2nd Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Introduction This outstanding Old Reliable is one of the “originals” who arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas in May of 1966 as the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated for combat duty in Viet Nam. Mike was a tall lanky 19 year old out of the San Fernando Valley. The “Valley”, a suburb north of Los Angeles, California, was hit fairly hard by the draft in early 1966 when President Johnson escalated the Viet Nam War. Many of these draftees were friends, neighbors, and classmates prior to receiving their “Uncle Sam Greetings”. Such was the case for Mike Cramer and Jim Adams. They were boyhood friends living across the street from each other since age 5 until they were drafted on May 17th, 1966. Tragically, Jim was killed in action February 21, 1967. Mike quickly adapted to the business of soldiering and because he was big, strong and smart, he was selected to train, use and carry a 90MM Recoilless rifle. Fortunately for Mike, soon after we began patrolling the jungles around Camp Bearcat, having Mike carry an M-16 seemed more practical to Lt. Jack Benedick – so Mike lucked out and ceased carrying all of that weight. Of course, this meant that Mike became available to walk point, a job none of us relished, but we all took our turn. There were numerous and memorable patrols, firefights and battles for us 4th/47th troopers, but our experiences of June 19th and July 11th, 1967 stand out most significantly to Mike. During the horrific battle on June 19th, our battalion lost 50 men killed in action and many more were wounded, including Mike. On this day, Mike earned the Purple Heart and he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for valor due to his heroic actions battling the entrenched Viet Cong and aiding other wounded soldiers. Also on this day, Lt. Jack’s RTO, Bob French, was seriously wounded resulting in Mike leaving Sergeant George Smith’s squad to become Lt. Jack’s RTO. These events, strangely enough, ultimately saved Mike’s life. For it was on July 11th, the 2nd Platoon was suddenly pinned down in an open rice paddy by entrenched Viet Cong in a tree line. Sergeant Smith and three members of his squad were killed. If Mike had not become Lt. Jack’s RTO, he would have been out there with Smitty, Phil Ferro, Butch Eakins, and Harold King. To this day, Mike feels truly blessed. Of the original 40 2nd Platoon troopers trained at Fort Riley’s famed Custer Hill and sent to Viet Nam, Mike was one of the fortunate 13 remaining when our Tour of Duty ended in January, 1968. I will always remember Mike as a very good friend and he will forever remain an Old Reliable – a special member of our extended Charlie Company family. Bill Reynolds – February 6, 2001
Additional Note: When Mike completed his Tour of Duty, he turned his RTO duties over to Tom Hogle, who hailed from Syracuse New York. Tom came to the 2nd Platoon as a replacement in early 1967. Tom Hogle is most memorable for his front page article in the New York times; his picture was taken immediately after the June 19th battle. The caption read, “The Viet Cong Lost, The Mud Won”. Check the Battles page for this article.