Bill Beck and Russell Adams
The companies established their defensive positions as the NVA began moving against them in force. Alpha Company and Charlie Company found a 40-yard gap between them, providing a critical avenue for the enemy’s attacks. Beck followed Adams as the machinegun crew rushed forward toward the Chu Pong Massif to take up a position about 75 yards in front of their platoon. They were quickly engaged by masses of the enemy located about 30 yards to their south and west around a dry creek bed that covered and concealed movement. Beck and Adams laid down sheets of fire upon the large force of NVA moving into the gap between Alpha and Charlie Companies. inflicting heavy casualties. The machinegun fire from Beck and Adams was the only thing that kept the enemy from driving a wedge between the companies
Beck assisted medics with wounded men until he heard someone yell that Russell Adams had been hit. He moved to the machinegun to see Adams severely wounded in the head but still alive. The NVA were approaching their position so Beck opened fire on them. With the enemy only 25 yards from their position the gun jammed but Beck calmly cleared the weapon and resumed firing. He noted: “It was lonely as hell up there…. I don’t know what the hell’s happening. I’m out there by myself. I’m only a twenty year old kid. I don’t know what’s going on…. Fear, real fear hit me. Fear like I had never known before…. Once you recognize it and accept it, it passes just as fast as it comes…. You just do what you have to do, but you learn the real meaning of fear and life and death. For the next two hours I was alone on that gun, shooting at the enemy…. Bullets were hitting the ground beside me and cracking above my head…. I fired as fast as I could in long bursts. My M-60 was cooking….”
Russell Adams was evacuated from the killing zone and survived his wound. Bill Beck held his position and survived the succeeding days and nights of the battle, returning to the unit base camp when the fighting was over. Beck and Adams survived the war and returned to their private lives.
“When his time came to perform for America and the
LTG Hal Moore
“I can remember the extreme heat and exhaustion taking hold now, like I hadn’t taken a breath the entire time. We were soaked with sweat and the sun was very hot as we lay in the brown grass, in the open with really no cover but the grass.”
SP4 Bill Beck
We were Soldiers Once…. and Young (1992)
Erected by U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.
Location. 40° 12.3′ N, 77° 9.448′ W. Marker is in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in Cumberland County. Marker can be reached from Army Heritage Drive. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Carlisle PA 17013, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley (here, next to this marker); The Ia Drang Battlefield (here, next to this marker); COL. Joseph D. Newsome (a few steps from this marker); Final Act – LZ Albany (a few steps from this marker); Guard Tower (a few steps from this marker); Duty (a few steps from this marker);
Categories. • War, Vietnam •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 19, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 17, 2017, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 118 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 17, 2017, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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