Four Ivymen Receive Cross Of Gallantry
By SP4 Craig F. MacGowan & SP5 Jeffery Tarter
OASIS—Four soldiers from the Ivy Division’s 3rd Brigade have won the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (Division Level) for their part in allied efforts in Kontum Province.
Their actions helped to virtually wipe out two NVA battalions.
Receiving the awards at Firebase Joan were Major Robert C. Woodworth of Maple Shade, N.J., Captain John A. Sans of San Jose, Calif., Specialist 4 David M. Bowman and Specialist 4 Joseph McCullough, both of Chicago.
Brigadier General Albin F. Irzyk, assistant division commander, presented the awards to the four Ivy men.
Major Woodworth, who headed the combined Task Force of ARVN and Ivy soldiers, recalled that the action kicked off with a bombing strike east of Highway 14 between Kontum and Pleiku.
"This area," he said, "was the headquarters of an NVA unit assigned to interdicting the highway.
"They haven’t done it since then," he said.
"There were an awful lot of NVA buried in bunkers that had collapsed on them from the air-strikes and artillery.
"From later reports," he added, "those airstrikes made two NVA battalions combat-ineffective."
Fast on the heels of the air-strikes, ground troops moved into the mountainous countryside. Elements of the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the 42nd ARVN Regiment swept east from Highway 14, while Companies C and D of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry were airlifted onto high ground overlooking the road.
Charlie Company’s commander at that time, Captain Sans, recalled: "We had reached our objective on a hill top, stopped and set up our perimeter and sent out some small short range recon patrols.
"About 10 minutes later eight to ten NVA ran right past our position 40 meters away. They opened fire on us and we returned it Immediately."
In the midst of the fight Specialist Bowman opened fire on an NVA soldier who was advancing toward the company command post, wounding him.
"He was still alive, waving one arm at us for help and holding an AK47 in the other," declared Specialist McCullough.
The Cacti Green soldier decided to try detaining the wounded NVA.
Riflemen were sent out from Company C and moved around and behind the wounded enemy to distract his attention. Meanwhile Specialists Bowman and McCullough ventured into the open and detained him.
Medic worked feverishly to save the NVA soldier’s life—and their work paid off.
After questioning, It was discovered the prisoner was an NVA regiment messenger who revealed thorough knowledge of enemy forces in the area. At the time he was captured, the messenger was also carrying a pouch full of military documents.
In addition to the enemy dead, the sweep uncovered several bunker complexes and large amounts of NVA weapons and ammunition.
Specialists Bowman and McCullough are still assigned to Charlie company, now commanded by Captain Lee A. Smith of Mobile, Ala.
Major Woodworth is now the S-2 of the 3rd Brigade, commanded by Colonel Stan L. McClellan of Ventura, Calif.