41 years on 28 March 2010 — Star Valley, AZ
SSG Paul A Nelson was killed on March 28, 1969 working out of FSB Jackson in Hau Nghia province. Bravo Co had been hastily saddled up that morning and sent out as a blocking force for another unit that had gotten in trouble involving an ambush of a truck convoy. The 1st platoon was lead by Lt Gary Wasemann as their platoon leader, and SSG Paul Nelson was his platoon sergeant. The 3rd Platoon was lead by Lt Dick Deaner, platoon leader, and SSG Herman Humiston, platoon sergeant. After they landed by chopper at the LZ, they watched while air strikes were saturating the village out in front of them with napalm, just like watching a movie. Then they were ordered to assault the hedgerow between them and the village area. So they started moving across the open dry rice paddy and the 1st pltn was ambushed by an enemy force that was well established in the hedgerow. The 3rd pltn was moving in off to the left toward another area. The point element of the 1st pltn took the blunt of the enemy fire as they approached the hedgerow. The left pointman for the first pltn was Sp4 Sean Doran and was hit right away, and so was Sgt Vincent Moran, both KIA. Charles Flory was walking point on the right side of the formation with Dennis Kitchin was right behind him. Flory got wounded in the scalp area and was knocked unconscious, but soon recovered and crawled to cover. A short time later, Paul's RTO, Johnny Jones, said that Paul told him he was going to "shag-ass" and when Paul raised up to move out, he took a round which was a mortal wound to the neck/head area. It is not known why he had raised up, if he was going to go out after some of the wounded guys, like Flory or Doran who was lying on a berm, or what. There were 3 KIA's and 7 others besides Flory wounded in the incident, including Lt Wasemann. The 3rd pltn, lead by Lt Deaner, closed in on their left and laid down enough cover fire that allowed the 1st pltn to withdraw to a location with better cover. The 3rd pltn maneuvered around, took out some enemy positions, by killing several NVA in order to get in position to recover KIA's/WIA's. James Cipolla got a Silver Star for his part in actions which involved some up close combat, including hand grenades and some personal actions. Dennis Kitchin had said that when he saw Lt Deaner's pltn coming in to help them, he thought, " Here comes the Cavalry!" There was also huey air support and a mechcanized unit came in after the initial actions had subsided and to mop up the area of the remaining enemy.
Lt Wasemann remembers SSG Nelson as an excellent leader and cared deeply for the safety and well being of his men. He had the respect of his men and was a hero. Dennis Kitchin of 1st pltn remembers him as a very smart and competent born leader, he was tough but fair. He was a good judge of people, and had a great sense of humor. He seemed indestructible, a guy who most likely would make it home safely. His death left a huge void in our unit, not to mention in our hearts. In a letter written by Gordon Maga to Paul's wife, Marianna, in May 2008: "Paul was a great man and a great leader as my Platoon Sgt when he was in the 3rd Platoon Bravo Co. I will always remember him as one of the mentors of my life, a molding example and a true Hero. All of his men looked up to him, and for those of us left from the 3rd platoon, we will remember him forever."
~You will never be forgotten ~ Rest In Peace, Brother ~
Submitted by some of the men of Bravo Co 2/27 Wolfhounds who served with Paul.