Willing & Able
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered DAK TO, VIETNAM 1966
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division cited in Department of the Army General Orders 59, 21 October 1968 (along with other attached units):
The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) and attached units distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism in action against a hostile force in Dak To, Republic of Vietnam, during "OPERATION HAWTHORNE", 2 through 20 June 1966. "OPERATION HAWTHORNE" began on 2 June 1966 when the Brigade was directed to relieve the beleaguered mountain outpost of Tou Morong. The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry teamed up with elements of the 24th Tactical Zone Command (42d Army of the Republic of Vietnam Regiment and the 21st Ranger Battalion) to accomplish this phase of the operation. Intelligence reports received at Brigade Headquarters indicated a major enemy drive was under way to overrun the Central Highlands. At 0230 hours on the morning of 7 June 1966, an estimated North Vietnamese battalion of the 24th North Vietnamese Army Regiment savagely attacked an artillery position in the valley west of Tou Morong. The position was manned by Battery B, 2nd Howitzer Battalion (Airborne), 320th Artillery; Company A, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry; and elements of Company A, 326th Engineer Battalion. The charging enemy was able to penetrate the artillery's perimeter. The battle that had the winner-take-all climax saw the valiant Americans secure their weapons and fire point-blank into the still charging North Vietnamese Army ranks. As dawn brought light to the exhausted warriors, 86 enemy bodies were counted, 13 of them inside the artillery position. After relieving the Tou Morong outpost, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry, moved north. Another bitter battle erupted, this time engaging all three of the infantry companies of the Battalion at one time, each in a separate fire fight. As the battle raged, the Battalion's elite Tiger Force was hard hit and almost overrun by an estimated two companies of heavily armed, well trained North Vietnamese Army Regulars. On 7 June 1966, the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry, was helilifted into a blocking position where it began a sweep south to link up with its heavily engaged sister Battalion. Throughout the battle, the enemy strength was fixed as a well trained North Vietnamese Army Regiment. Their heavy weapons were strategically placed in sturdy bunkers which were spread out along the fingers and draws of the mountainside. As the battered but courageous 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 502d Infantry companies regrouped and the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry, continued their relentless attack from the south, a decision was made to have B-52 Bombers strike Dak Tan Kan Valley before the Brigade moved in for the final kill. "OPERATION HAWTHORNE" was one of the most viciously contested battles of the Vietnam War. Day and Night the battle raged, moving from bunker to trench line, to spider hole, to bamboo thicket, to stream bed, and finally to victory. At the conclusion of "OPERATION HAWTHORNE" the 24th North Vietnamese Army Regiment was rendered ineffective as a fighting unit, suffering 1200 casualties by body count and estimate. By comparison, friendly casualties were 48 dead and 239 wounded. A major North Vietnamese offensive to seize the North Central Highlands was blunted. Throughout "OPERATION HAWTHORNE" the extraordinary heroism, dogged determination, gallantry, and indomitable spirit with which the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, successfully accomplished all assigned missions were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United State Army and reflect great credit upon all members of the Brigade who participated in this remarkable combat action.
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