47th IPSD Diary

"A collection of platoon members' accounts of the times and events of the 47th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog)"

Select Year:†1968†|†1969 †|†1970†|†1971

Contact 47ipsd@47ipsd.us to submit additions/changes/corrections



May 1968
05/03/68 The 47th IPSD graduates as part of Class #3-68 from Scout Dog Training School, 197th Infantry Brigade, Fort Benning, Georgia (view Scout Dog Graduation program, view Scout Dog Graduation Certificate). Herman "Rusty" Allen is named class Honor Graduate (view copy of actual letter). Personnel are issued two weeks' leave with orders to report back to Benning by 05/17/68 to prepare for deployment to RVN.
05/10/68 Peace talks opened in Paris with W. Averell Harriman representing the U.S. and Xan Thuy representing North Vietnam.
    Top Movies - 1968:
  • Bullitt
  • Funny Girl
  • The Lion in Winter
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Rosemary's Baby
  • The Thomas Crown Affair
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Yellow Submarine
1968 Television's most popular programs include Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Gomer Pyle, Bonanza, Mayberry R.F.D., Gunsmoke, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mission: Impossible, and Bewitched.
    Top Hit Songs - Week of May 20, 1968:
  1. Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel
  2. Honey - Bobby Goldsboro
  3. Tighten Up - Archie Bell & the Drells
  4. A Beautiful Morning - The Rascals
  5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Hugo Montenegro
  6. MacArthur Park - Richard Harris
  7. Mony Mony - Tommy James & the Shondells
  8. Cowboys to Girls - The Intruders
  9. Love Is All Around - The Troggs
  10. The Unicorn - The Irish Rovers
  11. Do You Know the Way to San Jose - Dionne Warwick
  12. Delilah - Tom Jones
  13. Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  14. Think - Aretha Franklin
  15. Yummy Yummy Yummy - The Ohio Express
  16. Young Girl - The Union Gap
  17. Cry Like a Baby - The Box Tops
  18. The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde - Georgie Fame
  19. Like to Get to Know You - Spanky & Our Gang
  20. Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day - Stevie Wonder
  21. Tip-Toe Thru' the Tulips With Me- Tiny Tim
  22. This Guy's In Love With You - Herb Alpert
  23. Angel of the Morning - Merrilee Rush
05/27/68 Under the leadership of Second Lt. Stanley Stockdale and SFC Linn Sprowl the original unit departs Lawson Field, Fort Benning aboard two C-141 Starlifters - destination Vietnam. The flight over takes 8 hours to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska plus a three hour stay over, then 8 more hours to Japan for fuel and then 5 hours to Tan Son Nhut Air Base - a total of 24 hours. The Air Force provides fine treatment with meals in Alaska and also in-flight food.

The Platoon is comprised of a Commanding Officer, Sergeant in Charge, Clerk, Vet Tech and four squads of 6 men each. The unit includes one and 1/2 sets of twin brothers. The Hubble brothers were most likely the only set of twins serving together as scout dog handlers in RVN and Jonathan Harraden also had a twin brother stateside. The 47th brings over 28 dogs which allows for 4 extra dogs. The 4 extra dogs were quickly assigned to other units which had an immediate need for replacements. As a new TO&E unit the 47th came fully equipped with four 2 1/2 ton trucks (one for each squad), one Jeep, 6 GP Medium Tents two M-60 machine guns and a grenade launcher. The unit also brought 45 caliber pistols (the official weapon for dog handlers, photo below) for each man. Before leaving Benning Michael Hames and SFC Sprowl went into Columbus, GA and picked up a couple of used refrigerators which were also loaded onto the planes.

†††Immunization CertificateUS Army Pacific pocket calendar picture 45 Caliber pistol Equipment
Loading C-141 Starlifter at Ft. Benning, Ga.
05/27/68 All 28 dogs are placed in quarrantine at the 936th Vet. Detachment kennels at TSN. Allen, B.Hubble, W. Hermann, Pearce, Powrzanas, and Vet Tech Carter remain with the dogs to care for them while remainder of unit proceeds to Bien Hoa.
June 1968
06/68 Platoon members undergo "in-country" orientation training under the instruction of Sergeant Batista.
06/05/68 U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed by Sirhan B. Sirhan in Los Angeles after delivering a victory speech after the June 4th California Democratic Primary.
     photo by Bill Eppridge, Life magazine
06/06/68 Quarrantined dogs are moved up to Bien Hoa from TSN. Bert Hubble, his dog Butch, and one other handler and dog remain behind after the dogs are found to have heartworms.
06/08/68 Scout Dog Trooper gets loose and runs over to Scout Dog Nikki to play. Nikki does not care for that idea and a dog fight erupts. Daryl Hubble gets bit in the hand trying to break up the fight. Daryl's wound is not serious and the dogs are all right.
06/10/68    General William C. Westmoreland turns over command of U.S. forces in Vietnam to General Creighton W. Abrams. Westmoreland had been appointed Chief of Staff, a move interpreted as reflecting disappointment with the conduct of the war.
06/17/68 At Bien Hoa nearly every night the sirens start up at some crazy hour like 2:00 AM. This is the signal to expect incoming mortars. Usually it does not amount to much but a few nights prior quite a few rounds were received.
06/20/68 Black mixed-breed female puppy running loose at Bien Hoa Army camp is picked up by Jonathan Wahl. She was a stray and was going to be put to sleep by the Vets. The little dog is "adopted" as the Platoon Mascot and named "Flexible" after Platoon Sgt. Sprowl's constant reminder to "Remain Flexible!." The Hubbles write home:
"The other night everyone kept giving her food until she got so stuffed she could not move. Her stomach was bulging out and she was laying there in agony. She has recovered since however. It is really strange to see her along with our big dogs. Our big dogs are very curious and do not seem to be able to figure her out."
06/23/68 The war in Vietnam became the longest war in U.S. history.
06/25/68 Orders are received for the 47th to move to a base camp called LZ Sally, home of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. Plans call for an advance party to travel there and begin setting up tents, etc.
06/30/68 The 1st and 2nd squads comprise the first group to move up-country to establish the platoon base camp at LZ Sally. The men, dogs, and equipment fly to Phu Bai where they spend the night before driving to Sally. LZ Sally is located in I Corps 30 miles NW of Hue adjacent to the village of Van Xa. The 188th Assault Helicopter Company website describes Sally as follows: "Strategically located near the junction of the Song Bo River and Highway I, LZ Sally also had a small airfield. This base camp had been previously used by the French, U. S. Marines and the 1st Air Cav. LZ Sally had been named after the wife of a 1st Air CAV Company Commander. On March 3, 1968 the "Ready to Go!" 2nd Brigade Task Force of the 101st Airborne Division secured LZ Sally as its base camp..."
The platoon is to support the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade, Col. John A. Hoefling, Commanding.
After arriving at LZ Sally platoon members are issued M-16 rifles.
July 1968
07/02/68 The 3rd and 4th squads move up north from Bien Hoa to join the first group and complete the platoon transfer. They spend the night in Phu Bai and arrive at Sally the next day. Read Platoon Vet Tech John Carter's recollection of the move up to Sally.
07/03/68 Tent erection continues and hundreds and hundreds of sandbags are filled and stacked. The Hubbles describe the area in a letter home:
"LZ Sally is a small base camp with only the necessities. We live in tents on the ground. It is dirty and hot. The terrain is fairly flat and we can see the mountains in the distance. We pay Vietnamese locals outside our perimeter 1 cent per sand bag for filling them for us. When we go back to pick them up they offer to sell us Cokes for 80 cents each."
07/08/68 Platoon tents are located across from LZ Sally air strip. Helicopters landings cause frequent clouds of dust to be blown over and through tents, including the sleeping areas. Dust is so thick it covers everything - even platoon members' front teeth. The temperature runs between 110 to 115 degrees. The mosquitos are gigantic. The platoon expects to be operational in about 10 days. The Brigade Mess Hall is located across the air strip and gives away free candy and cigarettes and sometimes fresh pineapples.
Note - Rusty Allen recalled that platoon members were assigned KP (Kitchen Patrol) duty (led by Squad Leader SP/4 "The General" Gene Wright) and they decided to report to the Brigade mess with their dogs. When they arrived the Brigade Mess Sergeant became irate upon seeing dogs in his kitchen. The 47th handlers explained that they were under orders to take their dogs everywhere they went. The Sarge sent them packing and that was the last time a member of the 47th was asked to pull KP.
07/68 First perimeter bunker built
07/12/68 The Hubbles describe the following in a letter sent home:
"Yesterday morning we took our dogs out to Scout for a while (only practice). They were not out too long and it did not seem that hot but the dogs were really having a rough time of it. We almost lost Trooper. Trooper got so hot that he literally fell down and could not stand up. By the time we got him back to LZ Sally he still had a temperature of 107 and that was after he had been in the shade and we had poured water over him. Our Vet Tech says that we can expect to lose quite a few dogs due to heat stroke."
07/12/68 Rounds are fired by the Artillery unit located next to the 47th, frequently at night. The sound is deafening and the some of the dogs get visibly upset. One dog Tramp 040M becomes so frantic he tears down his dog shelter.
07/17/68 Platoon is declared to be fully operational. Field assignments begin after 2 weeks' allowance to get base camp set up.
07/17/68 Jimmy Powrzanas and his dog Pal complete a successful mission. Pal found 400 pounds of rice, two bunkers, and alerted on a tripwire. He also alerted off in another direction but the field commander did not check it out. A few minutes later the supported unit got hit from that direction and suffered casualties but managed to kill several VC.
07/17/68 Otis Johnson's 1st squad is sent to Firebase Mongoose to support the 1st/501st Battalion. At night they share a foxhole with some rats.
47th's 1st squad foxhole at Firebase Mongoose
(photo provided by John Carter)
07/19/68 Otis Johnson was the first 47th handler WIA. He was hit by a booby trap in the leg when the explosive was set off by another infantryman. Otis was evacuated to Cam Ranh Bay then to the 106th General Hospital in Yokahama Japan where he recovered and returned to the unit in October 1968. Otis recalls that the unit was traveling through heavy jungle and his dog Rolf KO86 did not alert.

Note - Rolf was not hurt during this incident but was later KIA on April 17, 1970 when he and his 42nd IPSD handler Bill Bodnar were reconning an area and walked into an ambush. Bodnar's slack man was also killed at that time. Rolf and his handler were medivaced out by penitrator to Phu Bai where he was put down because of his wounds. Bodnar then brought Rolf back to Camp Eagle and buried him in the 42nd IPSD base camp. (ref: Bill Bodnar e-mail to J. D. Wahl, 10/03/01)

07/20/68 Frank Bagatta WIA. On his second mission with his scout dog Rebel X202, a sweep operation just north of Hue outside "8-click village", Frank received a fragment wound to the leg when a nearby soldier set off a booby trap. Frank was evacuated and then sent to Japan and then back to the US.

Gunnar Hicks WIA. Purple Heart issued 3 days later.

Bert Hubble's letter home recollects as follows (Butch is Bert's dog):

"Our squad has been supporting "A" Company at a camp named Pinky and "B" Company at LZ Sally. The area around Pinky is real quiet these days. They have not made contact with the enemy in about two months. I went out on about 5 short patrols but they did not amount to much. It is difficult to work the dogs there because there are farmers, water buffalo, and villages to distract the dog. In a few days Pinky is being turned over to a Battalion of ARVN and the Americans are being relocated to Camp Eagle. When I had Butch staked out at Pinky, the Vietnamese interpreter made the mistake of walking too close to him. Butch went after him and landed a bite but it proved not to be too bad of a bite. Our squad is being split up to support the other three squads who are operating out of places named T-Bone, Mongoose, and Omaha."
07/26/68 On his third day out in the field Jonathan Harraden walks into a jungle mountain ambush and sustains shrapnel wounds to his legs from a command-detonated Chicom claymore after his dog Dawg 3M47 (aka Major) calls many alerts. The CO, unfamiliar with working Dog Units, insisted on pushing ahead and uphill to make contact. Fifteen seconds prior to detonation, Harraden said to an infantryman in his point element "We don't stand a chance." Jonathan recalled that as he walked point up a mountain trail, he came around a curve and saw flashes of NVA rifle fire directed behind him towards the infantry patrol. As he pulled the pin on a grenade he looked behind him to make sure that his arm was not obstructed and saw the Chicom mine hanging in a tree. He threw his grenade and assumed the prone cover position just prior to the detonation of the enemy mine. He did not hear his grenade explode and was knocked unconscious by shrapnel from the exploding mine. Others in the infantry unit were also wounded at the same time. Jonathan's dog was wounded in the leg. As Jonathan lay unconscious, Major began crying and jumping up and down on his fallen handler. Jonathan, although in shock, regained consciousness and admonished Dawg to be silent. Troops were able to reach Harraden and his dog and pull them down the hill towards the rear where Jonathan was treated by a medic. Jonathan's rucksack was filled with cans of dog food and, although they were shredded from the flying shrapnel, their presence most likely saved his life. Harraden (with Dawg) was evacuated via helicopter to the medical unit at LZ Sally. Shortly thereafter Jonathan was sent to the Army hospital at Phu Bai (5 days), then Da Nang (2 weeks), then the Air Force Da Nang Staging Hospital (1 night) and finally to Japan. Jonathan landed at Tachikawa and was sent to Zama Hospital for treatment and rehabilitation. He also eventually met up with Otis Johnson at the Zama rehab facility.
07/27/68 James Youtz is badly wounded in his arm on his first mission when a booby-trapped bomb explodes. His dog Willie 6M11 is killed. Youtz is medivaced out and is sent to Walter Reed Hospital in the US for treatment - he does not return to RVN.
07/30/68 Daryl Hubble's letter home describes conditions and actions as follows (Trooper is Daryl's dog):
"We are continuing to go on patrols but most us have a poor attitude about the way things are run. Often times the climate, terrain or mission objectives are not conducive to using dogs but they send us out anyway. Since we are not being used properly, the dogs value is greatly diminished. We have had 5 of our handlers wounded so far. The last handler to get hit may have lost an arm and his dog who took much of the blast was killed. Some of us may start working in the Ashaw Valley (sic) soon. That is further north than where we are now. It sounds like we may be getting some replacements for our platoon soon. On the last patrol I was on, our recon element got into 2 ambushes. In the second one, we had 4 minor casualties. The guys in the line units really have it rough. One of the dog handlers we trained with at Benning who went with the 59th Scout Dog Platoon was killed the other day. His name was Russell Erickson.

One of the pads on Trooper's left rear paw is punctured and he is limping around. Probably won't go out again until he is better. Yesterday we took the dogs down to a river and we all went in. It was quite a bit of fun."

07/31/68 There is a hepatitis scare and most of the unit receives gamma globulin shots. One who got away is Rusty Allen who volunteers to go the field when he hears the order to report for shots. In the field, Rusty again avoids the shot by telling the field commander that he will get his shot when he returns to Sally.
07/68 Jonathan Wahl obtains typewriter for use in preparing platoon reports and correspondence.
August 1968
08/01/68 Promotions from PFC E-3 to SP/4 E-4 come in for most of the unit.
08/01/68 While on a night ambush suporting an element of the 101st Airborne Division, Edward Gunnar Hicks and his dog Princess 1M20 hear movement in the bush in front of his NDP (night defensive position). Hicks opens fire in the direction of the sound. It turns out that the movement was from several American soldiers from another unit who had mistakenly strayed into the wrong area. The American soldiers were shot up pretty bad. Hicks is cleared of any wrongdoing and is deemed to have acted appropriately. The incident is believed to have taken place in August 1968 but this detail still needs verification.
08/??/68 Scout dog Pal M596 dies of poisoning. While out on a mission he was poisoned by water that his handler Jimmy Powrzanas believes was left there intentionally by VC. Powrzanas is later assigned Scout Dog Rebel X202.
08/08/68 The Republican National Convention nominated Richard M. Nixon as their candidate for president.
08/08/68 SFC Sprowl promoted to First Sgt. and will be reassigned to a 101st Infantry unit.
08/10/68 Tramp 040M is put down since he is unworkable as a scout dog. A Hubble letter home forebodes all scout dogs' ultimate fate:
"Tramp is being turned in for another dog. Poor Tramp is going to be put to sleep today. That is what they do to the dogs that do not work out. There are 7 dogs on "Death Row" at this time. It is really sad but all the dogs are doomed - one way or another. If the war did end all of a sudden and they didn't have a use for them any longer, I wouldn't be surprised if they killed them all."
08/10/68 Word is out that the platoon will be split up with some handlers sent to other units so everyone doesn't DEROS the same month. This may happen in November.
08/18/68 Gravity Showers built and installed in platoon area by Seabees with water tank on roof that is heated by the sun. The Seabees had stopped by the platoon area and offered Rich Leonard $5 for glasses of cool water. After Rich provided water "without charge" they returned and put in the shower.
08/24/68 Squad Leader Michael Hames is busted from Sergeant E-5 to Corporal E-4 due to what is believed to be insubordination. Handler Fred Severni is given an Article 15 and is soon transferred with his dog Prince to the 42nd Scout Dog Platoon based at Camp Eagle to participate in a Scout Dog-Tracker trial program.
08/24/68 While on patrol outside of Firebase Mongoose Daryl Hubble walked within a foot or two of a mine or booby trap. He and a couple others passed it when they heard an explosion behind them. A soldier behind them set it off.
08/25/68 Marvin R. Pearce KIA by shrapnel wound to the back of the head. After first booby trap went off Marvin turned to run for cover and a second booby trap went off causing the fatal wound. Pearce was evacuated to a hospital ship in the South China Sea where he went into shock and died.

Vet Tech John Carter remembers the radio transmission coming in saying there was a handler KIA and how everyone knew it was Pearce and how weird that was. Platoon Commander Stanley Stockdale recalls flying out and seeing the place where Pearce was killed.

Lt. Stockdale's recollections (e-mail dated 02/15/2000) are as follows:

"Here's what I remember about Pearce's death - although given that it happened so long ago who can be totally sure. Pearce and the unit he was supporting were just starting out on a patrol (traveling through an open area on a trail with knee-high grass on either side). Pearce was leading with one of the platoon's sergeants acting as shotgun. Somewhere back in the middle of the patrol someone hit a booby trap. Standard operating procedure in a situation like that was to get off the trail, get down, and take cover. In this case, Pearce turned to look and the sergeant with him dove off to the side. Unfortunately there was another booby trap that the sergeant hit. Pearce fell down and lay on his back. For a period of time the members of the patrol couldn't understand what was wrong with Pearce - he looked fine. It turns out that a single piece of shrapnel had entered the back of his head and killed him. The saddest thing was that if Pearce had been wearing his steel pot he probably wouldn't have been injured at all.

Pearce was proud to be a scout dog handler and loved wearing a jungle hat with our insignia on it. He was suppose to have the steel pot on but he didn't.

I also remember the memorial service that we held at LZ Sally. A chaplain gave a very generic service and hadn't really taken the time to learn anything about the individual being remembered. I found it especially disappointing - for Pearce, personally, and for my platoon."

Cliff Searcy was with Charlie Company 1st/501st 101st Airborne and was on patrol with Pearce and his dog at the time Pearce was hit. Cliff tells the story in his e-mail to Bert Hubble dated October 3, 2001:

"I was in Charlie Co. 1st/501st 101st Airborne. LZ Sally was our rear camp, never seen it much but is was there. I have looking at THE WALL and looking up old friends. I remember dates pretty well along with names. I had looked up James Watson 46W killed 8/25/68. I came upon Marvin R. Pearce. I remembered his last name but not his first. When I seen he was with the Scout Dogs, I knew I had found something I had been wanting for a long time. I was with him the day he got wounded. I read some things in you scrap book (that page is great) and I would like to tell you what happened on that day. Seven of us had been on a day time ambush and was head back to the rest of the company. We were going down a trail and was about 300 yard from them. "POP" Watson was on point and you could not of ask for a better man to be on point. Behind Pop was our squad Sargent Mike LaPonte next Jimmie Harbor, then Pearce and the dog Prince I believe that was his name, then Daryl Swalley, me then Lou Savoy. Unknowing to Pop he had hit a bobby trapped grenade,when it went off Pearce was turned around talking to us at this time. When the grenade went off it wounded Harbor , Swalley and Pearce. Pop had stopped and was looking back, he had already tripped the second grenade it was between his legs he did not know what hit him. LaPonte was wounded at this time. I ran to the front to check and see how everyone was. At this time is when I saw Pearce on the ground, and it did not look like he was hurt, I also saw the dog. I didn't know what to do. I know when we had to wake Pearce up for guard duty at night we through water on him because the dog would not let us get to him to wake him. I told Savoy to keep an eye on the dog while I worked on Pearce. The dog came over and laid down beside us and gave me a funny look. He knew something had happened. I check Pearce, I had said earlier he was wounded, at that time he was not breathing. That is when I started to clear his air way to give him mouth to mouth. When I turned his head I felt the blood, it was little wound. I started him breathing, I was one proud guy at that time. Help got to us and the chopper came in I was the one the dog went with to get on the chopper. Later I got word that Pearce had died. I was not to proud at that time.

I recall about Pearce not wearing his pot. The steel pot to us was just a every day thing, it was just natural to wear. Just before we left to go on patrol Pearce did not have his pot on and we (some of the guys in the squad) was on him about not having it on. He said something to Sargent LaPonte or Harbor about not wearing and he left to go on the patrol with in on but later changed to his jungle hat and know one said anything. When I was working on him and seen where he was hit I knew if he had of had on the steel pot he might not of been hurt, or at least not as bad. We never forgot that and anytime someone didn't want to wear their pot, it was story time, the pots went on with no more crying.

Before I left for the states in March (I extended to May) I came over to your area at LZ Sally but I could never catch anyone to talk to. The truth is I never tried to hard, and that has bothered me all these years. Just a couple of day before this a dog and handler along with Pop had found a booby trap back up the trail. You handlers and you dogs were something else. I didn't realize that most of the dogs didn't get to come home. What a shame. Of course when we got home we seen and felt how alot of dogs were treated I would like to thank all of you, and thank God I was not on The Wall and was here to tell this story.

PROUD to have served with you all

PS I think I feel alot better. Thanks again"

Curt Knapp was a helicopter pilot for the 2nd Brigade HQ, 101st ABN, at LZ Sally in 1968. In an e-mail to Bert Hubble dated April 2, 2001, Curt recalls his mission to medivac Pearce from the field:

"My job as the Brigade CO's pilot encompassed many different missions. I made circles in the sky, drove an airborne taxi, delivered ammo and C's, and spent a lot of time just sitting around. But I do have a recollection of one of those weird trips that just might involve your unit. It's possible that time has melded two different actions into one memory. I kept a diary of most of my tour, and the page for this day is blank, but here goes: I remember sitting in the colonel's Huey on the ground at some infantry battalion field HQ while he was inside the battalion TOC conducting some confab, like they always do. I heard on the aircraft radio that a unit near us had a casualty and needed a medivac. The Dustoff pilot said that he couldn't find the place. I knew right where it was because we had been there not a half hour before. I didn't want to waste time going into the TOC, interrupting the meeting, running this all by the colonel, asking if I could go out and help, and possibly having him say," No." So I just cranked up and took off, finding the place easily. I seem to recall that the Dustoff ship was still in the area but wouldn't land because there was enemy small arms fire in the area. Well, wasn't there always ? I landed at the casualty location, and was surprised to see them load not only a wounded GI but also a scout dog ! Now my major concern was that the dog might not be able to cope with the noisy, confusing helicopter trip since the man who was apparently his handler was unconscious. I flew directly to 22nd Surg at Phu Bai, and of course, the dog was just fine. They were unloaded by medics, and I never heard about either of them again, although I always wondered.( Such is how it goes with us helicopter pilots. We rarely hear what happened to our wounded passengers.) I did get chewed out by Col. Hoefling ( and rightfully so ) for taking "his" helicopter without permission, but he also later put me in for an Army Commendation Medal with V device (editor's note: see below for text of citation). The citation describes a situation very similar to the above without mention of the dog. The date was 25 August 1968. Now, I was reading through the 47th's ' 68 diary page, and I saw that Marvin Pearce was KIA on that date, but his dog survived. Could it be that I hauled Marvin and his dog out of that field 33 years ago, and now I find out that he didn't make it ? Damn."

Special Orders Number 286, 10 January 1969
Award of the Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device

Headquarters and Headquarters Company 2nd Brigade 101st Airborne Division APO San Francisco 96383
Awarded: Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device (Second Oak Leaf Cluster)
Effective Month: December 1968
Date Action: 25 August 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For heroism in the Republic of Vietnam on 25 August 1968. Chief Warrant Officer Knapp distinguished himself near the city of Hue, Republic of Vietnam, while serving as first pilot of a United States helicopter. While airborne, Chief Warrant Officer Knapp received a call to evacuate three critically wounded personnel from a field location east of Hue near the village of Che Gia Chanh, Republic of Vietnam. From landing in the area, Chief Warrant Officer Knapp directed his crew chief to bandage the wound of a seriuosly injured man, load all three personnel aboard the aircraft, and prepare them for the takeoff. Warrant Officer Knapp learned that a medical evacuation aircraft had arrived in the area but was unable to land. Another medical evacuation aircraft had arrived in the area but was unable to locate the landing zone. On request, Chief Warrant Officer Knapp made a low level pass over the area and marked the landing zone with smoke. He continued to expose his aircraft to hostile fire by remaining at a low altitude over the landing zone. He provided gun cover for the medical evacuation aircraft until it had safely departed the area. Warrant Officer Knapp's personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

signed by N.L. Marsh, MAJ AGC for Dale H. Hayes, LTC AGC Adjutant General

Note - Pearce's dog Prince 14M1 was sent to Phu Bai and then retrieved by 47th IPSD personnel. Prince was later assigned to Thomas Muir.

Obituary for Marvin Pearce, as it appeared in his local newspaper (with several errors):

"Santa Cruz Sentinel Friday Afternoon, August 30, 1968

Booby Trap Kills SC Man

Specialist 4/C Marvin R. Thornburg (Pearce), son of Mrs. Frances Cook and Stepson of Wayne Cook of 725-17th Avenue, was killed August 25 in Vietnam by a booby trap.

Mrs. Cook said she received confirmation of her sonís death yesterday from Washington, D.C.

Thornburg was a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz.

He served as a member of the 47th Scout Dog Division, which uses trained dogs to guard the perimeters of 101st Airborne Division camps in Vietnam.

He was on guard duty with his dog Fritz and a bodyguard when wounded by the booby trap. Taken to a field hospital, he died two hours later, according to Mrs. Cook.

The soldier was sent to Vietnam May 20, after a two-week leave in Santa Cruz.

He attended Santa Cruz and Soquel High Schools.

Thornburg is survived by his mother and stepfather; his father, Alee M. Pearce of Oregon; two sisters, Julie Brooks and Margaret Pearce of Santa Cruz; three step-sisters, Sandra Burruss, Wanda Long and Cheryl Fix, of Santa Cruz; a step-brother, Jerry Cook; his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Julia Brydon of Capitola, and stepgrandfather, Leo Cook of Santa Cruz; three aunts, four uncles, and numerous cousins.

Services are pending at Irvin M. Smith and Sons Mortuary."

Note - We have determined that the final resting place of Marvin R. Pearce is the Oakwood Memorial Chapel & Park, 3301 Paul Sweet Road Santa Cruz, CA 95065 Tel: 831-475-2464. He is located in Block 10, Division E, Grave 188.

photo provided by Curt Knapp who visited Pearce's gravesite in the Fall of 2001

Marvin Pearce - Information Releasable under the Freedom of Information Act

08/29/68 The Democratic National Convention nominated Hubert H. Humphrey as their candidate for president. The convention was the most violent in U.S. history. Antiwar protestors clashed with police and National Guardsmen. Hundreds of people, including bystanders and the press were beaten by police, some in full view of the cameras.
Jonathan Wahl comes up with "Paw Power" platoon slogan which is painted on platoon jeep. Also a 47th IPSD sign with Snoopy and "Paw Power" is drawn up by Lt. Stockdale and erected outside CP tent.
??/68 Tom Corsello loses helmet during mission and is told by Platoon Clerk Wahl he will be "charged" $8.00 for replacement. Corsello thinks Wahl is serious :-)
??/68 Toilet seats obtained for platoon outhouse.
08/68 Army Engineers install raised floors and wood frames for barracks tents.
47th IPSD Area (LZ Sally) - 1968
??/68 Replacement (much larger, with sleeping area below) perimeter bunker built.
September 1968
09/??/68 Linn Sprowl obtains gasoline-powered electric generator for the Platoon area. Rich Leonard assigned to keep it running. Generator provides lighting for the tents.
Rich hooked the generator up to the Engineer unit next to the 47th platoon area and also to the Helicopter unit (101st Aviation Co.) across the road (for backup). Since overhead wires were not permitted, Rich, Don Jestes, and a couple of others after dark dug a trench for the wires across the road and buried the wires so noone would see.
09/05/68 First Sergeant Linn Sprowl, the original Platoon Sgt., bids farewell to the unit and leaves to join a 101st line unit. Sprowl is assigned as a result of his recent promotion.
09/??/68 Handler Alfred Arellano transfers in to the unit from the 42nd IPSD as a replacement handler. His dog is Teddy 34X5.
09/07/68 Typhoon Bess hits LZ Sally. Platoon called out in the middle of the night to prepare by securing all loose objects and staking down the tents, closing all flaps, and digging drainage ditches. The platoon deuce-and-a-half trucks were driven between the tents and the tents were tied to the trucks. Rusty Allen was on R&R in Bangkok at the time and Daryl Hubble remembers being in the field for 7 straight days during this time - his letter home recalled:
"Just after going out we were hit by hurricane Bess. As a result we were unable to get any kind of supply and had to stay out there. The rain and wind was terrific. The landscape for miles around was under 2 feet of water. We tried to hold up in villages as much as possible but some nights we were mighty cold and wet."
09/15/68 Ernest Jonson sustains schrapnel wound. Exact date and circumstances not known. Occurred in Sept. or Oct.
09/17/68 Thomas Muir returns from a field assignment and tosses a clear plastic bag on the Vet Tech's (John Carter) desk. The bag contains the ear of his dog Bullet who had succumbed to heat stroke and had to be left behind at the Field Commander's orders. Dog handlers were trained to bring in the tatooed ear if the dog could not be brought back alive.
09/20/68 Briefing Guide actual cover pageScout Dog demonstration held for 2nd Brigade Commanders on the operation of scout dog teams. Lt. Stockdale chose Rusty Allen and his dog Sig and some platoon members were concerned that since Sig was so good the Officers would think that all Scout Dogs were infallible. Towards the end of the demonstration Sig on leash lunged at a decoy causing Rusty to fall face first on his steel pot and break his nose. The demonstration was so successful that the Brigade Commander requested a written procedure on the proper use and deployment of Scout Dogs. A Briefing Guide (actual cover page shown, left, click image to view) was later written and distributed by Platoon Clerk Jonathan Wahl.
09/20/68 MACV defends the use of defoliants in Vietnam at a news conference in Saigon, claiming that their use in selected areas in South Vietnam has neither appreciably altered the countryís ecology, nor produced any harmful effects on human or animal life.
October 1968
10/??/68 Scout Dog Prince 14M1 assigned to handler Thomas Muir.
10/10/68 The Detroit Tigers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 to win the World Series in seven games.
10/14/68 Some handlers receive correspondence from the people who donated their dogs to the Army. Daryl Hubble wrote home about receivng a letter from his dog Trooper's civilian owners:
"Yesterday I was delighted to receive a letter from Trooper's previous owners. They filled me in on some of his earlier history and were very glad to hear about him. They hated to give him up but he bit a small boy in their neighborhood - not too seriously. Then he bit their little girl quite seriously. They could not understand it as they were always such good buddies. They raised him from a pup so it was like giving away one of their own children. They felt the Army would be a good place for him. The little girl is very proud that Trooper is an Army Scout Dog. Actually Trooper was the wife's dog. Her husband is a Major in the Army stationed in the Philippines."
10/14/68 A a stache of C-rations is spotted in a bunker across the road from the platoon area. Daryl Hubble's letter home recounts the tale of an ingenious "midnight" raid:
"Here at LZ Sally there is a stock pile of C-Rations, LRRP Rations and other assorted goodies. It is common practice to sneak in there under cover of darkness and return with arms full of goodies. I don't know if the officers in charge know about it because it just keeps going on and nobody ever gets caught. A while back Bertram and I made one of these night raids. We were not sure of the exact location of the C- Rations. We grabbed all we could carry and upon returning from our mission we discovered we had not gotten C- Rations but instead 60 pounds of cake mix. Bertram, using the ingenuity of a hardened criminal, dumped the evidence in the bottom of a deep bunker which he knew was going to be filled in by tractors later that afternoon. Success - The Perfect Crime. I may be making another raid tonight with some guys who know where the C's are stashed. Tonight should be a good night for such activity as it is rainy and has been very dark out at night."
??/?? Corsello and Willie Jones get into fight while playing horseshoes. Jones kicks Corsello's ass.
10/31/68 Bombing of North Vietnam was ordered stopped by President Johnson.
November 1968
11/03/68 Herman L. Allen (Rusty) and his dog Sig K036 has been captured on film by an AP photographer and his picture appears back in the States in the Santa Barbara News Press edition dated November 3, 1968 above the caption that reads "This American trooper and his dog race along a beach for a break during an operation south-east of Hue in Vietnam. The dog is one of about 1,100 German Shepherds serving with the U.S. forces. They have been used successfully now for three years as scouts and sentries."
11/05/68 Richard M. Nixon elected 37th President of The United States.
11/??/68 Gene Wright suggests to Lt. Stockdale that a scout dog team rotation system be established so as to fairly distribute the missions among dog teams. Wright then leaves for R&R in Singapore.

Rusty Allen and Tom Corsello begin assignment at the DMZ with the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) (Red Devils). They escorted a Marine recon unit to the DMZ who then crossed the river into North Vietnam to recon a suspected buildup of NVA.

11/07/68 Gene Wright returns from R&R in Singapore to find that his suggestion for a rotation system for scout dog team missions was accepted and implemented by Lt. Stockdale. Wright and William Cunningham are at the top of the board and are sent on a mission to support the 5th Mech. Wright and his dog Pup are in the field when Cunningham sustains arm and chest wounds in a mortar attack at LZ Sharon when rounds landed in the hootch next to his.

In an email dated 06/02/2010, Wright wrote about his and Cunningham's mission:

"When I returned from R&R, Lt. Stockdale sent me TDY to the 5th Mech up at Quang Tri and asked me to choose another team to go with me. We were there less than ten days when the base was mortared and the other handler was wounded, and ended up back in the U.S. because of his wounds. I was out in the field all but about two hours of my time at Quang Tri. Within a few days after the shelling, I was called back to Sally by Lt. Miller who has swapped commands with Lt. Stockdale."

"I heard two stories about the mortar attack. First he was in his cot asleep and the gear stored in the rafters kept him from getting killed. Second story was he was trying to get to his dog to take the dog to safety in a bunker, when a morter round exploded wounding him."

11/10/68 B. Hubble, D. Hubble, E. Jonson & W. Jones reassigned to the 45th IPSD supporting the 9th Infantry Division at Dong Tam.
See press clipping "Canine Scouts Flush Viet Cong From Delta".
11/11/68 Rusty Allen, Jonathan Harraden, Otis Johnson, Jimmy Powrzanas and Jonathan Wahl promoted to Sergeant E-5, MOS P11F4D.
11/??/68 Platoon "picnic" held at Cocoa Beach outside Hue, complete with surfboards and suds.
11/23/68 Lt. Roberto Miller takes over as Commander of the 47th IPSD.
11/??/68 Rusty Allen represents the Platoon at the Brigade's monthly Tactical Operations Command (TOC) meeting at LZ Sally. Rusty, a new NCO, is chosen since the unit currently lacks a Platoon Sergeant. Rusty reports that the meeting was serious, well-run, and very military-like.
11/24/68 Wesley Hermann ambushed causing a shattered femur, bullet wound and nerve damage. Wesley's dog Buck #61X2 was killed in the ambush together with a soldier from New York who was trying to save Wes' life.
11/30/68 SGT Jonathan Harraden is sent back to Phu Bai after recovering in Japan from schrapnel leg wounds even though he is still noticeably limping and physically unable to perform missions. He relates that the Army Medical Staff told him he was being sent back to Vietnam because he has a "mission-critical MOS." Jonathan is sent back with no orders and is told he will be assigned to Infantry. He insists on returning to the 47th IPSD and makes his way back to Sally. Jonathan is welcomed back and, among other duties, is assigned as the 47th IPSD Training NCO.
December 1968
12/??/68 Rusty Allen starts assignment in Bien Hoa as platoon liaison at the Screaming Eagle Replacement Training Center.
12/68 Lt. Miller orders that the 47th platoon area be named Camp Marvin R. Pearce in memory of the 1st platoon casualty. An entrance is constructed by the runway road in front of the CP tent with a blue Camp MRP sign and a wooden archway proclaiming 47th Infantry Platoon Scout Dog along the top followed by a sign underneath it reading Pride of the 2nd Brigade.
??/68 Corsello reassigned to Infantry Platoon by Lt. Miller. Corsello complains to Infantry CO and is reinstated with the 47th.
12/??/68 Several people remember an incident that happened in late 1968 or early 1969 (exact date/month not confirmed). Two different endings are recalled. A heavily loaded C-123 Cargo Craft was headed for Quang Tri Province and thought that the small landing field at LZ Sally was their destination and landed by mistake.

Ending #1: The plane was unloaded and was finally able to fly out but at a very steep trajectory (per D. Leonard).
Ending #2: The plane could not fly out and was taken apart and trucked out piece by piece (per J. Powrzanas).

A 07/20/2009 e-mail from former Warrant Officer and Huey Pilot (and the Black Widow's mission scheduling officer) Doug Cooper provides further details on the incident:

C123 at LZ Sally (photo provided by Rusty Allen)
"I was just reading your unit's diary. Pretty interesting stuff. I was a WO Huey pilot with the Black Widows, C/101st Avn. Bn., at LZ Sally from August 1968 until we relocated to Phu Bai in January, 1969. I saw both accounts of the C-123 landing at Sally's dinky airstrip in your unit's 1968 diary. Here's my eyewitness account:

I was standing on top of my Huey doing a mission preflight one morning in December, 1968 when I noticed the C-123 descending and making an approach to the airstrip. I had seen a few planes line up on Sally's runway before but they quickly realized their mistake and aborted. However, this big bird landed, stopping with only a few feet of runway remaining. The last of the 123's cargo had just been transferred into a CH-47 Chinook when I returned from my mission later in the day. Then they taxied the 123 to the south end of the strip, turned around, revved all 4 engines to full power and "popped the clutch". Meanwhile the resulting backblast created a huge, dense, choking cloud of dust and sand that totally enveloped the Black Widow Web area. The plane lumbered down the runway and took off, its wheels just clearing a rice paddy dike off of the end of the runway. The pilot then climbed rapidly after the plane had gained some airspeed.

The C-123's pilots and navigator thought they were landing at Camp Evan's runway which was wide, paved, 6,000+ feet long and about 10 kliks or so north. Sally's PSP runway was narrow and only 1,100 feet long. Both runways are oriented in roughly the same compass direction which could be confusing but only from a long distance. A nice clear day too. Both ends of Sally's PSP runway were marked in great big letters "LZ SALLY, 1,100 FEET, GOOD LUCK!"

I was also searching to find the date of the typhoon that hit LZ Sally in late 1968. It blew down nearly half of the tents at Sally. Most of the surrounding area around Sally and the land all of the way to the coast was flooded. One of our Spider Huey gunships was being relocated from a flooding area and crashed outside the 2nd Bde. perimeter when the pilots flew into a heavy rain squall. The crew was okay except the pilot had a minor head injury. Seems he was still disoriented, took off his helmet and unfastened his safety harness before he realized he was hanging upside down in the wrecked gunship! Anyway, I wanted to see if I could find details about the typhoon but needed the date to research it.

Y'all made great neighbors at Sally! Sorry about our Hueys stirring up all of the dust and sand that got in your chow and dog food. But did we ever call the MP's to complain about the barking? Just kidding.

Paw Power Rocks!

Doug Cooper
Black Widow 13"

In a 07/22/2009 e-mail Doug added:

"I am not 100% certain of the 12/68 date. I was an AC (aircraft commander) at the time and we relocated to Phu Bai in 1/69. That would make the time frame from 11/68 to 1/69. One of our Black Widows told me a few years ago that he filmed the C-123's takeoff and still had the film. The many attempts to photograph the takeoff from the south end of Sally were futile because of the huge dust cloud."
12/05/68 Scout Dog Fant KO25 died of Idiopatic Hemmorrhagic Disease at the 936th Med Detachment.
12/13/68 30,057 Americans killed in Vietnam since January 1, 1961.
12/14/68 Joe McMahon completes his six months remaining service time and DEROS' back to the States.
12/31/68 SGT Jonathan Harraden goes to Bangkok on R&R.
12/31/68 Starting with the first mission on 14 July 1968, the platoon has gone on a total of 778 missions through 31 December 1968. Sgt Gene Wright and his dog Pup accounted for the biggest enemy cache thus far which included 20,000 rounds AK-47, 75 mortar rounds, 3 mortar tubes, 12 bolt rifles, and 1 thompson .45. The 47th IPSD "Paw Power" accounted for 32 enemy KIA, two WIA, and 64 POW. With the arrival of the 1/5th Mechanized Infantry Division, 47th Scout Dog teams supported Operation Pioneer I in Quang Tri, Con Thien, Dong Ha, and along the DMZ.

Two Scout Dog Teams worked with the 557th CTT and their work was very satisfactory. Source: Monthly Report of Scout Dog Operations dated January 3, 1969.

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