SP4 Danny David Rhoads

12 March 1967

Lemoore

After entering the US Army, Danny Rhoads was trained as a radio teletype operator (RTO) and went to Vietnam in Oct, 1966. He was assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry of the 25th Infantry Division in the tri-border area of South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In Feb of 1967, Army leaders decided to combine 3 separate Brigades into Task Force Oregon to replace the 1st Marine Division that had been ordered further north to reinforce the Demilitarized Zone.

On March 10th, 2⁄35 was inserted in the field to sweep through an area where B-52 bombers had spent a day trying to clear an area out near Kontum. Their mission was to search out and destroy any enemy that was known to still be in the area. At 7AM onMarch 11, they started their search. A Company, led by 2LT Karopcyzc quickly made contact by 9AM. The unit was met with automatic weapon fire from well concealed bunkers and began taking heavy casualties. Reinforcements were called in with the insertion of two more Companies. The firefight raged on until noon, when they were able to set up a defensive position. The fighting continued, and at 4:30PM, 13 soldiers and 1 from Headquarters (Danny Rhoads) attempted to take ammunition from the 2nd platoon over to the 3rd platoon as they were desperately low. These 14 men were immediately hit with mortars and automatic weapon fire, and got pinned down. This group took 8 casualties and were separated into 2 smaller elements. Continuing to fight, this small group were not able to get help from C Company until 11PM because of heavy contact. B Company attempted to get to them and were also pinned down. Helicopters tried in vain to get to the area to get the wounded out, only to be pushed away due to the heavy ground fire.

By 3AM on 12 March, C Company were able to get the wounded and dead to a safe landing zone for extraction back to Headquarters. Over 200 enemy NVA had been killed in this battle, but at the expense of 14 US killed and 46 wounded. Danny Rhoads, sadly, was one of the killed but never forgotten.

Master Sergeant David Butters remembers this day vividly, still today. “There are many, many stories to be told about this 24 hour period of constant fighting. The most poignant for me is the story about Danny Rhoads. He was originally assigned as a rifleman then as an RTO in Alpha Company Headquarters. He was so good that I got the Battalion Commander to transfer him to S-3. He hated this, and wanted to be in the field with his buddies. With regret, I finally agreed to let him go, but this regret soon became grief.”

He continues: “On that night, the 3rd platoon was running out of ammunition. Danny volunteered to load up with as much as he could and run the resupply. I pleaded with him not to go, but he only replied ‘Those are my buddies dying out there. I’m a SOB if Ilet them be without the stuff to fight back. Danny died in a hail of machine gun bullets and mortar fire. He was my friend, my RTO.”

Danny David Rhoads name is listed on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC at Panel 16E, line 70.

Editors note: For his heroic actions, 2LT Karopcyzc was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously.

Sources: Daily RTO documents, After-Action reports, Eyewitness accounts.

Copyright © 2007-2017 Marc Irish. All Rights Reserved.  Material on this site may NOT be commercially reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. You may copy the content for your personal use, but please acknowledge the website as the source of the material.