1st Platoon – Alpha Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade

Introduction:  My name is Jim Callan and I was born in Long Island, New York in 1946 which was the first year of the baby Boomer generation.  My father was born in Scotland and my mother was born in America. In 1901, my mom’s father came to America through Ellis Island, New York like so many other European immigrants.

My father and all three of my uncles served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  In June 1959, my family moved to Southern California to join my mother’s brothers who had already migrated here. I attend John H. Francis Polytechnic High School where I graduated in 1964. After high school, I pursued a degree in Automotive Technology at Los Angeles Trade Tech.  However, my education would have to wait because it was the Spring of 1966 and Uncle Sam was calling all able-bodied young men to serve in the U.S. Army; I was inducted May 17, 1966.

1st Platoon buddies, Jim Callan, James Matuza and Ronnie Showmaker. Ronnie survived the June 19th Battle earning the Bronze Star for bravery and a promotion to Sgt E-5.  32 Alpha
Company troopers gave the ultimate sacrifice that day. Inexplicably, Ronnie was soon transferred to the 2nd/39th where he too gave the ultimate sacrifice September 15, 1967.

When you come from a generation where our fathers fought for freedom in World War II, you did not hesitate to also serve your country in a time of War. After serving in Vietnam with all my friends in the 9th Infantry Division, I returned home January 3, 1968 and finished my active duty at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  With three months to serve, the Army assigned me to the Motor Pool to become a tank driver.  I feel it was a minor reward for serving in Vietnam for it was an easy assignement which I enjoyed very much.

I would like to thank all my fellow Brothers for their service in Vietnam… May God Bless You and your families. To all our fallen Brothers, we will never forget your sacrifice.

Thank you,

Jim Callan – April 8, 2009

Here’s Jim Callan during field
training exercises. Fort Riley, Kansas – Oct 1966
Top left: Haribilas, Larry Venenga, Ronald G. Dodson, and Messerino. Lower left: Morrison, Johnny Collozo and Tony Spradling.  Dong Tam Base Camp.
Jim Callan & Tony Spradling – Dong Tam

Larry Venenga, Bill Lacy, Jim Callan, Billy Terrill, & Keith Menefee
Dong Tam – September 1967
3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Alpha Co.  Dong Tam – June ’67 Top left: Wayne Schatzle, James B. Johnson, Jim Callan, Kieth J. Menefee, and Scott Taylor. Lower left: John Braddel, Sgt. Jim Kelly, Johnny Collazo, & Dave Early.

A day that I will remember for my entire life started on the morning of June 16,1967.  1st Platoon, Alpha Company was on a search and destroy mission in the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam; we were searching for enemy activity in the area and we 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 and he selected me to take point and lead our men into the thick jungle brush to locate the enemy.  I started to work my way forward watching for booby traps and any signs of a Viet Cong hamlet – it didn’t take long before I spotted an enemy bunker in right in front of me about 20 yards away and some straw huts were partially visible.  I immediately warned my buddies of the situation as I dropped to a prone position while the rest of the men came up to get on line with me.

I had fixed my rifle sights on the bunker and waited for the men to position themselves to conduct a sweep of the enemy encampment. Suddenly, a booby trap was tripped by a soldier 10 feet away from me – the explosion sent shrapnel into my face narrowly missing my right eye… I was completely dazed by the loud explosion and pain in my face.  Our medic promptly scrambled up to bandage my wound and help me back to the river bank to be airlifted to a hospital in Vung Tau. As I was loaded onto a medi-evac helicopter, I then realized that my pal, Joesph Hammac, had been killed by that explosion and Keith Menefee’s foot was hit by shrapnel.  A few days later, while in the hospital, many of my fellow Alpha Company troopers had been wounded in another fire fight and they began arriving – I learned that our Battalion was involved in a big battle near Ap Bac Village that would not only change our lives forever but would live in all our memories of serving together in Vietnam for the rest of our lives. Alpha Company lost 32 men killed in action, including my Platoon Leader, Lt. ZumMallen, and many more were wounded.  That infamous day was June 19, 1967.

Jim Callan
Alpha Company, 4th/47th
May 1966 to January 1968

Jim Callan shows his love for sporting events by making wagers at Santa Anita on his favorite horse, Ninth Infantry & attending the Indianapolis 2009 and 2011 US Nationals.

Alpha Company troopers Tony Spradling, Jim Henke and
Jim Callan with driver Tony Schumaker.
Jim had the good fortune to meet Ninth Infantry’s jokey, Chantal Sutherland and owner James McFeeters on a
day that Ninth Infantry pulled away for an easy victory. McFeeters claimed Jim brought them good luck!