Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Battles We Face

August 26, 2015
Dear Preachers:
Today I write regarding Louisana, Charlie Clifford (an Insurance Company mentor of mine, whose daddy died when Charlie was 7), Don Holleder,  The Battle of Ong Thanh, and 1st. Lt. Clark Welch – whom I think to be the real hero of this long ago Battle the Big Red One fought.
On a day, a couple of days ago,  in History, French Settlers showed up in Louisiana (French: La Louisiane; by 1879, La Louisiane française) or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. 

Having gone to Sulphur, La., recently for Josh Wesson’s funeral, I found this subject interesting.

 Under French control 1682–1762 and 1802–04, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River, and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
Louisiana was divided into two regions, known as Upper Louisiana (French: Haute-Louisiane), which began north of the Arkansas River, and Lower Louisiana (French: Basse-Louisiane). The U.S. state of Louisiana is named for the historical region, although it occupies only a small portion of the vast lands claimed by the French. Although French exploration of the area began during the reign of Louis XIV, French Louisiana was not greatly developed, due to a lack of human and financial resources. As a result of its defeat in the Seven Years' War, France was forced to cede the eastern part of the territory in 1763 to the victorious British, and the western part to Spain as compensation for that country's loss of Florida. France regained sovereignty of the western territory in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso of 1800. But strained by obligations in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte decided to sell the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, ending France's presence in Louisiana.
With Josh Wesson’s children losing their Daddy, I was reminded of one of my SUPERVISORS while I was in the Insurance Business, CHARLIE CLIFFORD.  My 75 year-old mind won’t get Charlie’s connection back to Louisiana, but he too had a connection with Louisiana.  Charlie’s Daddy died when Charlie was only 7.  The family lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, where the Bride of my youth has her origin.  Charlie was the oldest child.
He had to go to work as a SEVEN YEAR OLD to support the family.  He carried the morning and evening papers in Indianapolis, the STAR and NEWS.  As a 7 year old lad he was carrying over 400 morning papers.  He carried over 300 evening papers Monday to Saturday. 
Charlie went to grade school in spite of his Dad dying..  Charlie finished High School.  All the time carrying papers.  Charlie completed College carrying papers.  He was working for the Insurance Company I went to work for to get into the Insurance Business as a Fieldman.  The Multi-Peril Insurance Polices had just come out --- Homeowners, Farmowners, The Special Multi-Peril for Businesses.  Charlie was a real blessing to me as I went through the training for all that.
The Lord called me to Preach as the Vietnam War was raging.  A battle took place back then called The Battle of Ong Thanh, where Major Don Holleder, former Football Star at West Point, was killed (my call – in what I consider) A FOOLISH MANUEVER. From Wikipedia, we learn something of this Battle.

Don Holleder
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Donald Holleder
Holleder on the cover of Sports Illustrated
(1934-08-03)August 3, 1934
Buffalo, New York
October 17, 1967(1967-10-17) (aged 33)
Ong Thanh, Vietnam
Place of burial
Arlington National Cemetery
Years of service
Donald Walter Holleder (August 3, 1934 – October 17, 1967) was an American college football star while attending the United States Military Academy who was later killed in the Vietnam War.
Holleder was born in Buffalo, New York, and at age 13, he and his family moved to Irondequoit, New York.[1] He attended high school at the Aquinas Institute in nearby Rochester. He was heavily recruited by a number of top college football teams, including West Point's offensive coach Vince Lombardi. He elected to enroll at the United States Military Academy at West Point. As a junior in 1954, he was named to the All-America team as an end. The following season, Army head coach Colonel Red Blaik asked him to move to quarterback. Holleder clearly lacked the skills to be a productive passer, but Blaik felt that his leadership skills were important and would help the struggling team improve. Blaik's move was ridiculed but it paid off. The team finished with a record of 6-3-0, including a rousing upset of Navy that led to Holleder's appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. One of Holleder's classmates at West Point was General Norman Schwarzkopf. They both graduated in the Class of 1956.
The New York Giants selected Holleder in the 1956 NFL Draft college draft, however Holleder was not interested in a professional football career. After graduating West Point, he continued to serve in the U.S. Army. Over the next ten years he rose to the rank of Major, serving posts in Hawaii and Korea, and in between returning to West Point for three years as an assistant football coach, recruiter, and scout.
In 1967, Holleder, now a Major, requested to be sent to Vietnam, where he became the Operations Officer for 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. [My dead brother Arthur, served as a Sgt. E5 in the Big Red One!]
Major Holleder was killed in the Battle of Ong Thanh on Tuesday October 17, 1967. While he and his commanding officer were overflying the battle in a helicopter, where they observed the entire command unit on the ground had been killed and the remaining men were in serious trouble. Don volunteered to organize a rescue effort. Upon landing, Don secured three volunteers and rushed to the battle site. Running far in front of his volunteers, he was gunned down and killed by a sniper. The battle is documented in Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Maraniss’ book They Marched Into Sunlight and Terry Tibbetts' book A Spartan Game, the Life and Loss of Don Holleder. A film of the story is being produced by Tom Hanks.
Holleder left behind a wife and four daughters.
In 1974, the football stadium in his hometown was renamed Holleder Memorial Stadium in his honor. The stadium was home to the football team of his high school Alma Mater, Aquinas Institute. In 1985 the stadium was torn down where the Holleder Technology Park now stands on the site, bisected by Holleder Parkway.
In 1985, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and that same year, West Point's basketball/hockey arena was named in his honor (The Donald W. Holleder Center). Each year, the Army football team recognizes one of their players with the Black Lion Award, [The Black Lions were the 1st Brigade of the Big Red One,] given "to a player who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder, leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self sacrifice and, above all, an unselfish concern to put the team ahead of himself."
He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on April 27, 2012.[3]
Donald Walter Holleder is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Now, what is not revealed in the Wikipedia report is that 1st Lt. Clark Welch, a very knowledgeable COMBAT OFFICER was against Lt. Col. Terry Allen’s plan of walking up on the enemy.  Welch wanted to walk the Artillery up on where he knew the enemy was.  But, that didn’t fly with Lt. Col. Allen, nor with Brig. Gen. Coleman, the Division’s Deputy Commander. Clark Welch was long and sinewy, his frame always tiling forward slightly, ready to move, the first lieutenant from New Hampshire was a soldier’s soldier in the most elemental sense.  His boys called him BIG ROCK.
At the briefing held the day before the Battle of Ong Thanh, Lt. Colonel Terry Allen,  son of famous WWII General Terry Allen Sr., got caught up in his own ego, and said, “WE’VE GOT THEM WHERE WE WANT THEM.  TOMORROW IS GOING TO BE A GREAT DAY FOR THE BLACK LIONS.”
Welch looked at the map that Allen showed, thinking, in disbelief, “Man, it can’t be.  I have very good eyes and very good hearing and it can’t be.  I must be misunderstanding that.  That’s a @#&+ showing us going south.  (Welch’s boys had killed two enemy soldiers and brought their bodies in.)  We’re going to attack right into them?”  It made little sense to Welch.  They knew where the enemy troops were;   why not bomb them with B-52s and napalm, and then tiptoe in with a small force to see what effect they had had, then tiptoe out again and bomb them again.
Allen asked, “Any questions?”  “”Sir, I….” Welch said.  That was as far as he got. Allen stared him down, stating, “If you’re not ready to lead, we’ll get Alpha to lead.”  “Sir,” Welch said.  "We’ll talk about it later,” Allen responded.  Allen later called Welch in and Welch made his view plain, “Sir, we’re going to get our @#& kicked, Sir.  I was right there.  I believe that the base camp.  And, we’re going to sneak up on them?”
At around 12:00 pm Triet had already ordered his troops to disengage from the battle without annihilating the remaining Americans caught in his ambush. His men were tired and hungry and he was behind schedule in his movement toward his next assignment. Moreover, he feared that American air power and artillery would begin to inflict heavy casualties on his unit.[23]
The battle at Ong Thanh was a costly affair for the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. During two hours of fighting the 2nd Battalion lost 64 men killed in action, including Lieutenant Colonel Terry Allen and every member of the Battalion Command Group, as well as 75 wounded and 2 missing.[2] For their efforts in the battle, 13 American soldiers were awarded the Silver Star, while Allen and Welch received the Distinguished Service Cross. Forward Observer Second Lieutenant Harold B. Durham, who was attached to the 2nd Battalion on the day from the 15th Field Artillery Regiment, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions.[2] Despite the losses that had been inflicted on the 2nd Battalion by the Viet Cong, the U.S. military told the media that the fight at Ong Thanh had resulted in a major American victory.[24]
General Hay initially portrayed Ong Thanh as an American victory and cited 101 enemy dead in the battle. However, American veterans who survived the ordeals of the battle were adamant they were ambushed and defeated by the Viet Cong's 271st Regiment. The estimate of 101 enemy dead officially provided by the U.S. military was likely much inflated to emphasize the scale of the 'American victory.'
For retired U.S. Army Brigadier General James E. Shelton, who was then a major and served as an Operations Officer with the 2nd Battalion, the lack of reliable intelligence and overconfidence on the part of Allen as the battalion commander, were some of the factors that led to the disastrous outcome in the Ong Thanh battle.
 Furthermore, the American soldiers under Allen's command lacked fighting experience, whereas the Viet Cong soldiers of the 9th Division were among some of the best light infantry in the world with years of experience. The Viet Cong 271st Regiment, after their victory at Ong Thanh, withdrew back towards their base area near the Cambodian border.[26]

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