The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, 1LT Billie E. Sandefur, who died in the service of his country on November 27th, 1967 in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Billie was 30 years of age. He was from Cottage Grove, Oregon. Billie is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 30E, Line 99.
The decorations earned by 1LT Billie E. Sandefur include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Silver Star, the Soldiers Medal, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
Lt. Sandefur is buried next to his father Duane in:
West Lawn Memorial Park
225 South Danebo Avenue
Taken from the website:
Silver Star Given Widow
A posthumous award of a Silver Star for gallantry of a Cottage Grove Army Officer, First Lt. Billie Sandefur, was presented recently in San Francisco to his widow, Grace, of Little River CA. Parents of Lt. Sandefur, Mr and Mrs. Bryson Sandefur, Cottage Grove, were present for the presentation. Lt. Sandefur was cited for exceptional gallantry in action as a platoon leader with Company A., 35th Infantry's First Battalion in Vietnam. Lt. Sandefur was mortally wounded in action while on combat operation with the Fourth Division unit on 27 Nov (1967), when he and his platoon came under heavy fire from an enemy force in bunkers and fortified trenches. The citation said that Sandefur unhesitatingly took the point position and manueuvered his troops to link up with an adjacent unit. Suddenly the platoon was confronted with enemy machine gun directly to their front. Directing the platoon to take cover, the lieutentent moved toward the position and neutralized it with a grenade. He had been married just two months when he was killed and had been in Vietnam less than one month. Lt. Sandefur, 30, was a graduate of Cottage Grove High School. He previously had received the Soldiers Medal for heroism and was credited with saving the lives of 8 men aboard a runaway truck. (The Oregonian, Portland OR )
Billie Sandefur Funeral Today
A military funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. today (Thursday) at Mills Mortuary in Cottage Grove for 1st Lt. Billie Sandefur, who was killed 27 Nov (1967) in Vietnam War action.
Vault interment in West Lawn Memorial Park in Eugene will follow the funeral services.
Sandefur, 30, died "from gunshot wounds received while on combat operations when engaged in hostile force firefight," according to Secretary of the Army telegrams received by his wife and parents last Thursday.
Sandefur's parents are Mr. and Mrs. Bryson Sandefur, 1104 Main St., Cottage Grove. His wife Grace is from Little River CA. The couple had been married less than two months at the time of Sandefur's death.
The Army telegrams failed to mention where Sandefur was killed. He apparently had been in Vietnam just 10 days at the time of his death. His mother said he left San Francisco 17 Nov (1967) for Cam Rahn Bay.
From there he went to Pleiku, according to his letters home. Pleiku, according to Lt. Thomas Kingl, an Army escort in Cottage Grove to arrange the funeral, was Sandefur's base camp.
However, Sandefur's last letter to his wife said he was in Dak To, scene of recent heavy combat engagements, en route to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam.
In the letter, he said it would be "a couple of weeks" before he could again write because he expected to be engaged in combat. He concluded the letter, postmarked 20 Nov (1967) by saying he had heard gunshots and was going to see if somebody was in trouble and need assistance.
On one of his last visits to Cottage Grove in September, Sandefur told The Sentinel he expected to take over as commander of D Company, 51st Infantry upon arriving in Vietnam.
At the time of his death, however, he was serving with A Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said Lt. Kingl, who added that Sandefur probably was in a leadership position but couldn't confirm if he was commander.
Sandefur was born on 25 Dec (1936 in Florence CO. After his family moved to Cottage Grove he attended eighth grade here and graduated from Cottage Grove High School in 1955. During his high school days he was active in football and track, said his mother.
In 1954 when 17, he joined the local National Guard unit, In 1964 he went into the active reserves and was company commander at Fort Bragg CA, where he was a woods employee during the day.
He was inactive for a year before being recalled to active Army duty last 10 Apr (1967). On 23 May, while on special assignment at Schofield Barracks Hawaii, Sandefur was credited with leaping into a driverless runaway truck carrying eight men and stopping it before it could cascade down a steep embankment.
For his split second reactions, Sandefur was awarded the Soldiers Medal for heroism.
Following his Hawaii tour of duty, Sandefur returned to Ft. Ord CA, and in September spent two weeks in special jungle warfare training in Panama before being assigned to Vietnam.
He married the former Grace Barff on 30 Sep (1967) in Reno NV.
When living in Cottage Grove, Sandefur was at one time a volunteer fireman and was associated with the Jaycees.
Throughout his military career Sandefur attended numerous special training schools, including an airborne course at Fort Benning GA, in 1966; an Army special Warfare School NC in 1965; and an Army Cold Weather and Mountain School at Fort Greely AK, in 1962. He attended the latter school with the late Sandy Wiese of Cottage Grove.
In 1963, he completed a National Guard Officer Candidate Course in Portland, at which time he was commissioned a reserve second lieutenant.
In addition to his wife and parents, survivors include a brother, Spec. 4 Henry Sandefur, with the Army in Thailand; three sisters, Mrs. Thomas (Neida) Bridges of Cottage Grove and the Misses Barbara Sandefur and Sandra Sandefur of Seattle; grandparents, Mrs. Mertie Sandefur of Florence CO, and Mr. and Mrs. Wilmot Ellcott of Hugoton KS; his wife's parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Barff of Little River CA; nephews Mike and Darren Bridges and niece Joan Bridges of Cottage Grove and several other relatives.
Roy Stedman will officiate at the funeral services. (Cottage Grove Sentinel, Cottage Grove OR, Thursday, 7 Dec 1967)
(His Silver Star Citation)
General Orders 22, Award of The Silver Star, 4th Division, 2 January 1968
For gallantry in action in connection with military operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. First Lieutenant Sandefur distinguished himself while serving as a Platoon Leader with A, 1/35th Infantry. On 27 November 1967, First Lieutenant Sandefur was leading his platoon across open rice paddies when it was engaged by a reinforced enemy rifle company entrenched in bunkers and fortified trenches. Immediately he placed his men in protected firing positions and began directing an accurate volume of fire into the enemy positions. First Lieutenant Sandefur then received word from the Company Command Post to link-up with another platoon on its left flank. He unhesitatingly took the point position and began to maneuver toward the other platoon which was also in heavy contact. Leading his men along a narrow trench, he encountered a machine gun emplacement directly to his front. Again directing his platoon to take cover, First Lieutenant Sandefur moved toward the position and hurled a grenade neutralizing its effectiveness. But in doing so First Lieutenant Sandefur was mortally wounded. His actions saved the lives of many of his platoon members. His professionalism, courage and self-sacrificing devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.