"In Memory" page on Phyllis Sellers. I remember the day she died as if it were yesterday. She and I were friends. Someone called our house one night and said that there had been an accident on the Dora road near where Phyllis lived .I thought to myself "I'll call Phyllis and get the scoop." Her father answered the phone and when he started to speak, I sensed that something was wrong. I asked to speak to Phyllis, like I had done many times before, but I was unprepared for what I heard.
What came out of the phone was one of the saddest sounds I have ever heard in my life. He broke down and began to sob and through his grief stricken voice he told me that Phyllis had been struck by a car and killed. I apologized over and over and over, but he was too lost in his sorrow to acknowledge my apology. I was devastated as were all her friends.
As I looked back through the 1967 yearbook and saw her picture, I was snatched back in time and I relived that experience one more time.
That's what these yearbook do. As you flip through them, they bring those bitter-sweet memories back fresh and strong. I believe that folks love looking back through these pages because they help to remind us who we were and from where we came.....I understand that it is these memories and the associated experiences that help to make us who we are today.
Four Medals & The Battle at Abandoned Fire Support Base Maureen
May 7, 1970
While serving with the 101st Airborne Division with Company D, 1st of the 506th in Vietnam during 1970, I participated in a battle at an abandoned Fire Support Base in the Northern part of South Vietnam, named Maureen, on the morning of May 7th. At the beginning of this battle, my Platoon numbered 20 men. There was a Sapper Battalion (North Vietnamese Army Special Forces) consisting of appromiately 320 men and a North Vietnamese Army Brigade (Regular Army) consisting of appromiately 1200 men pitted against us.
On May 5th, D Company landed on the abandoned Fire Support Base. As expected by the brass, but unknown to us, we hit one of the hottest landing zones ever--with enemy emplacements surrounding the base. Upon arrival, we were greeted by 51-caliber machine guns, mortars, gas and small arms fire from the North, West and South. During this landing, my Platoon lost our medic to a chest wound. As I recall, D Company had no casualties. The entire Company spent the first night atop Maureen and we never realized what was in store for us over the next two days.
On the morning of May 6th, just before my Platoon did a recon off of Maureen to the South, a new Medic joined our platoon. His name was P.F.C. Kenneth Kays.
When we reached the base of the mountain that Maureen was sitting atop, we found ourselves in an enemy bunker complex and receiving hostile fire at close range. The N.V.A. fired on four of us who were on line going into the complex. Fortunately, only one of our guys was wounded (gunshot wounds to the forearm and upper hip) but, disappointingly no enemy casualties.
Once we removed our wounded buddy from the battle zone, we cleared the rest of the bunker complex and the Company continued our southern advance off Maureen. Barely 100 yards from the first bunker complex and up another mountain we once again encountered enemy resistance. This time, it was fire from a 51-caliber machine gun. After our first brush with this big gun, our Company Commander called in F-4s with 500-pound bombs aboard. I realized how much trouble we were in when one of the F-4s was fired upon immediately after having dropped his payload near this Big Gun! The Fighter Pilot was amazed at this reaction. After several more runs by the F-4s and similar results, it was decided that D Company would withdraw back to the sides and top of Maureen to be re-supplied the following day. My Platoon got orders to go back to the top of the Mountain for the evening of May 6th. We set up as best we could and prepared for the night to come.
During the early morning hours of May 7th, the enemy hit our Platoon from the Northwest and West. There were numerous casualties. We lost seven soldiers including our Platoon leader. Three men lost limbs, including our new medic; our Platoon Sergeant, Stephen “ Greek” Avgerinos, lost his hearing, but thankfully continued to direct the battle-- which included calling in artillery and gunship support. One man, Kenneth David, received shrapnel to the back and lost an eardrum. I received hearing loss to my right ear, shrapnel to the left side of my head and a gunshot wound to my left side. While I don’t feel it would be appropriate to go into details of the battle, I will say that it was intense and probably one of the hardest fought battles of the War in Vietnam.
During this Battle, Kenneth Kays, the medic that I mentioned earlier, won The Congressional Medal of Honor (something I didn’t discover until August 22, 2003). The Platoon Leader’s RTO, P.F.C. Kenneth David, won the Distinguished Service Cross (he should have won a Congressional Medal of Honor), Platoon Sergeant Stephen Avgerinos won the Bronze Star with “V” Device and I, then Sp4 Greg Phillips, won the Silver Star. These are the four highest awards for valor that are offered by The United States Army.
While the “Greek’s” medal and mine were not uncommon in Vietnam, the other two medals certainly were and it would be an interesting history lesson to find out if these four medals have ever been won by a single platoon in the same battle. I feel that I can speak for the three of us still living in stating that we would gladly give these medals back for just one less KIA or one less wounded. Additionally, during this battle 13 soldiers won Purple hearts
An author, Randy Mills, who has written several great books including: Honoring Those Who Paid The Price and Unexpected Journey is presently writing a book about the Life of the late Kenneth Kays. I am sure he will be more suited to document the Battle of Abandoned Fire Support Base Maureen than me and I certainly look forward to his book.
Currahee! (“Stand Alone”)
Note: The first thing I did when the battle started was Pray and once the battle was over the last thing I did was Pray.