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Killed In Action, Missing In Action, & Died In Service
Jesus Rivera
PFC Rivera died in Tay Ninh, South Vietnam on 8/21/1968 during the Vietnam War - Ben Cui as a member of C Company . The soldier's injury type or status was recorded as 'Unknown'. Rivera originated from New York, NY and is buried at Cementerio Municipal Viejo, Juncos, PR .
On August 21, 1968, at 0640 hours, Company C departed Dau Tieng for a RIF operation through the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation. The company was to be approximately 1 kilometer south of the MSR[Highway 239]. The company had a Scout Dog team with them. At 0658 hours, the Recon Platoon with one “Duster” attached and the 3rd Brigade CRIP Platoon, left Dau Tieng to sweep Highway 239. As Company C moved through the rubber plantation, the Recon Platoon paralleled their movement along the highway. At 1110 hours, Company C, moving with troops on the ground in front of the APCs, received sniper fire. One Bobcat was killed. The Company then started to receive automatic weapons fire and heavy RPG fire. “I called the S-3, who was flying above me in the air, and told him that at first I was just receiving heavy sniper fire and it constantly started to increase. At this time I pulled my 2nd Platoon up on the right flank of my 1st Platoon, so I could put more fire power up on my front because this is where all the fire was coming from. The enemy fire continued to increase and for a while there it seemed like there must have been hundreds of AKs firing at us. At this time I gave the order for everyone to pull back around where I had my 4th Platoon providing rear security for us, and set up in a perimeter. Just as we started to move back RPGs started raining in like someone shooting M-79s. I never seen so many RPGs and automatic weapons fire in my life. It was so suppressing that people couldn’t hardly move.” At 1149 hours, the Recon Platoon, located on Highway 239, reported that hundreds of enemy soldiers were moving south from the village at XT 4545 to reinforce the enemy contact with Company C. The Recon Platoon fired on these soldiers with their .50 caliber machineguns and the twin 40mm “Duster” but the fire power was not enough to stop the enemy movement. “Once I gave the order for us to move back and form a perimeter around my 4th Platoon, I first moved my 2nd Platoon which was on the right flank back to the 4th Platoon area. Just as the 3rd Platoon and the 1st Platoon started moving back, we started taking very heavy fire from the front and both our flanks and RPGs were flying all over the place. We got up and slowly started moving back. We got back to approximately 50 to 75 yards from where the 2nd and 4th Platoons were. An RPG hit the track close to me or the track that I was by or the ground, I’m not sure what it hit, and knocked me, I was wounded, it hit both my RTOs and 3 or 4 other people around there. And I know the track I was standing by was knocked out and I finally managed to get up and the two other tracks about 5 or 10 meters from me took very heavy RPG fire and they were both knocked out. At this time I was pretty dazed and I lost so much blood that I was just getting weak and they finally grabbed me and throwed me inside one of the tracks and the 3rd Platoon leader took charge of the company. One thing of importance that I might mention too is the fact that we had trouble getting artillery fire in there at first because it was very thick and the choppers in the air had a hard time identifying our smoke plus my artillery FO was wounded. My four-duce FO was wounded, in fact I guess practically everyone in my headquarters group was wounded.” At 1200 hours, Company C reported that their situation was critical and that they were pulling back. In the 50 minute firefight, Company C had 6 APC’s destroyed, 17 men killed and 21 wounded. At 1201 hours the first helicopter light fire team arrived in the area. At 1202 hours, Company B 1/5th(M) was alerted to stand-by to assist Company C, but never left the Dau Tieng Base Camp. “And we fell back about 100 yards to try and get the artillery into that area and trying to give us a little working room so that we could continue keeping them away from us. We drew back about 100 yards and three more of our tracks got hit. By the time we started pulling back the gooks were already swarming all over the first three tracks that were hit. We pulled back about 100 yards and the command group was down behind one of the tracks and that track took a hit from an RPG 7. When it hit, it wounded the company commander and the FO. It killed one of the RTOs and seriously wounded one of the other RTOs. At this point the company was totally disorganized. They were in a rough perimeter, the tracks were still firing toward the front and the fire was still coming at us from the right flank, a little bit from the left flank but not too much, but mostly from the front and right flank. The 1st Platoon Leader had been killed in the initial contact, and so they were without leadership there. The 3rd Platoon, I was still around but I had several men killed and a lot of em wounded. We pulled back. I had lost all three of my tracks. The 2nd Platoon and Mortar Platoon were in the rear and they were quite a ways back and they were only receiving light contact. They hadn’t had anybody hurt, but I had no knowledge of them whatsoever. What I had around me was so disorganized and there were so many killed and wounded at that point, that I just started getting everybody in the tracks. I started yelling at everybody, ‘get in the tracks and get the tracks moving.’ And it took me about 10 minutes before I could get everybody I could get, the dead I just had to leave there. The wounded people, everybody I could get my hands on and everybody that anybody else could get their hands on we started throwing in the tracks. I got everybody thrown into the tracks and the tracks started moving out. Those that were still outside the tracks, we yelled at em to get on the tracks and to my knowledge everybody that was still alive and moving at that time got on the tracks. They could see the tracks were moving out and if they didn’t get on them they were going to be left there. So they all managed to get on the tracks and we pulled back out.” What was left of Company C moved back through the rubber plantation to a clearing they had passed through at the beginning of their sweep. 16 Bobcats and one ARVN soldier were left on the battlefield. At the clearing, Company C was joined by the Recon Platoon(+) and CRIP element and established a perimeter for dust-offs. The dust-offs of the wounded were completed at 1254 hours. The units closed back into Dau Tieng base camp at 1315 hours to regroup. At 1330 hours, Company C made a preliminary report that they had 2 Bobcats killed and 21 wounded and the Recon element had 2 wounded. The 3rd Brigade CRIP had one man killed. At 1343 hours, Dau Tieng base camp started receiving sporadic mortar fire. At 1430 hours, one platoon from the battalion was dispatched to provide security for the Saigon River Bridge at Dau Tieng. At 1445 hours, the Recon Platoon and the 3rd Brigade CRIP unit departed the base camp and established a position at the edge of the woodline of the rubber plantation. At 1600 hours, all elements were ordered to pull back to Dau Tieng Base Camp. Some Company C soldiers wanted to go back into the Ben Cui immediately and retrieve their fellow soldiers. But that was not allowed. At 1843 hours, a battalion preliminary report stated that Company C had 21 wounded, 1 killed and 13 missing in action and 3 MIA who were known to be dead. Also missing was a Vietnamese Soldier who was an interpreter for Company C. Sergeant Marvin R. Young: “On August 21, 1968 Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry was conducting a sweep in the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation. At 1100 hours the company came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons, RPG and mortar attack from an estimated North Vietnamese Regiment. On Initial contact the acting platoon leader was shot and killed. Sergeant Young then took charge and started directing our fire and deploying us into better positions. At this time the rest of the company started pulling back but our communications had been knocked out and we had no way to know they were pulling back to regroup. Sergeant Young finally found out the company had pulled back and so he ordered us to do the same. He stayed to provide fire while we withdrew until he thought we were all back. Then he noticed six men still fighting on the right front flank. With complete disregard for his own safety he ran to their location. On the way he was shot through the side of his face completely losing one eye. He kept on to their position and he laid down a base of fire as they all withdrew. When they got back a ways, Sergeant Young was unable to move too good with the one eye gone. He dropped behind and one man of his squad helped him. As they started back again, a group of North Vietnamese came up from behind and shot Sergeant Young again in the upper arm and he went down. The man helping him stayed to hold off the enemy. Another North Vietnamese sprayed the area again and hit Sergeant Young in the leg. The fire also wounded the other man in the foot. Sergeant Young sized up the situation and knowing he couldn’t get out, ordered the man with him to leave and try to save himself. The man protested and stayed a few minutes more. Sergeant Young could tell the enemy would over run them in a matter of minutes and he once again ordered his helper to leave. He told him he had done a good job, but it was time to go and that he knew he couldn’t make it. Sergeant Young gave his life in the cause of freedom, and helped the men he had worked with.” Sergeant Marvin R. Young was later, posthumously, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions. The Intelligence Officer of the 1/5th(M) summed up the action of August 21st this way: “This contact on the 21st of August correlates with all the contact that we’ve had since the 18th of August. Now the mission that was assigned Charlie Company today was to sweep through the southern portion of the Ben Cui to try to find any locations, bodies, web gear, documents, also to try to find if any VC were still in the area. The intelligence reports had been building up since our contact on the 18th. We received reports that to the east in the Michelin Rubber, that the 4th Battalion of the Phu Loi Regiment was located in the center of Ap So 13. Now from this report and another report that I received that to the south a large size force was moving north toward the Ben Cui, we thought that the possibility existed that on the 20th we would get hit. However, that night things were generally quiet. The following morning Charlie Company had the mission to sweep in the Ben Cui, primarily to the southern portion of the area of contact on the 19th. Again their mission was to see if there were any gooks left in there, find any bodies, anything, any documents, just to see what was out there in that area. Our friendly losses were, we had 2 KIA, 1 of em from the CRIP Platoon and the acting platoon leader of the 1st Platoon, Charlie Company was killed in the initial contact, a sniper shot him in the head. We had 14 MIA, 2 of these are confirmed KIA. We had 23 wounded. Most of them were able to return to duty. Approximately 8 or 10 of them were serious wounds. We estimate that there’s at least a regiment in there. Tonight the possibility does exist that we may get hit, however, we’re calling in as much artillery and air strikes and so forth that we can within that area. Now the refugees in the village, in those two villages, did evacuate themselves. There’s approximately 200 refugees that came out of the village. They informed myself and MI personnel that the NVA and VC forces were occupying both villages, so we’re going to try and bring as much fire power as we can against those two villages tonight. In tomorrow’s operation we’ll probably be able to get some more information, go out there and see if they have withdrawn completely or if they’re still there.”