PFC John N. Gambrell AUS Hua Nghia Province Hostile Misadventure
07MAY67 CPL David W. Linn AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
23MAY67 SP-4 Lawrence N. Welk AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
22JUL67 PFC Paulino Lopez AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
23JUL67 CPL George W. Childress AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
28JUL67 CPL John Carey, Jr. AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Other Causes
29JUL67 1LT George New, Jr. Reserve Bien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation

Between November 1967- January 1968, under the command of LTC Daniel L. Baldwin III (August 1967 - February 1968) the battalion relocated from Bearcat to Ban Me Thuot (Darlac Province) in the Central Highlands of II Corps Tactical Zone. Here the terrain was firm and mountainous. During this period fatalities were suffered in Vinh Binh, Kien Tuong, Bien Hoa, Long Khanh, Phuoc Tuy, and Phuoc Long Provinces - 28 KIA (23 hostile, 1 accidental homicide, 4 non-hostile due to accident, and 1 from illness).

THE OLD RELIABLE - 27 DEC 67

   
02AUG67 PFC David Sanchez AUS Bien Hoa Hostile Booby Trap
05AUG67 SGT James H. Callis RA Vinh Long Province Hostile Booby Trap
05AUG67 CPL Robert Durbin RA Military Region 3 Hostile Gunshot
16AUG67 SFC Nathaniel Knowles RA Military Region 3 Hostile Booby Trap
20AUG67 CPL Waymon Parker AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
25AUG67 SGT Ronnie L. Logan AUS Military Region 3 Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
29AUG67 SSG Frank J. DeMarco RA Unknown Non-Hostile Drowned
29AUG67 CPL Timothy F. Liese AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
29AUG67 CPL Larry S. Newburn AUS Unknown Non-Hostile Drowned
06SEP67 SGT Lydes J. Garner, Jr.. AUS Long Khanh Province Hostile Booby Trap
07SEP67 PFC Orrin J. Cassata AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
15SEP67 SGT William T. Cherry, Jr. AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
15SEP67 SP-4 Garey L. Hensley RA Bien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
15SEP67 SSG Alfonso A. Monterrose AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Fragmentation
10OCT67 CPL Raymond V. Browning AUS Bien Hoa Province Non-Hostile Accidental Homicide
31OCT67 SP-4 Keith L. Benson AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
31OCT67 PFC Stephen E. Parks AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
17NOV67 CPL Walter C. Hogan AUS Phouc Tuy Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
07DEC67 SGT Jeri C. Seeman AUS Unknown Non-Hostile Illness
16DEC67 CPL John W. Vasilopulos AUS Phouc Long Province Hostile Booby Trap
19NOV67 PFC Ray Taylor RA Bien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
12JAN68 SP-4 Louis E. Berry AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
12JAN68 PFC Wesley L. Gooch AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
12JAN68 PFC Earl London AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
12JAN68 PFC Johnnie K. Perkins AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
12JAN68 CPL Julius Thomas AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
19JAN68 CPL Bert D. Lefler AUS Kien Tuong Province Non-Hostile Drowned
2FEB68 SP-4 Samuel G. Hurry AUS Bien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot

In February 1968 the battalion was transferred to the 3rd Brigade and moved five miles southeast of Saigon to Nha Be. Here under the command of LTC Robert L. Adcock (February - July 1968) elements of the battalion, operating in conjunction with the 3/39 Infantry, engaged a large force North Vietnamese Army unit in the Ong Song River section of Long An Province (April 22, 1969). On a reconnaissance-in-force mission occurring on the evening of March 17, 1968, conducted in the vicinity of Nha Be, a battalion infantryman distinguished himself and the 4/39 Infantry by becoming the battalion's only Medal of Honor recipient during the Vietnam War. The battalion sustained fatalities in Gia Dinh, Long An, Kien Tuong, and Tay Ninh Provinces - 21 KIA (18 hostile and 3 non-hostile due to accident).

THE OLD RELIABLE - 28 FEB 68THE OLD RELIABLE - 17 APR 68

   
14FEB68 CPL George H. Daze RA Gia Dinh Province Hostile Gunshot
14FEB68 PFC Jerry W. Jenkins AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Gunshot
14FEB68 SP4 Don W. Johnson AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Gunshot
14FEB68 PFC Ernest M. Weathersbee AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
19FEB68 SP-4 John R. Huscher AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
18FEB68 PFC Edward E. Dew AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
17MAR68 CPL Virgil E. Childers AUS Binh Tuy Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
17MAR68 SP-4 Edward A. DeVore, Jr. AUS Binh Tuy Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
26MAR68 CPL Marvin L. Mayo AUS Long An Province Hostile Gunshot
26MAR68 CPL Robert J. Piatkowski AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
26MAR68 CPL Raymond F. Schopmann AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Gunshot
29MAR68 SP-4 Melvin D. Newton AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Gunshot
30MAR68 PFC James T. Cummings, Jr. AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
03APR68 PFC John E. Black AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
10APR68 CPL Donald G. Lee AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Gunshot
23APR68 CPL James L. Wallace AUS Gia Dinh Province Hostile Drowned
10MAY68 CPL Artie Ingram AUS Gia Dinh Province Non-Hostile Other Causes
25MAY68 SP-4 John B.  Marcello AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Vehicle Crash
7JUN68 SP-4 Robert E. Barnes RA Long An Province Hostile Booby Trap
12JUN68 SP-4 Clifford Jenkins, Jr. RA Gia Dinh Province Non-Hostile Drowned
15JUN68 CPL Albert L. Gunn AUS Gia Dinh Province Non-Hostile Other

At about this point in time the cohesiveness of command of the 4/39 Infantry Battalion began to decentralize through a series of diverse operations undertaken during the same period of time in various provinces of II, III, and IV Combat Tactical Zones.


On July 1, 1968, LTC William E. Berzinec succeeded LTC Adcock on normal 6-month rotation. While operations continued in the Nha Be area - on July 24, 1969 - the 4/39 was placed under the operational control of 1st Brigade while other elements of the battalion were OPCONed to the 2nd Brigade (July 11, 1968) to assist them in a three day sweep along the Song My Tho, 20 miles west of the city of My Tho. This was the 4/39's first combat operation in the aquatic environment of the Mekong Delta. The viability of adding a fourth battalion to the 2nd Brigade Mobile Riverine Force was being evaluated by Division. Tragedy unexpectedly befell the 4/39 at the end of the month when LTC Berzinec was killed by a large land mine while directing his troops in the field. Under his brief command the battalion sustained fatalities in Long An and Dinh Tuong Provinces - 4 KIA (4 hostile including the colonel).

THE OLD RELIABLE - 7 AUG 68

04JUL68 SP-5 Michael A. Powell AUS Long An Province Hostile Booby Trap
14JUL68 SP-4 Richard G. Liewer AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Artillery, Rocket or Mortar
17JUL68 SP-4 Edgar L. Bowers AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Artillery, Rocket or Mortar
30JUL69 LTC William E. Berzinec Regular Long An Province Hostile Booby Trap

LTC Berzinec was replaced with 1st Brigade executive officer, LTC Franklin A. Hart, who at the time took command of a battalion with elements conducting reconnaissance in force, foot mobile searches, and eagle flight operations northwest of Tan An for 3rd Brigade, mobile riverine operations in the Mekong Delta for 2nd Brigade, and local operations in the Nha Be battalion HQ area. During August 1968 the battalion participated in the longest (to date) operation of the Mobile Riverine Force. In November 1968 the 4/39 was redirected to Binh Long Province, northwest of Saigon. At the end of November the battalion was reassigned to 1st Brigade. Although battalion headquarters remained in Binh Long Province, elements of the battalion conducted a series of half-platoon size (12-15 men) night ambushes along canals in northwestern Dinh Tuong Province. These missions had been executed as an adjunct to Operation My Dien, which was part of overall Operation Giant Slingshot. The prime goal of Operation Giant Slingshot had been to interdict Communist waterborne movements against Saigon on the Vam Co Dong and the Vam Co Tre rivers near Ben Luc and on the Tra Cu north of Saigon. Operation My Dien was an off-shoot operation conducted in and on canals leading to Dong Tam in the Plain of Reeds of northwest Dinh Tuong Province. These night missions were coined aquabushes (as opposed to ambushes) by the Division newspaper and proved highly successful in interdicting VC canal movements. As a short-term expedient near the end of January 1969, the 4/39 was relocated into an unimproved Plain of Reeds position, northwest of Dong Tam, near the intersections of several canals. This area had been a sanctuary of main force Viet Cong who had heavily secured their base areas with mines and booby traps. During LTC Hart's command, the battalion suffered fatalities in Long An, Kien Hoa, and Dinh Tuong Provinces - 28 KIA (26 hostile, 1 non-hostile due to accident, and 1 from illness).

   THE OLD RELIABLE - 28 AUG 68

  THE OLD RELIABLE - 4 DEC 68

THE OLD RELIABLE - 25 DEC 68
   
08AUG68 SGT Alan D. Trucano AUS Long An Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
12AUG69 CPL Stephen M. Carnine AUS Long An Province Hostile Gunshot
12AUG68 PFC Ronald L. Muehlberg RA Long An Province Hostile Gunshot
12AUG68 SGT Donald L. Pumphrey AUS Kien Hoa Province

Hostile Gunshot

22AUG68 CPL Billy E. Yarbrough AUS Long An Province Hostile Gunshot
25AUG68 PFC Robert O. Cato AUS Kien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
25AUG68 PFC Garry M. McCullough AUS Kien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
25AUG68 PFC Robert Petracco AUS Kien Hoa Province Hostile Gunshot
25AUG68 CPL Daniel D. Rezende RA Kien Hoa Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
20SEP68 PFC Jose A. Pabey RA Bien Hoa Province Non-Hostile Drowned
6NOV68 SGT Latney D. Ferguson AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
15NOV68 SP-4 William E. Brown AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
16NOV68 MSGT Robert R. Hilliard RA Unknown Non-Hostile Illness
06DEC68 PFC Carlos A. Velazquez-Ortiz AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
12DEC68 SGT Douglas Dupree AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
13DEC68 SFC Leon T. Field RA Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
19DEC68 CPL Lawrence Ortiz AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
20DEC68 PFC Michael Miller, Jr. AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
23DEC68 PFC Richard J. Forte AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
23DEC68 PFC Francis C. Sollers AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
31DEC68 SGT Robert H. Sinclair AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
31DEC68 SP-4 Francis C. Sullivan RA Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Drowned
6JAN69 CPL Calvin Lewis AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
10JAN69 CPL Richard G. Gilliam AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
22Jan69 SP-4 Ricky L. Wikle AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
24JAN69 PFC Donald R. Carlyle AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
24JAN69 SGT Glenn H. Rollins RA Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Bobby Trap
28JAN69 PFC Charles E. Smith AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap

 

On February 1, 1969, a few days after the move into the Plain of Reeds position, command of the battalion rotated to LTC David H. Hackworth. The battalion hardened its position while anticipating a move to Dong Tam. The battalion was, instead, diverted to FSB Moore. At the beginning of March the 2/39 was directed to establish a new base in western Dinh Tuong Province, north of the village of Ap An Tri (Giao Duc), along National Route QL-4. The name assigned to the new installation was Dickey. LTC Hackworth was an experienced combat officer, having served in the Korean War and an earlier tour in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division in the northern highlands of I Corps Tactical Zone. LTC Hackworth moved the 4/39 headquarters into the new fire support base, which he immediately renamed Danger. He also coined the nickname The Hardcore Battalion and demanded the greeting Hardcore Rondo, Sir! His forces were emplaced at four different locations: Headquarters & Headquarters Company and Company B - Battle Company - at FSB Danger (alternating with Company D - Dagger Company); the battalion kitchen and mortar platoon at District Headquarters in Ap An Tri; Company A - Alert Company - in a Vietnamese cemetery dubbed Tombstone Territory, a klick or so north of FSB Danger;  and Company C - Claymore Company - at an abandoned school they named FSB Claymore. Combat and MEDCAP operations were centralized in IV Corps Tactical Zone. The battalion's days of wandering over II, III, and IV Corps Tactical Zones were now over. Under LTC Hackworth's 4-month command Hardcore fatalities were incurred in Kien Tuong, Sa Dec, Dinh Tuong, Kien Phong, and Kien Hoa Provinces - 25 KIA (23 hostile, 1 non-hostile air crash, and 1 intentional homicide).

THE OLD RELIABLE - 23 APR 69  THE OLD RELIABLE - 21 MAY 69

13FEB69 SP-4 James T. Pence AUS Kien Tuong Province

Hostile Booby Trap

23MAR69 SGT John R. Yarger AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
13MAR69 SGT Richard E. Duran AUS Sa Dec Province Hostile Burns
13MAR69 CPL Clarence A. Early AUS Sa Dec Province Hostile Gunshot
13MAR69 PFC Albert T. Glanton AUS Sa Dec Province Hostile Gunshot
13MAR69 CPT Robert E. Spiegel Reserve Sa Dec Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
20MAR69 SP-4 Nigel F. Poese AUS Sa Dec Province Hostile Booby Trap
23MAR69 SGT Leo B. Smith AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
25MAR69 PFC Frank J. Ellis, Jr. AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
25NAR69 PFC Earl M. Hayes AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Burns
25MAR69 CPL Joe E. Holleman AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
25MAR69 SP-4 Dennis R. Richards AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
25NAR69 1LT William J. Torpie Reserve Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
30MAR69 SGT Chester H. Terry, Jr. RA Kien Hoa Province Non-Hostile Intentional Homicide
11APR69 SGT Emmons E. Funk AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
17APR69 1LT Travis B. Lee Reserve Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
28APR69 PFC Denny L. Asher AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
28APR69 SGT Melvin G. Ehrhart AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
28APR69 PFC Walter L. Nutt, III AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
28APR69 SP-4 Roger L. Ward AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
29ARP69 SP-4 Simon Dean, Jr. AUS Unknown Non-Hostile Air Loss, Crash
01MAY69 SGT David R. Schaefer AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
10MAY69 SGT James C. Byrd AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
17MAY69 CPL Thomas L. Christiansen AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
17MAY69 CPL Douglas E. Lohmeyer RA Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap

On February 18, 1969, LTC Hackworth received a minor wound not requiring hospitalization, which resulted in his sixth Purple Heart. On March 25, 1969, he was again wounded and received his seventh Purple Heart. Although LTC Hackworth soon returned to his battalion, Division ordered him relieved. On May 25, 1969, command of the Hardcore Battalion was prematurely relinquished to MAJ James R. Taylor. Under Major Taylor's command the Hardcore Battalion endured fatalities in Kien Phong and Dinh Tuong Provinces - 11 KIA (11 hostile).

01JUN69 SP-4 Leonard L. Lewis RA Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
01JUN69 PFC Blair C. Wilkey AUS Kien Phong Province Hostile Gunshot
04JUN69 SP-4 Benjamin Harris RA Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
06JUN69 SP-4 Roy L. Ramey AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
19JUN69 SP-4 Paul F. Little AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
19JUN69 SGT James T. Woods AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
25JUN68 SGT Timothy J. Shelton AUS Kien Tuong Province Hostile Multiple Fragmentation
28JUN69 PFC Rudolph Hinojosa, Jr. RA Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
28JUN69 SP-5 Barry I. Rabin Ovitz RA Kien Tuong Province Hostile Booby Trap
04JUL69 PFC Thomas W. Johnson AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Gunshot
11JUL69 SGT Herman Hazelton AUS Dinh Tuong Province Hostile Artillery, Rocket, or Mortar

The last commanding officer of the 4/39 Infantry Battalion was MAJ Ronald J. Crooks who assumed command on July 21, 1969, for the sole purpose of returning the battalion to the United States on July 30, 1969. Under his command the 4/39 did not engage the enemy and, as a result, suffered no causalities.

 

- 4/39 Infantry Battalion Statistics -

-The 4/39 suffered the least number of combat deaths (118 hostile and 12 non-hostile) of the Division's 10 infantry battalions-

- 80% of battalion's 118 hostile deaths were Army of the United States (draftees) -

- 18% of the battalion's 118 hostile deaths were Regular Army (volunteers) -

- 2% of the battalion's 118 hostile deaths were officers (1 Regular and 3 Reserve) -

- 91% of the battalion's 130 deaths (hostile and non-hostile) were hostile -
- 38% from gunshot -
- 33% from booby traps -
- 28% from multiple fragmentation wounds -
- 10% from drowning, burns, artillery-rockets-mortars, vehicle crash, misadventure, or other -

- 9% of the battalions 130 deaths (hostile and non-hostile) were non-hostile -

- Hostile troop deaths per month under each battalion commander -
- LTC David H. Hackworth - 5.57 deaths -
- MAJ James R. Taylor - 5.50 deaths -
- LTC Franklin A. Hart - 4.33 deaths -
- LTC William E. Berzinec - 4.00 deaths -
- LTC Robert L. Adcock - 3.60 deaths -
- LTC Daniel L. Baldwin III - 3.38 deaths -
- LTC Clyde B. Bell, Jr. - 2.17 deaths -

Background Sound: "Crying" - Roy Orbison 1962                                                                RETURN TO FSB DANGER