1st Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Before daylight on the morning of May 15, 1967, Charlie Company set out aboard a group of Tango landing craft on another search and destroy mission from a Navy barracks ship anchored somewhere along the lengthy Mekong River. This day resulted as monumental because it was Charlie Company’s first major encounter with a substantial Viet Cong force. Afterwards, Colonel Tutwiler exclaimed to a Stars and Stripes reporter, “They proved they could fight!”
Monumental it was indeed… though a number of Viet Cong were killed, Charlie Company lost one of its favorite soldiers that day, Don Peterson, and a number of others were seriously wounded including Dave Jarczewski and Carl Cortwiright. Jim Dennison (1st Platoon) described the action as follows:
We set up to go on a search and destroy mission the morning of May 15th and I knew something was up because we were issued double our normal ammunition. Once Charlie Company disembarked the Tangos, 1st Platoon took the lead and Don Peterson’s squad took point. They went past a low rice paddy dike about halfway across the open space towards a tree line about 100 yards out. Somehow they were without radio communication. When the Viet Cong, who were concealed in the tree line, opened up with heavy automatic fire, Peterson’s squad was ordered to pull back but they did not receive the radio call.
Don was shot in the chest and died immediately, Jarczewski was shot in the chest but amazingly survived , Charlie Nelson was shot across the neck and hit in the knee, and Enoch Scott was hit in the shoulder. We manged to reach our wounded and got them back to a waiting medievac Huey Helicopter – we hauled Jarczewski in a poncho as he was turning blue – we thought he was goner for sure. Thank God the doctors saved him and after a long grueling recovery Dave is with us to this very day.
Jim Dennsion, 1st Platoon, C/4/47
June 30, 2012
My story from our May 15, 1967 Battle
We were up early that morning and boarded the landing boats. (Tasks Force # 117)
They let us off on some island as I recall. We walked through the marshy jungle and came to an open field to cross and I mean it was wide open; nothing to hide behind which I didn’t even think about at the time. Don Peterson was on my left flank, Charlie Nelson to my right; Bob Hausner was my radio man. Pete, as we called him, was far left and ahead of me by 20 to 30 feet. When the shit hit the fan everyone went down with nothing for cover. At the time I had no radio man near me. I saw Charlie Nelson was hit and as I went by him he told me to get away because they’ll shoot us all. I didn’t even see Don Peterson at the time. I moved away from Charlie, maybe 10 to 15 feet. At that time I felt something hit me in the left shoulder (like when we were kids and somebody hit you from behind). I started getting woozy and I guess I passed out. I remember lying on the chopper floor and asking for water but they only would wet my lips (somebody did anyway).
I remember being in the 24th Evacuation Hospital and saying to somebody or mumbling something like take care of Pete first. But nobody knew who I was talking about. I also remember lying on a gurney bed and a Chaplin or priest was on my right side with a purple shawl around his neck. Like I say, I was going down. But I think he was giving me my last rites because I remember that from being an altar server at our church. Then I went blank� and woke up 2 or 3 days later with all this wire cat gut as stitches on my front stomach, left shoulder, and on my back where the bullet left me. I’ll remember this everyday for the rest of my life. It’s been 45 years and I say the same thing but that’s my story. It was like cut grass out there with nothing to hide behind. And the V. C. dug in right in front of us. If I live to be 100, I’ll tell you the same thing.
July 7, 2012