The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Denzil Dale Pettit, who died in the service of his country on August 2nd, 1966 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Denzil was 21 years of age. He was from Bloomington, California. Denzil is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 09E, Line 100.
The decorations earned by PFC Denzil Dale Pettit include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Silver 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.
Denzil attended Colton Union High School, Colton, CA while living with his mother. He lived in Chico with his father for three years before the draft notice came.
Pettit learned from his father, who owns a truck repair business, how to work on diesel engines. The two pitched in together to buy a tow truck, which the younger Pettit planned to make a livelihood from after the service.
"He wanted to take the shop over. He was crazy about the shop and that tow truck," his father said.
In early 1965, however, Pettit was drafted. After basic and advanced infantry training, he was sent to Vietnam.
On Aug. 2, 1966, after Pettit had been nine months in-country, his unit was jumped by the Viet Cong. When he ran out to retrieve a wounded buddy, he was shot and killed by a sniper.
Chico News and Review, May 26, 1988
(His Silver Star Citation)
General Orders 5853, Award Of The Silver Star, USARV, 30 September 1966
For gallantry in action: Private First Class Pettit distinguished himself on 2 August 1966 while serving as a member of the Reconnaissance Platoon, 2/35th Infantry, conducting a search and destroy operation in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam. While moving toward their objective, Private First Class Pettit's unit received intense hostile fire from a large enemy force. After forming a defensive perimeter, the platoon leader was informed that there were four wounded men lying outside the perimeter. The platoon leader gave Private First Class Pettit and three other men the mission to rescue their fallen comrades but, because of the intense hostile machine gun fire, they were forced back. As the fight continued, Private First Class Pettit, with complete disregard for his safety while receiving hostile fire, moved throughout the perimeter rendering first aid to the wounded and distributing ammunition. Later in the day he again volunteered to go out to the wounded but was driven back by the enemy fire. As darkness fell and a relief force arrived, Private First Class Pettit led a squad from the relief force to the casualties outside the perimeter. While moving toward the wounded, the enemy opened fire on the squad and Private First Class Pettit was mortally wounded. His extraordinary heroism in close combat against a numerically superior force was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.