Oct 242011
 

William Samuel Irby

Birth: Feb. 12, 1949 Farmville, Prince Edward Co., VA

Death: Aug. 8, 1968 Hua Nghia, Vietnam.

SGT William Samuel Irby, Vietnam Veteran native of Charlotte, NC was 19 years old and was not married. His body was recovered. The Charlotte Observer
August 18, 1968 Page 2C

Sgt. William Samuel Irby, age 19 died August 8, 1968 in Vietnam. Funeral services will be at 2 o’clock at Hickory Grove Methodist Church with full military rites at Charlotte Memorial Gardens. He was born Feb. 12, 1949 in Farmville, VA, son of SFC and Mrs. Arthur S Irby. He attended Garinger High School. He entered service in March 1966, trained at Fort Bragg and graduated with honors from the Ft Campbell, KY Airborne Jump School. At the time of his death he was serving with the 101st Airborne Division Second 506th Airborne Infantry, Company C.

Dear Sammy: Today I saw your name on the Viet Nam Wall Memorial and when I looked for remembrances, there were none. So I will tell you this, and hope somewhere you can hear, I remember how we kissed. LJS

Younger Sister Shelia: I was 12 years old, the month was August, some time after the 8th and the US was at war. I remember standing in the living room of our home, looking out the glass storm door and watching the leaves of the large oak trees in the yard blow hard in the wind. And also seeing a dark green car pass by and wondering who would drive such an ugly car; watching this car turn around mid-way down the street and slowly pull into our driveway, watching a tall handsome young man in a military uniform step from this car and walk to our door. At the door this solemn man asked for my mom by her full name, asking him to please leave so he wouldn’t upset my mother.

I was naive but I knew the appearance of this man at our door had changed our lives forever. The next weeks are less clear but we waited, we called relatives, we made funeral arrangements. We cried. My sisters and I only now talk of these days and we each have very different memories of them. One remembers our Mother saying ‘we have lost one of our “S’s” all our names all begin with S. The other remembers the long wait for the military to return our loved one. I mostly remember the days we grieved and the day we buried my oldest brother, the sound of the twenty-one gun salute. A friend use to tell me “those things in life that do not kill you, make you stronger”. My family did not die that day and I wonder if this turn of events made us stronger. I do know it made us “different”.

He was the son of SFC and Mrs. Arthur S. Irby of Charlotte, NC. He served with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, “Currahees”, 101st Airborne Division, “Screaming Eagles”. He was awarded The Combat Infantryman’s Badge, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

Burial: Charlotte Memorial Gardens Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC.

(Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744; finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

Oct 232011
 

SP4 Billy Charles Hunter

Birth: Apr. 9, 1944 Monroe, Union Co., NC

Death: Nov. 27, 1968 Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam.

SP4 Billy Charles Hunter native of Monroe, NC was a member of the Army Selective Service and a Draftee, 24 years old and was not married. His body was recovered.

Written by: Victoria Mackey, Correspondent
Indian Trail Newspaper

He remembered when he woke up on November 27, 1968, that it was Thanksgiving Day at his parent’s house. He could smell the roasting turkey, the sage laced dressing, the sweet potatoes and the green bean casseroles bubbling in the oven. He could see his mother busy in the kitchen along with his sister Mary Frances helping her. He knew his four brothers were probably watching football on the television. Then his mind drifted back to where he was, the hot steamy jungle of Vietnam, waiting with the other members of his company for the Huey’s to pick them up and take them to the Black Virgin Mountain. It would be the last Thanksgiving the Specialist Four Billy Charles Hunter would remember.

Specialist Four Hunter was drafted into the Army and he told his sister if he died for his country; that was what he was meant to do. He was born in Monroe, North Carolina, the son of Erastus and Jennie Lee Odessa Hunter. He grew up in Monroe, Charlotte, and Dillon, South Carolina. He had one sister, Mary Frances and four brothers, Ralph, RC, Grady, and Frank. His niece stated that the military told his family that he was killed when the enemy shot motor rounds at their helicopter when they were landing for Thanksgiving dinner. When he got to Vietnam, Specialist Fourth Class Hunter was immediately assigned to the “Manchus”. The men of the 4th Battalion of the 9 Infantry were called the Manchus after the fierce Manchu warriors of China.

The Manchus were assigned as a Battalion to Vietnam on April 29, 1966 and they quickly established a base at Cu Chi along with the rest of the 9th Infantry, known as the “Tropic Lightning” combat division. The 9th Infantry was assigned to the 25th Division in Vietnam that was operating near the Cambodian border. Platoon size groups of the Manchu soldiers were deployed in “snatch teams” to find the hiding places of the Viet Cong identified by intelligence sources. The snatch teams traveled in helicopters, which would land them right in the middle of the Viet Cong strong hold.

This deployment of highly mobile platoons that could react on a moments notice proved so successful that many Viet Cong were captured in the Duc Hoa district by the Manchus. In the early afternoon of November 27, 1968, three companies of Manchus at different locations near Tay Ninh, were being airlifted by UH-1 Huey helicopters for an assault into an area near the Cambodian border known as the Black Virgin Mountain. Five UH-1 Huey helicopters based at Dau Tieng were each loaded with six 25th infantry division troops or “electric strawberries” as the other troops called them. The five choppers were rendezvousing with other choppers at a landing zone three miles southeast of Tay Ninh to pick up other members of the Manchus. Unknown to the helicopter pilots, the Viet Cong had been gathering near the landing zone for a mass attack on Tay Ninh. The company of Manchus knew that there were Viet Cong very close to their position however they did not realize that they were right beside a well fortified base camp of the Viet Cong D14 regiment. The Viet Cong had 250 bunkers, trenches, and spider holes that had been prepared for defensive fighting. They were well armed with .51 caliber heavy machine guns, RPG-7 rockets, B-40 rockets, mortars, mines, and AK-47 assault rifles.

As the five Huey’s got near the landing zone, they were peppered with Viet Cong automatic gun fire, heavy caliber machine gun fire, and rocket propelled grenades. As the choppers were shot down, some of the Manchus were able to jump off, before they crashed. The Manchus quickly formed into squads of long lines on the ground. Intense fire suddenly erupted from the Viet Cong, killing all of the officers in Alpha Company, many of the soldiers, and the company’s radios were knocked out. The few surviving Manchus were wounded and pinned down in tall grass, unable to move for the next eighteen hours. They were rescued the following day when tanks and the Manchus from Company B, which included Specialist Fourth Class Hunter, moved into their area. As Company B slowly moved through the area, a sudden barrage of fire power killed many of them. When the firing stopped, the surviving members of Company B found Private Malcolm Lomax, Lieutenant Marcus, and Specialist Four Billy Hunter dead. Lieutenant Marcus’ foot had been shattered and the bodies of Private Lomax and Specialist Four Hunter lay on either side of him. It appeared that Lomax and Hunter had attempted to take the incoming fire to protect the life of Lieutenant Marcus. Fourteen Manchus from Alpha Company, three from Bravo Company, and six men of the 187th AHC Crusaders died.

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Erastus Hunter (1907 – 1981) of Charlotte, NC. He served with Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, “Manchus”, 25th Infantry Division, “Tropic Lightning”. He was awarded The Combat Infantryman’s Badge, The Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal.

Burial: Evergreen Cemetery Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC

Plot: Sect. 2, Lot # 18, Space #12.

(Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744; finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

Oct 232011
 

US Air Force Major Charles Jerome Huneycutt, Jr.

Birth: Jun. 20, 1943 Morehead City, Carteret Co., NC

Death: Nov. 11, 1967 Quang Tri, Vietnam.

US Air Force Major Charles Jerome Huneycutt Jr., born in Morehead City before becoming a native of Charlotte, NC was 24 years old when he was shot down and was not married. Charles died when his plane crashed. His body was recovered years later. He was reportedly shot down in North Vietnam on 10 November 1967, declared Missing in action, and then Killed in Action after the remains were returned 10 November 1988. The remains were officially identified 25 September 1989. He’s remains were identified by the family through dental records. 

On November 10, 1967, 1st Lt. Charles J. Huneycutt, navigator, and his Pilot were the crew of one F4C in a flight of two which departed Da Nang Airbase, South Vietnam on an operational mission to Dong Hoa in North Vietnam, but because of inclement weather, both were directed to an alternate target nearby. Positive radar and radio contact was maintained with the aircrafts until the point when their bombing dives were to begin. All contact was then lost. Ground search was not conducted since the incident occurred over heavily defended. All four men aboard the two aircraft were classified as Missing in Action.

A North Vietnamese general was quoted in an article saying a women’s militia shot down two F4C recon planes that same day and captured “both bandits” alive. As four, not two, individuals are concerned in this incident, it is unclear which of the four the article could relate to. However, according to a POW organization 1974, the Defense Department acknowledged at one time that one crew member was indeed, a prisoner of war. According to a 1974 list published by the National League of Families, Charles J. Huneycutt survived his loss incident. In 1988, the Vietnamese discovered and returned to U.S. control the remains of 1st Lt. Charles J. Huneycutt Jr. The other three pilots lost on November 10, 1967 remain missing, and the Vietnamese deny knowledge of their fates. For 21 years, Major Huneycutt was a Prisoner of War, whether he was alive or dead.

Jerry was a Graduate of James A. Gray High School in Winston-Salem, Class of 1961. At Gray, he played Varsity Football, Varsity Basketball, All Conference Most Valuable Back and Sporting News High School All-American Team. He was inducted into the Winston-Salem sports Hall of Fame while he was MIA. Jerry had only been in Viet Nam for a month when he was shot down. He was in ROTC at Duke and had just graduated from flight school and parachute. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity at Duke attending on a football scholarship and played in the 1965 Tangerine Bowl.

He served with the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Da Nang Airbase. He was awarded The Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Good Conduct Medal and The Air Medal with Multiple Oak Leaf Clusters.

Burial: Arlington National CemeteryArlington, Arlington Co., VA.

(Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744; finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

Oct 232011
 

Sgt Terry Alan Hodges

Birth: Sep. 21, 1946 Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC

Death: Aug. 19, 1968 Tay Ninh, Vietnam.

Sgt Terry Alan Hodges native of Charlotte, NC was a member of the Army Selective Service and a Draftee, 21 years old and was not married. Terry died from multiple fragmentation wounds from a rocket propelled grenade. His body was recovered. On maneuvers near Tay Ninh, Viet Nam as a blocking force Terry received orders to come through A Troop, 1st platoon. As he approached 3rd platoon he was hit and mortally wounded by an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) from the NVA.

His family and friend all remark about his fine personality. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Hodges of Charlotte, NC. He served with Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, “Old Reliables”. He was awarded The Combat Infantryman’s Badge, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal.

Burial: Sharon Memorial Park Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC Plot: Sect. 3, Grave # 63.

(Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744; finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

Oct 232011
 

William David “Heg” Hegwood

Birth: Dec. 8, 1950 Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC

Death: Jun. 22, 1969 Quang Nam, Vietnam.

USMC LCPL William David Hegwood native of Charlotte, NC was 18 years old and was not married. It was reported that William died from small arms fire or grenade. His body was recovered.

It was reported by his Fire Team Leader that their team was pinned down by machine gun fire. Heg and the Fire Team Leader assaulted the gun Heg went down mortally wounded. He served with Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, 3rd MAF. He was awarded The Combat Action Ribbon, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal.

Burial: Sharon Memorial Park Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC.

(Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744;finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

Oct 232011
 

WO Ralph Milton “R.M.H.” Havnaer

Birth: Jun. 15, 1944 Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC

Death: Jun. 25, 1968 Binh Hoa, Vietnam.

Warrant Officer Ralph Milton Havnaer native of Charlotte and a graduate of the 1966 Class at UNC was 24 years old and was not married. It was reported that Ralph died when his helicopter crashed. His body was recovered. He attended Primary Helicopter School at Ft. Walters, Texas and Advanced School at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Friends particularly remember Ralph’s Austin Healey, his family at Flight School Graduation and the best of all, Ralph’s insistence that his initials RMH stood for “Raise Much Hell.” A friend and flight school classmate wrote Ralph a letter while in Viet Nam and the letter he had written to Ralph was returned stamped with the message “confirmed deceased.”

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph D. Havnaer and Mae Havnaer of Charlotte. They are both deceased now and are interred alongside him at the Cemetery. He served with the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, “Mad Dogs”, 214th Aviation Battalion, 12th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. He was awarded Aviator Wings, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, the Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, The Bronze Star Medal and The Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters.

Burial: Sharon Memorial Park Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., NC Plot: Sect.11 C, Lot 107, #1.

(Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744; finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

Sep 232011
 

Digital North Carolina is undertaking a digitization project for NC newspapers. They have announced their list of papers to digitize over the next year, which includes a number from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library:

Mecklenburg Jeffersonian (Charlotte) 1841-1849 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Miners’ and Farmers’ Journal (Charlotte) 1830-1834 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Catawba Journal (Charlotte) 1824-1828 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Western Democrat (Charlotte) 1856-1868 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
North Carolina Whig (Charlotte) 1852-1863 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

More info can be found at the Newspapers Selected for Digitization, 2011-2012 page.