Ray Hildreth was a member of an eighteen man Marine Recon Patrol that had been positioned on top of Hill 488, approximately 25 miles southwest of Da Nang, on the evening of June 13, 1966. Their mission was to observe the Hiep Duc Valley and report any enemy troop movements to the 1st Marine Division Intelligence Office (G-2).
During the next two days Ray's platoon sighted significant enemy activity and directed several artillery fire missions into the valley causing some secondary explosions from stored munitions.
On the evening of June 15th the Marine patrol received a report that an estimated battalion size enemy force was in their area and could be headed their way. The platoon was placed on 100% alert and manned listening posts at strategic positions around the hill. If the enemy were detected or contact was made they were to return to the Platoon Command Post at the top of the hill immediately and the platoon would "bug out".
During that night and the next morning every member of the Recon Platoon was either wounded or killed. The enemy paid a high price as well. The sixteen Marines, two Navy Corpsman, and their close air support wounded or killed approximately 200 of the enemy force. When relief arrived the next morning, around 10:00 am, forty-three enemy dead lay within 5 - 20 yards of their hill top perimeter, some as a result of hand-to-hand combat. Some reports say that the Recon Platoon was out numbered by twenty to one. One source said it was like the Alamo, only with survivors. Readers Digest reported the story in May 1968 and stated that the platoon was the most decorated unit for its size in 195 years of American Military Service.
In addition to the eighteen Purple Hearts for each platoon member, there were thirteen Silver Stars, four Navy Crosses, and one Congressional Medal of Honor given for the battle of Hill 488.
Ray Hildreth, with the help of co-author Charles W. Sasser and the Simon & Schuster Publishing Company chronicle the events that led him to join the United States Marine Corps, his subsequent training, and his life harrowing experience in the battle for Hill 488.
The book "HILL 488" is available in most major book stores around the country, on line at Amazon.com, Wal Mart, or here for $14.95 (shipping included), through Paypal.Hill 488 Home