Charlie Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Joel Onstad, another original member of Charlie Company as the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated for combat duty in Viet Nam. Joel received his “Greetings” from Uncle Sam and was drafted May 17, 1966 from his Tacoma, Washington home. He entered the U.S. Army at Fort Ord, California and was promptly sent to Fort Riley, Kansas for infantry training. Joel, being slightly older and college educated, was drawn into communications training following Basic Training. Joel’s intelligence, his desire to excel and not especially relishing rifleman duty, resulted in him becoming a communications expert. He was soon promoted to become Charlie Company’s Communications Chief. Joel had several RTO’s (Radio-Telephone-Operators) and a Wireman reporting to him in an extremely vital function in support to his Company Commander (first, Captain Rollo Larson and then Captain Herbert Lind) and especially to the Rifle Platoon’s when combat erupted. Joel and his crew consistently provided excellent support when the troopers were engaged in numerous fire fights and several large battles that occurred throughout 1967. During the huge June 19th battle near Ap Bac Village, while the 4th/47th Battalion fiercely fought a larger enemy force, Joel displayed considerable courage while under fire delivering needed ammunitions to Charlie Company troopers. This act of courage earned him the Army Commendation Medal with V Device for valor. It should be noted that during this battle the 4th/47th suffered many casualties including 47 brave soldiers killed in action while the enemy lost approximately 250 men.
Today, Joel is leading a very satisfying life in Tacoma and having retired several years ago, he spends most days on the golf course with his close buddies. I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Joel at Charlie Company’s Las Vegas Reunion. Over the phone yesterday, Joel told me that he believes the communications training that he received very likely saved his life. Joel had been previously assigned to Charlie Company’s Mortars Platoon. When the horrific June 19th battle erupted, his old platoon was largely decimated. Joel also extends sincere gratitude to First Sergeant Lynn Crockett for straightening out his classification at the time (August-September, 1967) Joel was transferred to another battalion. Joel’s MOS had never been changed to Communications Chief from his Mortars Platoon classification. Though he is just a few scant years older than many of us, he still possesses that youthful, athletics appearance and outstanding attitude that we all recall from so many years ago. Joel, all of us who came together at Fort Riley and fought that exasperating War so long ago will always remain as Brothers forever. Thank you for allowing me to display your invaluable memorabilia on our Web Site. Bill Reynolds – August 31, 2001