K Troop Ambush
May 21, 1967
As addressed to Eric Newton, member of K Troop,
PFC Tony Puglisi is a survivor of the Ambush of May 21, 1967
and gives his first hand account of the events of that day. Tony has
indicated that his account and the official After Action Report's account
differ. This is not unusual as accounts of events such as these differ
from person to person. The author of the After Action Report is not
known but as customary by Army protocol the author would have interview the
participants of the ambush and drawn his report from their accounts.
Hello Eric, I told you in my last e-mail that I would tell
you more about that tragic day, 21 MAY 67. I will try to remember what I
can. When our track (ACAV # K-10) took the first hit, the statements are
accurate; Dwayne and Homer Pittman did exactly what the facts show. Royball
and I jumped off the blazing track and ducked behind a mound.
As we rode up to the ambush site I was nervous because I saw a lot of
soldiers dressed in what looked like ARVN (South Vietnamese) uniforms.
There could have been about 30 or more. After the first RPG hit they dispersed
to the trees to our right, Royball and myself jumped on to the first track
that came along (K-11). Dennis was the driver. As we climbed on to the back to
enter our knees banged together and I looked to the rear and saw 2 uniformed
soldiers aim their rifles at us. I knew we were goners but a mortar dropped
right on top of them and when the smoked cleared there was only a smoking
boot on the road (their own friendly fire). The ACAV continued down the road
and we cleared the ambush site only to find a huge ARVN unit truck convoy. As
Dennis neared the ARVN Officer standing in the road , he never slowed down and
the officer leaped through a jeep to get out of the way. That was when our
Lieutenant said, "we have to go back - there are wounded that need help".
So, we went back into the ambush to save our buddies.
As Dennis drove us down the road we took an RPG through the side. It hit
Saenz in the side and killed him instantly. Then Royball was shot in the left
temple from small arms fire from our right front. He went down and knocked me
down with him falling on top of me pinning me down. I got him off of me
and took over the M60. At that time I realized the armor plating wasnít
against the TC hatch like it should. I moved it and at that same time
automatic rifle fire sprayed the armor plating knocking me back about 2 ft. I
returned to the M60 and returned fire to that location and the automatic
weapon fire stopped. During this time the TC, (I canít remember his name)
was laying down heavy 50 cal. fire. I thought we had them on the run when the
ACAV took that fatal hit in the transmission.
We came to a stop and prepared to abandon the disabled ACAV. The TC, and I
tossed both M60s and lots of ammo off the track. I sat one up and aimed at
where we took enemy fire to the right. As I remember, Dennis took the other
machinegun and fired to the other direction at the tree line. As I was laying
down a field of fire an enemy soldier ran by with a satchel charge and threw
it into the disabled ACAV to my right. I sprayed him with M60 rounds but he
kept going away like he was so high on something that he didnít feel the
rounds. I never found his body. He possibly dropped into a spider hole. I
fired about 900 rounds through that M60 and watched the barrel turn red and
then white and then explode in my face.
I became worried because my gun was disabled and I ran towards the track to
get some grenades when our Air Cavalry choppers appeared and engaged the enemy
with rocket and machinegun fire. Soon after a jet fighter also came screaming
into the battle along with the K-Troop reaction force and the enemy broke
contact and ran. As I remember there was five of us there and one was a woman.
They were all wounded and so was I but I didnít realize it because I was to
pumped up. After the choppers got there it was over. Later, after I was
medivaced home after the 7/21/67 ambush I ran into one of the wounded guys
from 21 MAY 67 at Valley Forge Gen. Hospital. He told me that the NVA was
dragging him away by the arm. He was unable to resist because he had been
wounded by a 50cal. that came through the side of his track. When the gun
ships got there and started firing, they dropped him and ran. He was a big guy
The rest of the guys on Dennisís track were dusted off along with me. We
were remorseful about the guys we lost. This I believe is the REST OF THE STORY.
There is probably more to the story that other guys remember. Everyone was a
hero that day. I was put in for and received the BRONZE STAR for valor and my
first purple heart. Well Eric, you are the first person Iíve told this to and
I hope it gives you a little more info about the Ambush of 21, May, 1967 - the day
after my 20th birthday. Take care and best of luck!
Article courtesy of the 11th ACVVC http://www.11thcavnam.com/main/personal_account_of_21_may_67.htm
In July of 2008 Tony Puglisi writes in an e-mail to Ktroop.com.
I was just reading about the combat on May 21, 1967. I was reading
the paragraph which spoke of the six of us who made the last stand. Well it
was not entirely correct. The majority of it was close but the total details
were a little bit different. I do not know what to say about it, should it be
left as is or corrected? The events of making our last stand had other facts
that I submitted in my insert but one difference as I remember it myself and
the TC were the ones who thru out the machine guns and ammo. Christianson grabbed
one machine gun and went to the wood pile and I covered our rear, firing east
while the other five were (including a Vietnamese female) were behind the wood
pile. I could not see who had the 60 because I had my hands full keeping them
covered from the rear where we were also taking fire. There was the TC whose
name I can't remember, SGT. Homer Pittman, Jr., Christianson (TC Driver),
another fellow trooper wounded in the foot and ankle. He was, I believe,
an Eskimo from Alaska, and a civilian female who was wounded severely. I don't
know if she made it but she was medivaced out with me and she was wounded
about her eyes. Anyway that IS what happened at our Last Stand.