Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry Long An Province – June 19, 1967

Alpha company

Pfc Shaffer is buried at Girard Cemetery – Girard, Pennsylvania Photo courtesy of Steven V. Conto of “The Final Bridge”

Pfc William P. Shaffer’s (Batavia, New York) tour of duty in Vietnam began on May 14, 1967. Shaffer (age 19) was one of 47 brave troopers who gave the ultimate sacrifice on June 19, 1967 in a large battle with Viet Cong forces near Ap Bac Village in the Mekong Delta. 250 VC fighters also perished that day.

The Battle Near Ap Bac Village

Mekong Delta – June 19, 1967

Dedicated to PFC William P. Shaffer, US Army

A Company, 4th/47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Bill was from Batavia, New York. He was so scared when he got his draft notice. Bill had a premonition that he wasn’t going to make it back. Sadly it came true. Bill was one month shy of his 20th birthday when he was killed in action. I was looking for where Bill was buried in Batavia but there was no record anywhere. I was referred to the Library in town. The librarian there was able to find his obituary that stated he was buried in Girard, Pennsylvania. I had to make a few phone calls before I obtained the name of the person in charge of the cemetery records. I left a message for her this past Friday.

It was Sunday evening and I was traveling home from my Father n’ law’s house when I received a phone call from Gail, the records lady of Girard Cemetery. I pulled off to the side of the road so I could talk to her. I just happened to have my paperwork on Bill with me. Gail confirmed that Bill was buried at the cemetery. She gave me his lot and grave number. Gail also, confirmed that Bill’s dad is buried there, but in a different section. After thanking her and hanging up it hit me. In the book “The Boys of ’67, they described the day after the battle where Charlie Company went back to retrieve the bodies of the guys from Alpha Company. Bill would be one of them. But what stood out in my mind was the first body they came upon. He was curled up in a fetal position. He was holding a picture of his sweetheart and had died while looking at it. His eyes were still staring at his distant love even in death. There is no way of knowing that this was Bill. It could have been anyone of the enlisted guys killed that day. Still it could have been him.

This is one of the many reasons I’m driven to find their final place of rest; to ensure that their records are complete. They gave up everything for us. This is the least I can do in honoring them. So there on that country road in Calumet County, Wisconsin talking with Gail I felt Bill was finally found�.. He was finally home�.. His Final Bridge had been crossed.

Steve Conto

The Final Bridge

August 10, 2014