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William Chauncey Barott, USMA '51
The Philadelphia Daily News, October 26, 1987.
Barott's life was the Army. He had assignments in Japan, Korea, Germany and the Dominican Republic before becoming commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, in Viet Nam in May 1966. Barott, 38, was killed on November 4, 1966, while leading his battalion into a ferocious battle at Dau Tieng, Tay Ninh Province, in an effort to free another battalion pinned down by heavy enemy fire. The lieutenant colonel was postumously awarded the Silver Star. He was survived by his wife, two sons, three daughters and his mother.
FINAL MISSION OF LTC WILLIAM C. BARROTT
Operation Attleboro was a search and destroy operation conducted northwest of Dau Tieng, Tay Ninh Province, RVN, during September 14 – November 24, 1966. While the initial fighting was light, in late October U.S. forces, consisting of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade and the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment (25th Infantry Division), encountered the 9th Viet Cong Division, resulting in a major three-day battle.
It was a slugfest of small units set amid treacherous terrain of tangled forest, overgrown jungle, and booby-trapped elephant grass. In the early afternoon of November 4th, Brigadier General Edward H. de Saussure directed LTC William C. Barrott, commander of the Second Battalion of the 27th, to insert a rifle company at a landing zone called LZ Lima Zulu slightly north of where First Battalion was fighting and conduct a sweep to the sounds of battle until the two units linked up. The mission fell to Charlie Company commanded by CAPT Gerald F. Currier. After insertion, the company formed with Third and Second Platoons in line and abreast, while First and Weapons Platoon were strung out in column behind them. As the company advanced, they moved through an open field and then an abandoned enemy field kitchen.
Next they passed through and around a U.S Army aid station where some wounded from the 196th were being treated. The soldiers slogged forward in temperatures well over 100 degrees. After moving through a clearing, Second Platoon became pinned down by enemy fire coming from concealed bunkers. Hearing the fire, CAPT Currier moved up to the point of contact and plopped down amidst the pinned-down platoon. Feeling an urgency to keep the platoons moving forward, and perhaps seeking to set an example for his men, CAPT Currier jumped to his feet. Before he could lunge forward, a machine-gun blast caught him square on and riddled his body from head to belly. As he toppled back, he fell back into his platoon sergeant arms, dead. An instant later, enemy fire swept their position again, killing PFC Robert L. Wright. PFC Luis A. Perez-Cruz was also hit, a tree sniper on the right side putting a bullet through the top of his helmet. The battalion commander, LTC Barrott, had uncharacteristically accompanied his men in the field during the insertion. He too crawled up to the point of contact, borrowed an M-79 grenade launcher from a grenadier, and fired it on two Viet Cong who were visible in the open.
After killing one of the VC, Barrott rose to his feet shouting, “Follow me, Charlie Company!” He did not know, however, as he bounded forward that he entered into an enemy fire lane. A machine-gun burst ripped through the upper part of his body, killing him instantly. SGT Howard C. Barker, the company RTO (radio telephone operator), tried to follow. He died the same way. The pinned-down platoon quickly became isolated. PFC Lawrence E. Besson was killed when two LMG’s (light machine guns) blasted at him as he crawled past one of the fire tunnels. His sacrifice allowed his comrades to locate the enemy guns that hit him, and a burst from an American M-60 machine gun on the spot resulted in a prolonged scream from the enemy line. Shortly afterward, PFC Bobbie Young thought he saw a figure moving through the grass from out of the tree line. When he stood to look, a grenade exploded next to his leg, shrapnel smashing into his jaw, and as he toppled, a machine-gun burst killed him. Second Platoon’s medic, SP4 Rodney E Althoff, already wounded by a grenade slug, moved over to see if he could do anything for Young. A bullet killed him before he could get to the dead man. After dark, 2LT Robert L. Adams received a request to take some grenadiers and try to neutralize the enemy bunker line.
Despite the danger the task presented, 2LT Adams took it calmly, simply shrugging it off with the words, “I’ll try, but it isn’t much use.” What men, or how many, he took along with him, nobody knows. In the darkness, no one saw them take off. How Adams was killed, and how the patrol was wiped out, are questions unanswerable. They went forth; they did not return. Adams’ body was found later. Later, it was decided that the company would form up together in the dark to pass the night. Only one soldier was lost between this time and the following morning when a relief force finally arrived. PFC Jose L. Fontanez-Velez was killed when a rifle bullet perforated his helmet and skull. The troops later agreed that a tree sniper must have done it. The relief force arrived at 10:50 AM the next morning. [Taken from coffeltdatabase.org, wikipedia.org, and the book “Ambush” by S.L.A. Marshall]