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

Larry Venenga, Bill Lacy, Jim Callan, Billy Terrill, and Keith Menefee
Dong Tam – September 1967

My name is Keith James Menefee Jr., I am proud and honored to write this for my father Keith Menefee who served in Vietnam with many of you in Alpha Company. I am saddened to say that my father passed away from a short yet hard fought battle with cancer on 8 September 2012.    Keith James Menefee was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on 12 February 1947, the son of John Bennett and Gladys Menefee, he was the youngest of 11 children.  Keith was inducted into the Army on 12 May 1966. He went to Ft. Riley Kansas with the with 1st Platoon 3rd squad where he went through both Basic Training and AIT.

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 their 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.