Tom Smith was killed in action when at 1:45 AM the Headquarters base camp for Task Force South, 1st Field Force, Vietnam, LZ Betty, was attacked by a force believed to be the 482B Liberation Front Battalion.
The attack consisted of approximately 125 rounds of enemy 60mm and 82mm mortar fire, an unknown number of B40/B41 rocket rounds and "Sapper" probes in at least 4 separate locations of the base perimeter. At several locations, the perimeter was penetrated. One Bunker position was overrun and held for about 1/2 hour and 2 other bunkers were destroyed as well as numerous wheeled vehicles and several helicopter aircraft.
Reaction was hampered by base policy which called for weapons to be secured while forces were in camp, however, once weaponry was obtained, the enemy was counter-attacked and forced to retreat. A large force was spotted at a location Northwest of the perimeter and was fired upon by Artillery and Helicopter Gunships, resulting in 14 enemy killed. Sweeps of the perimeter at dawn revealed numerous blood trails and dozens of drag marks indicating a large number of wounded and dead were dragged away under the cover of darkness.
Also killed during the contact were 50th Infantry men SP4 Roger Craig, SP4 Bob Haney, SSG Fred Denkins and SP4 Ken Thomas. From the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment was SP5 Perry LeClerc. Also killed was an unidentified US Government Civilian conducting classified business in Binh Thuan Province. 35 other U.S. soldiers were wounded.
Although the fact that the weaponry of most base camp units being locked has been "cause for question" for years, command considered the war was far from their home base and allowed the lack of casualties and major contacts for the first 4 months of 1970 to influence their judgment towards a more "stateside" frame of mind.
Enemy losses were 14 Killed (By Body Count) and 1 POW captured who confirmed that the 482B LF was responsible for the attack. 6 U.S. soldiers were killed, 7 U.S. Helicopters were destroyed and 6 more seriously damaged. Two 3/4 ton trucks, One 5 Ton Truck and One Jeep were destroyed as well as numerous buildings and structures being damaged, including the HQ of "D" Company, 50th Infantry and the Graves and Registration Quonset Hut.