Married before going to Nam
Born on 4th of July


Sgt David A. Provost, KIA, 3 Jun 68


Place of Birth
Date of Birth
Race
Thompson, Connecticut
4 Jul 46
Caucasian
     
Status
Religion
Military
Married
Roman Catholic
US Army
     
Rank
SN
Grade
SGT
52720810
E 5
     
MOS
Start of Tour
Casualty Date
11B40
04 Oct 67
3 Jun 68
     
Casualty Type
Reason
Province
Hostile, Died
Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
Quang Tin, S. Vietnam
     
Wall Panel
Row
Processed Date
60W
004
Jun 68

       When David died it was a real shock to the whole family. In fact the family will never be the same. When we used to visit David and his family, he was always happy and always had a smile on his face. He was a avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. His younger brothers and sisters all looked up to him and he was the oldest. The day he died I was in process of graduating from High School and I was 17.

 

       At his funeral there were many stories told of his valor. He helped save many wounded out of the jungle. There was also the strange story around his death. One or two days before he died he sent a letter home to his parents telling them that if they get word that he is dead not to believe it because his pack was shot off by machine gun fire and many of his belongings with his name on them were scattered all over the area. So, when the Army delivered the bad news to my Aunt and Uncle of course they didn't believe it and of course cause frantic emotions. Yet the truth was that the day after he was killed by mortar. It was a very hard thing to digest for whole family.



SSgt Thomas N. Blades, KIA, 3 Jun 68


Place of Birth
Date of Birth
Race
Easton, Maryland
19 Nov 42
Caucasian
     
Status
Religion
Military
Married
Methodist
US Army
     
Rank
SN
Grade
SSGT
13680085
E 6
     
MOS
Start of Tour
Casualty Date
11B40
31 Jan 68
3 Jun 68
     
Casualty Type
Reason
Province
Hostile, Died
Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
Quang Tin, S. Vietnam
     
Wall Panel
Row
Processed Date
61W
020
Jun 68

       The reason I did this special page was I received a email from the wife of SSgt Thomas N. Blades who died the same day, same place with David. I would like to honor him too on this page with his name above. Here is a email I got from her:

 

       I found this on the internet and thought you would like to read it. My husband SSgt Thomas N Blades was killed on June 3, 1968, along with you cousin David and 2 other men. I saw your note of remembrance on the Virtual Wall for David and your email address so I thought you might like to read about the Operation - Burlington Trail. It starts in April, but go to June 3, 1968 and you will read about that day. You might have already read this but I just thought, in case you haven't, would like to read it. I didn't mean to bring back any sadness for you regarding your cousin, but this is the first I have ever read in all these years about what was going on and what they were going though that day. I think about my husband every day and what our life may have been like with our two children.

Sincerely,
Agnes Blades
agnesb@goeaston.net


Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL


       On 8/9 April 1968, Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL was begun by the 198th Infantry Brigade north of Chu Lai. The operation had four main goals: open Highway 533 from Tam Ky (BT 306 204) to Tien Phuoc (BT 107 153), a Special Forces outpost and district headquarters in Quang Tin Province; neutralize Base Area 117; locate and destroy NVA and VC forces in the area; and, extend GVN control. Enemy forces in the area conducted almost nightly mortar attacks on friendly forward bases in the area. In addition, friendly units frequently were mortared while in night defensive positions.



Highway 533 cuts diagonally across the map sheet from near Tam Ky in the upper right. This extract from Series L7014, Map Sheet 6640II (Tam Ky), Edition 1 - AMS with 1965 data provided by Brian Beaderstadt, an RTO for 4th Plt, A/1-6 Inf 1969-70.

 

       Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL was conducted in conjunction with the 6th ARVN Regt of the 2nd ARVN Div, elements of the CIDG forces from Tien Phouc Special Forces Camp, and the 3rd Trp 4th ARVN Cav Sqdrn. Americal units included the 1st Bn 6th Inf (operating in AO Kansas) and the 1st Sqdrn 1st Cav (operating on the north flank), and the 1st Bn 46th Inf (operating on the east flank). The cavalry units helped secure the engineer units physically repairing the road while the infantry units conducted tactical operations. Cos. A, B, and C, 1st Bn 6th Inf each had an attached platoon of CIDG soldiers from the Tien Phuoc Special Forces Camp.

 

       In preparation for the operation, on 8 Apr 68, the 1st Bn 6th Inf was relieved in place in the Charger Hill area of operations by the 1st Bn 52 Inf and air moved from LZ Baldy (BT 133 453), where it had been under the operational control of the 196th Inf Bde, to the Tam Ky airfield to prepare for combat air assaults. Upon arrival, the units came under the operational control of the 198th Inf Bde. Administrative and support personnel displaced to Hill 54 (between Chu Lai and Tam Ky) and to LZ Bayonet.

 

       Because friendly forces had not operated in AO Kansas since Sep 67 (Operation Benton by the 1st Brigade, 101st Abn Division 13-29 Aug 67, and 196th Light Inf Bde 14 Aug - 1 Sep 67) when enemy contact was heavy, it was believed that NVA, Main Force and Local Force units had time to prepare extensive, well camouflaged defensive positions constructed with overhead logs, narrow firing ports, and mutually supporting fires. Enemy training areas, hospitals, and prisoner of war facilities existed within the AO. Rice fields in AO Kansas were being harvested at night by the enemy. The average high temperature was expected to be 87 with a low of 73 each day.

 

       The initial site for the firebase to be located in enemy territory was selected based upon an aerial reconnaissance. NVA forces were located in the areas just to the west. Tactical operations to occupy the site began at 090850 Apr 68 with a fifteen minute artillery bombardment of Hill 218 (BT 239 142) [later to be named LZ Bowman in honor of LT Joseph B. Bowman, who received a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross at the battle for Lo Giang on 8 Feb 68] and the surrounding hills that might be used by NVA to launch mortar and rockets. Artillery prep continued until 1005 hours by B1-14th Atry firing in direct support from Hill 68 (BT 317 132).



Map extract from Sheet 6639-I (Tien Phuoc). Locations marked in red provided by Al Simms, a radar operator with 1-14th Arty in 1968-69. This map can be enlarged when downloaded.

 

       Co D and Echo Recon, 1st Bn 6th Inf, and the 1st Plt, Co. B, 26th Engr conducted the initial combat air assault onto Hill 218 to secure the site for LZ Bowman and to establish a defensive perimeter. The 176th Avn. Co (call sign "Minuteman" (lift aircraft) and "Muskets" (gun ships) supported the operation.



Soldiers arrive at Hill 218 with pick and shovel to dig in and start operations. Photo provided by Dave Ross (HHC, 1/6 Inf 67-68)

 

       Co B, and the HQ TOC CP followed the line units in moving to LZ Bowman, along with the Commo Plt, Medical Plt, and Service Plt. When LZ Bowman was secured, D Btry, 1st Bn 14th Arty was inserted to provide direct support artillery fire from the new firebase. The firebase was "L" shaped with attached artillery occupying the short base of the "L." Co. B then conducted combat sweeps in the area. At 1945 hrs they observed 7 VC at BT 229 145 and called in artillery fire from the new firebase, resulting in 3 VC KHA and 2 VC captured.



The CONEX container to be used for the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) arrives at Hill 218. April 1968 photo provided by Dave Ross.

 

       After Co. D secured Hill 218 (LZ Bowman), Cos A and C, 1st Bn 6th Inf, were inserted into LZ Scottie (BT 269 127) to conduct combat sweeps in that area.

 

       On 9 April 1968, elements of the 1st Bn 6th Inf contacted an enemy force vic BT 2031 resulting in 12 VC KIA, 20 crew served (CS) and 6 individual weapons captured. Over 20,000 rds of ammunition were captured or destroyed. [Note: this report documented in the 23rd Inf Div ORLL may have involved a unit other than 1/6 Inf]

 

       The enemy clearly viewed LZ Bowman as a threat to their continued operations in the area. Co. A engaged a platoon size enemy force at BT 217 133 on 111735 Apr 68 hrs resulting in 1 VC KIA and one weapon captured. That night at 2300 hrs, LZ Bowman perimeter was hit with 47 rounds of 82mm mortar fire. One mortar round landed in a three man position, killing all three [Note: those KIA are thought to be SGT Majer, SP4 Madson, and PFC Willoughby.] Several other soldiers were wounded in the mortar attack.

 

       11 April 1968. At 1107 hours when A Company, 1-6 Inf received sniper fire at BT217133. The attached CIDG platoon engaged the enemy and captured one weapon. At 1615 hours Blue Ghost gunships engaged and killed 1 enemy who was evading south after being observed by B Company, 1-6 Inf at BT202145. Twenty-five minutes later B Co had 2 men wounded by sniper fire near BT 206145.

 

       12 April 1968. At 1103 hours B Co, 1-6 Inf engaged and killed 1 enemy in vic BT198146 while searching their assigned area, and at 1431 hours received 20 rounds of sniper fire at BT191144 wounding 1 man. Musket gunships [later designation - 176th AHC] in support of B Co killed 1 enemy. [Note additional reports -1625hrs B Co at BT 208 140 received sniper fire, resulting in 2 WHA (E); -0415hrs LZ Bowman received 60 rounds of 82mm mortar fire; negative results; -1846hrs received sniper fire, returned fire with small arms and automatic weapons, results 1 WHA (E); Casualty reports indicate that SP4 Robert G. Harris (Co. C) and PFC Phillip F. Gaines (Co. B) were KHA on 12 Apr]

 

       13 April 1968. A Co 1-6 Inf found a cache at BT185123 while searching their area. The cache consisted of 162 60mm rounds, 20 82mm rounds, 10 4.2 rounds, 11 MG AK-53, 11 bolt action rifles, 50lbs of plastic explosives, 4 drums of AK48 rds, 3 AK 47, 4 RPG, 2 launchers, 18 B40 rockets, and 1 carbine. Recon 1-6 Inf, at 1615 hours engaged and killed 1 enemy wearing US jungle fatigues at BT231126, and at 1652 hours A Co engaged 30 to 40 enemy in black uniforms at BT185123 and killed 7 enemy.

 

       14 April 1968. At 1110 hours A Co 1-6 Inf found 1 wounded VC in a cave at BT185117 and evacuated him. Seven minutes later at the same location the unit found a cache which included 2 60mm mortars complete, 1 82mm mortar tube and base plate, 100 cases of 50 cal rounds, 23 RPG 2 rounds, 1 AK43, 300 Chicom grenades, 2 57mm rocket rounds, and 15 cases of 7.62mm rounds. A Co moved to BT185 123 where they found 19 enemy bodies which had been hit by the by an artillery time on target (TOT) barrage. 126, and at 1652 hours A Co engaged 30 to 40 enemy in black uniforms at BT185123 and killed 7 enemy.

 

[Note: other reports identify the incident as follows -1620hrs A Co at BT 185 123 found a weapons cache containing 1 M2 carbine, 1 Russian carbine, 4 RPGs, 4 AK47, 4RPG Machine Guns, 8 light machine guns and miscellaneous ammo.]

 

       15 April 1968. A Co, 1-6 Inf engaged 3 enemy soldiers at BT187118 resulting in two VC KIA and 1 AK47 and web gear captured. Later at BT181605 A Co again engaged and killed 1 VC. In the enemy's wallet was an ID card saying he was a member of the 72nd Local Force Battalion thought to be located in the vicinity of BT1923. [Casualty reports indicate that PFC Michael P. Pavlocak (Co. E) was KHA on 15 Apr.]

 

       16 April 1968. While sweeping to the West, vic BT170109 B Co 1-6 Inf engaged and killed 1 VC in uniform. A Co engaged and killed 2 VC at BT148110 and captured 1 weapon. A Co also found 6 bodies in fresh graves at BT148110 and captured 1 weapon. A Co also found 6 bodies in fresh graves at BT157108 [BT 187 108?] which were evidently killed by an air strike. [Note: other reports add-1600 B Co at BT 148 112 detained 5 VN, one with a bolt action French rifle.]

 

       Combat operations in the area had an immediate effect, as Highway 535 was officially opened on 18 Apr 68 when a 50 vehicle convoy from the 2d ARVN Div moved from Tam Ky to Tien Phouc and returned before nightfall. The road traffic continued to be harassed by enemy fire and mines. Also that same day D Co found at BT 231 241 a camouflaged tunnel w/1 bolt action rifle barrel.

 

       On 19 April 1968 at 1610 hours in the vic BT 209 140, B/1-1 Cav, F Trp/8th Cav, and Co C, 1st Bn 6th Inf engaged as estimated VC platoon. Results of the engagement were 25 VC KIA (C), and 5 IWC.

 

       20 April 1968. At 0845 A Co 1-6 Inf engaged 5 VC killing 1, and capturing 1 M-79 at BT178093. B Co 1-6 Inf became engaged with an enemy force at BT177107 resulting 2 WHA, 2 VC KIA, 1 carbine and 3 HG CIA. At 1400 hours B and D Co's 1-46 Inf were placed under the operational control of 1-6 Inf. [Note: Other reports add -1123 A Co engaged 1 NVA at BT 177 107; results 1 NVA KIA; -1212 B6 at BT 186 106 engaged 1 VC; results 1 VC KIA.]

 

       21 April 1968. 1022 at BT 189 104 B Co engaged 1 NVA; results 1 NVA KIA, 1 9mm pistol CIA

 

       22 April 1968. C Co 1-6 Inf was released from OPCON of 1-1 Cav (where it had been operating since 11 April) and was air-lifted to grid BT027283, to joint TF Manassas, an operation by the 1-46 Inf Bn. B and D Co's 1-46 Inf already operating in the Burlington Trail AO came under 1-6 OPCON. A Co 1-52 Inf came under OPCON of 1-6 Inf and provided security for LZ Bowman.

 

       On 22 April 1968, Companies A, B, and C of the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry moved out of the BURLINGTON TRAIL area into AO Manassas to continue combat operations as part of the WHEELER/WALLOWA forces. Delta Company, 1st Battalion 6th Infantry remained in the BURLINGTON TRAIL area of operations under the command of the Executive Officer.

 

       From 8 Apr 68 to 30 Apr 68 the results for the Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL were:


Friendly
Enemy
   
15 HA
226 VC KIA (C)
86 WHA (E)
6 NVA KIA (C)
38 WHA (M)
61 IWC
 
26 CSW

       From 22 April to 28 May 1968, soldiers from the 1st Bn 6th Inf participated in Operation WHEELER/WALLOWA.

 

       29 May 68. At 1200 hours the 1-6 Inf assumed the control of LZ Bowman and Headquarters 1-46, Operation Burlington Trail. The 1-46 Inf returned to the control of the Chu Lai Defense Command.

 

       30 May 68. C Co 1-6 Inf engaged 1 VC wearing a green uniform at BT177121 resulting in 1 VC KIA, and web gear and 2 Chicom grenades CIA. A Co 1-6 Inf assaulted a bunker complex at BT177121. Results of the action was 1 KHA (PFC Johnnie E. Powell), 5 WHA and two dogs wounded. The enemy broke contact and evaded south with unknown casualties.

 

       31 May 68. C Co 1-6 Inf received heavy automatic weapons fire from bunkers at BT212103. Artillery and gunships were used in support while C Co assaulted the enemy positions. The action resulted in 7 enemy KIA and 4 AK-47 captured. [Casualty reports indicate that PFC James E. Cowell (Co. C) and SGT Bruce F. Anello (Co. D) were KHA on 31 May.]

 

       1 June 68. B Co 1-6 Inf came under ground attack in their NDP. The attack was repelled in 3 KHA (SGT Michael J. Muszynski, PFC John T. Wilfe, and PFC Larry L. York) and 23 WHA. B and C Co 1-46 Inf were air lifted into an LZ at BT212092 and became OPCON to the 1-6 Inf.

 

       2 June 68. Operations in the Burlington Trail AO were continued with no significant contact.

 

       3 June 68. C Co 1-6 Inf received a mortar attack at BT210100 resulting in 4 KHA (2LT Michael L. Wilson, SSG Thomas N. Blades, SGT David A. Provost, and SP4 Andrew J. Thomas) and 10 WHA. D Co 1-6 Inf engaged 4 enemy in the open, resulting in 4 VC KIA and 1 weapon captured. A squad from B Co 1-46 Inf observed a fire and moved to check the area. As they neared the location they heard the enemy approaching, set up a hasty ambush, and engaged them at fifteen meters killing 1 and capturing a pair of binoculars and 1 AK47. B Co 1-52 Inf engaged 2 NVA at BT254079, resulting in 1 NVA KIA and 1 AK47 captured.

 

       4 June 68. At 1100 hours a Minuteman helicopter was shot down in grid BT0420. All personnel were safely extracted and the helicopter was destroyed.

 

       5 June 68. B Co 1-46 Inf engaged 2 enemy at BT191103, resulting in 1 VC KIA, and 2 carbines and 1 pistol captured. A Co 1-6 Inf located a large weapons cache at BT186199. It consisted of 74 individual and crew served weapons, and ammunition. B Co 1-6 Inf observed and engaged one enemy evading resulting in 1 VC KIA and 2 Chicom grenades CIA. B Co 1-46 Inf received and returned heavy sniper fire at BT213103, resulting 4 VC KIA and 1 AK47 CIA. One of the night patrols of B Co 1-46 ambushed 2 VC at BT215103 resulting in 1 PRC-25 CIA. The frequency on the set was 32.45.

 

       6 June 68. C Co 1-46 Inf was released from OPCON to 1-6 Inf. B Co 1-6 Inf received heavy fire from BT202121 resulting in 3 WHA, 1 KHA (SGT Thomas L. Dunithan), 1 VC KIA and 1 AK47 CIA. At BT236073 A Co 1-52 Inf received 1 RPG, mortar fire, and heavy automatic weapons fire resulting in 6 KHA and 23 WHA.

 

       7 June 68. At 0830 hours 1-52 Inf assumed OPCON of B, C, & D Co's 1-46 Inf. B Co 1-46 Inf engaged and killed 2 VC at 234072. The E Co recon platoon of 1-46 Inf engaged 1 VC at BS275105 resulting in 1 VC KIA and 1 AK47 CIA. C Co 1-46 Inf received semi-automatic weapons fire and one hand grenade at 1530 hrs. The fire was returned resulting in 1 VC KIA, 1 AK47 CIA and 2 WHA.

 

       8 June 68. 1-6 Inf assumed OPCON of B, C, and D 1-46 Inf. All units were issued orders to conduct night movements north of the Bong Mieu River. At 2305 hours D Co 1-46 Inf engaged and killed four enemy at BT222072, capturing their web gear and loaded AK47 magazines. At 2307 hours C/1-6 engaged 4 VC in a destroyed village at BT221076, killing 2 and capturing a M-1 carbine. B/1-6 engaged approximately 20 VC at a range of 25-30 meters, killing three and capturing 1 AK47 and 1 M-60 machinegun.

 

       9 June 68. 1-46 Inf assumed control of LZ Bowman and their maneuver elements. 1-6 Inf command and control group assumed control of Hill 69 and the Chu Lai TAOR.

 

       After 9 June 1968 the 1st Bn 6th Inf did not participate as a unit in any other combat operations as part of Operation Burlington Trail.

 

[The preceding tactical information was taken from the 198th Inf Bde Combat After Action Report concerning Operation Burlington Trail dated 9 Jan 69. Additional information was provided by the former commander 1st Bn 6th Inf, LTC William D. Kelley.]





Jerry Grzymala



       I met Jerry after a phone call I received from a Veteran who was one of the heads of the Veterans of the Vietnam War in Ohio. He told me that Jerry had just found out he had bone cancer from Agent Orange and if I could call him up and try to help him out by having a ear to listen to him. I told him I'd be glad to and me and Jerry became friends and I was so sad to listen to his plight. Yet, I was happy to be his friend and after that day I knew him for about two years till the day he died in the hospital. Many times I listened to him and tried to help him but I can say at times Jerry actually helped me.

 

       I made him a rosary and gave him some religious articles and he gave me the undeserving name of his angel. There was a time I had given him some Lourdes water and after he drank the water he had tests done for his cancer and he was encouraged for a few months because the tests showed his cancer was better. Yet after those months the cancer came back and as I said after knowing him for about two years he died. The sad part was we never got to meet eyeball to eyeball as he would put it before he died. We only communicated by way of phone and computer.

 

       He told me of a couple stories when he was in Vietnam and I thought I would relate them. He was a Security Policeman in the Air Force in Vietnam. First of all he told me of a bunker him and 12 other Airmen and Infantry were dug in. He had a very uncomfortable feeling being there and something told him to get out of there! He quickly got out and seconds later a mortar came in and hit the bunker killing the other twelve. In the two years I knew him many times when he talked about it I could tell that he almost felt guilty for getting out of bunker. We even did research on the names of others that were killed that day.

 

       In his second story to me, Jerry told me they had been at the end of the flight line with other security policemen. They were not far from the gate at the end of the flight line when they were radioed to be aware the Vietcong were suddenly hurdling themselves towards the gate from the other side. Instructions were to fire on the Vietcong if they dared push through the gate. In a few quickly passing seconds time flashed by and suddenly the suspected Vietcong shoved the gate wide open leaving the SP's with no other recourse but to shoot as ordered. Bullets blazed away. This shocking episode sadly shocked the SP's since they had fired upon their very own men. Because of the above, Jerry in later years sadly acquired PTSD and in time passed away from cancer. With all Jerry had suffered he served his country well as a real American hero when he had heard the original call to serve his country.




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