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Kentucky remembers Vietnam casualties
May 23, 2019 |
By John Trowbridge, Kentucky National Guard
[caption id="attachment_30070" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Field Artillery, while serving on Federal Active Duty in Southeast Asia, had been in South Vietnam for eight months. In the early morning hours of June 19, 1969, elements of the battalion were attacked by units of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Especially hard hit was the battalion’s Charlie Battery, from Bardstown, stationed on Fire Support Base Tomahawk, located in Thua Thien Province. The names of five members of the battery who made the ultimate sacrifice that day appear on the Kentucky National Guard Memorial, along with three others of the battalion who were killed during the battalion’s year-long deployment.
Kentucky National Guard casualties at Firebase Tomahawk, June 19, 1969:
First Sgt. Luther Malcolm Chappel
– Carroll County. [initially served with A Battery, 2/138
Spc. Fourth Class David Burr Collins
– Nelson County.
Spc. Fourth Class Joseph Ronald McIlvoy
– Washington County.
Sgt. James Thomas Moore
– Nelson County. [Died of Wounds, June 24, 1969]
Spc. Fourth Class Ronald Earl “Ronnie” Simpson
– Nelson County.
Sadly, these were not the only Kentucky casualties sustained by the battalion during their tour of duty in South Vietnam.
Staff Sgt. Harold Milton Brown
– Bullitt County. Initially served with C Battery, 2/138
. Killed in action June 11, 1969, while assigned to Battery C, 1/82
Sgt. Bertram Anthony “Sonny” Carr
– Jefferson County. Initially serving with Service Battery, 2/138
. Killed in action June 1, 1969, while serving with B Battery, 2/138
Field Artillery Battalion.
Sgt. James Allen Wray
– Nelson County. Initially served with C Battery, 2/138
. Died of wounds suffered July 2, 1969, while assigned to B Battery, 1/40
Field Artillery, 108
Click here to read biographies of our fallen.
Six Regular Army Soldiers also perished serving alongside our Kentucky Guardsmen at Firebase Tomahawk. They had been infused/assigned to the batteries in the battalion. Their names do not appear on the Kentucky National Guard Memorial. However, their service and sacrifice, deserves our deep respect and solemn remembrance as they also made the ultimate sacrifice shoulder to shoulder with our own.
The following Regular Army Soldiers were members of Charlie Battery, and were killed in action at Firebase Tomahawk, June 19, 1969:
Spc. Fourth Class Troy F. Bethea.
Born: June 21, 1948, Seattle, Washington. Infused/Assigned: April 10, 1969, from C Battery, 2/94
Field Artillery Battalion. Buried: Fort Lawton Cemetery, Seattle, Washington.
Spc. Fourth Class William Joseph “Billy” Kuhns
. Born: September 8, 1943, Springfield, Missouri. Infused/Assigned: date and unit unknown. Buried: Smart Cemetery, Clever, Missouri.
Sgt. Harold R. Christensen, II.
Born: October 9, 1948, West Covina, California. Infused/Assigned: May 16, 1969. Buried: Oakdale Memorial Park, Glendora, California.
Sgt. Larry W. Kinder.
Born: February 7, 1944, Istachatta, Florida. Died of wounds June 23, 1969. Infused/Assigned: date and unit unknown. Buried: Peach Creek, West Virginia.
Additionally, the following Regular Army Soldiers were killed in action while serving in the battalion:
Pfc. Billy Wayne Campbell
, killed in action while serving with B Battery, 2/138
on June 1, 1969. Born: March 16, 1948, Columbia, South Carolina. Assigned to B Battery, April 7, 1969, from Hqs, USARV Transfer Depot. Buried: Monte Vista Memorial Park, Johnson City, Tennessee.
Capt. Lyle John Thompson
, killed in a helicopter crash, while serving as commander of C Battery, 2/138
March 6, 1969, becoming 2/138
Field Artillery Battalion’s first casualty of the Vietnam War. Born: January 10, 1941, St. Paul, Minnesota. Assigned to C Battery, December 4, 1968. Buried: New Carlisle Cemetery, New Carlisle, Indiana.
On Memorial Day 2019, a special remembrance ceremony will be held at the Kentucky National Guard Memorial commemorating the 50
Anniversary of the battalion’s service in Vietnam. The 2/138
units in Louisville, Bardstown, Elizabethtown and Carrollton were ordered to active duty and completed accelerated training at Fort Hood, Texas. Advanced elements of the battalion departed Fort Hood, Texas Oct. 11, 1968. The final elements of the organization arrived in Vietnam two weeks later. At 2 p. m., Nov. 13, 1968, Brig. Gen. Allan G. Pixton, XXIV Corps Artillery Commander, pulled the lanyard on Number 3 piece, A Battery, and fired the first 2/138
Field Artillery round into the mountain range south of Phu Bai, Vietnam. During their tour of duty in Vietnam, the battalion had a primary mission of reinforcing the fires of the 101
Airborne Air Mobile (AM) Division Artillery and frequently supported the 1
Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Division as well as regional and local militia. During the period, 2/138
fired approximately 150,000 rounds. Senior Commander in Vietnam, Gen. Creighton Abrams, said the 2
Field Artillery, was "one of the best trained, and absolutely the best maintained battalion-sized unit in Vietnam." October 10, 2019 marks the 50
anniversary of the battalion’s release from active duty service and return home from the Vietnam War.
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