Gerstel, Howard Martin, CPT

Fallen
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Captain
Last Service Branch
Medical Corps
Last Primary MOS
3139-Internist
Last MOS Group
Medical Department (Officer)
Primary Unit
1967-1967, 1st Infantry Division
Service Years
1961 - 1967

Medical Corps

Captain



One Overseas Service Bar


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
1939
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SP 6 Gary Lynn McJimsey to remember Gerstel, Howard Martin, CPT.

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
Hewlett
Last Address
Hewlett, New York

Casualty Date
Oct 04, 1967
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Location
Binh Duong
Conflict
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)/Operation Shenandoah II
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
27E 048

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Photo Album   (More...


 Ribbon Bar

Combat Medical 1st Award


 
 Unit Assignments
1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment1st Infantry Division
  1961-1967, 3139, US Army
  1967-1967, 3139, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment/HHC
  1967-1967, 1st Infantry Division
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1967 Vietnam War
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
  1967-1967 Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)/Operation Shenandoah II
 Colleges Attended 
Columbia University
  1956-1960, Columbia University
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
  Photos - Other11
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Date of Birth March 18, 1939
Married - Wife, Barbara Gerstel
Three Children per Columbia University Roll of Honor Information
Son - Jonathan
Jewish
Caucasian

Attended the Far Rockaway High School, New York City, NY - Graduated June 26, 1956.

Far Rockaway High School, a public high school in the public school system of New York City, was located at 821 Bay 25th Street, Far Rockaway, NY in the borough of Queens, as part of the New York City Department of Education. (Wikipedia)


 
The National Archives_NARA - AAD and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial web site lists his Army / Military Service Years as 6 Years.

Grade / Rank: Captain O3
MOS 3139 Internist
US Army Reserve Component

Coat of Arms - 2nd US Infantry Regiment



Regiment Motto
Noli Me Tangere - Do Not Touch Me

Black Scarves - 1st Battalion

 
On 30 April 1966 in a sweep through the village of Lo Go, the 1st Battalion was engaged in heavy fighting and it was during this time that a large quantity of black cloth was captured. This cloth was used by the Viet Cong to make their "Black Pajama" uniforms. At the direction of battalion commander, LTC Richard Prillaman, this cloth was made into scarves to be worn by the battalion’s soldiers. LTC Prillaman wanted to be able to distinguish his battalion from other division soldiers and to provide the soldiers with something more appropriate than the towels the men were wearing around their necks. It is from this that the battalion has as its nickname “Black Scarves”. The printing on the scarves was a different color for each company: HHC, yellow, Company A, red, Company B, white, Company C, blue and Company D, green. (Wikipedia).

Vietnam Tour of Duty Started March 3, 1967.

Died due to a hostile gun shot in his head during an ambush of a portion of his battalion while on patrol in the Binh Duong Province, nine kilometers southwest of Chon Thanh airfield, U.S. Military Region 3, Republic of South Vietnam.

Age at Death 28

Five other soldiers died during this incident:

1. Batchelor, Max Wayne, SGT, 5tth Artillery
2. Sauler, Charlie Freeman, SP4, C Company, Infantryman (Canadian)
3. Schneider, Terrance Henry, SP4, HHC / Recon Platoon, Infantryman
4. Schrenk, Donald George, SP4, HHC, Medical NCO
5. Verlinden, Craig Alden, SGT, HHC / Recon Platoon, Infantry Operations

 
   
Comments/Citation
 
Citations
 
General Order #7395
Dated 17 October 1967 
Head Quarters First Infantry Division
 
AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR
 
TC 320 The Following Award is announced posthumously.
Gerstel, Howard M Captain Medical Corps United States Army
Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 2nd Infantry
 
Awarded: Silver Star
Date of Action: 4 October 1967
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For gallantry in action against a hostile force:  On this date, the 1st Battalion 2d Infantry was at a night defensive position in a dense jungle area of War Zone C.  At approximately 0700 hours, the reconnaissance platoon was deployed to sweep the surrounding area. After they had moved 300 meters, they came under heavy enemy automatic weapons and small arms fire from numerous well concealed positions.  The platoon began taking casualties.  Captain Gerstel, the Battalion Surgeon, moved forward with reinforcements and, when he reached the battle area, unhesitatingly moved to the area of heaviest fighting.  Several wounded soldiers were lying in an open area which was being saturated with fire from nearby enemy positions.  With complete disregard for his personal safety, Captain Gerstel moved into the insurgent kill zone and began to treat a casualty. He quickly dressed the wounds of the man, dragged him to safety, and again braved the vicious Viet Cong fire to move to another fallen soldier’s side. Seemingly oblivious to the battle that raged about him, Captain Gerstel continued his lifesaving efforts until he received a mortal wound. His extraordinary courage, as demonstrated by his selfless sacrifice for his fellow soldiers, distinguished him as a combat soldier of the highest caliber.  Captain Gerstel’s unquestionable valor in close combat against numerically superior hostile forces is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
 
Authority: By direction of the President, as established by an Act of Congress, 9 July 1918, and USARV Message 16695, dated 1 July 1966.
 
For The Commander:
Official:
 
Frederick C. Krause
Colonel, GS
Chief of Staff
 
S.F. Tomasek
Captain, AGC
Assistant Adjutant General
 
 
General Order #7224
Dated 5 October 1967 
Head Quarters First Infantry Division
 
AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL
 
TC 320 The Following Award is announced posthumously.
[Notation: Award originally announced 9 June 1967, in General Order #4248]
Gerstel, Howard M Captain Medical Corps United States Army
Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 2nd Infantry
 
Awarded: Bronze Star Medal with “V” device
Date of Action: 17 March 1967 to 24 March 1967
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force:  During this period, Captain Gerstel was serving as Battalion Surgeon while his unit conducted search and destroy operations in the dense, Viet Cong infested jungle near Quan Loi.  On 20 March, an armored personnel carrier was hit by Viet Cong anti-tank fire and one man was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the neck and chest. Captain Gerstel immediately ran to the wounded man and assisted in pulling him from the vehicle only to discover that he had stopped breathing. Ignoring intensive small arms and automatic weapons fire, Captain Gerstel performed an emergency tracheotomy which saved the soldier’s life. The following day, a reconnaissance vehicle hit an anti-tank mine and was then subjected to hostile automatic weapons fire.  With complete disregard for his personal safety, Captain Gerstel moved through an unsecured area to aid the three wounded men in the vehicle. He dragged each of them to cover and then administered medical aid to them.  Although he was repeatedly exposed to Viet Cong fire, he refused to leave the area until the casualties had been safely evacuated. His resolution of purpose and dauntless courage undoubtedly saved the lives of these soldiers.  Captain Gerstel’s outstanding display of aggressiveness, devotion to duty, and personal bravery is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
 
Authority: By direction of the President, under the provisions of Executive Order 11046, 24 August 1962.
 
For The Commander:
Official:
 
Frederick C. Krause
Colonel, GS
Chief of Staff
 
S.F. Tomasek
Captain, AGC
Assistant Adjutant General
 
 
 
General Order #7225
Dated 5 October 1967 
Head Quarters First Infantry Division
 
AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL (First Oak Leaf Cluster)
 
TC 320 The Following Award is announced posthumously.
[Notation: Award originally announced 24 September 1967, in General Order #6908]
Gerstel, Howard M Captain Medical Corps United States Army
Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 2nd Infantry
 
Awarded: Bronze Star Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) with “V” device
Date of Action: 18 July 1967
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: On this date, Captain Gerstel was serving as Battalion Surgeon on a search and destroy operation in the Viet Cong infested jungle northeast of Bien Hoa.  An element of the battalion discovered an enemy base camp and immediately called in artillery fire. After the supporting fires were lifted, they entered the camp and were suddenly subjected to intensive hostile fire. Numerous men were wounded in the initial barrage.  Captain Gerstel unhesitatingly ran forward and began to aid the casualties.  He was continuously exposed to insurgent small arms and automatic weapons fire as he gave medical treatment to the wounded soldiers.  With complete disregard for his personal safety, he remained in the open to organize litter teams.  He personally carried several casualties to waiting medical evacuation helicopters and refused to seek cover until he was sure that all the wounded had been evacuated.  His exemplary courage and resolution of purpose undoubtedly saved the lives of many men.  Captain Gerstel’s outstanding display of aggressiveness, devotion to duty and personal bravery is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
 
Authority: By direction of the President, under the provisions of Executive Order 11046, 24 August 1962.
 
For The Commander:
Official:
 
Frederick C. Krause
Colonel, GS
Chief of Staff
 
S.F. Tomasek
Captain, AGC
Assistant Adjutant General

[Notation: The above three Award / Citation General Orders were received from:


Andrew E. Woods
Research Historian
Colonel Robert R. McCormick Research Center
First Division Museum at Cantigny]

 
____________________________________________


CPT Howard Martin Gerstel, MD is mentioned in the book
VIETNAM MEDIC: Field Journal
by Cliff Roberson
Second Edition, Revised 2011
Cliff@VietnamMedic.com
www.VietnamMedic.com


Cliff was a Combat Medic with HHC / 1st Battalion / 2nd Infantry Regiment / 1st Infantry Division and served under the command of CPT Gerstel.

Book - Vietnam Medic Field Journal by Cliff Roberson

 
Book:  Vietnam Medic: Field Journal
 
Pages 179 -181 - Story of CPT Gerstel and medic SP Don Schrenk death in RVN – KIA 10-04-1967:
 
Excerpts from the book Vietnam Medic: Field Journal by Cliff Roberson (a Vietnam combat medic):
 
“October 3, 1967. Late in the evening, the battalion reported quite a lot of movement outside their perimeter.
 
October 4, 1967. The patrol line-up for today was as follows: Recon, Charlie, Delta, Alpha. Bravo Company stayed behind to defend the perimeter. At 7:30 am, Recon made contact with the V.C. Charlie Company moved into a supporting position and very soon became involved in the battle.
 
When the first reports came in to the Command Post (CP), Doctor Gerstel and (medic) Don Schrenk headed toward the battle area. The Bravo Company commander told them that it would be their job to help the wounded as soon as Dracula said it was okay. At 7:48 am, the Doctor and Don left the perimeter.
 
The V.C. ambushed the patrol in a ferocious crossfire of automatic weapons fire. Together Recon and Charlie Company fought back resolutely.
 
Many US soldiers were injured. Doctor Gerstel immediately rushed forward to render aid. As he helped the wounded a bullet went through The Doctor’s helmet and exited out the other side. Don Schrenk, already wounded and on a dust-off chopper, saw The Doctor get hit. Don jumped off the helicopter and ran to help. As Don patched up The Doctor he was shot in the back. This hit caused his body to arch back from the force of the bullet. In this position another bullet found its target. The second round caught him (Don) in the head.
 
The casualties mounted and topped at 27 wounded and five killed in action.
 
One of those KIAs was the Battalion Surgeon, Captain Howard Martin Gerstel, The Doctor, with whom I (Cliff Roberson) worked out in the field and in the aid station (Phuoc Vinh), The Doctor who took care of me after the lightning strike at Lai Khe, The Doctor who, on the 4th of July (1967), asked me if I was ready to rotate back to the rear echelons.
 
One was my medic friend, Donald George Schrenk…..
 
Both Dr. Gerstel and Don were married, and both had babies that will never know their fathers.
 
The news of the two deaths has struck all the (battalion) medics very hard. I really enjoyed helping The Doctor out in the field….
 
Don and I became good friends in the few months we knew each other. How can it be that The Doctor and Don are both gone?
 
October 8, 1967: The battalion was removed by Huey from the area where The Doctor (and Don) died. The choppers transported the men to Chon Thanh where Chinooks brought them into Phuoc Vinh.”

 
Tributes From The Vietnam Veterans Memorial - The Wall-USA web site:
 
Cliff Roberson
Fellow medic and friend
An Officer and a Gentleman.  Dr. Gerstel I know I exasperated you with my lack of medical knowledge. I only became a medic by default. I registered 1-A-O a conscientious objector who would serve but not carry a weapon. I met your wife and your son, near the 40th anniversary of your departure from this world. Your son looks so much like you. He has no memory of you. That must have been so hard on him as a boy. I told him what I remembered of you. He has grown into a fine man just like you. You would be so proud!  Aug 21, 2008
 
 
Stewart Dennis
I served, in 1/2, at the same time with CPT Gerstel. I knew the Doc. quite well. I served as the Battalion Commander's, RTO.(Radio Operator) from March 1967 until shortly after COL. Simpson rotated out at which time I was assigned to what was known as the 34 Section and we worked closely with the rest of the support personnel, S4, medical staff, etc. Doc. was one of the finest men I have ever have known. He was kind, gentle and dedicated to the welfare of the men around him. He was, married and had two small children at the time of his death and we spoke one evening of his family and his love for them. I have never forgotten the picture he showed me of those two children standing with their mother. I wish I could tell his children what a wonderful father they had. I hope God has blessed their lives. I'm sorry Doc. I had no way of contacting them or your wife and it may not have been appropriate for me to have done so but I so wanted to tell them. One last salute Sir from a grunt who truly respected the man as well as the rank. SPC-4, Stewart Dennis Sunday, June 05, 2005
 
 
Darrell Ness
I served with him as medic.
I was with Dr. at time of his death. We were actually touching shoulders with one another. We volunteered to go up to help the Recon Platoon. Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Other Information Pertaining to CPT Gerstel and medic Don Schrenk KIA can be read on the Fallen Profile of SP4 Donald George Schrenk at http://army.togetherweserved.com/profile/67813

From The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Website:

Thanks Doc for watching over us as you did up to the very end
By:  Corky HHC 1/2 LRRP
We Served Together
2004

Dear Doc; We spent a short time together in a war that no one wanted.  It was a time I will always remember.  Your friend Jim Vowles.
By: Jim Vowles
We Were Close Friends
2004

I remember you so well from Far Rockaway High School.  You were a leader and also were a kind, charming guy.
by: Carol M
We Were High School Classmates
2013


 
   
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