April 1, 2020, will be 50 years since our little forward base was overrun by NVA. We lost 25 brave young men that morning, and it is time to pay our respect to them once again. The first service was held April 1, 2010, at Ft. Sill, OK. That service was organized by Ralph Jones, and Ralph has worked diligently ever since to see that a special place was and is set aside for the memory of our fallen fellow soldiers. The service honored those lost in Charlie Company on or about March 23, 1970, when they walked into a bunker complex northwest of Illingworth, and a large number of men lost when LZ Jay was hit two nights before the battle on Illingworth.
In a conversation with Charles Beauchamp, 1st Sgt of Charlie Company during the battle on Illingworth, in 2010, I learned that there were only about 208 of us on Illingworth. Of those 208 men, 25 were dead. I counted 87 wounded laying on the ground the next morning. George Ahearn, a medic on Illingworth, told me a few months ago that the actual number of wounded was 93. Keep these numbers in mind. Charles told me that he encountered about 50 men hiding because they were too terrified to go out to fight. About a year after Charles told me that, my man who had been in our mortar FDC told me there were 12 men hiding in mortar FDC. These were not mortar men. My men were on their guns fighting. Now do the math. 208 minus 25 leaves 183. Now subtract (we will use the number I counted) 87. That leaves 96 of our men in the battle. Now subtract the 50 that Charles encountered who refused to go out and fight. That leaves 46. That is why, after the 8 inch ammo blew up and we started back firing the only mortar I had left, we realized we were the only ones making any noise on the base. My FDC guy screamed at us to ask if we were alive. He said half the base had been taken over by the NVA. We low crawled to his location at the east side of the base. There had to be a higher power on our side that night. The explosion of the 8 inch ammo killed some men, but it also saved the lives of the rest of us.
Every surviving man who was in the Charlie Company battle, those on LZ Jay, and the men who were in the battle on Fire Support Base Illingworth needs to plan to be with us as we lay wreaths and honor a group of brave men who gave their lives for our great country.
Please make plans to be in Lawton, OK on or about March 31, 2020, and plan to be there until April 2, 2020. Considering the age of most of us, this may be our last opportunity to honor the brave men lost during those 3 battles. I look forward to seeing as many as can possibly attend.
Plans for the service on April 1, 2020 and the dinner the night of April 1, 2020 are being developed at the present time. I will post the final plans on this site and on my Facebook page.