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Summary - September 1966

To be written

September 13

2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry was airlifted to LZ Hammond to participate in Operation Thayer I.  LZ Hammond was west of QL1 (Route 1) in Binh Dinh Province,  about 15 kilometers south of Phu My.   (Source:  Annual Historical Report, Calendar year 1966, 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry.  Operations in the republic of Vietnam)

Map_Southern_Bong_Son_Phu_My.jpg (68775 bytes)
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Map from Anatomy of a Division, Shelby Stanton, with additions by Webmaster

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September 17

Some of the "originals" who were with the company when it left Ft. Benning were awarded the Air Medal.  Strangely, these orders list the individuals as being from 2nd  Battalion, 5th Cavalry, and do not list the company, but many of these names are from Charlie Company.  Some of these awards are for an additional Air Medal.  See also May 1966.

The full-size document is a large file - have patience while it downloads.

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Courtesy Thomas Talton

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September 18

At 12:30 PM, CPT Charles Fry suffered a punji stake wound to the left leg and was evacuated to the 85th Evacuation Hospital. (Source:  1st Cavalry Division G1 Daily Staff Journal dated September 18, 1966)

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September 21

At 10 AM, the company was airlifted into LZ Pelham (Source for name of objective:  Richard Bratton),  the name of a small hill west of QL1, and about 26 kilometers north of LZ Hammond.  It was a rocky and mountainous area, with dense vegetation.  After securing the LZ for Company D,  C 2/5 Cav began moving north, but there was a small hill along the route.  CPT Fry split the company.  3rd Platoon moved to the west (left) side of the hill, while 1st and 2nd Platoons moved to the east (right.)  1st Platoon was led by 1LT Harry Stein.   Without warning, 1st Platoon was hit with intense automatic weapons fire from bunkered Communist forces.  The point man (who is unidentified) was hit immediately, and the rest of the platoon was pinned down.  At the same time, 2nd Platoon came under mortar fire, but was still able to maneuver.  Later estimates indicated there was a dug-in enemy platoon, reinforced with mortars and heavy automatic weapons.

2nd and 3rd Platoons were instructed to move to the right, around 1st Platoon in an effort to flank the enemy bunkers.  As they approached the enemy bunkers from over a small hill, 2nd Platoon was hit hard from the front and left flank, killing two troopers and wounding three more.  Meanwhile, 3rd Platoon continued around the right side of 2nd Platoon in an attempt to outflank the enemy positions and assist 1st Platoon.   But, they too were pinned down by intense fire from a well dug-in force.  These movements took place over a period of hours.

PFC Billy Lauffer was towards the rear of 1st Platoon.  Along with some of the other members of his squad, he was initially screened from the enemy fire by thick underbrush.  While LT Stein brought in an air strike, Lauffer and the others moved forward to where they could see the downed point man.  When the point man did not respond to their yelling, Lauffer assumed he was dead.  He and the others knew the platoon had suffered two dead and two seriously wounded.

Something had to be done to evacuate the wounded before night fall.  Company B was coming in from the south, and 1st Platoon was directed to move to the west to link up with them.  They would be retracing their steps, meaning Lauffer's 1st Squad was no longer in the rear of the platoon, but was in the lead.  Following them was 2nd Squad, carrying the litter patients, plus the extra equipment of the wounded.

Unknowingly, they moved right into an area covered by concealed and bunkered enemy automatic weapons.  The initial burst of fire severely wounded  the squad's point man and pinned down the rest of the platoon.  The wounded point man was conscious, but unable to get to cover, and the litter patients were also exposed to heavy enemy fire.  The rest of the squad had been scattered and unorganized.

Lauffer realized his buddies would die if something wasn't done.  He got to his feet and charged the enemy machinegun position by himself.  His action stunned the Communist soldiers, and Lauffer used the opportunity to deliver effective automatic fire from his M-16.  It was enough to allow the wounded point man to crawl to safety, and for other members of the platoon to rescue the wounded litter patients and bring them to cover.  His one-man assault resulted in the killing of four enemy soldiers, and the wounding of an unknown number of others.  Unfortunately, PFC Billy Lauffer suffered from multiple gun shot wounds, and died on the battlefield.

CPT Fry put PFC Lauffer in for the Medal of Honor, and 1st Platoon Leader 1LT Harry Stein and Squad Leader Staff Sergeant George Kenniston wrote their eye witness accounts to substantiate Lauffer's actions.

Also killed that day were SSG Robert B. Jackson, SGT Frank Arrey, Jr., SGT Louis C. Hines, PFC Walter C. Alterwisher, PFC Anthony B. Phillips, and PFC Ronald F. Van Raemdonck.

(Source:  Documentation for award of the Medal of Honor for PFC Billy Lauffer.)

Webmaster Note:  Not much is known about this fire fight except what is included in PFC Lauffer's recommendation for the MOH.  While we know the names of the KIA, we do not know who was in the various platoons, or what position they held.  Nor do we have a larger picture of what happened as the Battalion S3 Daily Staff Journals are not available for this date.  If you have further information, please contact the Webmaster.


PFC Billy Lane Lauffer was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions while serving with C 2/5 Cav near Bong Son, Binh Dinh Province.   The Day Room of the present day C 2/5 Cav at Ft. Hood , Texas is named in his honor.  The citation reads:

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.  PFC Lauffer's squad, a part of Company C, was suddenly struck at close range by an intense machine gun crossfire from two concealed bunkers astride the squad's route. PFC Lauffer, the second man in the column, saw the lead man fall and noted that the remainder of the squad was unable to move. Two comrades, previously wounded and being carried on litters, were lying helpless in the beaten zone of the enemy fire. Reacting instinctively, PFC Lauffer quickly engaged both bunkers with fire from his rifle, but when the other squad members attempted to maneuver under his covering fire, the enemy fusillade increased in volume and thwarted every attempt to move. Seeing this and his wounded comrades helpless in the open, PFC Lauffer rose to his feet and charged the enemy machine gun positions, firing his weapon and drawing the enemy's attention. Keeping the enemy confused and off balance, his one man assault provided the crucial moments for the wounded point man to crawl to a covered position, the squad to move the exposed litter patients to safety, and his comrades to gain more advantageous positions. PFC Lauffer was fatally wounded during his selfless act of courage and devotion to his fellow soldiers. His gallantry at the cost of his life served as an inspiration to his comrades and saved the lives of an untold number of his companions. His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

In 2005, Tuscon, Arizona, dedicated the Billy Lane Lauffer Middle School.

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Courtesy Mike Hayes

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Updated September 09, 2006