John Ulfers' Diary
This is from a diary that John Ulfers kept during his tour of duty with D Co. 1st. Bn. 8th. Cav. John was killed on 27 Nov 1968. I
didn't know John very well. He was one of those men who did their job quietly and never got the attention of the officers. I wish
I had known him better. After John was killed his mother sent me a letter with this diary, typewritten from the notes he had sent
home. She thought that I would like to have it. I remember that in her letter, in spite of the grief she felt for the loss of a son, she
still wished us well and said she would pray for our safety. I gave the letter from her along with the type written version of John's
diary to Dave Bowman, our Battalion historian. The letter and diary will be posted in the Battalion historical records that are
displayed at each reunion. I am posting the diary on this page as part of the Company history. I hope all that read it will
remember John and that maybe some of the things he wrote about will spark your memories. Frank Vavrek.
MARCH 6, 1968 Sgt. Saffer E7 hit a 105 booby trap. Was killed instantly. In low hills near Quang Tri.
March 25, 1968 We're on LZ Sharon. "A" Company hit a hot village. We were moved out on choppers to help. 3rd platoon went
into village to help "A" Company and the rest of our company to help set up cordon on village. Cordon personnel had good cover
and got well dug in. 3rd platoon heavy fire. 3rd platoon sergeant wounded -- refused medivac, was wounded again. Medic was
trying to help him. Both were killed, 4 others of their men were killed. 12 wounded. Our medic was sent to them to help -Rained
all night-- Had no sleeping gear just my foxhole.
KHE SANH APRIL 5, 1968 Finally left LZ Sharon. Went on slicks. Landed at LZ Stud. Took off again on slicks. Landed at LZ
Snapper. Just being built - 3 batteries of artillery. Went right away on patrol. My platoon ran into N.V.A. trying to leave area.
They had bunkers and everything. A.R.A. kicked them out of their holes. They were crossing an open stream, took cover in a
shell crater. They only fired a few shells at us. Saw one fall. We were credited with 11 kills. A.R.A. probably got a couple of
these. Platoon picked up 1 AK-47, 2 7.62 machine guns. Set up on a nearby hill for the night.
APRIL 6 Moved from position through LZ Snapper to high nearby hill - the jungle is real dense, elephant grass twice as high as
my head - bamboo 25 to 30 ft. tall - just as straight as an arrow. Set up on the hill for the night. No action. Received 30 new men
to our company.
APRIL 7 Moved from night location to a new mountain about 3,000 meters away. Our squad leader fell down and hurt his leg.
Had to be medivaced. No great loss. The top of the mountain, our location, was heavily covered with tall trees, bamboo, banana
trees and tangled vines. Worked all afternoon at clearing a field of brush and making a landing pad for choppers. Didn't have
any water. Were drinking water from bamboo and banana trees. Never been so thirsty. Was in charge of 3 men that night that
went out on observation post. Couple times called in that we heard movement. I think it was just the trees settling down from us
cutting them and from what the bombs had done. No action.
APRIL 8 Stayed another night on this hill. Spotted muzzle flashes from a mortar. Our mortar team fired on them. Later credited
with 4 kills, Who really knows who got them. Went out on patrols that day. Didn't find anything. No action.
APRIL 9 Moved from last position back to LZ Snapper. Awful long walk. Pulled perimeter guard on LZ Snapper that night. 3
artillery batteries on this hill. Can see the city of Khe Sanh from here APRIL 10 Another day and night on LZ Snapper.
No action. Real dusty from helicopters landing all over. Went down to a stream to bathe.
APRIL 11 Last day at Khe Sanh. Moved out this afternoon on Huey choppers. All off Snapper except one battery of artillery
is moving Out. Went back to Quang Tri and set up along the river. Real happy to be back.
A SHAU VALLEY
APRIL 25 On our way there. Landed on slicks at LZ Stallion. Moved out from LZ Stallion on foot to set up a perimeter in the
Valley. My squad got lost. Another squad was following what was either a deer or an NVA and ran across enemy trucks, 4 of
them. Found camouflaged hooches and many large caches of weapons. Set up that night in a burnt off spot. Took one truck into
LZ Stallion driving it up the river bed, then on a road to the LZ. No action today, Looks as if the bombing must have scared the
N.V.A. off. Previous to our coming a million pounds of bombs had been dropped in this area.
APRIL 26 Spent the day digging up new caches and hauling them into the LZ Stallion on NVA trucks. Trucks were built in
Russia along with rifles and much of the other equipment. Caches included 300 Russian built bolt action rifles. 25 new flame
throwers, 36 new mine detectors - 2-60 mm, mortar tubes and ammunition. All kinds of large artillery rounds and many
anti-aircraft rounds of different sizes. Cameramen and reporters all over the place. Saw a 4 engine C-130 supply plane crash.
Was shot down, had full load of cargo to be parachuted. Complete crew killed. Couldn't get altitude enough to parachute from it.
No action for us today.
APRIL 27 Worked around caches - moving equipment out.
APRIL 28 or 29 Started the 5 days of fire fights. Moved up hill about 1500 meters from hill with caches on it. Was following a
N.V.A. trail that had commo wire. Point man walked right into N.V.A. bunker position. My platoon was leading. We must have
surprised them. Only wounded one man - a friend of mine, Caullum - was in machine gun squad. We fired a number of rounds
into enemy positions then retreated. Platoon Sgt. and myself stayed up front to lay down base fire and cover while rest of
company moved back. Went to different side of hill - started to move up. Found camouflaged N.V.A. road with bunkers, gas
and oil barrels in them. Blew holes in them with grenades and moved back to night's camp site. Was put in for Bronze Star.
APRIL 30 Next day moved up camouflaged road. 1st Platoon met resistance. One man almost blown in two. Thought maybe
fire came from an enemy tank. Couple other men wounded during fighting. Moved back to night location. The area was bombed
and artillery was called in. This was being done every day. Especially heavy when we made contact with enemy.
APRIL 31 Moved back up trail and again started searching out area. Made contact again. More men wounded. Moved back.
Called in bombing and artillery. Sat up night position on hill.
MAY 1 Whole company moved out on line - made contact again about 200 meters from where we had the day before. It was
pouring rain. The N.V.A. were using a lot of rifle grenades and the fire was real heavy. A lot of men were wounded by frags.
One man killed by rifle fire and a couple seriously wounded. Stayed and fought about an hour until we had the wounded
moved back. Where we were we had very little cover and the enemy fire was heavy. They had plenty automatic weapons.
Guys were getting hit all around me. Also tree branches were falling from bullets hitting them. About a dozen of us including
C.O. moved down to where one badly wounded and the fatally wounded men were. We laid down cover fire until they could be
moved out. Still raining hard. We moved back to our old campsite carrying wounded men to be medivaced. Heavy bombing
and artillery were called in. Helicopter was shot down later in the day. Up till now 23 men were wounded and 2 killed in
A Shau Valley.
MAY 2 Moved back down to where we were hit day before. Were again on line but no resistance. Found out what the N.V.A.
were holding on to. Artillery and bombs blew up at least a dozen trucks and many hooches and bunkers. Found many caches of
personal weapons and bunkers. There also were many caches of large artillery, antiaircraft and rocket munitions. Also medical
supplies. Took out another 400-500 model 1944 Russian sniper rifles out on helicopters. Destroyed rest of the munitions and
medical supplies. No more enemy opposition until May 13. Company spent a couple days on L.Z. Stallion.
MAY 13 Moved up a hill with believed enemy existence. Artillery and aerial rocket had been hitting hill in morning. 3rd platoon
moved up the hill. One man was wounded. Guy that came to the field the same day that I did. 3rd platoon moved back. Hill was
bombed and artilleryed the rest of the morning-and part of afternoons. 1st and 2nd platoon then moved up the hill. One NVA
stepped right on trail a few yards away from point man. Point man shot him down. He had an AK-47. It was an automatic but he
never fired it. Must have been on Pot or dazed from bombing and artillery. Two days later we flew out of A Shau Valley back to
Quang Tri. Never saw so many happy soldiers to get out of that place. 24 men wounded. 2 killed. Some were back with company.
Those with lesser wounds. Located in high hills between LZ Ann and Quang Tri. Had secured a hill and were going to set up for
the night. N.V.A. opened up with 51 caliber machine gun. They were a long ways away and nobody got hit. Also shot at one of our
log birds that was coming in. We fired in their direction and called in artillery on their position. Also our mortar platoon started
firing on them. Air strikes were later called in on the area.
MAY 25 Moved to our new position where we thought the Gooks had fired on us from the day before. One squad from my
platoon went out on patrol. Received sniper fire but nobody was hit. "B" Company had also hit sniper fire in this area. They
had one man wounded and some how lost 3 weapons.
MAY 26 SUNDAY One hell of a day. Started off bad and ended up worse. Located on 2 bare hills between LZ Ann and Quang
Tri. Set up here last night. We had some small sniper fire and saw some mortar flashes about 2,000 meters away. An area only
a few-meters from where we set up the night before. B Company had sniper fire here also. They had one man wounded and lost
3 weapons. M16, machine gun and grenade launcher. 2nd and 1st platoon was being sent to this area. 3rd squad from my platoon
was on point. Didn't get 50 meters from the perimeter and point man hit-a booby trap. Believe it was a booby trapped 81 mm
mortar round. Moore got-it mostly in the leg and face. The new guy behind him got a lot of it in the chest. Moody and Packard
had frags on their legs and arms. My squad took over as point. Wounded men were medivaced. We moved out. Were a couple
hundred meters from our destination-where we would join forces with 1st platoon - Mortar platoon was giving us fire support to
our left when something went wrong and mortars started landing almost on top of us. About 7 mortars hit before we could stop
their firing. Another new guy, an instant N.C.O., was wounded in the side. Couple other men had little cuts from frags. Just the
man wounded in the side was brought the rest of the way up the hill and medivaced. Used a pad on a campsite we used 2 days
ago. Accidents like this done by our own men are really hard on morale. Got reorganized and 1st platoon led off down the trail
where B Company had made contact and 1st platoon made contact and got 2 men wounded. We moved them back to the pad for
medivac. C.O. then moved us back up again. We were laying right on the trail. Hardly any cover there 2nd platoon was up there
also now. They opened fire again. About 10 men were hit. The enemy must have been up the hill and in bunkers. They had a lot
of automatic weapons fire. The order was to move back carrying wounded men while the Docs were working on them. Romana
got hit in-the chest and arm. I helped take him back. Then Kirk took him the rest of the way. Went back to help CO's RTO
Burr. I threw off most-of my equipment to bring back wounded. 2 of us started carrying Burr back finally got help. It was about
1/2 mile we had to carry them. We got help carrying Burr but he was dead by the time we got him to the pad. Went back and
helped another man carry Sgt. Legg. He was shot in the knee. By this time everybody was moving back with wounded and
equipment left behind. 8 men wounded in my platoon, Sgt. Legg, Romano, Carr was hit in cheek, Horton was hit in stomach,
also the 4 men wounded in the morning from the booby trap and the man wounded from the mortar round. C.P. group had one
man killed, Burr. 1st platoon had one man killed, 5 others wounded. This is 2 days later that I am writing this. Have the same
dirty clothes I have had on for a week. Boy, do they stink. Still have blood stains all over them. Should get a change today or
tomorrow. After the wounded were medivaced we moved back to our previous nights position and were extracted by
helicopters an hour later. Artillery and air strikes were called in. Now down in the foot hills a couple miles from Quang
Tri. Was put in for a Bronze Star - my second one. 16 men wounded - 2 killed.
MAY 28 4:00 p.m. Were picked up by choppers from a site located in low foot hills of Quang Tri Province. Flown out to the
sands to set up a blocking force with other companies-around-an N.V.A. infested village. Supposedly a battalion of NVA in
there 300. Moved up to a tree line with tanks and APC's equipped mostly with 50 caliber machine guns and 30 caliber.
NVA's were shooting at us most of the night. Nobody in my company or anybody in the vicinity were hurt that I know of. We
were well dug in and returned fire all night long. Don't believe the Gooks broke through any part of the perimeter. Next
morning we found many dead NVA before being replaced by another company. This is definitely the way to fight the Gooks.
Don't know the outcome of it yet. They were bringing in all kinds of artillery and air strikes.
JUNE 3 My platoon walked out of L. Z. Sharon in the afternoon to secure a perimeter we had been on a couple nights before.
The company was to come in on helicopters. This so far has been the scare of my life. Picked up this stick I was going to use
as a tent pole when I noticed a wire on the end of it. On the end of the wire was a booby trapped 81 mm. mortar round. If it
would have gone off I either wouldn't be here any more or probably would have my legs missing. Somebody up there must like
me to let me get this far without a scratch.
JUNE 8 CAed out of L.Z. Pedro. Just my platoon was shot at by sniper but he must have been a long way Off. Rounds didn't
come very close. Believe he was hidden in tree line along the river. Tried to flush him out with artillery but no results.
JUNE 10 Had memorial services for those killed in ambush (2) and the one killed by the Claymore accident. Burr was one of
those killed in ambush. Also today Sgt. Goucher died. He was also wounded in ambush. I can remember when he left to go home
on a 45-day leave. Then came back to finish his time-in the field that he had extended 6 months. Later -found out that he didn't
die but was doing well. Maybe partially paralyzed.
JUNE 19 Air assaulted from L.Z. Pedro to mountains south east of L Z. Ann. 3rd platoon went on patrol and found 5 or 6 enemy
bunkers and camouflaged hooches. They received a couple sniper rounds but no injuries. One hut had hot rice in it. Bunkers and
hooches were burned.
JUNE 20 Moved back down hill where 3rd platoon had found bunkers. Again received a few rounds of sniper fire. Nobody hit
except for one man who had a grenade round of his own go off too close. This was only a small frag that required a small bandage.
JUNE 21 Had moved to a new hill previous day where we had cut a chopper pad. Then it was only good enough to sling supplies
in. All supplies were slinging in or dropped out of choppers. This morning we moved out, my platoon in lead. Squad ran into a
large bunker complex. Look deserted but didn't take any-chances. We were setting up security when we started receiving heavy
sniper fire. My platoon were mostly spread up along hillside which was a little above bunkers - 2nd platoon was moving down
below through the bunkers. By this time we were engaged in pretty heavy firing. 1st platoon was in a bad position - 5 men were
wounded and one killed. Intensive fire was kept up until casualties could be moved back. Then the whole company moved back
with wounded to last nights campsite. This was about 1/4 mile up heavily covered mountainside. WIA's and KIA were medivaced
by choppers that lowered one man slings down to us. Didn't know the man that was killed very well but one of the more seriously
wounded was a friend from AIT, Doc Capps, had an arm wound. Air strikes are being called in and we have moved to a new
location where we are again chopping a pad.
JUNE 22 Moved out at 10 A.M. Our objective was where we had made contact day before. My platoon stayed on the flank an
a side of the hill over looking bunker complex. 3rd platoon moved through bunkers searching them while 1st platoon was on
the other flank. No enemy was found. Probably was persuaded to-leave after our-contact with them plus heavy artillery and
bombing raids last night and this morning.
JUNE 27 Set upon an L.Z. where we had chopped a rough pad. Spc. 4 Pennington picked up his rifle by end of barrel and it
discharged. Evidently wasn't on safe and trigger caught on vines. Gave him morphine to get him to sleep. Medivac Chopper
could not come in safely until morning because of our small pad. Accident happened about 9 o'clock. Since February 14 when
I came into this country 56 of our men have been wounded due to hostile fire' 3 more wounded due to accidents, 12 men killed
due to hostile fire - 1 accidentally killed.
JULY 24 Added 2-more wounded to the list since I came into the company. Day before we air assaulted from hills around fire
base Ann to lowlands near Quang Tri. Rain most of the night and was still raining when company moved out. 1st platoon
thought they heard movement in a heavily covered marsh below them. 3rd platoon massed on-a neighboring hill to set up a
blocking force to try to eliminate escape of enemy. 2nd platoon did same setting up a triangle Scout birds were working the
marsh. The hill 2nd platoon was on had recently been used for a campsite by GI's. F.O. was calling in artillery on the marsh
from our site. When we heard this explosion that was too close for artillery. Explosion was 75 yards away. Immediately
Crockett, squad leader for 1st squad, was hollering for the medic. Was no doubt-in our minds that somebody hit a booby trap.
Immediately the medic, Lieutenant and myself were running to the scene. Both the wounded were friends of mine. Hamm and
Young. Both seriously wounded from 81 mm. mortar round booby trap. I put my radio on Medivac push and called in Medivac
chopper. Both litter patients were on the chopper within 5 minutes after the incident. Booby traps are one of the biggest morale
busters of all. Hamm hit the trap. Had both legs broken and chest wound Young had chest wound and leg wound. The latest
report was that they were both in good spirits. Both will probably go back to the world. Rest of day was spent sweeping through
marsh. No enemy found.
AUGUST 5 Just came back from LZ Sharon on night log ship. Had been in to have boils taken care of. 2 6 element was sending
out 3 ambushes consisting of a squad apiece and one killer team. Killer team was 6 men Lieutenant, Sgt. Akers, Speedy,
Pineapple, Doe, Alrick and myself. Had moved out at 8.30 about 700 meters, crossing a number of rice paddies, and started
moving through a large grave site. 25 meters ahead of us from tree line enemy opened up on us with heavy automatic weapons
fire. Immediately took cover behind graves and returned fire. Miraculously at this point blank range none of our men were hit.
Enemy was also throwing numerous grenades which we also returned. Most of the grenades fell a few feet short of us. I ran
from one grave to the next to get to my lieutenant's location so he could call in artillery. Put in for Silver Star for this but like
a lot of them probably won't materialize. Lieutenant immediately started calling in artillery. Not being sure of our definite
location first 2 rounds landed 20 feet in front of us. Thank you, God, for that grave in between us. Enemy started flanking us
to the left and we were receiving sniper fire from the right. So they had us fairly well pinned down. By this time we had a
number of batteries of artilleries pounding the area to our front and left. Captain gave us a direct order over radio to pull back.
Also had mortar platoon working out giving us cover fire and with artillery fire coming in, we started to run back across the rice
paddles. Ran back across the rice paddies 500 meters receiving sniper fire from both right and left flanks until we got cover from
another tree line. Moved back into perimeter with them giving us cover fire. Area was heavily pounded with artillery and gun
ships This is near village where we had large fire fight March 25. Next day went through village and interrogated civilians. 1st
platoon captured one VC when civilians squealed on him and pointed out bunker he was in. Found no bodies but they could have
been dragged off. Believe we were hit by platoon size enemy. Figure they were moving down trail, saw us and set up a hasty
AUGUST 9 Ozmae was hit by small frags in knuckles and left side. He had thrown grenade in bunker and was too close to it.
1st platoon swept through small village-about 1,000 meters from village we were in. Called Mini-Cav operation. Just three
platoons got on choppers and flew to this area. Real old man pointed out a bunker where NVA had gone when they came in.
He wouldn't come out so threw frays in. Medivaced him. Don't know if he lived.
AUGUST 10 Boarded choppers from South of LZ Sharon. Flew near Wonder Beach to cordon village. Found 2 booby traps
right after getting off choppers. Sgt. Grass; 4th platoon, hit the third one. A pressure type grenade. Medivaced him
immediately. Last I heard he wouldn't lose his leg. Found 12 more that day - mostly booby trapped Chi-Com grenades. Found
in the part of the village that was deserted. Also got the 2 NVA believed to have set them. While sweeping through village
one G.I. lifted buried trap door. The 3 NVA were underneath, one had an AK47 pointing and opened. G.I. slammed the door
back down. With assistance ordered them to come out but they wouldn't so threw frags in hole. One tried to come out then,
shot him with M16. Only one was alive. Tried to revive him and get information. Died before Medivac came out. Were
equipped with 3 AK-47's and booby trap equipment. We booby trapped their bodies before leaving.
This ends John's diary. In Nov 1968 the First Cavalry Division moved south to Tay Ninh Province and commenced
operations in the III Corps area around Saigon. John Ulfers was killed in action on 27 Nov 1968. This much of John's diary
was typed by his mother from notes that he sent home. Several times John gave God thanks for looking after him and
helping him through some tough times. I pray that John received the promised reward of eternal life in Heaven. I know he was
deserving of the Heavenly reward for faithfulness that God promises to all of us. I am proud to have been a small part of
A comment from Warren David 09/07/2000 09:08 AM I believe we knew John as "Whitey". If this is in fact the same person
he was KIA in the same action as Lt. Sargent. He was also the kind of soldier you would want to have an entire unit of. Quiet,
low keyed, and efficient. In regards to the action he described in the August ambush in a village, the following day we swept
through and interrogated an old women who fingered her son as the local VC contact. Since my Platoon had picked her up we
were given the honor of conducting an ambush at the designated hooch that night. I took 5 others just at dusk. As we
approached the hooch someone came from the hooch, saw us and ran. About that time all hell broke loose as we ourselves were
ambushed. As it turned out she was the VC contact and had given us her son to save herself. I remember kneeling next to a bush
on a rice paddy dike and returning fire unaware that an AK was raking the dike about a foot below my leg. The next thing I
remember was that someone grabbed one of my straps and pulled me behind the dike. We were engaged in the firefight until they
started to flank us at which time we called for motars and moved back to the Company perimeter at a rather hasty pace. I also
remember some idiot at Battalion asking over the radio how many rounds had been fired at us. When we went through the village
the following day the old women was gone so we never did get a chance to take her out of commission.
|Delta Company 1965 - 1971
John Ulfers' Diary