Battalion Commander – 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Introduction As we go through life, most people can count on one hand the number of people that they hold with the highest level of respect and admiration. Colonel Guy I. Tutwiler is one of those exceptional individuals whom all Americans should hold in high esteem.
Guy Tutwiler was drafted into the United States Army at the tender age of eighteen. It was 1943 and World War II was in full gear threatening freedom throughout the world. Guy Tutwiler abruptly found himself as a Private going through Basic Training at Camp Croft, South Carolina and then on to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Soon afterwards he was experiencing combat in the Philippine Islands as a Platoon Leader in the 41st Infantry Division. At WW II’s end, he had been promoted to 1st Lieutenant and had received his first Combat Infantryman Badge.
When the Korean War came along in 1950, Guy Tutwiler was a Captain and he soon found himself in combat leading an Rifle Company within the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. During this war, Captain Tutwiler earned his second Combat Infantryman Badge.
By the time the Viet Nam War started, he had been promoted, first to the rank of Major, and then to Lieutenant Colonel. In early 1966, as the 9th Infantry Division was re-activated at Fort Riley, Kansas for combat in Viet Nam, Lt. Colonel Tutwiler was assigned to organize and train new recruits in the 2nd Brigade’s 4th/47th Battalion. This assignment surely was his most difficult for his battalion had been selected as an integral element of a newly created, and unique fighting force – The Mobile Riverine Force. Military history reveals that this type of a combat unit had only been utilized one time before and that was during the Great Civil War. During the early 1960’s, our country’s highest military strategists studied and planned methods to defeat communism and the Viet Cong in the Brown Waters of the Mekong Delta; hence, the Mobile Riverine Force was created.
Lt. Colonel Tutwiler had other issues beyond creating a unique fighting force; he and his officers dauntlessly faced a short schedule and training men who were limited to a one-year tour of duty in Viet Nam. Not to mention that American public opinion was increasingly becoming agitated over the War in Viet Nam. None of this made it any easier for the 4th/47th officers to train the 18 and 19-year-old raw recruits, who were fresh out of high school. Nevertheless, a tough job had to be done and it was accomplished with efficiency, professionally and on schedule. Despite having the War politically managed from Washington D.C., the Mobile Riverine Force proved to be an extremely effective fighting force and it successfully completed it’s mission in the Mekong Delta.Along the way, Lt. Colonel Tutwiler earned his “Third” Combat Infantryman Badge. After leading the 4th/47th Battalion, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.
Colonel Guy Tutwiler awards include “three” Combat Infantryman Badges, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with 2 clusters, the Legion of Merit with cluster, various Service Ribbons and Unit Citations, and Foreign Awards. Resulting from Colonel Tutwiler’s service with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corp, he became a Master Parachutist
He and 250 other soldiers were honored at a 1984 ceremony at Fort Benning, Georgia, which recognized “Three Time Recipients” of the Combat Infantryman Badge. Quite an honor, indeed! Colonel Tutwiler was also honored and inducted into the Officer’s Candidate School Hall of Fame. This places him in such elite company as the great American and former Senator from Kansas, Bob Dole.
There was an incident back at Fort Riley in late 1966, when a number of California recruits tactlessly objected to certain elements of their rigorous combat training exercises. I recall Colonel Tutwiler visiting us at our Custer Hill barracks and politely and firmly explaining the serious ramifications of our actions. This incident could have gravely affected all of our futures, but I will always remember how graceful he handled the situation and how the problems were resolved without further complications.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Guy I. Tutwiler again during this past year and I have also spoken to a number of former 4th/47th soldiers, not to mention Colonel Tutwiler’s commander in Viet Nam, General William Fulton. All who have known Colonel Tutwiler hold him in the highest esteem. For us ole ground-pounders, he was our “General Omar Bradley”. For non military historians, the popular General Bradley was well known during World War II as the “Private’s General” because he truly cared about his men and he tried his absolute best to look out for their welfare. Colonel Tutwiler, I know that you are a humble man, but I cannot pass up this opportunity to express how your former troopers feel about you. May God Bless You!
Jack Benedick, one of Colonel Tutwiler’s young Lieutenants from Fort Riley and Viet Nam, recently expressed his memories and sentiments of Colonel T (Lt. Jack fondly refers to him as Colonel T) recalling the following:
As the 4th/47th Battalion trained during the summer, fall and winter of 1966 preparing for combat in the Mekong Delta, as a fresh 2nd Lieutenant, Jack and his fellow young officers thought that it was so cool that their Battalion commander carried the initials G.I. The coincidence was remarkable to them considering that he was embarking into his third war with the infantry. The Platoon Leaders all referred to him as “Colonel T”, but certainly not to his face. During this time, it became evident to Lt. Jack that his Battalion Commander was a SOLDIER of the “first degree”. He was forceful without being a screamer. His calm, cool manner instilled a confidence in the young officers that was not false bravado, but a confidence built out of quality training and his years of combat experience in WWII and Korea. On a personal note, Colonel T taught Lt. Jack how to be a soldier and to this day Lt. Jack carries that honor and he feels proud and fortunate to have had Colonel T as a mentor. Colonel T and Lt. Jack continue to be very good friends and they see each other at least once a year.
A good example of Colonel T’s characteristic, “cool under fire” occurred during TET 1967. Battalion troopers were in a night defensive position while Colonel T briefed his Company Commanders on the next day’s operation. During the briefing, a machine gunner, while cleaning his M-60 machine gun, accidentally fired a burst of rounds across the battalion perimeter. Fortunately, the rounds were fired too high to cause harm. As the rounds cracked overhead, the Company Commanders instantly hit the dirt – Colonel T simply remained seated and calmly stated, “Gentlemen, you have just been shot at”. After that incident, Lt. Jack recalled that every Lieutenant in the Battalion wanted to be just like Colonel G.I. Tutwiler. Jack Benedick and Bill Reynolds – March 31, 2001