Cpl. Richard Javier Flores

Hanford, California

May 10, 1968

Richard Flores arrived in Vietnam in mid-March, 1968. Trained in the Infantry, he was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. He was part of C Company, 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry – known at the “Bandido Charlies” – a mechanized Unit ofArmored Personnel Carriers (APC’s).

In less than two months after putting his boots on this foreign land, Cpl Flores would be involved on one of the largest battles of Vietnam.

Just before dawn on May 7th, the enemy attacked a bridge in the southern section of Saigon and an ARVN compound just to the west of the city. The battle had begun and no one anticipated the complexity that would ensue. C Company started receivingautomatic weapon fire and a hail of B-40 rockets. A Company started racing to the bridge to intercept the enemy and was also met with intense VC fire. Gun ships and artillery were called in for support.

It quickly became clear that the enemy objective was to take control of the Y-Bridge, the southern entrance to downtown Saigon. (See pictures). As action boiled over into Saigon’s southern suburbs, thousands of men, women, and children poured into the city seeking refuge. Many were unmercifully cut down by the communists, who held no regard between US soldiers and innocent civilians.

Fighting continued continuously for two more days, and casualties were mounting up. At about 6AM on May 10th, the enemy launched another heavy ground attack against an ARVN compound just south of the city in an attempt to get to the bridge. Divisioninfantrymen, closely supported by the APC’s, helicopter gun ships, artillery batteries, and jet fighter-bombers killed more than 700 communists that day. 22 jets were used, close to 100 helicopters, and 4 Battalions of infantrymen were coordinating efforts throughout the day. 6 brave men from C Company lost their lives in this fighting including Richard Flores. None of them will ever be forgotten for the heroism they performed.

The battle continued to rage on for another two days when the enemy finally retreated. The campaign had cost the lives of 50 Ninth Infantry soldiers, and over 1,000 enemy were dead along with hundreds of civilians. The units regrouped to get ready for the next battle, and many chalked off one more day on their list they kept showing how much time before they could go home. Sadly, 50 soldiers already found their home.

Richard Javier Flores’s name is on the Vietnam Wall at Panel 58E, line 7.

Editors note: Keith Nolan, a well-known military author is in the process of writing a detailed book of this battle. It is expected to be published in mid-2002.

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