|Perry Tillman III,
Tour in Vietnam with the 1st Cav Division
After taking a Champagne flight from Travis, AFB in CA to Elmendorf, AFB, in AK, I arrived in Saigon, South Vietnam on
December 12, 1965. We went to a staging area where I was sent to Co A 1st Bn (Abn) 8th Cav Division.
I remember very few details about my 3 months tour in An Khe, South Vietnam. I remember going on a mission Christmas day of
1965. The reason I remember is because Bob Hope was coming to be at the 1st Cav base camp in An Khe on Christmas day
and I was going to miss seeing him. I remember going to Pleiku. On my first helicopter ride, I remember asking "where was the
seat belt". Then I remember my science class in high school where we talked about centrifugal force.
I was injured in a helicopter crash (Huey) on March 13, 1966 in Happy Valley. The day of the crash, I can remember flying to the
LZ. I do not remember the mission. I do not know if the helicopter lost power or was shot down. The next thing I remember was
trying to brace myself for the crash. We are talking about seconds when I was thinking about what to do. What went through my
mind was if I should jump or not. The reason I was thinking about that was because we went to a repelling demonstration where a
trooper was almost killed in that exercise. The helicopter lost power but it regained power before the trooper who was repelling
hit the ground. The Sergeant told us not to jump in a situation like that but to ride the helicopter down. I was following that order
when I was injured. Since that time I have tried to second guess that decision. Each time I do, I think I made the right decision.
When I landed on the ground, I could not get up. A Trooper ran to me and I told him that "I was alright but could not get up". I was
put on a helicopter after they applied first aid to a trooper who had both legs cut off by the blade. If we went together to the field
hospital or not I do not know. I remember parts of the ride to the field hospital. I do remember arriving at the field hospital and
going to be X-Rayed. I remember being placed on the X-Ray machine and being in so much pain. That is all that I remember.
I was told later that the helicopter was shot down. I was also told later that the pilot and co-pilot walked away from the crash. The
helicopter blew up at the bottom of the hill. One trooper was killed. One trooper had both legs cut off. Two troopers each had a
leg cut off. Another trooper had an arm cut off. Another trooper’s head was crushed. Happy Valley and March 13, 1966 have
been imprinted on my brain.
Fred was eating a Zero. The name of the mission was Crazy Horse. The pilot was shot in the head. That is different from what I
have been told. I have the names of those who were injured. Fred was in the bed next to me in Vietnam. Fred was at Fort Sam
on the amputee ward at the same time with me. My hospital stay from the 85th Evacuation Unit in South Vietnam to leaving the
VAMC’s SCI Center in Memphis, Tenn.
March 13, 1966 to March 28, 1966 85th Evacuation Unit in South Vietnam
March 28, 1966 to April 12, 1966 Clark AFB in the Philippine Islands
April 12, 1966 to April 28, 1966 Trippler Army General Hospital, Oahu, Hawaii
April 28, 1966 to May 4, 1966 Travis AFB Hospital, San Francisco, Calif.
May 4, 1966 to September 13, 1966 Brooke Army General Hospital, San Antonio, TX.
I was discharged from the US Army on September 12, 1966.
September 13, 1966 to October 28, 1966 VAMC’s SCI Center in Memphis, Tenn.
I was inducted into the US Army on June 26, 1965. I was discharged on September 12, 1966.
I was hospitalized from March 13, 1966 to October 28, 1966.
8 1/2 Active Duty June 26, 1965 to March 13, 1966
7 1/2 Hospitalized March 13, 1966 to October 28, 1966, 16 Months
|Alpha Company 1965-1971
|By Sam Ault.
I served in A Company longer than any commander or platoon leader by the time I left NAM in August 1969. As the
forward observer, I am keenly knowable of what went on in every battle that I took part in. Below find the article of
two separate OP CON missions with the 11th ACR.
In 1969 from Feb thru 13th August, I was the Forward Observer from A Battery 2d Bn 19th FA for A Company 1st Bn 8th CAV.
Twice during my tenure in the Company we were sent OP CON to E Troop 2d Squadron 11th ACR. Unfortunately when a unit
goes OP CON, they are taken off the 8th Cav Daily Staff Journals and are added to the receiving unit Daily Staff Journals. The
ACR only recorded our arrival and departure. No one knows of the exploits of A Company during the OP CON. Captain Lutz
informed me that we were going OP CON at Núi Bà Đen, Black Virgin Mountain. We CAed out of the LZ White and arrived at
the ACR in the late afternoon of the first day of OP CON. We received the track assignments and bunked with the crew of that
track. Next morning, Stand Too was announced at 0600. There was no unified startup of tracks, and any nearby enemy could
count the number of vehicles. When the sun rose over the area it was clear that the ACR had about half of the tracks being towed.
It was a total mess. We traveled 125 Kilometers that day through miles of 8 foot sawgrass. So soldiers from the company lite C 4
and tossed it into the grass. They started a massive fire. We pulled into Tonlesheon at noon, were we broke for lunch of C
Rations. At 1300 we left Tonlesheon and headed west on Hwy 13. We traveled another 25 kilometers and turned south on a new
road two klicks down that lead to a clearing were the Troop would build a fire support base and have Troop HQ.
The next morning Captain Lutz came to me and asked me the go with a squad of his men in two ACAVs to find lost material from
the S4 trailer. I agreed, but I knew that back tracking was asking for the enemy to hit us. I met with the two track commanders, told
them to secure a tow bar, and track tools before we left. Also told them to resupply ammo to both tracks and make sure we had a
full tank of fuel in each. The two track commanders, E-5s were pissed, but I said we would not leave until this was done.
We pulled out on to the road heading north with the lead track carrying half of the squad. I was in the trailing track with the
remainder. These tracks were old 4.2 mortar open top tracks. We had not been gone 20 minutes when my track hit a shape
charge that blew the right idler wheel off the track. We all dismounted and I sent two men into the jungle with a M-60 while the TCs
attached the tow bar I made them bring. When we were back on board we high tailed it to Tonlesheon, finding S4 material about
5 klicks outside town. We lunched at Tonlesheon and started back. I was now in the lead track. The TC and Driver were booking
it down the road for the 3rd time to the ACR fire base. When I saw a large tree laying across the road in the distance. I grabbed
the track commander and stopped the track. I told them to pull into the jungle on the left so we could talk.
I told them that if we continued West on this road we would never reach the fire base. We would surely die and or be captured by
the enemy. I gave them an alternate route to the fire base, by a diagonal cut through the jungle. I instructed the TC on the dead
track to start his engine and rev it up. I told him to face the rear with his 50 Caliber. The squad was to man M-60s on each side
and the grenadier was to ride with me. We set out running at top speed through the jungle and the noise was like many tracks
moving. It started to rain and we saw fresh boot prints in the mud as we flew through the jungle. We got back in record speed.
Made one course correction and entered the fire base from the jungle. Years later I received an email from soldiers in those two
tracks, thanking me for saving their lives.
That night NVA followed the ACAVs to the fire base. They attacked us at 0100 hrs and hit the wire in front of where we entered
the clearing. Oddly enough, the Troop had only set wire out where we came in and nowhere else. The next day we boarded
ACAVs and pushed back into the jungle. Around 1000 hrs I got knocked off the track by a swing limb and injured my ankle. The
ACAVs had to stand by for the Troop Huey to sling me up through the trees. I was sent back to Long Bien Hospital. Later that day
to the next day 1SGT William Wescott was killed in action on the track I had been riding on when he was hit by and RPG. As far
as I know the 1st SGT did not have any next of kin.
When I got back to A Company, they were back for OP CON. It was now late April.
By June 1969 A Company had survived one of the defining battles of 1969 along the Dong Nai River. The commander of A at
that time was CPT Walter J Marm, who won the MOH in November 1965.
In July we had a new commander, Cpt Avenick, did not tell me anything about the combat assault we were making west of Quan
Loi. It was a 10 ship LZ and I was on the first Huey with a machine gun team, grenadier and my RTO. As we approached the LZ
no artillery prep was underway. We landed in an open field and there were no trees within a kilometer in any direction. Wide
open spaces. It was when CPT Avenick landed that he told me where we were. The LZ was 25 kilometers from FSB Wescott. I
could not raise Guideon 8 as we were too far out of range. Avenick was not forthcoming that we were attached OP CON to E
Troop 2d Squadron 11th ACR. I did not have any fire support net to call for artillery, Tac Air or ARA. I found out the Platoon
Leaders were also in the dark. Avenick told me we would be walking back toward Quan Loi and the Cav would pick us up the
So we strung out in a single file with 1st Platoon, then CP, 2d Platoon, 3rd Platoon and 4th Platoon. We walked over hill and dale
until we walked up a hill and saw 6 foot sawgrass on the other side. 1st Platoon went in and we followed. Suddenly 1st Platoon
stopped and hit the dirt. Reported to Avenick that they had captured an NVA Soldier wearing a bloody ammo vest. We moved on
and came to a small clearing on the right side of the grass. Shooting started coming from a wood-line about 600 meters south of
us. The CP took cover behind some downed trees. Machine guns chipped away at the tree trunks. I flipped channels on the PRC
and finally got a conversation. BREAK, BREAK FIRE MISSION UNDER ATTACK. The conversation broke and a Radio Relay
Aircraft contacted a 155 SP Battery moving in the area. They contacted me and I adjusted 155 fire on the wood line. They
returned fire with 82 MM mortars. They put 10 rounds into our CP and none exploded. I pulled one out of the ground and it had no
1 hour into the firefight, we were giving the NVA all we had. Then we heard track vehicles moving at a fast rate and were nearly
run over by ACAVS. The CAV Troop charged into the wood-line with machine guns blasting. Then they withdrew and formed a
circle like a wagon train. We moved back up the hill and dug in on the hill overlooking the ACAVs, the Sawgrass and the wood-
line. Again my RTO found a downed tree and we dug in behind it. That night the NVA attacked the ACAVs and the ACAVs
opened with 50 caliber MGs in all direction even at us. 50 Cal rounds were hitting all over the night location. They were kicking up
sand and chipping away at our cover.
Next morning we moved about a kilometer and the 1st Cav came and hauled us back to LZ Wescott.
Somehow in both actions we only lost 1SGT Westcott and had no Medevacs required in July.