Information on Lam Son 719 from Keith Short                

Charlie and Alpha Companies                  

           (Grateful appreciation to Keith Short for providing this information)                            

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For those of you who served when the Lam Son 719 operation began in 29 January 1971, and for those of you who are interested in another aspect of the 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment Pioneers' tour in Vietnam:

C/1-11 Infantry was passed OPCON to LTC Sheldon Burnett's 1/1 Cav of the 23d Infantry Division (Americal) on 5 Feb 1971 some 800 meters from the border when our C/1-11 Commander, CPT Barry Buckley, along with the rest of us arrived at what is Ban Houei Katang on the Huong Hoa map there on QL-9 in Quang Tri Province. On February 8th, we of the point element of 1st Platoon found ourselves on a hilltop in a fire fight. My squad leader, SGT Lonnie Coleman, was killed in the initial burst of fire. We had to back off and somewhat regroup before going back up again to bring him back down. SSG Gerald Tworek and PFC Michael First were killed this second time up by automatic weapons fire and chicom grenades. Also seriously wounded were SP5 Ralph "Doc" Mertz and SP4 Jim McGough. We made more attempts up on line, and finally, some of us were left marking positions with smoke up there when the fast movers came down. We still had not found SGT Lonnie Coleman. LTC Sheldon Burnett sent an order down later that afternoon that a small team of us were to go up that hill that night, under the cover of darkness, to find Lonnie. And we did go up there, but were still unable to find Lonnie. This is our tie to the 1/1 Cavalry and LTC Sheldon Burnett. Personally, the events that unfolded that day and then finally, that order Burnett sent down, then and for all these years later, is the epitome of what our battles finally came down to -- we risked and sacrificed our lives to take care of each other.

By early evening of Thursday, 18 February, A/1-11 Infantry had replaced us at the border. We were extracted to begin patrols to the west and then NW of Khe Sanh. On March 7, 3d Platoon from A/1-11 was in a contact in the vicinity where 1/C/1-11 had walked back into South Vietnam from a little Laotian RIF the late afternoon of 5 February. The commander of A/1-11 Infantry, CPT Philip Bodenhorn, needed a C&C flight to see for himself what was going on with his ambushed platoon. Randy Ard was the pilot of that flight and LTC Sheldon Burnett climbed into the copilot's seat. They picked up CPT Bodenhorn and his FO, Lieutenant Jerry Castillo. For whatever reason, they overshot the contact area, and the border, and were shot down about four kilometers west of where 1/C/1-11 Infantry had been in contact on 8 February. Burnett was pinned in the chopper, going in and out of consciousness, and Randy Ard was stuck in the front panel of the chopper. Bodenhorn and Castillo left their commander LTC Burnett, and pilot CWO Ard, as the NVA moved in. Randy Ard and Sheldon Burnett have been MIA until a couple months ago.

Click here to view a 1/1 Cav, Daily Staff Journal from 18 Feb 71.

Keith Short
1/C/1-11 Infantry
Former Society of the Fifth Division National Historian



      Charles Ames


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