1st Platoon Company A 3rd Battalion/1st Infantry Regiment 11th Infantry Brigade Americal Division
May they be remembered. On this day (August 15, 1969) Paul Ponce, Joe Mitchell, James Anderson and Danny Carey were killed in action (KIA) by an enemy ambush west of Quang Ngai.
It was early afternoon, August 15, 1969, as the platoon moved through the rice paddies and then a large field toward the river, east of Hill 4–11, in search of the large NVA force that had attacked the platoon earlier when the enemy detonated a 500-pound bomb. The explosion killed Paul Ponce, Joe Mitchell, James Anderson, and Danny Carey, and wounded seven other platoon members. It took several hours to get the wounded and dead removed from the battlefield and flown back to the division firebase hospital. The wounded were: Ryan Okino, Charlie Deppen, Tommy Thompson, Mike Dankert, Glyn Haynie, Bill Davenport, and Ray Hamilton.
This was most of the second squad - seated from the left is James Anderson (KIA), Danny Carey (KIA), Bill Davenport (WIA), Ray Hamilton (WIA) - Standing from the left Mike Dankert (WIA), Ronald Owens and Jerry Ofstedahl (KIA). This photograph was taken east of FSB Hill 4-11 by Glyn Haynie August 12, 1969.
Paul Ponce at Duc Pho, Brigade Firebase Bronco, on the left, with Leslie Pressley on the right.
Specialist 4th Class Paul Ponce, from Santa Clara, California, had arrived at the platoon in November 1968. He and his wife, Juanita, had no children. Paul was always friendly and talkative, and he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. It was one hot day in May, while we walked along Highway 1, that Paul bought and gave me my good luck charm, the peace sign. He’d gone to Hawaii on R & R to meet his wife and was a happy man upon his return to the squad. I learned in February 2016 while talking with a niece that Paul had a son conceived while on R & R.
Joe Mitchell in the center, Maurice Harrington on his right, and Mike Stout on his left on Firebase Debbie.
Specialist 4th Class Joe Mitchell, the first squad leader, was from Chicago, Illinois. Joe had arrived at the platoon in November 1968, which made him an old-timer with experience. He and his wife, Barbara, had no children. Joe was always friendly, talkative, and willing to share his experiences and knowledge with the squad members. We were never close, but he taught me a great deal while I was in the first squad.
James Anderson, Basic Training photograph. A photograph of him in
Vietnam can’t be found.
Private First Class James Anderson, 20, was from Smiths Grove, Kentucky and had a southern drawl. He was one of the newer guys, an FNG, with the squad for only two weeks, having arrived at the platoon the end of July 1969. James married Janice before coming to Vietnam and had no children. James was quiet but always paid attention to his surroundings, and you could tell he tried to learn as much as possible by watching others. He was adapting to Vietnam and fitting in with the second squad.
Danny Carey, Basic Training photograph. A photograph of him in Vietnam can’t be found.
Private First Class Danny Carey, 20, from Utica, Illinois, was unmarried.
Danny liked to kid around and laugh. He found the good in any circumstance. It was great that we had someone with his disposition in the second squad. He’d arrived at the platoon the end of June 1969 and was with us when we built the Hill. Danny was an asset to the squad, and we could count on him during the hard times. Danny’s hometown, Utica, dedicated a park in his name, the Danny Carey Memorial Park.
This is the location today where the platoon was ambushed. The photograph was taken by Glyn Haynie in June 2018.
When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir and Soldiering After the Vietnam War.