Battle for ABU Hill

If you would like to add your memories to this thread please email them to David J.


I don’t see any information regarding the battle for ABU hill on this web site. It occurred in June l966 and we lost several KIA’s and a host of wounded. We were en-route to assist Capt. Carpenter (retired Major General Carpenter now) when we got ambushed. We lost over half of the Company. I recall our Platoon Leader losing his eye and our Platoon Sergeant, Sgt. Woods getting the silver star for his action. Several other members got medals including myself for the battle. It was written up in the battles of the Monsoon, by SLA Marshall. FYI,
Larry R. Fuller


We were on our way to help out Captain Carpenter, C Company Commander (1/327). I have some pictures to go along with the story; however, when ambushed and surrounded he panicked and call in napalm instead of smoke/heat. He burned up a bunch of his company. We called him”Captain Carpenter and his crispy critters.”

Initially he was put in for the medal of honor but when the real story came out he was removed as company commander. General Pearason had already given him the silver star (at the scene). A couple of months later his 1st shirt was awarded the Distinguish Service Cross in a quiet ceremony. It’s easy to check out.

By the way, Carpenter was known as the “lonesome end” on the Army “West Point” football team as he never went back to the huddle after different plays. He was on the cover of a magazine around l960-61. I believe it was SI or Life/Look.
Larry R. Fuller


I will check all of the names and dates that I have, that was a while ago, I don’t think that even old man Friz would recall that.

Mike is an admirable ABU historian, it is my bet he will come up with some dope on it. I have e-mailed Mike several times over the last two years without a reply, I will make a note of this addy as his most current one, had three of them for Mike, musta been using the wrong ones.

Mike throw me a line, miss your details and info

………….Friz old boy????????
ABU
Bo Wright


Okay, here’s my first cut at what I have found. I am still researching.

1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment Vietnam 1966

The year 1966 began with the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry remaining at Phan Rang to conduct Operation Seagull in Ninh Thuan Province, while the remainder of the brigade moved to Tuy Hoa on Operation Van Buren. Following the rice harvest, extensive sweeping and patrolling operations were carried out in surrounding jungle regions and into the treacherous mountains during a new operation called Harrison. The largest encounter of Operation Harrison occurred when elements of 1-327 once again locked in heavy combat with regulars of the 95th NVA Regiment. The battle took place southwest of Tuy Hoa near the hamlet of My Phu. It started slowly, as did most engagements, but the sporadic fire steadily increased in volume to the high pitch of a major fire fight. Unlike other enemy forces, this regiment was truly professional and this was to be a battle between the professionals. Using one company as a base of fire and one as the maneuver element, the “Above the Rest” battalion moved relentlessly forward. In perhaps the Brigade’s first night airmobile assault under fire, the tiger force was successfully inserted into a blocking position on a one-helicopter landing zone. Next morning when the smoke had cleared from the battlefield, the troopers of 1-327 dominated the enemy positions, counting 118 enemy dead.

Following Operation Harrison, the Brigade conducted Operation Fillmore. This was another search and destroy mission in an expanded area of operations in Phu Yen Province. Night patrolling and ambushes were again the rule, but a new twist was also added. Clandestine entry of company size units as immediate reaction forces to capitalize on information gained by small reconnaissance elements. The technique was successful, for in one battle alone, the 1-327 killed 47 VC by body count and an additional 29 were estimated killed.

On April 12, 1966, arriving by C-130 aircraft and LST the brigade immediately began an unusual mission of conducting search and destroy operations astride the Vietnamese II and III corps boundary, an area reported to contain a Viet Cong redoubt. The “Above the Rest” troopers found themselves on long and tiring patrols, and the shortage of potable water in the area made Operation Austin II most arduous. The troopers used water bags for the first time which decreased the requirement for daily resupply. The battalion conducted the brigade’s second night airmobile assault. In this operation there were 21 enemy killed and seven weapons captured.

On April 25, 1966, 1-327 began another leg of its odyssey, this one to the monsoon swept jungles of Quang Duc Province, 85 miles northwest of Saigon. The mission was to conduct spoiling attacks against North Vietnamese Army concentrations along the Cambodian border astride the II-III Corps boundary prior to the onslaught of the monsoons. The operation was dubbed Austin VI. At first it seemed as though the rumor of the Viet Cong not wanting to engage the brigade was going to hold true. For six days the 1-327 and 2-502 both operating clandestinely, scoured the thick jungles along the Cambodian border with no contact. A report reached the brigade intelligence nerve center that enemy activity was taking place near Bu Gia Map in Phuoc Long Province. The 2-502 was helo lifted to begin search and destroy operations while 1-327 was shortly thereafter committed to back them up. Later the 45th Army of the Republic of Vietnam Regiment linked up with 1-327 on a massive sweep. On the 10th of May, 1966, the 1-327, while sweeping to the south and east, overran and destroyed a large and elaborate Viet Cong complex consisting of a provincial headquarters, and a prisoner of war camp. Although many valuable documents were taken, one American prisoner was not; the VC moved him 30 minutes before the troopers entered the enclosure. The Viet Cong Provincial Headquarters and prisoner of war camp were destroyed.

Northeast of Saigon in the center of Vietnam along the mosquito-infested lowlands of the Eapa River nestles Cheo Reo. Here the 1-327 had a great battle with the elements as the skies opened up and literally turned the camp into a river of mud as its mission was part of the brigade’s reserve force for I Field Force Vietnam. The stay at Cheo Reo was short as the brigade received orders to move to Dak To in the northern Kantum Province.

In the Central Highlands, the month of June meant the monsoon rains and under its cover came a major enemy offensive. The first mission of Operation Hawthorne was to relieve the beleaguered mountain outpost of Toumorong. The 1-327 teamed up with elements of the 42nd ARVN Regiment and the 21st Ranger Battalion to accomplish this phase of the operation. The intelligence reports received indicated a major enemy drive was under way to overrun the Central Highlands: first at Toumorong on the high ground overlooking the Dak Kan Valley, next, Dak To, and finally Kontum itself. Toumorong was the focal point in the initial enemy offensive to capture the North Central Highlands. On the morning of June 7, 1966, North Vietnamese Battalion of the 24th NVA Regiment savagely attacked an artillery-infantry-engineer position in the valley west of Toumorong. This was the beginning of two weeks of the most violent fighting of the war in Vietnam. The position was manned by “B” battery, 2nd Howitzer Battalion, 320th Field Artillery; “A” Company, 2-502 IN; and elements of Company “A”, 326th Engineer Battalion. The charging enemy was able to penetrate the perimeter but the ensuing battle left 86 enemy bodies, 13 of them inside the artillery position.

The “Above the Rest” Battalion after relieving the Toumorong outpost, struck north to attack the blood-stained enemy. Another bitter battle erupted, this time engaging all three of the battalions infantry companies at one time, each in separate fire fights. It was to last for six bloody days. As the battle raged, 1-327’s elite Tiger Force was hard hit and almost overrun by an estimated two companies of heavily armed, well trained, NVA regulars. The battle for the valley and Kontum Province was on and the enemy prayed for one thing: rain. The 2-502 was helo lofted into a blocking position where they would begin a sweep south to link up with their heavily engaged sister battalion. They too were hit and hit hard. The enemy had heavy machine guns and automatic weapons dug in all along the valley wall. He had been there a long time preparing for this battle. Now all the infantry companies of both paratrooper battalions were heavily engaged. As the battered but courageous 2-502 companies regrouped on Ncoc Run Ridge and the 1-327 continued their relentless attack from the south, a decision was made “bring in the big ones” let the B-52 bombers batter Dak Tan Kan Valley before the brigade moved in for the final kill. By now the battle was seven full days old and the whole world new of the fight. The artillery had pounded the enemy, the air strikes had constantly pelted the enemy and now the B-52 bombers would set the stage for the final destruction of the 24th NVA Regiment. On Monday morning, June 13, 1966, while the mountain mist was slowly rising from the valley, 24 waves of bombers created a maze of craters below. As the 1-327 and 2-502 swept into the hills to clean up what was left, they found a systematic series of tunnels, some going as deep as 50 feet, but they also found among the dead and dying, several score who fought on. The final act of Operation Hawthorne was ferreting out and killing or capturing the die hards. The 24th NVA Regiment was rendered ineffective as a fighting unit, suffering over 1200 casualties by body count. The ratio of enemy to friendly dead was 10 to 1 and the capture of 88 individuals and 24 crew-served weapons. Most significantly a major North Vietnamese offensive to seize the North Central Highlands was blunted with a classic spoiling attack.

After fighting at Dak To, the Eagles returned to Tuy Hoa opening Highway 1 south to Vung Ro Bay. Search and destroy operations were continued in the Tuy Hoa Valley as the highway clearing took place.

06/1966 – 06/1967
Name: Thomas “Tom” Kilbride EMAIL: [email protected]
Hometown: Murphys, CA 95247 [email protected]

Medic A Co./C Co. 1/327th Inf.

Sent via email 02/11/2004 05:24 PM
I remember I got married in April 1966 and had a full month of leave before getting orders to report, so I think I was there from May or June 1966 to one year later in 1967. I started with the unit when they were in Dak To just after that big fire fight where the VC had a company encircled and Capt. [William (Bill)] Carpenter called in napalm on his unit. I left when the Brigade was operating out of Quang Tri, up North.

I included two photos as attachments: one of me in a cyclo in Phan Thiet maybe and the second is a studio portrait of me, from Chicago, Jim Young of Arizona and Lyle Wiggins of Davenport Iowa.
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06/1967 – 11/1967 – Deceased 07/26/2003
Name: Peter (Pete) Mitchell EMAIL: [email protected]
Sent: 10:19 PM 10/11/2002
327thpage: http://screamingeagles-327thvietnam.com/first/pete_mitchell.htm

Capt A Co. HHC

As for my 1/327th assignments in Vietnam, I arrived in-country and reported to Phan Rang 1 May ’66 and went thru “P” training, joining C Co 1/327th on the Cambodian border at Nhon Cho, as 1st Plt Ldr. We moved to Cheo Reo and then to Dak To where the entire battalion was heavily engaged for 17 days in early June.

1st Platoon suffered two KIA and six wounded on 8 June ’66, out of the total platoon field strength of 17 men plus one attached medic [PFC Jim Dolinger], one attached FO from the C Co mortar platoon, [Cpl Tommy Henley] and one attached Vietnamese scout dog handler that spoke little English.

Those who gave their lives for their country that day were Platoon Sgt. John Dixon, and Sp4 Allan Combs. WIA were the following; Pfc Bernard (Slick) Clemons, Sp4 Carmi [Carmen] Guyette, Pfc Buchanan, Pfc Clevenger, and Pfc Jim Morales. Shortly after that “Battle Of Toumorong”, I was promoted to Captain and reassigned to HHC as Rear Area CO for the next two months to prepare for and pass an IG inspection of our Phan Rang Operations. I rejoined the Bn Fwd at Tuy Hoa as S-4 and remained in that slot thru May ’67. After assisting the Bn movement by LST from Nha Trang to Duc Pho in I Corps, I went home to the states on extension leave and returned to assume command of Mighty ABU in the field shortly after The “Mother’s Day Hill” [May 14th, 1967] series of firefights. I remained as company commander for all Battalion operations in southern I Corps, operations west of Tam Ky and west of Chu Lai thru Operation Wheeler. Capt. Julius Johnson assumed command of ABU in Nov. ’67.

Pete Mitchell passed away July 26th, 2003

Dear Bruce [Swander],
I can confirm that Pfc’s James E. Farrar and Earl W. Goodall were both assigned to ABU, 1/327th when they were KIA as was Lt. Kenneth G. Collins when he was wounded in his left eye. These three were officially cited in Bde orders for their heroic actions and those orders were issued on site at Dak To within days of the 1/327th marching out of the jungle and “passing in review” of the Bde staff and assembled dignitaries. I have a copy of that Honor Roll which was published in ‘The Diplomat and Warrior”, the Bde newspaper, at that time and I’m sure Ivan Worrell could probably dig up that issue from his files, as he was the Public Information Officer [PIO] and Editor. You can get a good overview of that battle by reading those chapters in “Battles in the Monsoon” written by SLA Marshall and published in 1967, or similar chapters in ” About Face” by Dave Hackworth, COL, USA, Ret’d, who, as a Major, commanded the 1/327th, for the entire battle.

You are partially correct in stating that there are many discrepancies in official documents of that era, but lets not be too hard on the BN and BDE staffs and lets look at some factors that complicated their jobs. I’ll list just a few here. 1) The initial BDE personnel were DEROSing by the day shortly before, during, and after, the battle. Incoming personnel were being assigned as soon as they appeared in the forward area, and in many cases were thrown into battle the same day. As the battle intensified and casualties mounted, provisional and “bastardized” (ie Individual replacements of 326th Combat engineers, 2/17th CAV, MPs and Phan Rang assigned personnel were sent whereever they were needed.

To be specific about ABU, and Cold Steel Cobra Companies, ABU had been shot up by friendly fire (Choppers) early in this battle, and was augmented by a squad from A 2/502 choppered in just before the battle reached its peak period of activity, roughly 7 June thru 14 June. As platoon leader of 1st platoon, C Co, 1/327th, I was ordered to detach from C Co, and the platoon was assigned OPCON to BN HQ and directed to proceed to the relief of the Tiger Force which had entered the bivoac area of the 24th B NVA Regiment which had attacked the 2/320th positions earlier. Without going into a lot of detail here, my platoon from C Co, the Tiger Force and ABU, under the command of Cpt. Ben Willis, were mutually involved in close quarters with the enemy over the next several days. I still have in my possession the map and little green books recording the names, dates and events from my perspective. A good deal of the tactical radio traffic between units in the field and the BN forward CP were conducted through radio relays in bad weather. Is it any wonder that these messages passing thru several hands before being written down (by hand on radio log forms w/o alot of room per line.) and not typed until several days later, were not always accurate as to the personnel details? A case in point: SFC John Dixon and Sp4 Allan Combs were both hit by enemy fire at approximately 16:30 hrs on 8 June ’66. SFC Dixon was hit 4 times, and despite the heroic efforts of our assigned platoon medic, Pfc Jim Dolinger, he died at 06:05 hrs on 9 June. However Sp4 [Allan Eugene] Combs, a point man at the time, was killed after being hit with a second burst of fire within minutes of the first time. That’s the facts, so why the discrepency in “official dates”? Three reasons; medics fill out the initial paperwork on KIAs and Jim was busy trying to save lives and patch up 5 other wounded grunts, which we all agree was more important at the time. Secondly, the battle went on for several more days with no time nor place for debriefings or verifications. (Every committed unit moved constantly and was closely entwined with the enemy.) Thirdly, I would not risk any more men to recover him as 100% of our casualties resulted from previous attempts and the unit was heavily engaged with the enemy at less than 50 ft. (Only a small stream bed and elevation change seperated us from their dug in positions.) I worried about that decision until 1994 when I finally met up with Sp4 Carmen Guyette in Boston. He was there with Allan Combs and they both were hit about the same time. Carmen had his M-16 and shoulder smashed and was down on the ground when Combs was hit with a burst of automatic weapons fire seconds later. I told Carmen that I had heard cries of pain and pleas for help for several hours after the initial contact, and that I had worried about it for 28 years. He stated that I had heard correctly but that it wasn’t Combs, it was Tiger Force members who we were sent to aid. Someone shouted when he was close and all hell broke loose. From his downed position, he had a clear view of what happened to Combs. Carmen was medevaced out of the jungle on 9 June after ABU linked up with us and the survivors of Tiger Force. He was then sent to a hospital in Japan, and I had no contact with him until ’94. Hope this helps.
Pete Mitchell

11/30/1965 – 03/09/1966 – KIA
Name: William David Dorfman
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
virtualwall: http://www.vvmf.org//index.cfm?SectionID=110&Wall_Id_No=13694.0

Pfc, C Co. 1/327th Serial#: 14896291
Casualty Type: Hostile, Died Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
Province: Province And Military Region Unknown
clip: http://www.vvmf.org//index.cfm?SectionID=110&anClip=14663
Posted by: David S. Cook EMAIL: [email protected]
Relationship: Comrade
Posted: Friday, December 3, 1999
Dave Dorfman came to Company C 1st 327 Infantry, 1st. Brigade 101st Airborne Division, in October 1965. We had been in Nam since the end of July and, as a new guy, he stood out. He also stood out because he was 6’7″. He was known among the troopers as “Two-niner-two” because he carried the 292 Long Antenna which we used to increase the range of our radios. He was the only trooper, or for that matter the only person, I ever saw jogging over there “for the fun of it.” On 9 March’ 1966 he was a radio telephone operator for Cobra Company’s 3rd Platoon. He was killed instantly as the unit sustained automatic weapons fire from three sides. Medical evacuation of the three dead and six or seven wounded was not possible because of both hostile fire and the artillery fire which was going overhead. Two troopers from another platoon, SSgt. Erickson and Sp/4 Carmie Guyette, saw Dorfman and a lieutenant down in the tall grass and disregarding continuing fire from 3 sides, went to their assistance. David was drapped over Carmie’s 5’6″ frame and his arms dragged in the grass as Carmie carried him to the rear. SSgt. Erickson picked up the wounded Lt. and took him to safety. Several years ago, Dave Dorfman’s mom and sister attended the annual “Cold Steel Cobra” reunion and, for the first time, talked to the men who soldiered along side Dave when being a Screaming Eagle paratrooper was not easy. It was special blessing for all.
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04/25/1966 – 06/09/1966 – KIA
Name: Edward Thomas Da Frodsham
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Webpage: http://www.virtualwall.org/dd/DixonJT01a.htm
A Note from The Virtual Wall:
In May 1966 the remote CIDG camp at Toumorong, some 18 miles northwest of Dak To, came under siege by North Vietnamese Army forces. A relief effort was staged by elements of the 101st Airborne and 1st Cavalry Divisions, leading to heavy fighting during the first part of June 1966. Between 03 and 10 Jun 1966 the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, and the 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry, fought several engagements against the 24th NVA Regiment in the area around the Dak Tan Kan Valley. 1/327 lost seven men on 09 Jun while fighting on the Ngok Run Ridge which formed one border of the valley:

A Company:
PFC James E. Farrar, Durham, NC
PFC Edward T. Frodsham, Seattle, WA
PFC Earl W. Goodall, Detroit, MI
PFC Robert J. Phillips, Milwaukie, OR

C Company:
SFC John T. Dixon, Plains, PA
SP4 Allan E. Combs, Los Angeles, CA
PFC Charles V. Turley, Norfolk, VA

Sergeant First Class Dixon is one of 25 known 1/327th Infantry losses during the period 03 to 10 June 1966 inclusive; 2/501st lost 16 men during the same period.
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webpage: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,966197,00.html

William S. Carpenter Jr.
During a 1966 battle on the Kontum plateau in the Central Highlands, Captain Carpenter and his infantry company were pinned down by North Vietnamese. With no retreat possible, Carpenter called down an air strike on his own position. “We might as well take some of them with us,” he radioed to his battalion command post. The napalm attack injured seven of Carpenter’s men, yet enabled the unit to consolidate and later withdraw. Already well known as the “Lonesome End” and captain of Army’s 1959 football team, “Napalm Bill” Carpenter won a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. Carpenter, 47, stayed in the Army; last December he was promoted to major general and put in command of a newly organized light infantry division at Fort Drum, N.Y.

webpage: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E2DE1738F937A3575BC0A962948260

SPORTS PEOPLE; Still Gaining
Published: August 4, 1984
Having starred as the Lonesome End of the 1959 Army football team, Bill Carpenter became a battlefield hero in Vietnam and then continued working his way up the military ladder. As a 46-year-old brigadier general, he is known more formally these days as William S. Carpenter Jr. , and it was in this capacity that he was cited yesterday in an announcement from the Department of the Army. General Carpenter, a New Jerseyan, has been chosen to command a new 17th Division, a light-infantry outfit whose base has not yet been determined. Accompanying the command comes some other happy news: he has been selected for another promotion, to major general.

The Lonesome End is still alone, flanked out now on the edge of America, in a remote log house that abuts Montana’s Glacier National Park. Bill Carpenter won’t be coming home for tomorrow’s 107th Army-Navy game. Even though the retired Army general grew up here, remains one of the storied series’ most memorable participants, and is a military legend to boot, it’s been years since he’s returned for one of these annual football spectacles. Friends and Army officials have tried to persuade him, regularly prodding the 69-year-old graduate of Springfield High (Delaware County) to reconnect with his alma mater. They’ve told him that Cadets, Iraq veterans, and plain old retirees would love to see the 1959 all-American whose pass-catching skills and gridiron isolation landed him on magazine covers and made him one of that simpler era’s more intriguing sports icons. They’ve pointed out that the man a colleague once called …

Above the Rest,
ABU/HHC 1/327th, Jul ’70 – Aug ’71
Mike Carretero
[email protected]

Regarding Cpt Carpenter and the “Crispy Critters” I have spoken to former members of C co 2/502 and
been told that they would have kill him if they had the chance. At the time that the napalm was dropped, the good Cpt. was not with the main body of his troops, but rather on a hill overlooking the main engagement.

He was originally going to be awarded the MOH, but when further investigation revealed the true circumstances, he was instead taken from the field and made Gen Westmorelands’ aide. There was no further talk of the MOH but since early reports had made him to be on-site and therefore actually a possible victim of the napalm the Army chose not to fully disclose the circumstances and he was given a lessor medal and removed for his own safety.

One of those I heard discuss this was SGM SABOLINSKI whom I considered a reliable source, as were others I met who had burn scars on their arms. I met them in the spring of 67 while with ABU 1/327.
Steve Black