The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SP4 Douglas Alan Ross, who died in the service of his country on January 22nd, 1969 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Douglas was 20 years of age. He was from Temple City, California. Douglas is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 34W, Line 61.
The decorations earned by SP4 Douglas Alan Ross include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, 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.
A CACTI FINALLY COMES HOME
Chu Pa Mountain, Pleiku Province, was the site of a combined A and D 1/35 assault on January 21-23, 1969. Also known as Hill 1485, Chu Pa was located about: 16 km due west of Plei Mrong, 8 km east of the Se San river, and 36 km southwest of Kontum. Often used by the NVA for a staging area, it was for sure "Indian Country."
The assault was bitterly opposed from the start and resulted in significant U.S. casualties including the shooting-down of a fully loaded Medevac. To provide additional support and coordination to the battalion net, 1/35 XO Major Jerry Laird and two radiomen accompanied Alpha Company on the operation.
On the morning of the 22nd, as Alpha attempted a link-up with the Delta perimeter, Major Laird and one of his radiomen, twenty-year old Sp4 Douglas Ross from Temple City, California, were among a group of soldiers unable to reach the perimeter. Pinned-down 40 meters from the perimeter and under heavy small arms and grenade attack, the group was forced to seek cover in caves where the survivors spent the night. Major Laird's body was discovered the next day but, in spite of an eye-witness report that Sp4 Ross had been fatally wounded while attempting to move, his body could not be located. For both humanitarian reasons, and because he was carrying the Battalion radio codes, an extensive search was conducted by both companies with negative results.
In 1994, a joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam team visited surrounding villages and was told that no one lived in the vicinity of the battlefield during the war and none of the local villagers had any firsthand knowledge of the incident. The team also visited the battle site where they found evidence of defensive positions, but no other pertinent information. The investigators had no further leads to pursue.
However in 1997 Vietnamese villagers, who were allegedly searching a wooded area near the battlefield for scrap metal, discovered the remains of an U.S. soldier. They reported the find to their provincial officials who, in turn, passed the information to central government officials. These remains, and some personal artifacts also found, were passed to U.S. officials and on March 6,1998 were identified as Sp4 Ross by the Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii.
A cynical person could doubt the "looking for scrap metal" story. It is also entirely possible that enough money changed hands to finally produce a result; such happenings are not unheard of -- cold cash working wonders with even cold-eyed Socialists. Whatever, Douglas Alan Ross is back where he belongs. R.I.P. Brother Cacti.
(As a footnote, KIA research has uncovered only two other permanent instances of Cacti "Body Not Recovered."
Cecil Clack, E 1/35, drowned in the Se San River on New Years Day 1969. Despite extensive searches over several days, his body was never recovered.