Cacti War Stories


Edited by Wiley "Tiny" Dodd
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Recollection of Jack Burr 07/02/1969

by Jack Burr
07/02/1969

RECOLLECTIONS OF CAPTAIN JACK BURR, B COMPANY COMMANDER, 1/35 INFANTRY, 3RD BRIGADE, 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION, PLIEKU, SOUTH VIETNAM, JULY 2, 1969

B company was still grieving over the accident two weeks earlier that took the life of SFC Robert Edwin Freitas. Unfortunately this kind of accident accounted for about 1 in 5 deaths in the Vietnam War. We were sad, but there was work to do.

The battalion commander directed B Company to conduct a sweep to the north of Pleiku just east of the mountain range. The purpose of the sweep was to locate and determine the strength and location of enemy forces. We were to engage the enemy as necessary.

Although, we did not find the enemy, we found evidence of recent activity. The Battalion Operations Officer notified me that it was highly likely that the enemy in our area would be using mortars as the primary method of attack. I decided to stop a few hours before dark since we would need to dig in.

I laid out a simple plan to the platoon leaders. Each platoon would select positions which allowed a defense against indirect fire in their respective areas. In particular, each soldier would be required to dig a defensive position with cover to protect from indirect fires. I knew the men were tired but the battalion operations officer seemed sure the enemy would come tonight and I told the men so.

Just before morning light all three positions were attacked simultaneously. The assault was ferocious but lasted only 10-15 minutes with probing rifle fire but mostly it was a mortar attack. The enemy withdrew as quickly as he came.

Two of the three platoons reported no injuries. The CP had 1 minor injury not requiring evacuation. However, the other platoon did not fair as well. Communication was poor so I took the RTO and a squad and struck out to find out what happened with the other platoon.

Dawn was approaching when we found them. The platoon had been surprised and was hit hard. Of the 11 WIA, 4 were serious. The platoon suffered three KIA's: A Kit Carson Scout, 1st Lieutenant Edward Larue Williamson and Sergeant Robert Ray McGinnis.

They were good men and would be missed. I would especially miss Lt Williamson. He was an outgoing fun-loving guy who liked to play jokes on his fellow officers. I made a practice for the officers to eat the evening meal together whenever possible. Each of us develop a camaraderie with the other. I, for one, looked forward to our gatherings.

If I remember correctly, both men were fair and had red hair. The loss of these men was hard on all of us but we continued on.

Sgt Robert Ray McGinnis died in service to his country on July 2, 1969 at the age of 22. Decorations earned include: Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.

1st Lieutenant Edward Larue Willamson died in service to his country on July 2, 1969 at the age of 23. Decorations earned include: Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.