AMBUSH AT AP NHI – STORIES OF VALOR AND HEROISM

The following account is of The Battle of Ap Nhi as told by Ron Leonard, crew chief of a Diamondhead gunship of B Company, 25th Aviation Battalion.  I am indebted to Mr. Leonard for his excellent research and detailed account of this battle. His account, has been edited, revised and condensed to make it more readable for those readers without a knowledge of military terminology.

Within his narrative, I have inserted my account of the battle, based on my first hand experiences in the battle, as the Senior Medic for Company C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division.  I am inserting a narrative by Marvin E. Branch, who was wounded during the battle.  Also I wish to thank the combat artists for the battle scenes.  The story of this battle comes alive due to their artwork. Their names are listed by their works.

As you read this story,  you may  realize that you or someone you know was in this battle.  If so, I invite you to contact me by leaving a note in the comment section. I  plan to continue adding details, and photos of those involved in the battle, to give them the honor they deserve.

The scene is the little Vietnamese village of Ap Nhi, which stretches along the south side of Main Supply Route 22, for about a mile.

It is a farming community, about half way between Go Dau Ha  and Tay Ninh.

The Ben Cui Rubber Plantation, known locally as the ‘Little Rubber,’ is near the village.

The weather and poor military planning on the part of our Commanding General,  favored the plans of our enemy, the Viet Cong, to ambush one of our supply convoys.

It was the  rainy season, with poor visibility, and a low ceiling making flying of our helicopter gunships dangerous.  Initially, there was no available artillery in range of the ambush, to support our troops.

Colonel Duquesne ‘Duke’ Wolf, Commanding Officer of the 1st Brigade, complained bitterly to  Ellis W. Williamson, 25th Infantry Division Commanding General, about the lack of resources to react to an enemy attack.  Unfortunately, his warnings to the General proved to be prophetic!

GENERAL ELLIS W. WILLIAMSON – ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D, NELSON

On the night of 24 August 1968, a reinforced Viet Cong battalion of five companies moved into the village, with the intent of ambushing the Tay Ninh supply convoy.

The convoy had 81 trucks of the 48th Transportation Company, made up of Refer Trucks in front, then supply trucks, fuel  trucks, and ammo trucks following.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

The enemy positioned four Viet Cong companies in the trench and rubber trees on the western edge of the ‘Little Rubber’ plantation.  A fifth Viet Cong company occupied fighting positions in the village of Ap Nhi.

25 August 1968
11:45 AM
As the lead convoy trucks entered Ap Nhi it was misty and raining. The convoy was met by a column of Viet Cong dressed as  ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Viet Nam) soldiers marching single file along the north side of the Main Supply Route  adjacent to the Little Rubber plantation.

As the lead trucks exited  the village,  the fuel and ammunition trucks, at the convoy’s rear were in the enemy’s ambush kill zone.  The enemy troops opened fire.

The initial shot of the ambush signaled the  beginning of  the assault.  Almost immediately at least one fuel truck at the front of the kill zone was hit and exploded.  This stalled the remainder of the convoy as the truck blocked the road and burned.

Thirty one trucks in front of the fuel tanker truck sped away and escaped, but fifty were caught in the kill zone. Seconds later an ammunition trailer at the rear of the convoy was hit and burning,  cooking off ammunition.

The initial assault, disabling the thirty first truck in the convoy and rear  vehicle, sealed the remaining 51 trucks in place.

In the initial attack, gun jeeps and vehicles with radios, were also disabled.

Almost as soon as the column came to a halt, the enemy charged from the rubber trees. They fired automatic weapons, threw grenades, and were supported by machine gun, and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire in an attempt to overrun our convoy drivers and take control of their trucks.

From hastily established firing positions, the truckers gallantly returned fire.

SSgt William Seay of the 62nd Transportation Company  was one of those drivers.

He had been driving a truck laden with artillery charges.

SSGT WILLAM SEAY

When the attack began, Seay immediately leaped from his truck and took cover behind the left rear dual wheel of his truck.

About 20 feet away Specialist David M. Sellman was behind the dual wheels of the ammunition trailer.

As two Viet Cong soldiers attempted to charge his truck Seay shot them with a burst from his M-16.

All along the line the convoy’s drivers held their ground until the attackers had been pushed back to behind the berm.

Within minutes the initial attack had been blunted, but the battle was just beginning. For the next nine hours the Viet Cong attempted to wipe out the small groups of drivers and convoy personnel concentrated along the roadway.

The Americans soon realized they were not only being subjected to automatic weapons fire from the berm across the road, and the rubber plantation, but from snipers in the treetops as well.

Seay spotted one of the snipers in a tree about 75 meters to his right front. Aiming around the right side of the truck tire, he fired a burst from his M-16, killing the sniper.

Minutes passed, and then a grenade thudded to the ground and rolled under the trailer within a few feet of Specialist Fourth Class David  M. Sellman, who was well aware that the trailer was loaded with 175mm artillery shells.

Seay left his position without hesitation, exposing himself to intense enemy fire in the open ground between the truck and the ammunition trailer’s wheels, picked up the grenade and hurled it back across the road. Four Viet Cong jumped from their cover and tried to run, but they were killed when the grenade exploded.

Minutes later, when another grenade landed close to Seay’s group, Sellman kicked it off the road behind them.

No sooner had the dust cleared from that explosion than another grenade rolled under the truck and Seay again retrieved it and threw it back across the road at the attackers.

Just as Seay returned to his cover he and Sellman killed two more Viet Cong trying to crawl through a fence. A few seconds later, an NVA (North Vietnamese Army) enemy bullet tore through the back of Seay’s right hand, shattering a bone in his wrist. Yelling that he was hit and for Sellman to cover him, Seay  ran back to his rear looking for someone to help him with his wound.

Positioned in a ditch on the west side of the road, Seay found a group of six truckers who helped him with his wound. Unable to use his weapon with his right hand, Seay lay down to rest in the roadside ditch while the others moved to better firing positions 15 meters away.

After half an hour Specialist Fourth Class William Hinote brought water to the wounded man and remained with him in the three-foot wide ditch, while both men occasionally fired at enemy positions and awaited the next assault.

Suddenly while Hinote’s back was turned,  Seay fired another burst with his M-16, even though he was in mild shock from a loss of blood.

Seay had risen to a half-crouch and was firing his rifle with his left hand at some Viet Cong trying to cross the road. Hinote turned just in time to see  three of the Viet Cong fall backward over the berm.

No more than five seconds later he turned again and saw Seay himself fall backward, struck in the head by a sniper’s bullet.

The man who had saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at least three times that day died instantly without making a sound.

Some of the trucks were being looted by the enemy. At one point when the Viet Cong were crawling all over the trucks, the truckers requested permission to call in artillery strikes and blow the enemy troops off the road. The 25th Division Commander, General Ellis W. Williamson, denied the request.  There was no artillery in range of the battle.

Prior to arriving at the scene of the ambush, Specialist Fourth Class David M. Sellman recalls being delayed leaving Cu Chi with the convoy, due to a flat tire.  Since the convoy had left without him,   he had to convince his superiors that he could catch up to the convoy.  Finally, he was given permission to leave Cu Chi and catch up to the convoy, soon to be ambushed entering the small village of Ap Nhi.

As Sellman approached the convoy, on the outskirts of Ap Nhi, the ambush began.

He recalls fighting along with Seay and the others, eventually taking a fighting position behind an Armored Personnel Carrier from the 9th Infantry.

As the battle progressed Sellman was wounded by shrapnel.  Later Sellman  awoke in a bunker surrounded by dead bodies, and eventually was evacuated with other wounded to  Long Binh.

Specialist Fourth Class David M. Sellman was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters, and  the Army Commendation Medal with V device for valor for his actions that day.  Soon after the battle, he was promoted to Specialist Fifth Class.

david-m-sellman-001

12:00 Noon
The 1st Brigade learned of the ambush about noon from Company C of the 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry (4/23rd, Mechanized – armor unit).  This unit had positioned a platoon one kilometer south of the “Little Rubber” plantation, to protect the Main Supply Route .

This under strength mechanized infantry platoon of one officer and ten men with two Armored Personnel Carriers sped north as soon as it heard of the ambush.

The platoon charged into the southern end of the ambush site, and was immediately attacked by a company of enemy fighters , along the length of a  trench.

They also began receiving rifle fire from an enemy position near a farmhouse, now 200 meters to their rear.

Another platoon of Company C 4/23rd located some five kilometers north of the ambush site, sped south and came under heavy rocket and small arms fire from the enemy strong point in the Buddhist temple at the northern end of the ambush.

This under strength force, one officer and fifteen men in four Armored Personnel Carriers lacked sufficient combat power to overcome the enemy force firing from the Buddhist temple, so they kept the enemy fixed in position by firing on them.

12:20 PM
At approximately 1220 hours, the 1st Brigade Commander, Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf,  arrived at the ambush site in his  Huey helicopter, “Little Bear.”

Immediately Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf flew to the aid of  Company C 4/23rd platoon, who was being surrounded by the enemy. With the additional firepower of the M-60 door mounted machine guns on his helicopter, and the dropping of several cases of tear gas, the enemy fell back and retreated  from their attack on the platoon’s two Armored Personnel Carriers.

12:30 PM
Lacking any immediate standby reaction forces, Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf, ordered Company C  3rd Battalion 22nd Infantry (3/22nd), 25th Infantry Division, to fly by helicopter as quickly as possible to the northern end of the ambush.

12:35 PM
Ten Huey helicopters  of the 25th Divisions 116th Aviation Hornets scramble for an emergency Combat Assault.

An Infantry Company (C 3/22nd) is  picked up by Huey Helicopters, 5 Kilometers north of Fire Support Base Buell II and inserted just north of the Buddhist temple at Ap Nhi.

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Charlie Company Assaults the Enemy

The following narrative is inserted based on my (Specialist 4th Class Ivan Katzenmeier) experiences as the Sr Medic for Company C, 3/22nd.

25    August 68

1:00 PM

My infantry unit, Company C 3/22nd, is ordered to join other assault units engaged in the battle at Ap Nhi.

Our unit is flown by helicopter to Tay Ninh, waits an hour and then flies to the sight of the ambushed convoy.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

We land on a road outside of the village, not knowing what to expect.

A mechanized armored unit leads our assault troops towards the village as we follow on foot.

ARTWORK BY JIM D. NELSON

It quickly becomes obvious, there are wounded soldiers needing medical help for their wounds.  The medics are busy treating the casualties.

Our Captain, James B.Hansard, walks in the center of the road with his RTO (radio telephone operator) Ron DeVries at his side.

Our Captain, James B. Hansard

A model of courage, he shows no sign of fear.  He is intent on doing his job and taking care of his men in Charlie Company. As Sr Medic for his company, I walk with him, but near the ditch trying to keep a low profile.

Death and Destruction

To my horror, as we approach the village, we see bodies of civilians lying along the road. Parts of their bodies blown away. Civilians, caught in the crossfire, while trying to flee their village.

The ambushed convoy’s trucks sit on the road, their drivers dead in the cabs, they appear to be sleeping, no longer aware of the battle raging around them.

My eyes focus on the bullet holes in the thick metal rims of the trucks, which bear witness to the fact that my fragile body is no match for the penetrating power of a machine gun bullet.

It ll seems so unreal. But it is real. Death and destruction. No one is safe. The deadly bullets have no respect for who you are, medic or infantryman, officer or private, soldier or civilian.

The reality of the situation slowly soaks into my mind.  I am in a life and death situation.  I might be the next dead medic!

‘Doc’ Katzenmeier, Sr Medic – Company C

The tragedy of the situation intensifies as I see terrified villagers, walking and running towards us, screaming and crying in anguish, with children in tow along with a few meager possessions in their hands.  It is the most awful scene I have ever seen. I feel their terror, and know I can not help them.

A lieutenant and an infantryman come toward me and for treatment their head wounds.  Flying shrapnel hit them in the face.  I examine their wounds, which are not life threatening and continue on towards the village.

As I gaze down the village street, I see a man on a motorcycle race out of the Buddhist temple onto the street, trying to escape. I am not sure if he is a civilian or the enemy.

Someone calls, ‘Doc over here.’  I am at the edge of the village, and a soldier leads me to his buddy, with a bullet wound in the neck.

There is little I can do to save him from bleeding to death.  ‘Am I going to be O.K. Doc?’  ‘Yes,’ I reply, but know deep in my heart, his chances of survival are not good without a surgeon.

He is bleeding and spitting blood.  I start an IV and hope he can be evacuated soon.

Next a man is hit by a falling limb,  shot off a tree by an enemy rocket propelled grenade (RPG).

Four more wounded come to me for help, I treat them and send them on their way to be evacuated to a med-evac (air ambulance) helicopter.

An armored vehicle roars up next to me with another wounded soldier. He has bullet holes through his leg and hand.

I climb aboard the armored vehicle, and start treating his wounds.

Dan Orozco, a new medic, is with me now.

daniel-orozco-medic1

DANIEL OROZCO CHARLIE COMPANY PLATOON MEDIC

I ask the armored vehicle driver to head down the road toward the evacuation area where the wounded can be picked up by helicopter.

We arrive at an ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Viet Nam) compound where I jump off the vehicle and begin treating wounded lying in a ditch.  My supplies of bandages are running out.

A soldier runs to me and asks for help.  A soldier is on the ground.  It is obvious from his pale face and shallow breathing he is going into shock. I begin CPR.

The enemy begins firing mortars at us from the tree line.

We move the man into a shallow ditch to provide a little more protection and continue CPR.  Our goal is to keep him alive until  a helicopter can transport him to a hospital.  Even though we thought he had died several times we keep up the CPR.

Evacuating  Wounded Under Fire

In an instant, I feel red hot metal shrapnel hit my back, head and elbow, and then several loud bangs.

The shrapnel travels faster than the sound waves! This isn’t like the movies, where you here the gun fire, and then the bullet hits the victim. In real life it is the bullet that hits you first before sound of the gun firing reaches your ears!

Several enemy mortar rounds have found their targets – us!  The enemy is trying to kill me and my wounded soldiers!

I assess my wounds.  Am I OK? Am I mortally wounded?

My right elbow feels as if something slammed into my ‘funny bone’ with a hammer.  I have pain in my right forearm.  I am not sure if I need to be bandaged, or how bad I am losing blood.

The wounds seem to be not life threatening.  The tissue around the shrapnel in my elbow is swollen, causing pressure on the ulnar nerve, and numbness and pain, making my right hand and arm impossible to use.

In a panic, my mind races, I must move these wounded to safety.  They are wounded, not able to fight.  Frantically, I look around for help.

Parked near us is an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).  “Get on the APC.  No one can help you, you have to get off the ground and climb up to the top of the APC.’ I yell at the wounded, lying around me.   ‘We have to get out of here before more mortar rounds find us.’

Regretfully, we leave the dying man in the ditch. We are unable to help him due to our own wounds. I climb on the Armored Personnel Carrier with difficulty, as do the others.

‘Take us to the med-evac.’ That is all driver needs to hear, and he begins driving us away from the battle, to an area where helicopters are transporting the wounded to the hospital.

My right arm is useless, but with my left arm, I am able fire repeated short bursts from my M-16 rifle at the the tree line.

The tree line is far enough away, it is impossible to see the enemy mortar crew.

My rifle jams and from inside the APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) a crew man hands me another rifle.

The APC’s 50 caliber machine gun mounted on top, is useless.  All the wounded soldiers on top of the vehicle are blocking it’s use.

At the helicopter landing area, we wait for a helicopter to evacuate the wounded.  Although I am wounded I am undecided whether I should evacuate myself or stay and assist the other medics.

I am wounded, in pain and nearly out of supplies.  I also have a new medic with me, and that makes the choice even more difficult.

In a few hours it will be night, the clouds are heavy with rain.  The battle is not over, it will go on through the night.

Do I stay and face the terror of battle, certain death for many, wounds for others, lack of supplies, and a cold lonely night in this hell of a battle, or do I leave for the safety of the hospital?

Those not wounded, have no options but to stay and fight.  I have an option, but with a price!

I leave a new medic on his own, to face the terrors of battle. The terrors I no longer want to face.

I think of my family, and my wife.  I recall being told by a seasoned warrior, ‘it is better being a live coward than a dead hero.  A hero’s medal won’t buy a cup of coffee in the States.’

I rationalize, I am wounded, I need medical treatment, but should I leave with the other wounded?

There is no one in authority to ask permission to leave, except myself.  Sometimes we are harder on ourselves, than others are on us.

I make my decision and climb aboard the helicopter, with intense mixed emotions of condemning guilt, and selfish relief.

A few days later, pon my return to Charlie Company, I am welcomed by several soldiers from my unit.

‘We put you in for a Silver Star, Doc.’

I am at a loss for words!  My deepest fear is that they would label me a coward for leaving the battle.   Instead, they tell me I am a hero!

I was not awarded the Silver Star, but was awarded a Purple Heart for my wounds and a Bronze Star for heroism in the Battle of Ap Nhi.

As most medal recipients will tell you, we don’t consider our actions in combat heroic.  Circumstances dictate what you do.

But it meant a lot to me that day to have the respect of my combat unit.   Their kind words were better than any medal!

Long after my physical wounds have healed, I will be haunted by ‘survivor’s guilt,’ that only another who has survived the trauma of intense combat can understand.

25 August 1968  has been the worst day of my life!

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The following narrative, is an eyewitness account of the battle by Marvin E. Branch:

This is my recollection of the battle, (August 25, 1968) some 44 years later; I was in the 4th platoon (mortars) that was the platoon at the north end of the village. There were only 3 of our 4 platoons on what we called convoy duty. The platoons were split up along the highway for a presence and in the event a convoy was ambushed we could react.

Shortly before noon we were radioed that one of the other platoons was ambushed at the other end of a village and we immediately loaded and rolled to assist. As we approached the town we saw several truck drivers headed our way. A few were wounded but able to walk. One was missing most of his right hand and in shock.

Their was an ARVN post at the entrance to the village; that is where we were stopped. We were close to the burning and disabled trucks blocking the road. There was also a jeep of MPs by the post who were at the lead of the convoy.

I sat up my 81 mm mortar on the ground next to the post and waited for a fire coordinate. Shortly after that time Charlie began to launch 60 mm rounds by pairs towards our position at random intervals. Each pair was getting closer as he walked them in our direction. We could not see his mortar flashes so I put the gun site on direct fire and fired back in what I viewed as likely locations in an attempt to knock them out. We did this throughout the afternoon.

In late afternoon some wounded drivers were being brought to our end of the village on APCs and later some wounded infantrymen. The 4th platoon had no medic so I directed the loading of the medevac choppers. Most of these men were able to walk without help. One driver was on a stretcher having been shot through a lung. The MP medic and I tried to keep him alive until the next chopper landed. At the same time the 60 mm rounds were getting closer and more frequent. Two landed near us and wounded one of the other mortar men. I told him to get under a nearby duce and a half and wait for the next evacuation.

I looked at my watch, at 5:58 PM the last two 60s landed as I turned around to help the medic. He was wounded in the arm; my wounded buddy was hit in the forehead as he attempted to climb into the truck bed (and later died of that wound). The concussion must have killed the driver. I was wounded in the right trapezia and just below my left shoulder blade. As the rounds explode gravel went up my back and back of my head and knocked me over. I believe if I hadn’t turned when I did I would have been blinded by the debris.

By this time the medevac was further up the road and the three of us walked to it. I was told later that those were the last rounds fired and contact broken.

I tell you this as a witness; nothing more or less. I am, however, grateful that the story has been told. I know more of the action than I ever knew. I am humbled by the actions of the individuals who were there that day.

Marvin E. Branch
C 4/23, RVN 9/67 – 9/68

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The following narrative is a continuation of my edited version of Ron Leonard’s story of the battle. These guys are real heroes!

12:40 PM
The 1st Brigade commander, Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf,  receives a radio message from the squadron commander of the 3d Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry offering to send his Troop B to assist the brigade. The offer is gratefully accepted and Troop B was ordered to speed north along Main Supply Route  22 to reach the southern end of the ambush.

1:05 PM
The Combat Assault troops (Company C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division) is inserted north of the Buddhist temple without incident, but have to fly in at 200-300  feet elevation to be under the cloud cover.

While supervising the Combat Assault troop’s  insertion ‘Little Bear’s crew chief is wounded in the lower leg by small arms ground fire and flown to the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi.

1:10 PM
Troop B of 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry arrive and are ordered to attack and destroy an enemy position in the farmhouse,  200 meters south of the Little Rubber Plantation.

Troop B charges the farmhouse.  The enemy directs heavy rifle and RPG
(Rocket Propelled Grenade)  fire at them.

After a 20-minute intense fire fight the lead platoon and  company commander, reaches the enemy occupied farm house. The company commander and four of his men are killed and eleven others wounded during the assault.

Approximately fifty enemy soldiers run from around the farmhouse and retreat north into the Little Rubber Plantation.

1:30 PM
The 1st Brigade Commander gives orders to the new acting Troop B Commander, who had just replaced his  commanding officer because he had just been killed.  He is to leave the farmhouse’s assault platoon in place, since they had suffered heavy casualties.  The remainder of his troop is to pursue the retreating enemy.

Troop B (less one platoon) pursues the Viet Cong through the Little Rubber Plantation.
After 15 minutes the enemy disappears among the rubber trees.

Next, the 1st Brigade Commander directs this force through the center of  The Little Rubber Plantation to a position approximately 100 meters to the rear (east) of the Buddhist temple.  They prepare to assault the temple.

In the meantime, the platoon of Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mechanized)
(consisting of eleven men and two Armored Personnel Carriers), which had been trapped in the extreme southern end of the Little rubber Plantation, has taken advantage of Troop B’s successful route of the enemy and joins up with the assault platoon of Troop B.

2:30 PM
A 155-mm howitzer battery (big cannons) is repositioned from Trang Bang and begins firing in direct support of 1st Brigade units. With this added fire power, the tide of battle begins to turn in our favor.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

CWO Robert Spitler remembers the flying difficulty.

He couldn’t climb up and roll in on a target, due to the low cloud cover.
Flying low and firing flat at a low angle with very little forward air speed is not a good fire angle.  Rockets easily go over the head of the enemy or fall short.

ART WORK BY SSG JULIO C. DIAZ

A steep dive angle from 1500′ is much more accurate. Eventually, they depleted enough fuel and ordinance to hang low over the convoy and fire at point blank range into the tree line.

He was  nearly hovering at some points, as couldn’t afford to lose the time it took to go out and make a full run back in again. They were everywhere.

The helicopter gunships fired  door guns, rockets and miniguns from all sides at the same time, until the ammo ran out.

CWO Robert Spitler remembers the flying difficulty.

He couldn’t climb up and roll in on a target, due to the low cloud cover.
Flying low and firing flat at a low angle with very little forward air speed is not a good fire angle.  Rockets easily go over the head of the enemy or fall short.

A steep dive angle from 1500′ is much more accurate. Eventually, they depleted enough fuel and ordinance to hang low over the convoy and fire at point blank range into the tree line.

He was  nearly hovering at some points, as couldn’t afford to lose the time it took to go out and make a full run back in again. They were everywhere.

The helicopter gunships fired  door guns, rockets and miniguns from all sides at the same time, until the ammo ran out.


3:00 PM
After Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, had been moved by helicopter into the northern end of the ambush site to reinforce the two platoons of Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mechanized), the platoons of Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry advanced to a position 200 meters to the rear of the Buddhist temple.

The 1st Brigade Commander (from his Huey helicopter)  directed the infantry unit’s fire against the front of the Buddhist temple as Troop B assaulted the rear.

The Troop B platoons advanced in a line, firing all its weapons. When the assault reached the Buddhist temple, over 100 Viet Cong evacuated the temple and retreated southward through the trench in the Little Rubber Plantation.

3:30 PM
At 1530 the 1st Brigade Commander directed a “roll-up” attack operation down the axis of the enemy ambush positions in the village and the Little Rubber Plantation.

Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry moved along the edge of the village, and Troop B platoons moved just inside the Little Rubber Plantation but parallel to the trench.

The enemy began moving southward through the trench in the Little Rubber Plantation while the enemy along the edge of the village also retreated southward through the village.

After advancing approximately 800 meters, the Troop B platoons receive rifle and  and Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) fire from approximately three hundred Viet Cong in a very large trench located 200 meters to their front.

This trench, approximately ten meters wide and two meters deep, ran perpendicular from Main Supply Route  22 in an east-west direction through the center of the Little Rubber Plantation.

4:20 PM
Troop B forces begin to assault the enemy-held trench, but after ten minutes reported that enemy resistance is very strong and that they are unable to move forward without more infantry support.

To bolster the assault on the trench the 1st Brigade Commander directed Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, to move across Main Supply Route  22 and proceed into the Little Rubber Plantation to join Troop B in an assault on the enemy-held trench.

Unfortunately, Company C was almost out of ammunition.  It had only enough for two platoons; thus it left one platoon in the village, and joined Troop B with two platoons.

Troop B reduced to about 50 armored cavalrymen, and Company C, reduced to about forty infantrymen, with the assistance of helicopter gun ships from Company B, 25th Aviation Battalion’s “Diamondhead’s” attempted a valiant assault against this naturally defensible position held by many times their number.

ARTWORK BY SSG JULIO C. DIAZ

After twenty minutes of intense fighting, both company commanders report the enemy is in great strength in the trench to their front, and in ever increasing strength on their flanks;  enemy firepower is too strong to permit them to close in and destroy them; and that both units are almost out of ammunition.

5:00 PM
Permission is requested to withdraw, regroup, resupply ammunition, and attack.

Due to darkness approaching and the impending monsoon rains adding to the enemy’s advantages permission is granted to withdraw and move to a defensive position astride Main Supply Route  22 just north of the Little Rubber Plantation.

They will attack again as soon as ammunition is resupplied.

5:15 PM
Back at Cu Chi, an additional light fire team from B Company 25th Aviation Battalion “Diamondheads” was scrambled to assist the withdrawal.

An A Company “Little Bear” helicopter is scrambled to the resupply point for the needed munitions, and an additional “Little Bear” helicopter is put on 3 minute strip alert loaded with CS gas.

5:30 PM
Our troops withdraw  as a very heavy monsoon storm hits the area., bringing total darkness and heavy rains which force all helicopters from the sky, preventing the evacuation of the wounded and resupply of ammunition for several hours.

5:40 PM
Both “Diamondhead” Light Fire Teams and the “Little Bear”, and resupply helicopters return to Cu Chi because of poor visibility and to wait out the storm. Diamondhead 174 is grounded after suffering several bullet holes in the rotor blades and had some structural damage in the forward cabin. CWO Spitler and his crew have to change ships to get back into the fight.

As we wait for the storm to subside in the scramble shack, we discuss strategy the enemy’s battle field strategy.  The enemy doesn’t want to blow up the convoy or they would have They wanted to steal the ammunition.

The drivers, some still pinned down at the north end of the convoy with little ammunition is a real concern. The large Viet Cong force in the Little Rubber Plantation is another.

Our main concern is to support the assault troops, protect the convoy from pilfering and looting, and to support the pinned down drivers. To do this successfully we needed the rain to stop and the clouds to lift some to give us room to work.

7:30 PM
Outside it is a torrential downpour.  I run back to my ship and dial the radio’s ground frequency.  The best I can tell is the fighting is continuing,  but mostly sporadic sniper fire, and the .50 Cals from the Mech Armored Personnel Carrier’s with their searchlights is keeping the looting of the convoy down.

The artillery unit from Trang Bang is doing a job on the Little Rubber Plantation, so the Viet Cong in the trench are at least frozen in place for the time being, and hopefully thinned out some.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

7:45 PM
A Little Bear Flare ship is scrambled to the convoy. The Little Bear ship got on location at about 1955. The weather was still atrocious and they could not see the ground from their elevation of 2500 feet. They dropped a few flares, but it was a lesson in futility since the ceiling on the ground was too low to be effective or accurate.

8:15 PM
Due to no visibility the Little Bear flare ship returns to the Bear Pit to wait out the storm further, as the artillery unit continues to pound the battlefield around the convoy and inside the Little Rubber Plantation.

10:05 PM
An emergency call is received an emergency resupply of ammunition. The assault units and drivers are in dire straights without it.  Since the Little Bear resupply helicopter is already loaded, they vote to take a try it. At worst they wil be forced to return.

As they approach the convoy they duck under the low cloud cover, the artillery unit fires illumination rounds and somehow they find the drop zone, illuminated by a strobe light.

The conditions are much too treacherous for the gunship helicopters to work, or any other aircraft for that matter.  Unloading quickly, they take on some of the wounded and return to Cu Chi’s 12th Evacuation Hospital to deposit the wounded and then on to the sanctity of the Bear Pit and safety to wait out the weather.

11:06 PM
At 2306, again the Little Bear flare ship is scrambled. According to the ground commander the sky is starting to clear some, and the ceiling improving. It will prove to be a very long night for the flight crews.

Jay Marion, the crew chief on the Little Bear flare ship remembers the night all to well.

‘We took turns “rotating on station” with the Diamondhead flare ship. While we were reloading, Diamondhead was dropping flares and visa versa. That way we could constantly have the battlefield lit up. It was one very very busy night.’

‘We were flying with NO LIGHTS on anywhere and we didn’t have monkey straps on, so one wrong step, or you get hung up on an out going flare and you went with it. It was not one of the better missions that I would want to repeat.’

‘We were flying quite high and worked our butts off tossing out flares… hoping like you would not believe that we would NOT get hit. I still don’t want to think about what it would have been like to get rounds into that pile of flares and see it catch on fire. Things would have been very nasty.’

‘From the elevation we were at we couldn’t see things very clearly, but I do know the action was quite intense down below. Tracers were going everywhere, red ones from the gunships going down, green and white ones going up, and all of them going sideways on the ground.’

Within minutes of the arrival of the flare ship, the 1st Brigade  “Little Bear 120″ with the 1st Brigade Commander aboard was back on station above the convoy to direct the attack and recon the battlefield.

The Viet Cong again were beginning to assault the trucks in the convoy and the supporting drivers.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

Since the weather is beginning to break up, and the ceiling lifting,  “Diamondhead” gunships are called to return on station to assist in the battle.

11:29 PM
At 2329 the phone rings in the scramble shack on the Diamondhead flight line. We are off within five minutes enroute to Ap Nhi to assist in the protection of the besieged convoy.

I remember just before we arrived on station we were monitoring the radio listening to the ground commander “Noble Corners”, situated at the south end of the convoy talking to his counter part at the north end of the convoy, “Bristol Kites”, about the developing situation.

There are pockets of drivers and other convoy personnel still engaged with the Viet Cong along the roadway, and a pocket still pinned down at the north end.

At the south end Viet Cong are unloading munitions from the trailers, but there isn’t the manpower to totally stop it.

As we arrive above the convoy.  The weather still isn’t great, the ceiling is about 900 feet with patchy clouds and a foggy mist hung in the air.

The flare ship is dropping flares, which cast an eerie almost surrealistic glow to the battlefield.

The artillery shells impacting in the Rubber Plantation create a noticeable amount of smoke drifting back towards to the convoy.   Add to this the tracers flying all over the place, green and white ones coming from the west side of the road, and red ones answering them from the east.

While our fire team leader is figuring out the location of our troops, and the bad guys, I noticed a little Lambretta scooter, one of those three wheeled jobs with a small cargo box on the back leave the south end of the convoy and disappear into an old barn or farmhouse. In a couple of minutes he returns and repeats the trip. My aircraft commanders (CWO David Stock)  and I decide to let him make one more trip before giving him a wake up call.

By now the ground commander had briefed us on the situation, and the  location of, our  troops and the bad guys.  From the 900 foot ceiling we make one rocket run at the trench across from the convoy at the south end.

As we start our run all hell break loose.  A a wall of tracers comes to greet us on the way down.  We punch off 4 sets of the 36 rockets we have with us. I covered with machine gun fire as we break west away from the roadway.

As we circled around, there was our little buddy and his Lambretta heading back to the little barn a couple hundred yards south of the convoy.

I opened up on him with the door gun and walked the rounds into him just as he cleared the door.

CWO Stock was already lined up and rolling in. He punched a set of rockets off as a barn-warming present.

ARTWORK BY SSG JULIO C. DIAZ

They went right in the door behind the Lambretta. At this point I estimate we were about 200 feet off the ground, and due to the intense ground fire we broke pretty hard and gained altitude quite quickly.

I don’t know how many trips that Lambretta had made into that barn, but now it was quite apparent what he had been hauling; it had been howitzer rounds!

The secondary explosion that went off in that barn was totally incredible!  The fireball went up into the clouds. We were back up to 900 feet and the bam parts were up there with us. We barely missed a piece of roofing tin and some other miscellaneous building materials.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

My mind flashed to the morning headlines “Diamondhead 085 Shot Down By Exploding Barn!” That would make for a really shitty day!

After getting our composure back we use the rest of our rockets and machine gun ammunition in the trench across from the drivers, and into the edge of the Rubber Plantation.

This stops the attack on the convoy for the moment. We are out of  ammunition and head back to Cu Chi to re-arm and refuel. We were in battle  more than an hour.

26 August 1968
12:41 AM
The Little Bear also left the battle to change crews, those guys had been going since 6 A.M. yesterday and are exhausted.

At Cu Chi’s refueling point we top off the tank with twelve-hundred pounds of JP-4 and then hover over to the rearming point to begin the arduous task of loading thirty-six more rockets and re-arming the mini-guns and door guns of our ship and our wing ship.

12:55 AM
While we are refueling, our secondary team is scrambled back to the convoy. The battle continues.  They were under attack by an estimated battalion size enemy force. At least we  get a little break until the secondary team needs to re-arm and refuel.

After finishing the task at hand, and inventorying the aircraft for damage we fly back to the “Beach”, the “Diamondhead” portion of the flight line, and enter the scramble shack to await our next mission. We had acquired a couple of holes from enemy bullets, but only punctured the helicopter’s skin and hit nothing vital to our safety. A piece of duct tape will hold it for now.

01:35 AM
As we enter the scramble shack, the phone rings and we are on our way, back to the battle.

One of our helicopters is shot up pretty bad for the second time in 24 hours and will leave the fight.

The rest of the night was not real eventful, save ducking some ground fire.
Re-arm, re-fuel, return to the convoy, shoot up some ammo and a few rockets when we found proper targets.

06:30 AM
At 0630 the 1st Brigade Commander directed a “roll-up” attack operation down the axis of the enemy ambush positions in the village and the Little Rubber Plantation, a repeat of the operation the previous afternoon, while the team at the southern end of the ambush site acted as a blocking force.

Company C. 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry will moved along the edge of the village, and Troop B platoons will move just inside the Little Rubber Plantation but parallel to the trench.

Main Supply Route  22 will be both the axis of advance and the boundary between the two attacking units.

The Troop B Commanding Officer is designated team leader. During this sweep the gunships will fly overhead in case they are needed, and as a safety precaution.

During this time frame all of the wounded will be med-evaced to 12th Evacuation hospital in Cu Chi.

10:00 AM
The entire ambush area has been swept clear and the evacuation of the disabled convoy vehicles begins. The enemy left before dawn.

Five of the ambushed trucks are total losses, but the trailers with the artillery ammunition are in good shape with little loss of ammunition

About one hundred four enemy killed and twice that number wounded.   Our losses are nineteen killed and forty-nine wounded.

Seven of the dead and ten of the wounded being truckers.  The 25th Aviation Battalion sustained one wounded. There were also two MlA’s.

10:30 AM
Two helicopters are sent to pick up our nineteen dead soldiers. This is the most gruesome job any aviator could have.

Epilogue:
Two Americans taken prisoner by the Viet Cong during the ambush.

Specialist 4th Class Bobby Louis Johnson of Detroit and Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Gregory of Altus, Okla., both of the 62nd Transportation Company, were captured late in the fight. Both were held in a Viet Cong prison camp NW of Tay Ninh City.

(The following information is from: http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/j/j029.htm)

Bobby Johnson and Burt Kinzel were riding in a truck. They
stopped and went into a mud hut realizing the enemy
was approaching from all sides. 

Kinzel ran, barely escaping the grasp of a VietCong. 

Bobby Johnson was captured and not released till 1973.
The POWs were kept on the move; some held in groups,
and some held alone. 

It was a mental challenge to try to keep track of
their location, and the POWs report that they believed
they were in Cambodia some of the time, and at other
times near the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During rest periods
on the journey they were held in cages or in deep holes,
or chained to trees.
Johnson remained in captivity for five years. In February 1973
he was released with most other knownPOWs and sent to Ft. Knox Ky.

Nine months later (after the 25 August battle)  a 1st Cavalry Division helicopter was flying over northern Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian border.

Twelve miles northwest of Tay Ninh the crew sighted someone  waving from a trail in the bamboo below.

ARTWORK BY SP4 RICHARD W. MCDOWELL

When the pilot descended for a closer look, he decided that the man looked like an American and brought the chopper down to pick him up.

It was Sergeant Gregory.
“When they picked me up, I was actually crying,” Gregory is quoted saying.

He escaped four days earlier and wandered in the jungle ever since – praying that a helicopter would fly over.  Gregory was taken to the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh.

The seven men known to have died in the ambush are

 

  • 86th Transportation Company
    • SP4 William C. Lawson, Happy Camp, CA
    • SP4 Claude F. Vaughn, McRae, GA
    • PFC Paul H. Pirkola, Calumet, MI


  • 10th Transportation Company
    • PFC Arden G. Sonnenberg, Kenosha, WI


  • 62nd Transportation Company
    • SGT William W. Seay, Pensacola, FL (Medal of Honor)
    • SP4 Eugene Turner, Los Angeles, CA
    • PFC Danny J. Mitchell, Marmet, WV

Bibliography:
Convoy Ambush At Ap Nhi-Stephen C. Tunnell, Vietnam Magazine The Infantry Brigade In Combat

******************************************************

FOLLOWING ARTICLE SOURCE:  http://www.virtualwall.org/dl/lawsonwc01a.htm

US forces in the area responded rapidly and violently, with two infantry companies and an armored troop arriving on scene. The ambush became a day-long fight that ended after night fell. Nineteen US soldiers were killed in the incident, eleven from the convoy personnel and nine from the reaction force. They were

Convoy personnel: 

  • 86th Trans Co, 6th Trans Bn, 48th Trans Group
    • SP4 William C. Lawson, Happy Camp, CA
    • SP4 Claude F. Vaughn, McRae, GA
    • PFC Paul H. Pirkola, Calumet, MI


  • 10th Trans Co, 7th Trans Bn, 48th Trans Group


  • 62nd Trans Co, 7th Trans Bn, 48th Trans Group
    • PFC Danny J. Mitchell, Marmet, WV
    • SGT William W. Seay, Pensacola, FL (Medal of Honor)
    • SP4 Eugene Turner, Los Angeles, CA


  • 75th FC Co, 506th Field Depot
    • CPL Jerry L. Simmonds, Sacramento, CA


  • 556th Trans Co, 64th QM Bn, 53rd GS Group
    • SFC Thomas E. Richey, Atlanta, GA
    • SSG Byron J. Mitchell, New Paris, PA


  • C Co, 720th MP Bn, 89th MP Group
    • SP4 Guy A. Davison, Everett, WA

Reaction force: 

  • C Co, 3rd Bn, 22nd Infantry
    • SP4 Robert J. Dorshak, Michigan City, IN
    • SP4 Cornelius F. Murphy, Northport, NY
    • PFC Leland E. Radley, Boscobel, WI

    CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE

     

 

  • C Co, 4th Bn, 23rd Infantry
    • SP4 Earl S. Bazemore, Baltimore, MD
    • CPL Patrick J. Mc Cormick, Richmond Hill, NY
    • CPL Jeffrey W. Pohjola, Southfield, MI CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE

 

  • B Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cavalry
    • CPT James B. Westbrook, Memphis, TN
    • SSG William T. Anderson, Statesville, NC
    ~Distinguished Service Cross ~
  • The following article is from: http://www.tomahawks.us/diary_16.htm

    Captain Henry R. Phillips commanded C Co. ~ Tomahawks ~ 4th Battalion (Mechanized) / 23rd Infantry Regiment/25th Infantry Division, during this combat encounter and for his actions earned the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Quoted below are excerpts from the DSC citation which provide additional details of the action:

    “…his company and a convoy that it was supporting were ambushed by two North Vietnamese Army battalions…Captain Phillips flew to the scene of the battle and jumped to the ground from his hovering helicopter amid intense enemy fire. Finding that his first platoon was in danger of being overrun, he quickly gathered a force to assist the threatened element and halted the advance of the communist.

    As he was leading a counterattack to secure a landing zone for an ambulance helicopter, he and his men came under heavy rocket-propelled grenade and automatic weapons fire from the flank. Grabbing four light antitank weapons, he moved through the hostile fusillade to a point from which he was able to destroy a rocket-propelled grenade team and an automatic weapons position. Once the casualties were safely evacuated, Captain Phillips led a small group of volunteers into the killing zone of the ambush to extract several remaining dead and wounded personnel. He then organized a withdrawal as darkness set in and although wounded by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade, succeeded in leading his men to an allied command…”

  • Note: see http://www.virtualwall.org/dp/PhillipsHR01a.htm   ~ KIA September 22, 1968 ~ for the story of this brave warrior’s final battle, go to: http://www.tomahawks.us/18-25_sep_68.htm

64 Responses to “AMBUSH AT AP NHI – STORIES OF VALOR AND HEROISM”

  1. Randy Wehner Says:

    Great story and web site. I served in C company 3/22 3rd plt 67-68. Left Nam in sept 68. Sites like this one will keep our fallen brothers memorys and remarkable courage alive. Job well done.Randy.

  2. It’s Veterans day and I was on C/3/22 website. I was in A/3/22 1966-67 as XO. I found the account of the ambush somewhat unnerving as I took a small convoy from Bear Cat to Saigon docks to pick up pallets of sand bags we had not requisitioned or paid for. Just remembering that trip and my wretched life before I became a believer in Yeshua makes me ecstatic over the grace of God. I enjoyed your blog of your trip to Jordan-Israel. I was in Israel this time last year (2007)- the best vacation I have ever taken. Then I saw the picture of you (?) holding a camera at arms length on a bus or train- I was shocked. It was like I was looking at a picture of me!
    How wierd is that! Thank you for your ministry to the wounded in Nam.
    Shalom. (Numbers 6:24-26)

  3. Thank you for your sacrifice Randy, and thank you for sharing.

  4. Robert vialpando Says:

    Charlie co 3/22/25div August 23 1968 to August 15 1969.
    Great memoral to our comrades

  5. Doc,

    Thanks for taking the time to document the events of August 25th, 1968.

    As you mention in your article, Robert Spitler, my brother, was one of the first to arrive on scene and was attributed to aligning his aircraft and firing at the enemy at point blank range in an effort to drive them from the column.

    I knew what point blank range is for an infantryman but not for a helicopter gunship. So I asked him what that entailed.

    He said, “you just hover off the ground and fire with everything you have.”

    For his gallantry, Robert was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    I have always wanted to contact the officers and men who may have eye witnessed this specific act of heroism.

    I have spoken to Ron Leonard and Stephen Turnell, but would like to make contact with the individual who recommended my brother for the DFC or others who were present at the time.

    Are you in contact with the CO or others that may have witnessed the first arrival of the gun ships on that day?

    For your information, Robert Spitler went on to receive another DFC a month later and completed is tour in early 1969. He now lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana.

    Again, thank you for your service to your county and for sharing this part of the history of the Vietnam War.

    Bing Spitler

  6. RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – If you or a friend or relative experienced any of these battles, please contact me by submitting a comment.

    I want to hear about your experiences during this battle.

    If you have a photo. I would be happy to insert it along with your battle story, as my way of honoring you.

    Ivan ‘Doc’ Katzenmeier

  7. Jerry Curry Says:

    Quite a story; almost like being there.

    Recon, 1/5/25, Bobcats 1966-67

  8. George T. Rebich Says:

    On behalf of the Seay family, I thank you for this first hand narrative of the battle at Ap Nhi on 25Aug1968.

    It has served to clear up some confusion, at least on my part, about what really happened that day.

    Bill (SSgt Seay) was a great guy and we do miss him terribly at times.

    I remember the day that Billy left for Vietnam from Pensacola quite well. It was raining and the sun was shining. He looked at me and said “I may not be back Tim..” I told him that he was being ridiculous and to not say that. I guess he knew something I didn’t.

    There have been many things named after him since then. Ships, tugboats, auditoriums, marching fields, etc. But none of that will ever take the place of not having him back with his family. He missed so very much.

    Once again, I thank you and the family thanks you.

    George T. Rebich
    ————————————————————————-
    Dear Tim,

    I am deeply honored to be thanked by the Seay family.

    I offer my heart felt condolences for your loss.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  9. Great account of the battle of Ap Nhi Ivan. I enjoyed reading it. I served with Co.C, 3/22nd Infantry from 1965-1967. I was WIA 1-16-1967 near Dau Tieng.

    Robert O’Neal
    —————————————————————————
    Welcome home, Robert!

    Ivan

  10. John Bebow Says:

    Great account of the ambush and rescue.

    My cousin was Arden Sonnenberg. He was killed in the ambush.

    My aunt and uncle told me Arden lost a camera out of his truck from the looting.

    He was in country only three weeks, as he requested a transfer from his outfit in Germany.

    John Bebow
    —————————————————————————
    Thanks John,

    I’m sure you are aware of Stephen C. Tunnell’s narrative describing this ambush in detail.

    Having ridden ‘shotgun’ together on a convoy, he personally knew your cousin Arden.

    Here is the link to Tunnell’s narrative, titled ‘Ambush On Highway 22.’
    http://remembervietnam.homestead.com/guntruckspart2.html

    Best wishes,

    Ivan

  11. For more another website about this battle go to:http://tomahawks.us/diary_16.htm

  12. stephen rosuck Says:

    Thank for the informaiton about Ap Nhi. My best friend Sp4 William Lawson and I were in heavy duty truck driving school together and we were in the 261st and 87th transportation companies before being separated. Bill went to the 86th and I went to the 352nd. I think about Bill every day since that ambush and it still breaks my heart. Thanks to the 22nd, you guys rocked. Bill had a neice named Trisha Barnes who wrote a real tear jerker in an ode to him.

    Thanks again
    Stephen Rosuck

    Stephen,

    Here is the ‘Ode’ from the Virtual Wall, written by Trisha Barnes, niece of your best friend, Bill.

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    *************************************************************

    To Uncle Bill

    I hold your mother’s hand as she looks far away
    She doesn’t quite know where she is
    And it’s been a while since she knew our names
    She held you as a baby and loved you all your life
    She protected you and cared for you
    And did her best as a log truck driver’s wife.
    She’s been a Gold Star Mother for more than forty years
    I wonder how her life would have been different
    If you could have returned safely to her here?
    I know so much would have not been the same
    If you could hold her hand right now
    But Uncle Bill, you should know
    That your mother still knows your name.

    Specialist William Lawson (86th Transportation Company, 1st Log Comd) was killed in Vietnam on August 25, 1968.

    The Army has given our family a couple of different explanations about what happened to him, but my grandmother and grandfather had been told that he had been leading a convoy and in an ambush situation he called off the other trucks behind him and died fighting. He was an expert marksman – he had learned to shoot as a child to help feed his family with venison and rabbit when times were often very lean. He was so loved by his parents and his brother and two sisters that his death broke their hearts and they were never quite the same again. He had learned how to drive a truck early too, working with log trucks on the windy logging roads in our steep mountainous countryside.

    I have been to The Wall, and touched his name in the black marble. He was a man who, even forty years later, is still missed.

    He had Basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington beginning June 12, 1967. In Vietnam, he served in three different Transportation Companies – he was a light vehicle driver in the 87th Trans Co (22 Oct 67) and in the 261st (03 Mar 68), and finally as a heavy vehicle driver (beginning 31 Jul 68) for the 86th.

    From his niece,
    Trisha Barnes

  13. I just found this site today, and it is fantastic.

    I was on the convoy that day serving with the 25th. M.P. Co.

    I happened to be in about the middle of the convoy.

    We were just about to the south end of the village when we got hit. After quite awhile pinned down in a cemetery, we tried to get out to establish radio to the trail party, to tell them to stay back, but the radio freq. was jammed.

    After working our way north we were finally able to get to the Bhuddist Temple.

    When we established radio contact we heard several guys say they were wounded, so we went back to the village to try to help. Long story short it was a very intense, and scary night.

    Of the two gun jeeps we had, there were 2 Silver, and 2 Bronze stars with V device awarded that day.

    Keep up the great site, and welcome home brothers!
    George Sharp

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home George – and thanks for your comments!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  14. fred graham Says:

    I was with the C/3/22 platoon at the battle. It was quite a heart breaking experience. I was in Cornelius Murphy’s squad and was with him when he was wounded.

    He was shot by a sniper and he said he was going to be alright when they left with him. I was later notified of his death and it really hit me hard and still does to this day.

    We were very close. He saved my life, and we fought hard for each other. It is a shame so many young men lost their lives for such a cause as politics.

    Fred Graham
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home Fred.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Susan Lalor Says:

      This is to Fred Graham…

      I am Susan Lalor, the sister of Neil Murphy, and was just a kid when he died (11 y.o.). A friend of a friend directed me to this website and it has been very enlightening. I have never heard your name before, but feel free to e-mail me to give me any other stories or information. I know very little of what really happened to all of you and him. Thanks for thinking of my brother. I look forward to hearing from you.

      Sue

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Thanks for your comment Sue. I am so sorry about the loss of your brother. I hope Fred Graham contacts you.

      Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Judy Tripler Katz Says:

      To Fred Graham: I just learned of this website last night–received info from a friend who graduated with Neil Murphy. Neil was a handsome, nice, nice guy. His death was such a shock to us back home–he was just 21! I graduated the year after Neil and was in nursing school at the time he died. His death was, in large part, one of the reasons I joined the Army Nurse Corps and went to Vietnam. It was the least I could do for my generation. Thank you for your story about the Neil–it does not surprise me that he had friends who loved him. Welcome home, Fred.

  15. stephen tunnell Says:

    It was great to read the full account of Ap Nhi. Thanks
    Steve Tunnell

  16. Richard HIggins Says:

    I lost my best friend Dale Ray Richter on August 25,1968 in Tay Ninh
    can you provide me with any details. thanks for you service ..
    Richard Higgins

  17. norm theriault Says:

    I was with the 261st when ambush occured..I was part of the convoy however the truck I was on happened to go to Quan Loi along with several others instead of Tay Ninh..we seperated B/4 the ambush occured….fate…luck…don’t really know..

  18. william shoemaker Says:

    I was with the 3rd sqd 4th cav 25th I D that fateful day. It is something I will never forget. I met two other Veterans that were there but they were in different units, one was a fuel truck driver and the other was in another infantry unit. I was a crewman on a armored tank M-48, big target. Enjoyed the article.
    Thank You Very Much.
    William (TINY) Shoemaker
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
    Welcome home Tiny!
    Ivan Katzenmeier

  19. william shoemaker Says:

    I was with the 3rd Sqd 4th Cav B Troop that unforgetable day. I think it was Jerry Headly that took over command of B-Trp after Captain Westbrook (CPT James B. Westbrook) was killed. Sgt Anderson’s (SSG William T. Anderson) tank took two RPG’s the second one went through the turret and hit him in the mid section.

    I have met two other men that was there that day. One of them goes to the same VA Hospital that I go to. I thought it was really something to meet two people that were in different units so many years later. The heck of it is I just recovered from wounds in the Hospital in Camp Zama Japan.

    This is a great site, I have told a lot of people about this battle.

    Now they can read it themselves.Keep up the good work and THANK YOU VERY MUCH also WELCOME HOME.

    TINY

  20. Jeffrey Thompson Says:

    I arrived in the 62nd in november of 68. I had many convoys in my tour. I remember several ambushes. and the warnings at the morning brefing at the motor pool. But nothing compares to the above story.This is the first I have heard the complete events of that day! It could not make me prouder to be a member of the 62nd trans.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Jeffrey!
    Ivan Katzenmeier

  21. I served with Service Battery 2nd 32 Field Artillery based in Tay Ninh. 2nd 32nd had 8″ and 175MM Guns and our Gun Batteries were positioned in numerous locations. One was in Chu Che, one in Tay Ninh, one at French Fort (ST Barbara) one in Katum.
    My job was to get Ammo to the Gun Batteries. We picked up Rounds and Powder in both Long Bin and off the docks in Saigon. We were Red Legs and had little to no Security for our trucks so we always caught a convoy of the 25th ID to join for their security. “THANKS TO YOU” we made it back.
    We joined a convoy out of Chu Chi with seven 5 ton trucks loaded with H. E. We were toward the Front of the convoy when all hell broke lose. Only one truck loaded with 8″ Rounds was stopped the remained drove like hell and got through and made it to Tay Ninh.

    We had no way of communicating between vehicles let alone with our Commander in Tay Ninh. Very rairly we we given any type of communication equipment so we had no idea as to what was going on or where our missing driver was. He shows up late that night after the road was cleared so another segment of the convoy could proceed on to Tay Ninh.

    Along Time ago, A lot of my memories have gone by, PTSD has had it’s toll on me but I wlll always remember the year of Hell of 68 in Viet Nam

    • william shoemaker Says:

      As I said in the above,I was with the 3rd Sqd 4th Cav 25 Infantry Division that day and it was really bad even for the Armored squadren. We were big targets. This is one of the better sites that I have been on. Keep up the good work.

  22. William W. Seay Says:

    This is an amazing account of the ambush. My brother was killed in this ambush and was awarded the MEDAL OF HONOR. Thanks to all that contributed this. I am so glad that I can read the details of the ambush. Thanks to all.

    William S. Seay

  23. Fred Learned Says:

    I was driving one of the fuel tankers for the 556 transportation co. was one of the lucky one to make to Tay Ninh. Lost two men from my platoon.

    Fred Learned
    “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

    Welcome home Fred!

    Sorry to hear about the loss of the two men from your platoon. That was an awful day.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Vickie (Way) Sellers Says:

      Fred ,
      I see you were in 556 transportation co. My uncle was Byron Mitchell. Thank -you for writing.

  24. Vickie (Way) Sellers Says:

    I am the niece of Byron Mitchell. He was like a brother to me. I was twelve years old and I was counting down the days till he would come home . He had eleven days to go when this happened . For the past 44 years I had only been told that he was in a convoy and his truck broke down.
    I searched the internet for information about him since 1999.
    This week I found your site by doing a search for Byron Joseph Mitchell.
    Thank you for writing this and I thank God you came back and told the story !!!
    My heart still aches for his loss and I think about him often.
    I had to stop reading many times , wipe the tears from my eyes to be able to continue reading.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Thanks for the comments Vickie.

    I am so sorry about the loss of your Uncle Byron.

    All of our hearts ache for those we lost in Vietnam.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Vickie (Way) Sellers Says:

      Thank you Ivan .
      I have so many memories of him that will never die ! Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary and it still seems like yesterday. He also died on his brothers birthday. So tragic !

  25. Marvin Branch Says:

    This is my recollection of the battle, (August 25, 1968) some 44 years later; I was in the 4th platoon (mortars) that was the platoon at the north end of the village. There were only 3 of our 4 platoons on what we called convoy duty. The platoons were split up along the highway for a presence and in the event a convoy was ambushed we could react.

    Shortly before noon we were radioed that one of the other platoons was ambushed at the other end of a village and we immediately loaded and rolled to assist. As we approached the town we saw several truck drivers headed our way. A few were wounded but able to walk. One was missing most of his right hand and in shock.

    Their was an ARVN post at the entrance to the village; that is where we were stopped. We were close to the burning and disabled trucks blocking the road. There was also a jeep of MPs by the post who were at the lead of the convoy.

    I sat up my 81 mm mortar on the ground next to the post and waited for a fire coordinate. Shortly after that time Charlie began to launch 60 mm rounds by pairs towards our position at random intervals. Each pair was getting closer as he walked them in our direction. We could not see his mortar flashes so I put the gun site on direct fire and fired back in what I viewed as likely locations in an attempt to knock them out. We did this throughout the afternoon.

    In late afternoon some wounded drivers were being brought to our end of the village on APCs and later some wounded infantrymen. The 4th platoon had no medic so I directed the loading of the medevac choppers. Most of these men were able to walk without help. One driver was on a stretcher having been shot through a lung. The MP medic and I tried to keep him alive until the next chopper landed. At the same time the 60 mm rounds were getting closer and more frequent. Two landed near us and wounded one of the other mortar men. I told him to get under a nearby duce and a half and wait for the next evacuation.

    I looked at my watch, at 5:58 PM the last two 60s landed as I turned around to help the medic. He was wounded in the arm; my wounded buddy was hit in the forehead as he attempted to climb into the truck bed (and later died of that wound). The concussion must have killed the driver. I was wounded in the right trapezia and just below my left shoulder blade. As the rounds explode gravel went up my back and back of my head and knocked me over. I believe if I hadn’t turned when I did I would have been blinded by the debris.

    By this time the medevac was further up the road and the three of us walked to it. I was told later that those were the last rounds fired and contact broken.

    I tell you this as a witness; nothing more or less. I am, however, grateful that the story has been told. I know more of the action than I ever knew. I am humbled by the actions of the individuals who were there that day.

    Marvin E. Branch
    C 4/23, RVN 9/67 – 9/68

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home Marvin! Thanks for your account of the battle.

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Sr. Medic, Charlie Co., 3/22, 25th Inf Div (1968)

  26. My father, SFC William James Byrd was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery during the ambush at Ap Nhi. He was an MP and served 20 years in the Army and did another 20 as a law enforcement officer stateside. Great write-up, thank you.

  27. For those who have not read the following diary, you will be interested in this:

    Daily Diary Transcript of Lieutenant Colonel Clifford C. Neilson (Col. Ret.) Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23rd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, 12 May -13 November 1968, Tay Ninh Province, Republic of Vietnam

    Source: http://www.tomahawks.us/diary_16.htm

    25 Aug – 6+1.5=7.5 Quiet nite – 0700 -Bn formation. [Gave] HHC, A, B Co’s pep talk. B Co. opened road. R convoy escort for arty then DT-TN convoy. C Co. open road GDH-TN & FF. A Co. work on base camp defense.

    1230. C Co 2d Plat heavy contact vic. S edge small rubber. Convoy attacked. C Co. (-) moved south. B-3/22 air landed in CP 182. B-3/4 moved up from south. B-3/4 linked up w/ C26 [call sign for 2nd Platoon leader, C Co.] heavy casualties, circled rubber. Linked w/ B-3/22. Drove north. Hit trench line at 1900 laager vic CP 182. C Co. (-) plus 1 plat B-3/4 initially laagered, then moved to GDH (Go Da Hau). 1 plat B Co. moved to Rock Crusher. Capt Honsard, C-3/22, Lt Headley, B-3/4 2K [can not tell if the 2K entry refers to Honsard and Headley], 15 W APC-C12 destroyed.

    Captain Henry R. Phillips commanded C Co. during this combat encounter and for his actions earned the Distinguished Service Cross. Quoted below are excerpts from the DSC citation which provide additional details of the action:

    “…his company and a convoy that it was supporting were ambushed by two North Vietnamese Army battalions…Captain Phillips flew to the scene of the battle and jumped to the ground from his hovering helicopter amid intense enemy fire. Finding that his first platoon was in danger of being overrun, he quickly gathered a force to assist the threatened element and halted the advance of the communist. As he was leading a counterattack to secure a landing zone for an ambulance helicopter, he and his men came under heavy rocket-propelled grenade and automatic weapons fire from the flank. Grabbing four light antitank weapons, he moved through the hostile fusillade to a point from which he was able to destroy a rocket-propelled grenade team and an automatic weapons position. Once the casualties were safely evacuated, Captain Phillips led a small group of volunteers into the killing zone of the ambush to extract several remaining dead and wounded personnel. He then organized a withdrawal as darkness set in and although wounded by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade, succeeded in leading his men to an allied command…”

    [From the New York Times, 25 August, p. 2.]
    ” …Sharp fighting has also developed in Tay Ninh Province, one of the enemy’s key infiltration routes to Saigon. United States 25th Infantry Division [sic: forces] in the province came under recoilless rifle, mortar, rocket, and machine-gun fire shortly after midnight.

    The American soldiers, in night defensive positions 11 miles east of Tay Ninh, called in helicopter gun ships, artillery, tanks, and armored personnel carriers.

    Eight United States soldiers were killed and 45 wounded in the three hour attack. A total of 62 North Vietnamese soldiers were also reported killed.”

    [From the New York Times, 26 August, p. 2.]
    “…A United States convoy moving toward Tay Ninh was ambushed today by dug-in enemy troops who lobbed mortars and fired machine guns from both sides of a road. Six Americans were killed and 51 wounded in the attack.
    The United States Command said this morning that a reaction force of gun ships, tactical aircraft, and tanks repulsed the enemy force but only after an all day fight. Spokesman said that 96 enemy soldiers were killed…”

    An ironic headline on the same page reported that “Nixon Spends a Quiet day with Friends in Bahamas.

    • Vickie (Way) Sellers Says:

      I wonder where Johnson was that day ? My family had an intense dislike for him and how he handled Vietnam. More and more troops and more and more deaths !!
      These brave men who fought and died in this war deserve to be honored and remembered forever in our hearts . We need to read and reread and remember always !!!
      I pray for war no more .

  28. Irv Mandelberg Says:

    I was a 1LT in the 62nd at the time of this attack, only in country 2 weeks and was briefed the night before to take that convoy to Tay Ninh. At 3:30 a.m.

    I was awakened by the night office wake-up crew and told to sleep in as I was to be one of the Officers on a Court Martial Board later that morning.

    A new 2LT who had been in country only 3 days took my place and from what we heard got his knee blown off, got my Jeep r p g’d and flipped over, and got sent back to Okinawa to recover.

    Never heard about him nor did we get any real factual info on what actually went down until I read this. I led 60 12 ton S&P’s to Tay Ninh loaded with ammunition the very next day with my Jeep loaded to the gills with an M-60, an M-79, an M-14 (because the M-16’s jammed for some of the men and I wanted to be able to shoot if I needed to) 4 grenades on my flak vest, and a 1911- .45 with 6 clips of extra ammo.

    I was scared to death and gave the best 20 minute briefing to our truckers the next morning that our 48th Group Commander said he had ever heard.

    The day before this attack on the way to Tay Ninh I wore an Army baseball cap, a t-shirt and kept our weapons in the Jeep trailer under a tarp to keep them clean and so as to not have to spend much time cleaning them after we got back from our convoy.

    That day and from then on it was helmet, flak vest, long sleeve shirt and as much ordnance as I could fit in the Jeep. I had to gather the gear from the men in my platoon in the 62nd who had died, were wounded or who were MIA that night and that was hardest thing I did there.

    I really did not know the men well as the first week there I was assigned to another Company (per our Battalion Commanders Orders) to learn the ropes so that when I joined the 62nd I would not appear to be a complete idiot / newbie.

    The Stars and Stripes published an account of this ambush and made it appear like it was just another day in the park.

    I am sorry I never got to know SGT Seay or any of the other men we lost on that day. And I still wonder what God was up to when he had me sleep in and have some other LT take my convoy. (The Court Martial Board got cancelled because of the ambush and never took place with me in it.)

    THANKS for a great website and all the input from you outstanding guys !!!
    Irv Mandelberg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home, Irv! God certainly took care of you that day!

    Ivan

  29. I was the 3rd Platoon leader of B Troop that day and took command of the troop when the troop cdr. CPT Westbrook was KIA. It was a long day.

    • Welcome home Jerry! Good to hear from you. It was a long day, longer for some than others.

      Ivan Katzenmeier
      Sr. Medic, Charlie Co., 3/22nd, 25th Inf. Div.

  30. Katz, per our FONECON, the following are my comments on the Battle of the Little Rubber, 25 August 1968.
    I was the 3rd PLt LDR of B Troop, 3-4 Cavalry, 25th ID.

    Our troop had been conducting road security south of Go Dau Ha to Trang Bang.

    We were alerted sometime around noon on the 25th of Aug. that the resupply convoy had been ambushed by the Little Rubber and to start “rolling up” to come to their aid. While on the move we were again told to stop and return to our original positions. While enroute back, once again, we were told to turn around and head to the Little Rubber.

    This confusion and delay caused us to arrive at the battle site piecemeal. When the 3rd platoon arrived the 1st platoon was in the rubber trees and firing on the enemy. The 2nd platoon was just outside of the rubber and also firing.

    The 3rd platoon went into a “Herringbone” formation next to the village and began firing into the village and into a farm house with a berm around it to our southeast. Alongside my track was an MP jeep with all its crewmembers dead and lying next to their jeep.

    Shortly after arriving I received a call from the troop cdrs. TC saying that the CO was down and for me to come up and take command.

    The CO, CPT James Westbrook, had been KIA by enemy automatic weapons fire. So, the troop cdr. was KIA in the rubber and not at the farm house as stated in the report and in COL “Duke” Wolf’s book “The Infantry Brigade in Combat”.

    Once assuming command and contacting the BDE Cdr. , he ordered my troop (-) (My 3rd platoon was left in place to help secure the south end of the battlefield and conduct dust-offs.) to move toward some fleeing VC on the East end of the Little Rubber.

    The Infantry Company that had been air lifted in was making headway thru the village from N to S.
    B troop proceeded around the rubber trees and approached the Buddhist Temple from the rear where a firefight ensued.

    Once the enemy force in the temple had been eliminated, B troop was ordered to sweep thru the rubber with c-3-22 going thru the village and protecting our right flank.

    By this time we were running low on fuel and ammo and it was getting dark due to an approaching storm. We had to back out of the rubber and return to the highway so fuel and ammo could be airlifted to us.

    During the night, even tho there was continuous artillery fire into the ambush site, the VC forced the villagers to use their ox carts to transport their wounded and as many KIA out of the REA. By taking advantage of the storm and night they were able to accomplish this because a planned blocking force could not be inserted.

    The next a.m. B troop swept thru the area picking up discarded weapons and finding dead VC. They then hooked up the vehicles to their tracks and tanks and towed them to Tay Nihn Base Camp.

  31. Hi all. Still looking to be in touch with Fred Graham or anyone who knew my uncle, Cornelius F.Murphy Jr. Please email at Kristi.Lalor@gmail.com

    Thank you

  32. Glen Hendricks Says:

    William Wayne Seay is listed as being from Pensacola. I don’t know what his home address is listed as, at the time of his death; but, he is was born in Brewton, AL which is in Escambia Co., AL. He is buried in Weaver Cemetery just outside of Brewton. In this town and county you have many places, roads and highways named after the wealthy, politicians and local celebrities, sadly they have done nothing to recognize Mr. Seay. I have gone to his grave and read the MOH citation; it is truly humbling. Thank you to him and all of the brave men in this article. We all owe you so much!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_W._Seay

  33. Richard Gambrell Says:

    I am doing a memorial project concerning Alonzo Lenord Dixon. PFC Dixon was KIA May 22, 1968. He was a member of c/3/22. Any information or recollections that anyone was willing to share would be greatly appreciated.

  34. Carl R. Duncan Jr. Says:

    Great site just found it. I was with the 25th MP co riding trail convoy escort that day. Trust me when I say this ambush did not have to happen and lives could have been saved

  35. Stephen C. Tunnell Says:

    Every time I read this account I learn more than I knew before and I was there that day. They say a soldier knows only the thirty meters around him and I guess that’s true. My account of the battle is from my own experience. So many were involved in that fight. I thank all the guys from the 25th who came to our relief.

    • Steve, welcome home!

      And thanks for your contributions to the history of this battle.

      Ivan Katzenmeier

      • Stephen C. Tunnell Says:

        Thanks Ivan. I was trying to see in this article if you were there that day at Ap Nhi. Anyway, thanks for the kind words.
        Stephen Tunnell
        10th Trans
        48ty Group

    • william shoemaker Says:

      I was with the 25th 3rd sqd 4th cav it was a bad day. I live in Chillicothe Ohio and I get treatment at the VA there.I met two men who was in the convoy that day and we always have something to say about that day one of them received the Silver Star.

  36. Steve, my narrative starts at 1:00 PM that day, inserted between David Sellman’s and Marvin Branch’s stories. I was wounded an hour or two later when mortar rounds started falling on me and the wounded lying around me. I was the Sr. Medic for Charlie Company, 3rd/22nd, 25th Infantry Division.

  37. Angela Kado-Dickens Says:

    Ivan,
    My father 1LT Herbert J. Kado was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery during the Ap Nhi ambush. He was with the MP Company! Thanks so much for your presentation and your service!!

    • jaheadley@comcast.net Says:

      Thanks for keeping me informed. I find it so interesting that almost 50 years later folks still have stories. Jerry Headley

  38. Jacqueline Owens Says:

    As the sun rose in the early morn,
    And cast its rays over the earth,
    Is this the day for new life to be born,
    Or will we receive the berth God has sworn?

    You wonder why I write such lines,
    Or why you see me read a psalm?
    For us these are not happy times,
    For we are here in the land of Nam.

    We are here to fight and kill,
    Not a happy thought for such as me,
    But for our country fight we will,
    For if we don’t, can man be free?

    My friends and I have crossed the sea,
    So far from the ones we need.
    Will we die to make our freedom be?
    If so, we must trust in God’s creed.

    We have learned by the Golden Rule,
    But here we have to change it a bit.
    “Do unto them before they do unto you”,
    Or it may be friends, or even you, who is hit.

    We’ve gone through much, in such short time.
    We’ve lost our friends and killed our foe.
    They taught us to kill, but the quiet is mine,
    Little do the people of the world know.

    Today the maker came and held my hand.
    I felt the pain and looked at death.
    Would HE take me to the promised land?
    Or give me back life’s precious breath.

    I lost my friends that day in Hell,
    But by God’s grace I’m going home.
    Some of the things I’ll never tell,
    But from now on, I won’t be alone.

    As written by John D. Green
    25th Infantry C Company
    Tropical Lightning
    October 1944-July 1996

    My dad was the greatest man I have ever known. He had been “in country” for only 45 days when he was injured during an ambush on August 25th, 1968, near Ap Nhi. He was shot seven times: his leg, his nose, his shoulder, three times in the stomach, and his butt (which he swore was the most painful). While all the men he was with were killed, my dad was able to drag himself over to the medivac helicopters, after several hours, right before the final flights departed. He was never able to share much with us when we were younger. Sadly, he passed away from cancer, caused by Agent Orange, 19 years ago today. The only names he ever mentioned were “Doc” and “Bill”. I am almost certain that Bill referred to a William that was killed in action on that day. He’s mentioned that he was left for dead and only survived because a passing doctor/medic heard him breathing and decided he deserved a chance.

    We miss him every single day. If anyone out there knows any more of his story we would love hearing from you.

    • Vickie Sellers Says:

      Thank-you for sharing your father’s story. He must have had great courage. Thank God for the medics , too .
      I hope someone can give you more information.

  39. tim reynolds Says:

    I remember this day very well as my truck was one of the last ones to pass through before the convoy was attacked that day. We poceeded to Tay Nin and waited . This is the first time I have the entire story of this convoys fate. I was in the 151st tc hauling produce that day.

    Tim,
    Welcome home! You were very lucky to get out of Ap Nhi alive.
    Thanks for your comment, and best wishes!

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Charlie Co., 3/22nd, 25th Infantry
    Medic 1968-69

    • tim reynolds Says:

      Im glad i saw this post as I have never heard much of the story except the parts that I witnessed going and coming from taynin.

  40. Leland G. Barbour Says:

    Thanks to all of these men who fought so bravely.The one i will alway remember so proudly is my uncle SSG.Byron J.Mitchell.of the 556 trans. . Thank you all for this story and for remembering him.May god bless all of you..

  41. Marvin E. Branch Says:

    Ivan,
    I’ve hesitated to ask but am getting too old not to. Are you the medic who was wounded in the arm by the same mortar rounds I was at Ap Nhi? It was at 5:58 PM. The medic was trying to keep a driver alive who was shot in the lungs I believe. If you don’t answer I’ll assume that you are not.
    Thanks,
    Marve Branch
    C 4/23

  42. Jerry Baker Says:

    Dear Doc. I think of you often , The last time I sew you was at Tay Ninh and you were up dating my shot record so I could go home . I think we referred to you as Water Buffalo , After seeing your picture I don’t know why . Take care

    • Welcome home Jerry! The medic nicknamed ‘Water Buffalo,’ was a 3rd platoon medic, Joe Senteno. If you were in the 3rd platoon you may remember Bob Dorshak (KIA 5/25/68) and Alonzo Collier (KIA 5/25/68).

  43. Ivan, Bob Dorshak was killed 8/25/1968 at Ap Nhi, a few months after Alonzo Collier (5/25/1968). I have a great picture of Alonzo Collier, “Water Buffalo” and Bob Dorshak sitting in a barracks. Thank you for your service and bravery Sir. I would like to get in contact with Joe Senteno or family regarding a memorial for Bob in May 2016 in Michigan City IN.

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