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, some of which caused 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, forty-three enemy dead lay within 5 - 20 yards of their hilltop 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.
In addition to the eighteen Purple Hearts for each platoon member, thirteen Silver Stars, four Navy Crosses, and one Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded, some posthumously. Readers Digest reported the story in it's May, 1968, edition and stated that the platoon was the most decorated unit for its size in 193 years of American military history.
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 $29.95 (Hill 488 Challenge Coin included), through Paypal.
GROUND SUPPORT: On the morning of June 16th, Charlie 1/5 was tasked with the orders to rescue the Recon team. In so doing, Charlie 1/5 lost two Marines and a Corpsman to a lone Sniper that was left behind.
AIR SUPPORT: MAG 36, VMO-6, lost its Commanding Officer and his UH-1E Huey Gunship. In addition, another UH-1E Huey Gunship from VMO-2 was downed and its door gunner Killed.
MUNITIONS: In support of the beleaguered Marines, the UH-1E Huey Gunships, A-4 Skyhawks, F-4 Phantoms, and F-8 Crusaders expended more than 200 - 2.75 rockets, 23,000 rounds of M-60 ammo, 1750 - 20 mm rounds, 16 Zuni rockets, and 44 - 250/500 pound bombs.
Small Unit Action Vietnam 1966: http://www.tracyfineart.com/usmc/howards_hill.htm
The Veterans Site: http://blog.theveteranssite.com/category/notes-from-a-veteran