1 Nov. 1964 — Bien Hoa, Viet Nam
Specialist 4 Aifcraft Mechanic in the Viet Nam War, Ronald died in a tragic and devestating surprise enemy attach on the US Air Base at Bien Hoa.
Ronald Thomas O'Keefe SP-4 Thomas O'Keefe Heli-repairer, Specialist Four
PERSONAL DATA Home of Record: Blue Earth, MN Date of birth: 01/31/1944
MILITARY DATA Service: Army of the United States Grade at loss: E4
Rank: Specialist Four ID No: 17649629 MOS: 67N20: UH-1 Helicopter Repairer
Length Service: 01 Unit: 573RD TRANS DET, 118TH AHC, 145TH AVN BN, US ARMY SPT
CMD VIETNAM, MACV
CASUALTY DATA Start Tour: Incident Date: 11/01/1964 Casualty Date: 11/01/1964
Age at Loss: 20 Location: Bien Hoa Province, South Vietnam Remains: Body recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
Casualty Detail: Artillery, rocket, or mortar
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Aircraft Mechanic Louis Otto served in Viet Nam, in Combat Service at Bien Hoa. Pacific US Air Forces Mechanics maintained the airplanes that flew Combat against the Viet Cong. ( Daily Courier, The | Connellsville, Pennsylvania | Wednesday, December 16, 1964 | Page 19 LOUIS OTTO )
Louie only ever told one story, that being of a surprise incoming fire-power and he and his best friend (name?) ran out on the tarmac and were going to get their planes out of the fire but an incoming bomb hit his friend and the plane, and they were gone ...... Louie was an AP Mechanic, he only ever told me that single story. I knew that it was "his" plane.... (Mechanic/Crew Chief, so to speak)
November 1, 1964; Two days before the U.S. presidential election, Vietcong mortars shell Bien Hoa Air Base near Saigon. Four Americans are killed, 76 wounded. Five B-57 bombers are destroyed, and 15 are damaged.
In the early hours of November 1st 1964, the Bien Hoa Air Base, situated 12 miles North of Saigon, came under fierce rocket and mortar fire from the Viet Cong. A squadron of B-57 bombers was immobilized, with 5 destroyed, and a further 15 damaged. Four U.S. servicemen and two Vietnamese were killed, and a further 76 [the precise number varies between accounts] were wounded in the attack.
U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, General Maxwell Taylor, immediately noted that this was a “deliberate act of escalation” that “should be met promptly by an appropriate act of reprisal”. The Joint Chiefs thought a single response was too limited, and recommended a series of retaliatory strikes. However, no reprisal attacks were ordered. The South Vietnamese government was extremely unstable, having undergone continuous shuffling and jockeying for position since the assassination of President Diem the previous November, and the U.S. presidential election was only two days away (November 3rd, 1964). It was feared that reprisal attacks may have an undue effect on both of these political situations. This is explained in further detail in The Logic of Force: The Dilemma of Limited War in American Foreign Policy
The 118th Assault Helicopter Company was stationed at the base at the time, but despite their helicopters being completely unprotected, none of the vehicles were damaged. Following the attack, the 118th constructed sandbag barricades to protect the helicopters in future attacks. The attack is briefly described by John C. Bahnsen, who was a member of the 118th, in his book American Warrior: A Combat Memoir Of Vietnam
(Article for “Vietnam War Timeline” / “Vietnam Timeline” / “Vietnam War History” for November 1st 1964)
(If you are reading this and know if Ronald is Louie's freind, please email WWII Historical Researcher PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com ) Barbara Ennis (Otto) Connolly.