Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Crispy Critters!

This is coolbert:

Those of you that seen the movie "Platoon" will remember the climactic battle at the end of the movie. The American company commander, seeing his unit being "overrun" by a superior enemy force, orders the U.S. Air Force to "bomb my position". THIS SCENE IN THE MOVIE IS BASED UPON A REAL-LIFE INCIDENT THAT DID OCCUR DURING THE VIETNAM WAR.

A company of American troops WAS in danger of annihilation by the enemy. Saved only by an air strike UPON THEIR OWN POSITION!!

An air strike ordered by the unit commander, Captain William S. Carpenter Jr.

William S. Carpenter Jr. A name already familiar to fans of American football. The "Lonesome End" of West Point football fame. Played on "the undefeated 1958 team that featured Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins and Bill Carpenter, 'The Lonesome End.'"

[please bear in mind that in the late 1950's the cadet football team from West Point was STILL competitive at the highest Division I NCAA level. Played nationally ranked teams and was a very winning team. American football fans that followed the college game would be instantly conversant and knowledgeable regarding the cadet team and the "Lonesome End".]

Cadets such as Pete Dawkins, and William Carpenter were representative of the All-American boy. A student-athlete of the highest level of accomplishment, moral, upright, studious, manly, etc.

"C company of the 2/502, commanded by Captain William Carpenter . . . He decided to engage Charlie . . . C company was immediately swarmed and almost overrun . . . had Charlie right on top of them. They were taking quite a few casualties. At the height of the battle, Carpenter made the decision to call in an air strike on their position. The nearest planes to them were carrying napalm. The air strike made the NVA disengage and bought Charlie Company some time. They were able to gather the wounded and setup a better defense perimeter"

"As C Company advanced on 12 June, its commander, CPT William S. Carpenter Jr., sensed those indicators and concentrated his company, but it was surrounded and in danger of being overrun by an estimated NVA battalion . . . CPT Carpenter reportedly called for an air strike "right on top of us.'"

Here is, however, how William Carpenter really intended the air strike to transpire:

"CPT Carpenter later stated privately that he realized the survival of his company was at stake, but that he did not actually call the air strike directly in on his position. Instead, he told the forward air controller to use the smoke marking his company’s position as the aiming point for the air strike. He knew that using conventional air strike techniques and safe distances would not defeat the enemy. He also reasoned that the napalm would "splash" forward of his position, causing more enemy than friendly casualties. The air strike did just that. . . ."

"The survivors of Toumorong would forever be known as "Carpenter's Crispy Critters." . . . there were alot of mixed feelings about Carpenter's decision. Some of them thought he over-reacted [there were troopers killed by the napalm], while others believed that he saved their lives. Like in most battles, it depended on where you were standing and where you were looking. Everybody's experience and perception can be widely different."

"This battle made the tv news and newspapers back in the States."

YES, it did! In the early days of American involvement in Vietnam, the press and the media in general were really gung-ho and did present the U.S. military involvement in a POSITIVE manner. The "bomb our position" engagement with Captain Carpenter as the commander of the U.S. unit was portrayed as a BRAVE decision well warranted! American courage in action, courtesy of the All-American boy!!

[here is the other Vietnam battle that stood out at the time. A Shau Valley Special Forces [SF] camp attacked, "overrun" by the North Vietnamese Army [NVA]. Reported as a pyrrhic victory for the enemy!! The gallant SF fighting bravely [which they certainly did] against the NVA "hordes".]

"pyrrhic: adjective

3. of or relating to or resembling Pyrrhus or his exploits (especially his sustaining staggering losses in order to defeat the Romans); 'a Pyrrhic victory'"

Captain Carpenter was recommended for the Medal of Honor [MoH], but eventually received a lesser but still pretty significant decoration.

"Our battalion commander . . . put Carpenter in for the MOH, but was downgraded to a DSC [Distinguished Service Cross]."

"The 2nd Battalion was in the 1st Brigade with 1-327th and 2-327th Inf. Deployed to Vietnam in 1965, it was most notably commanded by LTC Hank "The Gunfighter" Emerson. "Major Hackworth's [David] counterpart, at the 502nd, was none other than Col. Hank Emerson, aka the Gunfighter . . . he [Emerson] had a young captain under him known as the "Lonesome End" from West Point's football team . . . Captain William S. Carpenter, Jr. commanding C/2/502."

The name of William S. Carpenter was also mentioned in passing during the "Winter Soldier" testimony before Congress:

Moderator. "Our next veteran is Lee Meyrowitz."

Meyrowitz. "My name is Lee Meyrowitz and I served with the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, C Company, 502nd Infantry, in Vietnam, from 1965 to 1966."

[this was C Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. The regimental designation describes the unit lineage. The battalion was part of the 1st Brigade, brigades being the manner with which divisions were organized at the time.]

"There is also a very elite esprit de corps in the 101st Airborne Division, which almost forces you to somehow prove something".

[to include closing with the enemy, engaging that same enemy in close-quarters-combat with an edged weapon!!]

"When I came to the unit — and let me say one thing on this unit. This unit was the unit that was commanded by Captain Carpenter, if you remember at Dac To."

[Dak To is the site of the "crispy critters" incident mentioned previously in this blog entry.]

Floor. Five-oh-deuce [502]?

Meyrowitz. Five-oh-deuce [502].

"OK. I was in C Company. C Company had an excellent reputation as a fine, fine, respectable killer unit. We were told that we were one of the best units, best battalions in Vietnam"

"And there was a company commander before that time, in 1965 before December — there had been some mutilations of bodies"

[this of course is the "hatchet incident" I have been blogging about. C Company WAS the "hatchet company". Carried tomahawks into battle until the practice was ended by General Westmoreland himself!! When they speak of mutilations, they are talking about closing with the enemy and killing them with an edged weapon.]

Read the initial blog entry about the "hatchet incident" and follow-up entries regarding same:

Well, what is this all about? What was the intention here in mentioning the name of William S. Carpenter? Defame by the most specious of association the All-American boy, the "Lonesome End", the man portrayed as a war hero? AND WITH HIM, HANK EMERSON TOO!!??

[let us make this absolutely clear! Carpenter WAS NOT commanding C Company at the time of the "hatchet incident". But his name was mentioned during the testimony.]

Willam S. Carpenter did conclude a very successful military career after Vietnam. Retiring with the rank of Major General [?]. Commanding the newly activated 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum.

"And by the time the 80's rolled around with the 10th Mtn Div taking over Fort Drum, they did so with Maj. Gen. William S. Carpenter."



Blogger Dale said...

If you want to know more about C/2/502 and the Crispy Critters visit their web site

C/2/502 68

10:03 AM


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