The Battle At Widows Village

That morning (January 31st) a lot of people seemed to be involved in containing all the VC/NVA that were holed up in Widow's Village right next to our compound. I really don't think we their main objective since we were a pretty small compound. I am sure they could of overrun us easily if they had wanted to. The VC/NVA had been in the Village for a month or so from what I understand. Building up supplies and soldiers to hit Bien Hoa, Long Binh and Saigon. They were all over the place and the 1968 TET holiday truce was their cover.

Widows' Village was a small hamlet of shacks sitting just across the dirt road from the huge Long Binh Army complex and the Headquarters for II Field Force Vietnam. Reportedly, widows and children of deceased ARVN soldiers lived there, existing on small government pensions. From time to time we paid them to fill sandbags at our compound.

During the night and early morning, gun ships had shot up the village and got a lot of secondary explosions from some of the positions they rocketed. At 0800, Company B 4/39 Inf made a combat assault into the grass helicopter pad in a field opposite II FFV HQ. The LZ was hot, the unit quickly cleared the area and moved through the Widows Village along with a mechanized company and the recon platoon from 1st Platoon, Company B, 2-47th Inf (Mech), 9th Inf Division. They went through the village and encountered a battalion (augmented) of the 88th NVA Regiment and cleared it out at a heavy cost but prevented or delayed an enemy assault on the nearby II Field Forces Headquarters. More than 50 of the enemy perished in the heavy fighting at Widows' Village

There was a lot of indirect fire coming into our compound from both the NVA and the mechanized unit. We had to stay alert and undercover at all times to keep from getting hit. When we did see the VC/NVA outside our positions were would fire on them.

As the afternoon progressed, a company of the 2d/47th ran into heavy contact in the Ho Nai village, north of Highway 1. Action tapered off by nightfall and by that time more than 200 VC were killed, 32 detainees taken, more than 60 crew-served and more than 45 individual weapons captured. Four U.S. soldiers died in the action.

A detailed account of the battle at Widows Village can be found at: Widows' Village: VC Graveyard."

IN THE LINE OF FIRE

My sergeant was SP5 Kenneth Casey from the northeast somewhere. He came and got me and said we were ordered to burn off some foliage from around the perimeter wire as the VC/NVA had been getting close to our perimeter and we needed to clear our fields of fire. We had tried to go out to the perimeter line a couple of times but the enemy ground fire was pretty intense and drove us back. He said we'd try it one more time but as the two of us went over the berm towards the wire Ken got hit. The bullet went through the top of his thigh and through his nuts and into his other leg. It didn't come out the other leg but it had the skin pushed out. The trauma of the bullet must have locked his legs as he didn't go down. Instinctively I hit his legs from behind to get him down out of the line of fire. He was a really big guy and I wasn't and since we were alone I had to roll him quite a ways to get him down below the berm to safety. We called the medics and they patched him up and his war was over. (Note: SP5 Casey was really a great guy. He sent a letter back a couple months later saying he was doing good and thanked everyone. Fortunately they were able fix him up so he could still have kids.)

- MSG Larry F. O'Neill

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