Gary Lee Hobbs

Lemoore, California

January 27, 1970

After joining the Army, PFC Gary Hobbs went to Vietnam in late August, 1969. He was part of the 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning) and was assigned to A Troop of the 3rd Squadron of the 4th Cavalry Regiment.

Based in the central highlands north and west of Saigon, A⁄3⁄4 was headquartered in Chu Chi. This base camp was constructed virtually on top of the largest known VC tunnel complex in Vietnam.

By early 1970, PFC Hobbs had become a seasoned soldier. ‘A’ Troop was a mechanized Unit consisting of Armored Personnel Carriers (APC’s) known as ‘tracks’ to everyone over there. Just outside of Chu Chi was a large French owned rubber plantation, and was also the base camp of four North Vietnamese Regiments. This particular plantation had more undergrowth than usual, and the NVA had multiple complexes of bunkers, tunnels, and trenches providing them with cover and concealment. The northeastern portion of the woods paralleled the Saigon river, offering an ideal means for enemy movement of supplies and personnel in and out of the Boi Loi Woods plantation – however it was easily traversed by the Tracks.

January 27th was just another day in ‘Nam for A Troop. They had been sent out to the edge of the Boi Loi woods to monitor enemy movement in the area. Doing a recon mission in the area, they had stopped to check out some bunkers that the VC had built to make sure no one was there.

Gary Hobbs and a Staff Sergeant climbed out of their APC to approach the bunker. SSgt Richard Dornellas was no stranger to combat, as this was his second tour of duty. Moving forward they found a poncho on the ground with a sign that said “F___ You 3⁄4Cav” written in English. The SSgt bent over to pick it up and Gary yelled “Don’t touch that!!”……but it was too late.

Under the poncho was a booby-trapped American artillery shell that detonated immediately. Both soldiers died of concussions. A moving Memorial service was later held in the base Chapel, and tears were shed by many of his comrades that knew him.

For years, the enemy had figured out that Americans by nature were curious. Regardless of how well we trained these men, there would continue to be numerous accounts of these senseless deaths. Families back home mourned over their loss, but those most affected were the brave soldiers that knew and cared deeply for him. They will never forget his smile.

Gary Lee Hobbs name is on the Vietnam Wall at Panel 14W, line 72 – just under SSgt Dornellas’ name.

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