On 8 January 1967 he boarded a troop train with the rest of the
4th/47th Battalion and traveled to San Francisco where they boarded a WWII troop ship, the USS General John Pope, and left for Vietnam.
It took 18 days to get there across the Pacific Ocean. When my father arrived he first went to Camp Bear Cat, then to Dong Tam, and finally on to the USS Benewah. In May 1967, my father's unit became part of the Mobile Riverine Force and that is when combat activities greatly increased.
A day that was not forgettable was the morning of June 16, 1967. 1st Platoon, Alpha Company was on a search and destroy mission in the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam; they were searching for enemy
activity in the area and were traveling up small river canals in fiberglass boats with ten to twelve men in each boat. While patrolling one small canal, we spotted two Viet Cong who quickly ran into the jungle
for cover. Our Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Phillip O. ZumMallen, directed us to go ashore into the thick jungle to locate the enemy. They started working forward watching for booby traps and any signs of a Viet
Cong hamlet - it didn't take long before an enemy bunker was spotted right in front of his squad about 20 yards away and some straw huts were partially visible.
Suddenly, a booby trap was tripped by a soldier
near my father - the explosion sent shrapnel into the face of Jim Callan narrowly missing his right eye.
My father was hit in the foot by shrapnel and was left completely dazed by the sudden loud explosion. At some point later my father realized that his pal, Joseph Hammac, had been killed by that explosion and others had been wounded by shrapnel. A few days later, while in the hospital, most of my father's Alpha Company troopers were wounded and killed in another huge fire fight. My father learned that his Battalion was involved in a big battle near Ap Bac Village that would not only change his life forever but would live in all the memories of those who served and survived together in Vietnam for the rest of thier lives. Alpha Company lost 31 men killed in action, and many more were wounded. That infamous day was June 19, 1967.
I would like to thank Mr. David Nelson, Mr. Jim Henke, Mr. James Callan, and Mr. Bill Terrill for providing me with information that I could use so that my dad could take his place along side on this Web
Site with those that he served with Alpha Company in Vietnam.
My father did not talk much about his time in Vietnam and in the late 90's we had a terrible house fire that consumed most of his photos and memorabilia so needless to say the letters, stories, and pictures from his close buddies are appreciated greatly. Thank you so much for the new memories and your service to our country.