This is a summary of events that occurred on July 8 1970 with respect to the attack by C/2/506 (“Charlie Company”) on Hill 1,000 . By the end of this day, Charlie Company established a legacy as fighting men for all of those Charlie Company soldiers who served thereafter. It should first be noted that this attack on Hill 1,000 was made with LBE’s only as rucksacks had been dropped at the Attack LZ, which resulted in each trooper having only one canteen of water. It should also be noted that the weather was sunny and humid, and the temperature hovered around 100 plus degrees.

          Early in the morning just after daylight Charlie Company (with a complement of approximately 30 soldiers was picked up at an LZ on a ridgeline well North of Firebase Ripcord and inserted in to an LZ ( the “Attack LZ”)  at a location lying between the base of Firebase Ripcord and the base of Hill 1,000. Hill 1,000 consisted of two knolls as hereafter identified and was located about a click to a click and a half due West of Firebase Ripcord. The reduced size of Charlie Company was a result of (1) heavy casualties that occurred at the Hill 902 action on the early morning of July 2, 1970, and (2) the heavy casualties that occurred on July 7 at a ridgeline lying well north of Firebase Ripcord.

          At the time of the morning assault of Hill 1,000 on July 8, 1970, the Company Commander of Charlie Company was Captain Jeff Wilcox (“Jeff”). Jeff had previously served as a rifle platoon leader in Alpha Company before being promoted to Captain, at which time he was assigned to command the Battalion Headquarters Company. After the death of Captain Hewitt at the Hill 902 battle, Jeff was assigned to be the Company Commander of Charlie Company.

          The only other officer present for duty in Charlie Company on July 8, 1970 was myself, who commanded what was left of the second platoon of Charlie Company, and who had just returned from R & R on July 6, 1970. S/Sgt Paul Burkey (“Paul”) was the acting platoon leader of what was left of the third platoon. The first platoon was without their commanding officer and platoon sergeant as they had both been wounded in the earlier actions.

            Upon landing at the Attack LZ which was being secured by D/2/506th, Jeff and I reported to Lt. Col. Andre Lucas (“Lucas”) to receive the plan of attack of Hill 1,000.The only other persons present at this meeting were Captain Rembert Rollison (“Rollison”), the company commander of D/2/506, and First Lieutenant Jim McCall (“Lt.McCall”), the commander of the second platoon of D/2/506th. Lucas outlined on the ground the plan of a joint attack on the two knolls of Hill 1,000 by Charlie and Delta Companies.. Hill 1,000 consisted of two knolls, the first knoll (the “Eastern Knoll” being the closest Knoll to the Attack LZ and Ripcord, and the second knoll (the “Western Knoll” being the farther Knoll from the Attack LZ and Ripcord.  Lucas ordered Charlie Company to move down a trail that ran due west along the base of Hill 1,000 to a point that was about a half klick from the Attack LZ and then move up the Northern slope of Hill 1,000 through the jungle to the edge of the tree line to reach the line of departure for its attack on the Western Knoll of Hill 1,000. Delta Company was ordered to move down the same trail that ran due west along the Base of Hill 1,000 to a point that was approximately 75 to a 100 meters due west of the Attack LZ and then move up the Northern Slope of Hill 1,000 through the jungle to the edge of the tree line to reach the line of departure for its attack on the Eastern Knoll of Hill 1,000. At the time this order was given, I inquired of Lucas as to why Charlie Company with 30 men was given the longer mission and as to why Delta Company was given the shorter mission with approximately 70 men. Lucas advised me that Delta Company wished to retrieve the American bodies that they had left on the Eastern Knoll during the previous day’s battle. I fully understood this and Charlie Company then moved out to perform its mission. It is important to note here that Jeff and I were advised that artillery strikes had pounded the top of Hill 1,000 for hours and air strikes had been hitting the top of Hill 1,000 that morning with bombs and napalm, which bombing was still going on as we moved in position to attack the hill.

            Upon reaching the line of departure for the joint attack, Charlie Company called in to Delta Company to tell them we were ready to launch the joint attack of the two knolls as soon as the gunships arrived to cover us in the attack. The gunships arrived in about five minutes and made their runs on the Eastern and Western Knolls of Hill 1000. Charlie Company commenced the attack on the Western Knoll of Hill 1000 utilizing fire and movement. Jeff and I had divided Charlie Company into two elements of approximately 15 men in each element, one unit being the Maneuver Element commanded by myself, and the other unit being the Support Element commanded by Jeff.

            Utilizing fire and movement together with the gunship support, Charlie Company advanced up the hill to the top of the Western Knoll. It is important here to understand that once you came out of the tree line of the jungle, you were in the open as the top of each of the knolls and down about a hundred yards had been pulverized into loose dirt by the previous bombing. During this assault Charlie Company began receiving heavy fire. Although it was unclear at the time, the heavy fire was flanking fire that was coming from the top of the Eastern Knoll. Upon arriving at and securing the top of the Western Knoll, I could see that only one soldier in Delta Company had come out of the tree line to attack the Eastern Knoll, and he was pinned down in a bomb crater by heavy machine gun fire. That soldier was Lt. McCall. The rest of Delta Company never came out of the woods to attack, which was the reason Charlie Company had received such heavy fire from the top of the Eastern Knoll. I believe that Charlie Company suffered two wounded soldiers during this attack. The battle then evolved into a small arms fire fight between Charlie Company on the top of the Western Knoll and the enemy on the top of the Eastern Knoll. It is important to note here that the top of the Eastern Knoll and the Top of the Western Knoll were separated by a Saddle ( the “Saddle”)  about a hundred to a hundred and twenty five  meters in width.

            This exchange of fire went on for about thirty minutes. Lucas then called us on the radio at which time he gave the order for Charlie Company to attack across the Saddle and take the top of the Eastern Knoll. To attack across the Saddle would result in Charlie Company receiving “plunging fire” from the enemy. All infantry leaders are taught to avoid any situation that results in their force receiving plunging fire as there is no cover for the attacking force. Jeff called back to Lucas to advise him that it would not be prudent for us to attack across the Saddle, and that Lucas needed to get Delta Company to come out of the jungle and attack the Eastern Knoll with Charlie Company providing covering fire from our position. This did not occur and Lucas then gave a direct order to Jeff to attack across the saddle right then. Jeff then turned to me and said “Jim, we got a direct order to attack across the Saddle and we must try to carry it out.” I then told him I would try to take the Maneuver Element across the right side of the Saddle, which I believed provided a little more cover for the attacking force than the center or left side of the Saddle. Jeff, at that point, said “No Jim, I am going to lead the Maneuver Element across the Saddle, while you stay here with the Support Element and maintain a steady flow of fire covering our movement. If I am going to lead these men the next six months, it is important that I show them that I am a leader who leads from the front.”

            I then moved to the position of Paul  (who was the ranking NCO in the Maneuver Element) to advise him of what we had been ordered to do. Paul responded to me, “That’s insane, LT”. My response to him was “No shit.” I then told Paul that Jeff would be commanding the attack across the Saddle instead of me, and that I would be with the Support Element which would cover his movement as best we could with gunships, machine gun fire, rifle fire, rifle grenades, laws and gunships. The gunships made their passes but unfortunately were not able to place effective fire exactly where we needed it because to do so would require them to fly directly over friendly’s on the gun target line. Jeff and Paul bravely led the attack across the Saddle with their courageous soldiers following them and received withering machine gun fire from RPD’s, RPG fire, and AK rifle fire from the enemy entrenched in covered bunkers. It did not take long before the Maneuver Element was all shot up. Their only option at that point was to return to the top of the Western Knoll with all of their dead and wounded soldiers.

           Shortly thereafter, Fred Spaulding, the brigade S-3-Air, flew over us and advised us that a large group of enemy soldiers estimated to be an enemy battalion was coming up through the jungle on our “backside”, and that we needed to get off the hill. Lucas then called on the radio and ordered us to get off the Western Knoll and return to the Attack LZ with our dead and wounded soldiers. We began the withdrawal movement down the hill to the tree line, assuming that Delta Company would cover our withdrawal. This did not result as Delta Company had hauled ass back to the Attack LZ. Charlie Company utilized smoke grenades to shield their withdrawal from the top of the Western Knoll to the tree line. Upon the company reaching the tree line, Jeff took the wounded soldiers and the rest of Charlie Company back to the Attack LZ except for myself, Paul and one other trooper, who would drag behind carrying the two dead bodies that had been killed in the attack across the Saddle.

          Upon arriving back at the Attack LZ, the wounded soldiers were evacuated. About 20 minutes later Paul , myself and the other soldier arrived at the base of the Attack LZ with the dead soldiers. We dropped the dead bodies on the ground and fell to the ground exhausted. We were all dehydrated and needed water. Lt. McCall brought me a canteen of water and a cigarette. It was about 1430 hours. I was then approached by a soldier who told me that Lucas was on the top of the Attack LZ and wanted to speak with me immediately. I then moved to his location and joined a meeting between Lucas, Jeff, Rollison, and Lt. McCall at which meeting Jeff was pointing out to Lucas the reasons why we should not attack the hill that afternoon. It was at this time that Lucas told me that we were going to attack the top of Hill 1,000 again that afternoon in the same manner that we had attacked the hill that morning. This meeting quickly turned into a dialogue between myself and Lucas with me pointing out various reasons why we should not attack the hill that afternoon, which included (1) the need to address the condition of two soldiers who were suffering from heat prostration that had not been evacuated, (2) the need to replace the second platoon medic who had been killed in the morning attack and who had only been with the company two days, (3) the need for more ammo, (4) the need for a massive prep of the hill with artillery and air strikes before we could even think about attacking it again the same way, (5) the need for more information about the location of the large body of troops that had been spotted by the loach moving toward Hill 1,000, (6) the need for reinforcements as Charlie Company was now down to twenty men, (7) the need to discuss a different plan of attack of Hill 1,000 that would exclude crossing the Saddle, and (8)  Most importantly, we needed to know why Delta Company had failed to attack the Eastern Knoll in the joint attack that was originally planned. Jeff had previously discussed many of these matters with Lucas prior to my arrival at the meeting. Rollison then said to Lucas “Col, I am a soldier and when I get an order I carry it out.” I then said to Rollison “about like you did this morning.” Lucas became quite irritated with me and made it clear that he was not interested in hearing any more of my observations. Lucas then ordered me to go back to my unit and sit down and cool off. A short time later Jeff came down to my position and told me that the order to attack the hill that late afternoon had been rescinded, and that we would rest up and attack the hill again first thing in the morning. Jeff and I were then ordered to set up an NDP with Delta Company around the Attack LZ.

          The next morning the attack of Hill 1000 was called off and Charlie Company was ordered back to Ripcord to pick up some replacements that had been sent out. Once this movement had been completed, we were directed to go to the LZ on top of the ridgeline running to Hill 805 and wait for future orders. The next day Charlie Company was picked up and moved to secure Firebase O’Reilly at which time A/2/506 was inserted and directed to move east down the ridgeline toward Hill 805. After a couple of weeks on Firebase O’Reilly, Charlie Company and Delta Company assaulted into a Landing Zone on July 21 that was due east of Firebase Ripcord and South of Hill 805 to help extract D/1/506 and all of its soldiers who had been in a fierce firefight with the enemy the day and night before. After this extraction was completed back to Camp Evans, Charlie Company’s participation in the Ripcord battle was over. All remaining troops in the field and on Ripcord were evacuated to Camp Evans on July 23, 1970.



            July 8, 1970 began as just another day in Vietnam for Charlie Company. Most of the Charlie Company soldiers present that day had served under Captain Vazquez, (the quintessential professional soldier and leader), who had set the high standards to be expected of them as soldiers, especially when the going got tough. These were tough men who had endured the hardships of the campaign trail without complaints. They were not the kind of men who gave a damn about being heroes, nor were they the kind of men who sought medals and accolades. They were for the most part “Citizen Soldiers” who had answered the call of the nation to slay the enemies of our country. Their first loyalty was to their fellow soldiers. Although Charlie Company had been decimated with casualties occurring at the Hill 902 battle and the July 7, 1970 battle, the 30 soldiers making the attack on Hill 1,000 that day were battle hardened soldiers whose fighting spirit remained intact. They followed the orders of their commanders without hesitation in this most difficult of missions. Intestinal fortitude and courage was the order of the day, as no mission is more difficult to perform than an uphill attack across open areas with an enemy entrenched lying above in covered bunkers. This joint attack was anticipated to have 100 soldiers attacking the two knolls in a coordinated assault. Charlie Company with 30 men performed their mission that day and took the Western Knoll of Hill 1,000 despite Delta Company’s failure to attack the hill. The attack across the Saddle by the Maneuver Element led by Cpt. Jeff Wilcox and S/Sgt. Paul Burkey was the single bravest action by a group of soldiers I ever witnessed in my nine months in the field as an infantry commander in Vietnam. Approximately a week after the July 8th attack of Hill 1, 000, the 2/501st battalion (less D/2/501) led by their battalion commander attacked Hill 1,000 but never reached the edge of the tree line as a result of heavy enemy fire encountered by them in the jungle. The legacy of Charlie Company is that its 30 soldiers who attacked Hill 1,000 on July 8, 1970 were the only Americans to ever reach the top of Hill 1,000 during the Ripcord battle. They all are heroes in every sense of the word. They were “The Best of the Currahees.” They “Stood Alone” on the Top of Hill 1,000. This was their “Finest Hour” as soldiers in Charlie Company. On a personal note, it was my greatest honor to have served on this day with the magnificent soldiers of Charlie Company led by their courageous and brave commander Jeff Wilcox. It was his leadership skills combined with his great courage that inspired his soldiers in the attack.


        Keith Nolan interviewed several enlisted soldiers of Delta Company while he was doing his research on the Ripcord battle. He was told by all of them that Delta Company never attacked the Eastern Knoll of Hill 1,000 because they never received an order from their commander to attack the hill.

          Cpt. Jeff Wilcox and S/SGT. Paul Burkey were some 40 odd years later, recognized by the Currahee Regiment for their outstanding leadership qualities on July 8,1970 with their induction in ceremonies at Ft. Campbell designating each of them as a “Distinguished Member of the Regiment.” Jeff was the epitome of what “Duty, Honor, Country” is all about. S/Sgt. Burkey was the bravest man I ever served with in Vietnam.


Lt. James H Campbell