3RD PLT, C CO, 4TH BN, 3RD INFANTRY, 11 INF BDE
From Willow Grove, Delaware
14 December 1950 - 31 March 1971
Donald Ray Bailey was a rifleman in our 3rd Platoon. I was the Radioman.
Don was a quiet and unassuming type of guy. He was easy to get along with and was a good soldier.
We were at the end portion of a 30-day-turned-73-day mission "up north". The Khe Sanh area and a mission called Dewey Canyon II had really tested our mettle. No Viet Cong to deal with, we were up to our noses in NVA. This was different and the country was "hard"! We were finally getting "over," as the saying goes, by pulling guard duty over the QL-9 highway between Quang Tri and Khe Sanh. We had established an observation point on a steep sided hilltop just off the highway for us to "dig in" and spend a week or so doing our share to protect envoys using the road. We had spent considerable time reconnoitering the surrounding area around our "LZ Sham". We were immediately next to another larger hill to our east that was in the 101st Airborne Area of Operations. We had checked out that area previously and found no evidence of activity but were informed by Battalion that we needed to pull an afternoon live ambush. We proceeded over there and had set up our Claymore mines on the accessable paths in the area and readied ourselves for a quiet day.
Not today! The 101st Airborne must have had the same idea. We were first though... and the price they paid was tragic. We both had helicopters gunships coming to the fracas and after their initial "wide fire" to get everyones' head down they realized that we had "friendly fighting friendly"! That initial burst from the miniguns on the helo had a ricochet round find Don Bailey and he died in the arms of his squad leader. Those things happen in war. It's not fair. But it is true. What is a "hero?" You tell me, if you know.
I didn't know Don well, but he was a faithful man. I think of him often. What do you think about?
The database page for Donald Ray Bailey
20 Nov 2005
Last updated 01/30/2006