Statements given to the U.S. Government by Members of Major Egan's Team
Statement of Lieutenant Richard F. PARKER, Jr., USMC, with regard to Lieutenant EGAN and the VC action which resulted in Lieutenant EGAN becoming "Missing in Action" on 21 January 1966.
I was the patrol leader of a fourteen man reconnaissance patrol which departed from our base camp on 20 January 1966. The patrol was composed of nine of my reconnaissance people, one four-man artillery FO team, of which Lt. EGAN was the leader, and me. Our mission was to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations in specific VC areas, several thousand meters to the north of U.S. Special Forces Camp A-106 (our base camp) near the village of BaTo, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. The FO team was attached to provide the patrol with supporting artillery fire and to attack VC targets of opportunity. These areas were under VC control and had been for many years. These are particularly specialized and dangerous operations which we have been doing here for many months.
Success in these operations depends primarily upon the ability of the patrol to remain undetected by the VC. Everything we do is predicated upon this fact. In the event of known VC detection, the patrols withdrawn by helicopter as soon as possible. Often this detection occurs in the form of an accidental, or chance, encounter with the VC, which is a surprise to both sides, sudden, and over very quickly, one or both sides withdrawing rapidly. Plans allowing for the possibility of the separation of the patrol are specific: separated men will "evade" (move like an escaped POW in a hostile land) to a rally point, previously designated.
The incident involving the patrol and Lt. EGAN occurred about 1700 (H) on 21 January 1966. The patrol was located near the top of a 2700 foot mountain, where the trees were thick and forty to sixty feet high, but secondary growth sparse. The thickness of the vegetation reduced visibility to thirty to fifty feet. It was raining and had been raining for several day; the ground was muddy and slippery. Clouds and fog were thick, further reducing visibility.
The patrol had moved up the mountain during the morning and stopped in the early afternoon to await better visibility. The position we occupied had recon people on the north, west, and east, and the FO team on the south. About 1700, four or five VC approached our position from the south, detected us without being detected themselves, and opened fire. The fired only two .30 caliber rounds before they were scattered by submachine gun return fire (Cpl. OBERHAUS). They ran back screaming and yelling. The patrol moved back (north) about twenty meters immediately upon contact (standard procedure), where I regrouped them, and we returned to our positions. OBERHAUS had remained in his position; Lt. EGAN was missing. This whole action took only a couple of minutes. I sent out teams to search for him, and especially to search for tracks, which would be observable in the mud had he moved another way. He was not found, nor were any traces or signs of movement in another direction found. (This [several words not readable - bad copy) from his position, from which nothing could be justifiably inferred.) I searched until dark (with great hazard to the patrol since these VC had certainly gone to inform larger VC units in the area of our presence) and the moved the patrol north a few hundred yards for the night. The following morning we were attacked by about 50 VC.
Conflicting reports make in impossible to determine exactly what happened. Our man OBERHAUS, believes Lt. EGAN was shot in the stomach. Another, with OBERHAUS at the time, thought that Lt. EGAN had simply dived for his rifle and had not been shot. Another man feels certain he saw Lt. EGAN running north with the rest of us. In any case it is certain that he did get his rifle and move away from the scene of the incident under his own power. In such a case - being separated - he would begin to return to our rally point, the base camp, approximately five miles away. Since he did not return, I believe he was probably captured or killed by the VC in trying to do so. It is not nearly so probable that he died from wounds along the way, since such a severe wound probably would have precluded his initial rapid movement.
Signed: R. F. Parker, Jr. 2 March 1966
Statement of Cpl. Lewis D. Oberhaus
9 March 1966
On 21 January 1966, I was a member of the forward observer team with Lt. EGAN on a routine patrol with members from 1st Force Recon. We were resting on Hill 829, vicinity of grid coordinates 521370. While resting, we were attacked by an unknown number of Viet Cong at approximately 1705.
I saw Lt. EGAN receive one round in his mid-section, and clutch his stomach and fall to the ground. When hit we were close to a large three with the roots protruding from the ground. After Lt. EGAN was hit, he crawled towards the tree where he had his gear.
I stood up and fired a burst of rounds at the Viet Cong, who turned and ran back down the hill. The Viet Cong were approximately 50 feet from my position when I opened fire on them. After opening fire, I chased them approximately 150 feet down the hill. I then returned to where I had last saw Lt. EGAN and found that he was gone.
The weapon Lt. EGAN was carrying was missing, but his remaining items of 782 gear (pack and pistol belt) were still there.
After the other members of the patrol had regrouped and returned to our position, I informed Lt. PARKER, the patrol leader, that Lt. EGAN was missing. He immediately formed a search party to look for Lt. EGAN. The only item found by the search party was Lt. EGAN's penlight flashlight, which was found approximately 50 feet down the hill from where Lt. EGAN was last seen. This was found on the opposite side of the hill from where I had chased the Viet Cong.
After the search was concluded, our patrol moved approximately 300 yards down the reverse slope of hill 829, and set in our position for the night.
Signed: Lewis D. Oberhaus
Statement of Phillip M. McIntyre:
Phillip M. McIntyre, being first duly sworn, deposes and says:
I arrived at BaTo in early January, 1966. BaTo is 65-70 miles inland from Chu Lai; it is the location of the Special Forces encampment from which my platoon operated. I was a member of the platoon commanded by First Lieutenant Richard F. PARKER. The officer in charge of the Marines at the Special Forces camp was Captain William SHAEFER.
The matter in question began on 20 January 1966. On that date a patrol, of which I was a member, left the Special Forces Camp at 0430. The other members of the patrol were First Lieutenant PARKER, Sergeant J. (James?) R. JOHNSON, Corporal Robert KOPP, Corporal SPEES, Lance Corporal GRISSET, Corpsman (E-3) Ulysses ONTIVERIOUS, and Private (PFC?) Ronald E. HILL. In addition, the patrol was accompanied by an FO team under the command of First Lieutenant James T. EGAN, Jr. Lieutenant EGAN was accompanied by a corporal, a lance corporal, and a PFC.
The patrol passed through the inhabited area of BaTo, crossed the SongBaTo and Song Trang No, and went into the mountains. (See overlay ) About noon we found a punji stake factory. We continued on, breaking brush most of the way, until we came to a valley. We set up the night on a finger which extended into the valley. About 1930 we hard the VC celebrating "Tet" in the valley.
On 21 January we could see all across the valley. There was rice under cultivation in most of the valley area. We moved up to the top of the mountain where there were 75 foot trees and elephant grass on the slopes. The top of the mountain (Hill 857, see overlay ) was covered with rain clouds. We stopped near the top of the mountain and stayed there from 0930 until about 1700 on 21 January.
It was during this stay on the top of the mountain that the incident occurred which was the last time I saw Lieutenant EGAN. About 1500 we heard four shots fired. I later heard from one of the members of the FO team that Lieutenant EGAN had immediately run toward the shots. EGAN was then seen to clutch his stomach, as if hit. Lieutenant EGAN was not seen again. The rest of the patrol, in the meantime, pulled back about 40 meters and formed up. About three or four minutes later, seven or eight members of the patrol began a systematic search-assault. The search continued for about 20 minutes, but we found nothing -- no blood, no traces of what had happened, or anything. The patrol then moved about 200 meters away and set up a perimeter. Drums were heard all that night. There was also some possible movement in the area.
On the next day, 22 January 1966, we rose at 0700. We began to move into the patrol objective, which was establishing an OP overlooking a valley which was the suspected site of a VC hospital and R&R area. We set up the OP and lit cigarettes. VC located on the high ground behind us spotted us and opened fire. Our position became untenable. We withdrew, moving down the steep side of the hill, led by Lieutenant PARKER and Corporal SPEES. I last saw Corporal GRISSET moving down the hill before we went down the steep cliffs. GRISSET was going down a ravine which angled away from the others. I remember him turning and smiling.
We regrouped and set up an ambush position and called artillery in on the hill from which we had received fire. A platoon was sent by helicopter from Chu Lai for support. As soon as the helicopters could get through the fog, we were lifted out. On arrival back at BaTo, only two members of the patrol were still found fit for duty.
Three later I heard from a Popular Forces troop who had escaped from the VC that GRISSET and Lieutenant EGAN had been captured. It was further rumored that GRISSET had told someone that Lieutenant EGAN had been wounded. GRISSET had further said that Lieutenant EGAN had been taken from the compound where they were confined and then a shot was heard. GRISSET was said to be OK, but that he had heard he was to be taken to Cambodia. I believe Lieutenant PARKER is now at Camp Pendleton and that Corporal SPEES is still in the DaNang area.
Attached is an overlay which I have prepared showing, to my best recollection, the route covered by the patrol. The overlay is to be used with the BaTo, Vietnam Sheet, Sheet 6755 III, Series L-701, Edition 1-AMS.
Signed: Phillip M. McIntrye
Subscribed and sworn to
this 9th day of November, 1966
Notary Public in and for
County of San Diego,
State of California
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