Russell Peter Bott

Master Sergeant
Army of the United States
05 September 1936 - 17 November 1978
Worcester, Massachusetts
Panel 13E Line 003


Distinguished Service Cross


Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, RVN Military Merit, Gallantry Cross, and Campaign medals


The database page for Russell Peter Bott

12 July 2002

Pete and friends used to hang at Louie's Spa (owned by my father) on Millbury Street in Worcester in the mid-50's. He liked to hunt and fish. My Dad, Pete, Mickey, and I used to travel to dairy farm country near Albany, NY, to go hunting woodchucks just for sport to help the farmer get rid of a pest and prevent injury to cows who might step into holes made by the woodchucks.

We made many trips over a few years and had great fun and comraderie.

From a friend and MIA bracelet wearer,
Dennis V. Christo, LTC, U S Army (Ret)

21 Nov 2005

Dear Family of Pete,

Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as we Americans recently celebrated Veterans Day to honor our service member heros.

We honor his memory, celebrate his life, and mourn your loss.

Regards from his friend,
Dennis Christo
LTC (Ret), US Army
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

10 Dec 2003

The younger generation in The Netherlands knows what you performed.
Although it does not look like this by the images on TV
many young Dutchmen support the US Army and are aware of the difficult task you stood, and stand for!
We will never forget.
God bless America.

From a friend of the US Military,
Bery Jonkers
Gasthuis 25, 6268 NN Bemelen, The Netherlands, Europe

7 Aug 2004

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.

My wife, Niki Lane, wears his bracelet.

Ken Lane

17 Nov 2005

I am a retired USAF member who has been wearing Russell's POW MIA bracelet for more than 15 years. It is worn, and barely readable, but I would like to give it to a family member if possible. Please feel free to contact me, thank you.

Kathy Wiggin, USAF Retired

09 Nov 2006

Dear family and friends of Russell,

I am writing to you from Los Angeles, California although I grew up in Boston. When I was in 8th grade, 14 years ago, my class took a field trip to DC and I went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I bought a MIA bracelet there with Russell's name on it. I have not taken it off since. The name is barely readable anymore. I never joined the armed forces, although when I was younger, and when I first put on the bracelet, I thought that was the path I would take. Instead, I am currently in law school and studying international human rights. I hope to someday change the world for the better and bring a little more peace for the next generation. I guess I just wanted to let you know that the bracelet on my wrist for the last 14 years had an effect on the choices I made in my life. Russell, and his influence, are certainly not forgotten.

In solidarity,
Lindsay Toczylowski

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On 29 November 1966, a six-man recon team, callsign VIPER, was inserted along the Laotian/SVN border just south of the DMZ. Extremely poor weather conditions during the insertion resulted in a navigation error and the team was inserted to the northwest of the intended point, within Laos itself. Even worse, the insertion point was within the bivouac area of the North Vietnamese 325B Infantry Division.

The team was led by SFC W. E. Stark and consisted of assistant team leader SSG R. P. Bott and four Vietnamese Special Forces personnel. Shortly after being inserted, the team was ambushed by elements of the 325B NVA Division and forced into a two-day running gun battle as RT VIPER moved toward the northeast in an attempt to break contact. Continuing monsoon weather and the original navigation error combined to render outside assistance to the team impossible - friendly forces simply did not know where they were. Late on the second day, VIPER made radio contact with a Forward Air Controller (FAC) and the team's position was firmly identified. SSG Bott reported that SFC Stark had wounds to the chest and leg; they were almost out of ammunition; and that several of the ARVN SF personnel were dead or wounded. Bott indicated that he would stay with SFC Stark, who could not travel and required immediate extraction. He also ordered the surviving ARVN troops to escape and evade toward Khe Sanh.

On the morning of 02 December, 7 UH-1 aircraft from the 281st AHC at Khe Sanh launched in a recovery effort, accompanied by a FAC aircraft. The FAC crew located the two Americans on the top of a small crest covered with elephant grass. After clearing the area, the FAC called in the recovery helo which touched down in the vicinity of the two Americans. At touch-down, the UH-1 received intense and accurate fire from all directions; the crew immediately lifted off but entered uncontrolled flight almost immediately, spun in, exploded, and burned. Simply stated, the NVA had set a successful trap using VIPER as the bait.

The supporting gunships took the area under fire, but the two Americans had disappeared and no further recovery efforts could be made. It was apparent that none of the five men on the downed UH-1 had survived the crash.

The enemy presence prevented a ground search until 10 December, when a search and recovery (SAR) team was inserted. The team photographed the wreckage and the bodies of the crew, but were unable to recover the bodies. Over the next three days the area was subjected to heavy American air strikes. On 15 December another recovery team reached the crash site and retrieved all the remains that could be found and took them to a US mortuary for examination. Those remains were later identified as the Huey's pilot, crew chief, and door gunner.

Two of the four ARVN SF troops successfully made their way back to American forces. Both of the survivors reported clearly hearing North Vietnamese soldiers yell, "Here you are! We've been looking for you! Tie his hands, we'll take him this way."

At the termination of the search and rescue effort, seven men were known dead and two were missing:

Willie E. Stark was promoted to Sergeant Major while in MIA status; the Secretary of the Army approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for him on 25 Jan 1978. Russell P. Bott was promoted to Master Sergeant before a Presumptive Finding of Death was approved on 17 Nov 1978. The remains of the four Americans and two South Vietnamese lost in connection with the VIPER operation have not been recovered.

Staff Sergeant Russell Bott's actions during the VIPER operation warranted award of the Distinguished Service Cross.

Additional information is available on the
POW Network
Task Force Omega

APO San Francisco 96375



1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously.

Russell Peter Bott, Staff Sergeant
Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross
Date action: 29 November 1966 to 1 December 1966
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, during the period 29 November 1966 to 1 December 1966. Sergeant Bott's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend and MIA bracelet wearer,
Dennis V. Christo, LTC, U S Army (Ret)
E-Mail may be forwarded via the

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 12 Jul 2002
Last updated 11/26/2006