Thanks To All Of Those Who Fought

Posted: November 11, 2008 in Remember

Like many of you, my family has plenty of examples of young men and women who have fought and died for this country so that others could experience the same type of freedom we enjoy here in the US. Here is just one of those examples.

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zz7ba4c355“Brayboy spent almost half his life in the Army, but only eight days in Viet Nam before he was killed. The 33-year-old sergeant first class had written to his wife, “I believe in what I am fighting for,” before his death on November 8, 1965, north of Saigon in combat with Company B of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. The 16-year veteran had fought in the Korean War and planned to retire in four years and start a business. He was survived by his wife, daughter, mother, five brothers and two sisters.”

Here are the words from someone who knew him in the Army~

My name is SP/4 Jose A. Ortiz. I had the honor to serve with Sergeant Brayboy. We were stationed with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 1963-65.

He was my Platoon Sergeant. He was a fine man, a proud man, and a fair man. He would help anyone if they requested it. I was First Gunner, Weapons Squad, and he taught me well on the use of the M60.

I was transferred to the 1st Brigade of the 502nd in the spring of 1965. We wound up in Viet Nam that summer. I lost contact with him at that time.

I didn’t find out til May 03, 2006 that he had passed on. At the age of 61, I found myself shedding tears for a comrade-in-arms who had left us so many, many years before. The world lost a good man on that autumn day back in 1965.

A I R B O R N E ! Sergeant Brayboy

And finally, here are the details of what happened on that faithful day~

A Note from The Virtual Wall
On 05 Nov 1965 the 173rd Airborne Brigade initiated “Operation Hump”, a reconnaissance in force in an area about 15 miles north of Bien Hoa. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, deployed south of the Dong Nai River while the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, conducted a helicopter assault on a LZ northwest of the Dong Nai and Song Be Rivers. Little contact was made through 07 Nov, when B and C Companies settled into a night defensive position southeast of Hill 65, a triple-canopy jungled hill.

At about 0600 on the morning of 08 Nov, C Company began a move northwest toward Hill 65, while B Company moved northeast toward Hill 78. Shortly before 0800, C Company was engaged by a sizable enemy force well dug in to the southern face of Hill 65. At 0845, B Company was directed to wheel in place and proceed toward Hill 65 with the intention of relieving C Company.

B Company reached the foot of Hill 65 at about 0930 and moved up the hill. Three things soon became obvious:

* There was a very large enemy force in place on the hill;
* C Company was getting hammered; and
* By chance, B Company was forcing the enemy’s right flank.

Under pressure from B Company’s flanking attack the enemy force – most of an NVA regiment – moved to the northwest, whereupon the B Company commander called in air and artillery fires on the retreating troops. B Company halted in place in an effort to locate and consolidate with C Company’s platoons, managing to establish a coherent defensive line running around the hilltop from southeast to northwest, but with little cover on the southern side.

Meanwhile, the NVA commander realized that his best chance was to close with the US soldiers so that the 173rd’s air and artillery fire could not be effectively employed. He attempted to out-flank the US position atop the hill from both the east and the southwest, moving his troops closer to the Americans. The result was shoulder-to-shoulder attacks up the hillside, hand-to-hand fighting, and isolation of parts of B and C Companies … but the Americans held against two such attacks. Although the fighting continued after the second massed attack, it reduced in intensity as the NVA commander again attempted to disengage and withdraw. By late afternoon it seemed that contact had been broken off by the enemy, allowing the two companies to prepare a night defensive position while collecting their dead and wounded in the center of the position. Although a few of the most seriously wounded were extracted by USAF helicopters using Stokes litters, the triple-canopy jungle prevented the majority from being evacuated until the morning of 09 Nov.

The result of the battle was heavy losses on both sides – 50 Skytroopers dead, many more wounded, and 403 dead NVA troops.

Sergeant First Class Brayboy was one of the 50 dead Americans.

Thank you “Unc” and all the rest of the men and women who have placed their lives on the line to both secure my freedom and to pave the way so others may have it as well.

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