Dunithan, Thomas Lawrence, SGT

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Last Rank
Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Infantry
Last Primary MOS
11B10-Infantryman
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1967-1968, 11B10, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment/B Company
Service Years
1967 - 1968

Sergeant



One Overseas Service Bar


 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
West Virginia
West Virginia
Year of Birth
1947
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SP 4 Joseph De Frank (Doc) to remember Dunithan, Thomas Lawrence, SGT.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Elk Garden
Last Address
Elk Garden

Casualty Date
Jun 06, 1968
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Location
Quang Tin (Vietnam)
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
59W 001

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord


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 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award

 
 Unit Assignments
23rd Infantry Division (Americal)198th Light Infantry Brigade1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment
  1967-1968, 11B10, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal)
  1967-1968, 11B10, 198th Light Infantry Brigade
  1967-1968, 11B10, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment/B Company
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase IV Campaign (1968)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Posted for: THOMAS LAWRENCE DUNITHAN:
Tom (Class of 66) and I had journalism class together in 1965. He would always talk about what he wanted to do when he graduated. He wanted a good job, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. Always the jokester and always had a big smile on his face. Remember you always Tom.

Al McCloud
Class of 65


Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL

     On 8/9 April 1968, Operation BURLINGTON  TRAIL was begun by the 198th Infantry
Brigade north of Chu Lai.  The operation had four main goals:  open Highway 533 from Tam Ky
(BT 306 204) to Tien Phuoc (BT 107 153), a Special Forces outpost and district headquarters
in Quang Tin Province; neutralize Base Area 117; locate and destroy NVA and VC forces in the
area; and, extend GVN control.  Enemy forces in the area conducted almost nightly mortar attacks
on friendly forward bases in the area.  In addition, friendly units frequently were mortared while in
night defensive positions.

Highway 533 cuts diagonally across the map sheet from near Tam Ky in the upper right.  This extract
from Series L7014, Map Sheet 6640II (Tam Ky), Edition 1 - AMS with 1965 data provided by
Brian Beaderstadt, an RTO for 4th Plt, A/1-6 Inf 1969-70.

     Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL was conducted in conjunction with the 6th ARVN Regt of the
2nd ARVN Div, elements of the CIDG forces from Tien Phouc Special Forces Camp, and the 3rd
Trp 4th ARVN Cav Sqdrn.  Americal units included the 1st Bn 6th Inf (operating in AO Kansas)
and the 1st Sqdrn 1st Cav (operating on the north flank), and the 1st Bn 46th Inf (operating on the
east flank).  The cavalry units helped secure the engineer units physically repairing the road while the
infantry units conducted tactical operations.  Cos. A, B, and C, 1st Bn 6th Inf each had an attached
platoon of CIDG soldiers from the Tien Phuoc Special Forces Camp.

     In preparation for the operation, on 8 Apr 68, the 1st Bn 6th Inf was relieved in place in the
Charger Hill area of operations by the 1st Bn 52 Inf and air moved from LZ Baldy (BT 133 453),
where it had been under the operational control of the 196th Inf Bde, to the Tam Ky airfield to prepare
for combat air assaults.  Upon arrival, the units came under the operational control of the 198th Inf Bde.
Administrative and support personnel displaced to Hill 54 (between Chu Lai and Tam Ky) and to
LZ Bayonet.

     Because friendly forces had not operated in AO Kansas since Sep 67 (Operation Benton by the
1st Brigade, 101st Abn Division 13-29 Aug 67, and 196th Light Inf Bde 14 Aug - 1 Sep 67) when
enemy contact was heavy, it was believed that NVA, Main Force and Local Force units had time
to prepare extensive, well camouflaged defensive positions constructed with overhead logs, narrow
firing ports, and mutually supporting fires.  Enemy training areas, hospitals, and prisoner of war
facilities existed within the AO.  Rice fields in AO  Kansas were being harvested at night by the enemy.
The average high temperature was expected to be 87 with a low of 73 each day.

     The initial site for the firebase to be located in enemy territory was selected based upon an
aerial reconnissance.  NVA forces were located in the areas just to the west.  Tactical operations
to occupy the site began at 090850 Apr 68 with a fifteen minute artillery bombardment of
Hill 218 (BT 239 142) [later to be named LZ Bowman in honor of LT Joseph B. Bowman, who
received a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross at the battle for Lo Giang on 8 Feb 68] and
the surrounding hills that might be used by NVA to launch mortar and rockets.  Artillery prep
continued until 1005 hours by B1-14th Atry firing in direct support from Hill 68 (BT 317 132).

Map extract from Sheet 6639-I (Tien Phuoc).  Locations marked in red provided by Al Simms, a
radar operator with 1-14th Arty in 1968-69.  This map can be enlarged when downloaded.

     Co D and Echo Recon, 1st Bn 6th Inf, and the 1st Plt, Co. B, 26th Engr conducted the initial
combat air assault onto Hill 218 to secure the site for LZ Bowman and to establish a defensive
perimeter.  The 176th Avn. Co (call sign "Minuteman" (lift aircraft) and "Muskets" (gun ships)
supported the operation.


Soldiers arrive at Hill 218 with pick and shovel to dig in and start operations.  Photo provided by Dave Ross (HHC, 1/6 Inf 67-68)

     Co B, and the HQ TOC CP followed the line units in moving to LZ Bowman, along with the
Commo Plt, Medical Plt, and Service Plt.  When LZ Bowman was secured, D Btry, 1st Bn 14th
Arty was inserted to provide direct support artillery fire from the new firebase.  The firebase was
"L" shaped with attached artillery occupying the short base of the "L."  Battery D, 1st Battalion, 14th
Artillery, moved to LZ Bowman (BT 237 140) on 9 April 1968.  Co. B then conducted combat
sweeps in the area.  At 1945 hrs they observed 7 VC at BT 229 145 and called in artillery fire from
the new firebase, resulting in  3 VC KHA and 2 VC captured.

The CONEX container to be used for the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) arrives at Hill 218.
April 1968 photo provided by Dave Ross.  For additional photos of LZ Bowman in July 1968, use
this link to Al Simms web site page.

     After Co. D secured Hill 218 (LZ Bowman), Cos A and C, 1st Bn 6th Inf, were inserted
into LZ Scottie (BT 269 127) to conduct combat sweeps in that area.

     On 9 April 1968, elements of the 1st Bn 6th Inf contacted an enemy force vic BT 2031
resulting in 12 VC KIA, 20 crew served (CS) and 6 individual weapons captured.  Over
20,000 rds of ammunition were captured or destroyed. [Note:  this report documented in the 23rd
Inf Div ORLL may have involved a unit other than 1/6 Inf]

    The enemy clearly viewed LZ Bowman as a threat to their continued operations in the area.  Co. A
engaged a platoon size enemy force at BT 217 133 on 111735 Apr 68  hrs resulting in 1 VC KIA and
one weapon captured.  That night at 2300 hrs, LZ Bowman perimeter was hit with 47 rounds of 82mm
mortar fire.  One mortar round landed in a three man position, killing all three [Note: those KIA are
thought to be SGT  Majer, SP4  Madson, and PFC  Willoughby.]  Several other soldiers were wounded
in the mortar attack.

    11 April 1968.  At 1107 hours when A Company, 1-6 Inf received sniper fire at BT217133.  The
attached CIDG platoon engaged the enemy and captured one weapon.  At 1615 hours Blue Ghost
gunships engaged and killed 1 enemy who was evading south after being observed by B Company,
1-6 Inf at BT202145.  Twenty-five minutes later B Co had 2 men wounded by sniper fire near BT
206145.

    12 April 1968.  At 1103 hours B Co, 1-6 Inf engaged and killed 1 enemy in vic BT198146 while
searching their assigned area, and at 1431 hours received 20 rounds of sniper fire at BT191144
wounding 1 man.  Musket gunships [later designation - 176th AHC] in support of B Co killed 1 enemy.
[Note additional reports -1625hrs  B Co at BT 208 140 received sniper fire, resulting in 2 WHA (E);
-0415hrs  LZ Bowman received 60 rounds of 82mm mortar fire; negative results; -1846hrs  received
sniper fire, returned fire with small arms and automatic weapons,  results 1 WHA (E);  Casualty reports
indicate that SP4 Robert G. Harris (Co. C) and PFC Phillip F. Gaines (Co. B) were KHA on 12 Apr]

    13 April 1968.  A Co 1-6 Inf found a cache at BT185123 while searching their area.  The cache
consisted of 162 60mm rounds, 20 82mm rounds, 10 4.2 rounds, 11 MG AK-53, 11 bolt action
rifles, 50lbs of plastic explosives, 4 drums of AK48 rds, 3 AK 47, 4 RPG, 2 launchers, 18 B40
rockets, and 1 carbine.  Recon 1-6 Inf, at 1615 hours engaged and killed 1 enemy wearing US jungle
fatigues at BT231126, and at 1652 hours A Co engaged 30 to 40 enemy in black uniforms at
BT185123 and killed 7 enemy.

    14 April 1968.  At 1110 hours A Co 1-6 Inf found 1 wounded VC in a cave at BT185117 and
evacuated him.  Seven minutes later at the same location the unit found a cache which included 2
60mm mortars complete, 1 82mm mortar tube and base plate, 100 cases of 50 cal rounds, 23
RPG 2 rounds, 1 AK43, 300 Chicom grenades, 2 57mm rocket rounds, and 15 cases of 7.62mm
rounds.  A Co moved to BT185 123  where they found 19 enemy bodies which had been hit by the
by an artillery time on target (TOT) barrage..

[Note: other reports identify the incident as follows -1620hrs  A Co at BT 185 123 found a weapons
cache containing 1 M2 carbine, 1 Russian carbine, 4 RPGs, 4 AK47, 4RPG Machine Guns, 8 light
machine guns and miscellaneous ammo.]

   15 April 1968.  A Co, 1-6 Inf engaged 3 enemy soldiers at BT187118 resulting in two VC KIA
and 1 AK47 and web gear captured.  Later at BT181605 A Co again engaged and killed 1 VC.
In the enemy's wallet was an ID card saying he was a member of the 72nd Local Force Battalion
thought to be located in the vicinity of BT1923. [Casualty reports indicate that PFC Michael P.
Pavlocak (Co. E) was KHA on 15 Apr.]

    16 April 1968.  While sweeping to the West, vic BT170109 B Co 1-6 Inf engaged and killed
1 VC in uniform.  A Co engaged and killed 2 VC at BT148110 and captured 1 weapon.  A Co
also found 6 bodies in fresh graves at BT148110 and captured 1 weapon.  A Co also found 6
bodies in fresh graves at BT157108 [BT 187 108?] which were evidently killed by an air strike.
[Note: other reports add-1600 B Co at BT 148 112 detained 5 VN, one with a bolt action French
rifle.]

    Combat operations in the area had an immediate effect, as Highway 535 was officially opened
on 18 Apr 68 when a 50 vehicle convoy from the 2d ARVN Div moved from Tam Ky to Tien Phouc
and returned before nightfall.  The road traffic continued to be harassed by enemy fire and mines.
Also that same day D Co found at BT 231 241 a camouflaged tunnel w/1 bolt action rifle barrel.

    On 19 April 1968 at 1610 hours in the vic BT 209 140, B/1-1 Cav, F Trp/8th Cav, and
Co C, 1st Bn 6th Inf engaged as estimated VC platoon.  Results of the engagement were
25 VC KIA (C), and 5 IWC.

    20 April 1968.  At 0845 A Co 1-6 Inf engaged 5 VC killing 1, and capturing 1 M-79 at BT178093.
B Co 1-6 Inf became engaged with an enemy force at BT177107 resulting 2 WHA, 2 VC KIA,
1 carbine and 3 HG CIA.  At 1400 hours B and D Co's 1-46 Inf were placed under the operational
control of 1-6 Inf.  [Note:  Other reports add -1123 A Co engaged 1 NVA at BT 177 107;
results 1 NVA KIA; -1212 B6 at BT 186 106 engaged 1 VC; results 1 VC KIA.]

    21 April 1968.  1022 at BT 189 104 B Co engaged 1 NVA; results 1 NVA KIA, 1 9mm pistol CIA

    22 April 1968.  C Co 1-6 Inf was released from OPCON of 1-1 Cav (where it had been operating
since 11 April) and was air-lifted to grid BT027283, to joint TF Manassas, an operation by the
1-46 Inf Bn.  B and D Co's 1-46 Inf already operating in the Burlington Trail AO came under
1-6 OPCON.  A Co 1-52 Inf came under OPCON of 1-6 Inf and provided security for LZ Bowman.

    On 22 April 1968, Companies A, B, and C of the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry moved out of
the BURLINGTON TRAIL area into AO Manassas to continue combat operations as part
of the WHEELER/WALLOWA forces.  Delta Company, 1st Battalion 6th Infantry remained
in the BURLINGTON TRAIL area of operations under the command of the Executive Officer.

     From 8 Apr 68 to 30 Apr 68 the results for the Operation BURLINGTON TRAIL were:

            Friendly                              Enemy
                15 KHA                                  226 VC KIA (C)
                86 WHA (E)                           6 NVA KIA (C)
                38 WHA (M)                          61 IWC
                                                               26 CSW

    From 22 April to 28 May 1968, soldiers from the 1st Bn 6th Inf participated in Operation
WHEELER/WALLOWA.  Information about that combat action may be found at this link.

    29 May 68.  At 1200 hours the 1-6 Inf assumed the control of LZ Bowman and Headquarters 1-46,
Operation Burlington Trail.  The 1-46 Inf returned to the control of the Chu Lai Defense Command.

    30 May 68.  C Co 1-6 Inf engaged 1 VC wearing a green uniform at BT177121 resulting in 1
VC KIA, and web gear and 2 Chicom grenades CIA.  A Co 1-6 Inf assaulted a bunker complex
at BT177121.  Results of the action was 1 KHA (PFC Johnnie E. Powell), 5 WHA and two dogs
wounded.  The enemy broke contact and evaded south with unknown casualties.

   31 May 68.  C Co 1-6 Inf received heavy automatic weapons fire from bunkers at BT212103.
Artillery and gunships were used in support while C Co assaulted the enemy positions.  The action
resulted in 7 enemy KIA and 4 AK-47 captured. [Casualty reports indicate that PFC James E.
Cowell (Co. C) and SGT Bruce F. Anello (Co. D) were KHA on 31 May.]

   1 June 68.  B Co 1-6 Inf came under ground attack in their NDP.  The attack was repelled in 3 KHA
(SGT Michael J. Muszynski, PFC John T. Wilfe, and PFC Larry L. York) and 23 WHA.  B and
C Co 1-46 Inf were air lifted into an LZ at BT212092 and became OPCON to the 1-6 Inf.

   2 June 68.  Operations in the Burlington Trail AO were continued with no significant contact.

   3 June 68.  C Co 1-6 Inf received a mortar attack at BT210100 resulting in 4 KHA (2LT Michael L.
Wilson, SSG Thomas N. Blades, SGT David A. Provost, and SP4 Andrew J. Thomas) and 10 WHA.
D Co 1-6 Inf engaged 4 enemy in the open, resulting in 4 VC KIA and 1 weapon captured.  A squad
from B Co 1-46 Inf observed a fire and moved to check the area.  As they neared the location they heard
the enemy approaching, set up a hasty ambush, and engaged them at fifteen meters killing 1 and capturing
a pair of binoculars and 1 AK47. B Co 1-52 Inf engaged 2 NVA at BT254079, resulting in 1 NVA KIA
and 1 AK47 captured.

    4 June 68.  At 1100 hours a Minuteman helicopter was shot down in grid BT0420.  All personnel were
safely extracted and the helicopter was destroyed.

    5 June 68.  B Co 1-46 Inf engaged 2 enemy at BT191103, resulting in 1 VC KIA, and 2 carbines and
1 pistol captured.  A Co 1-6 Inf located a large weapons cache at BT186199.  It consisted of 74 individual
and crew served weapons, and ammunition.  B Co 1-6 Inf observed and engaged one enemy evading
resulting in 1 VC KIA and 2 Chicom grenades CIA.  B Co 1-46 Inf received and returned heavy sniper
fire at BT213103, resulting 4 VC KIA and 1 AK47 CIA.  One of the night patrols of B Co 1-46
ambushed 2 VC at BT215103 resulting in 1 PRC-25 CIA.  The frequency on the set was 32.45.

    6 June 68.  C Co 1-46 Inf was released from OPCON to 1-6 Inf.  B Co 1-6 Inf received heavy fire
from BT202121 resulting in 3 WHA, 1 KHA (SGT Thomas L. Dunithan), 1 VC KIA and 1 AK47 CIA.
At BT236073 A Co 1-52 Inf received 1 RPG, mortar fire, and heavy automatic weapons fire resulting in
6 KHA and 23 WHA.

   7 June 68.  At 0830 hours 1-52 Inf assumed OPCON of B, C, & D Co's 1-46 Inf.  B Co 1-46 Inf
engaged and killed 2 VC at 234072.  The E Co recon platoon of 1-46 Inf engaged 1 VC at BS275105
resulting in 1 VC KIA and 1 AK47 CIA.  C Co 1-46 Inf received semi-automatic weapons fire and
one hand grenade at 1530 hrs.  The fire was returned resulting in 1 VC KIA, 1 AK47 CIA and 2 WHA.

   8 June 68.  1-6 Inf assumed OPCON of B, C, and D 1-46 Inf.  All units were issued orders to
conduct night movements north of the Bong Mieu River.  At 2305 hours D Co 1-46 Inf engaged
and killed four enemy at BT222072, capturing their web gear and loaded AK47 magazines.  At 2307
hours C/1-6 engaged 4 VC in a destroyed village at BT221076, killing 2 and capturing a M-1 carbine.
B/1-6 engaged approximately 20 VC at a range of 25-30 meters, killing three and capturing 1 AK47
and 1 M-60 machinegun.

   9 June 68.  1-46 Inf assumed control of LZ Bowman and their maneuver elements.  1-6 Inf command
and control group assumed control of Hill 69 and the Chu Lai TAOR.

    After 9 June 1968 the 1st Bn 6th Inf did not participate  as a unit in any other combat operations as
part of Operation Burlington Trail.

[The preceding tactical information was taken from the 198th Inf Bde Combat After Action Report
concerning Operation Burlington Trail dated 9 Jan 69.  Additional information was provided by the
former commander 1st Bn 6th Inf, LTC William D. Kelley.]


 
   
Comments/Citation
Thomas is buried at Kalbough Cemetery, Elk Garden,WV.
Bronze Star, Purple Heart
 
   
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