Thomas Johnson Bradford

Army of the United States
15 June 1947 - 02 May 1968
Lincoln Park, Michigan
Panel 54E Line 002


Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas Johnson Bradford

30 Jun 2003

I went to high school with Tom. A close friend of mine, James Cadzo, ended up marrying one of his twin sisters - Jeanette. I got to know Tom pretty well and we became good friends. Tom was an unusally kind man yet strong in character and he truly loved his parents and twin sisters and little brother. Tom was killed near Khe Sanh on 5-2-68. I too was in Vietnam near Khe Sanh with the First Cav Division. Our outfit lost a large number of good men on 5/4/68 on a hill near Khe Sanh.

I know in my heart Tom fought valiantly and his passing left a void in me to this very day. My mother saved me the write-up article in the local paper which I didn't get to read until January of 1969 when I returned home from Vietnam. I still read it now and then ... I know Tom's passing devastated his family and friends as he was loved by all ... I just hope the passing of time has eased their pain.

I recently read somewhere that the week Tom was killed was the most costly week for KIA's in the entire Vietnam war, I believe it was in excess of 1200 good men.

Tom ... your memory will always live on ... it was truly an honor to know you and have you on our side ... will see you again one fine day!!!

Your friend, Rod Forman

09 Mar 2007

I would like to add something to Tom's memorial that I happened to read in my March 2007 isuue of VFW magazine this morning. I had often wondered about the circumstances and exact location of Tom's demise as I was with the First Cav in the Khe Sanh area at the same time.

Well, this article was all about the 2/4th Marines' big battles protecting the river leading to Dong Ha. Tom's Bn was under command of the 3rd Marine Division at Dong Ha. They were sent to an area 3 miles south of the DMZ and 5 miles north of the 4th Marines to block troops coming from the DMZ to join the fight. The time was the very first of May 1968. This side-line article was written for VFW magazine by Tim Dyhouse as follows:


With the outnumbered Marines fully engaged at Dai Do, U.S. commanders knew that fresh NVA troops from north of the DMZ could easily tip the battle's momentum toward the enemy. To prevent reinforcement, they called upon the Army's 3rd Bn, 21st Infantry (known as "Gimlets"), 196th Light Infantry Bde.

The Gimlets, under control of the 3rd Marines, were ordered to clear the village of Nhi Ha, some five miles north of Dai Do and only three miles below the DMZ, of enemy soldiers. A, B,and C companies launched their attack at around 8 am on May 2 following a Marine artilley and mortar bombardment on Nhi Ha. By 1 p.m. C Company had reached the village and was immediately ambushed by elements of the 4th Bn, 270 Independent NVA Regiment. That day cost 12 KIA, 14 WIA. [Note: Tom was in "C" Company and I presume died in this ambush.]

The Gimlets' commander, Lt. Col. William P. Snyder, ordered his reserve D Company and A Company to cover C Company as its men pulled back about 600 yards east of Nhi Ha, where the three companies spent the night as U.S. artillery pounded the NVA. B Company secured Laum Xaun, directly south of Nhi Ha across Jones' Creek.

Despite repeated assaults from A, C and D companies over the next two days, the Americans were unable to dislodge the enemy. Not until May 5, when Air Force jets hit Nhi Ha with 2,000-pound bombs, were all enemy troops eliminated, either having fled or been killed. ...

The Gimlets took over Nhi Ha, but the enemy counter-attacked May 6, with the Americans routing the NVA. In the afternoon, A Company reconnoitered the village of Xom PHoung about a half-mile northwest. Lured into an ambush A Company lost 12 dead, 19 wounded and one captured.

The Gimlets' ordeal in Nhi Ha ended May 15, 1968, when the Marines replaced them. Overall, they lost 29 killed, 130 wounded and one captured mostly over two days of combat. But they accomplished their objective of preventing NVA reinforcements from reaching Dai Do.

Comment: The NVA were trying to take control of the area to prevent supplies from reaching Dong Ha. I was with 1/77th Artilley of the 2nd Bde, 1st Cav Div at this same time. Khe Sanh was just relieved and most of the Cav was assaulting into the A Shau Valley, finding many enemy troops and vehicles of all sorts and our losses were staggering the first days of May 1968. All of our howitzer ammo came from Dong Ha, courtesy of the Marines. Without this arty ammo or the fuel for our choppers, casualties would have been much much worse, I quarantee that! So "My Hat's-Off-To-You" men of the 196th and especially to you, TOM BRADFORD, Thank You!

From a friend,
Rod Forman
1115 Flowery Branch Rd, Kingston, Ga 30145

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The Tet offensive which began in January 1968 resulted in massive casualties in both North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong units. Realizing that a defeat of this magnitude was not politically acceptable, the North Vietnamese government sent yet more troops south, building toward a second offensive to begin in late spring. The Allied commanders realized that the NVA/VC losses opened a window of opportunity for assaulting areas which had been under firm NVA/VC control for years.

The collision between these two efforts - tens of thousands of fresh NVA regulars entering South Vietnam on the one hand and increased aggressive actions by the Allies on the other - built toward a period of heavy fighting in the late spring of 1968. The result was staggering human costs on both sides. There were 3,278 dead or missing Americans during the six weeks beginning 20 April 1968:

20-27 April 27:383
28 April-04 May:500
05-12 May:791
13-20 May:580
21-28 May:567
29 May-04 June:457

Thirty-three of these men came from the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry.
Corporal Tom Bradford was one of them.

The Note above was placed on this memorial when it was first written in 2003. Since then, the following text has been placed on memorial pages for the Marines, sailors, and soldiers who died in the fighting at Dai Do and Nhi Ha.

In May of 1968, the North Vietnamese launched what has been called their "Tet II" offensive, striking 119 provincial and district capitals, military installations, and major cities including Saigon. Unlike Tet I, which was primarily a Viet Cong uprising, Tet II was almost entirely an NVA affair.

The battle of Dai Do actually began on April 30 with the ambush of a US Navy utility boat at the junction of the Bo Dieu and Cua Viet rivers by elements of the 320th NVA Division. Since Battalion Landing Team 2/4 was in the area, it was ordered to eliminate the threat to the crucial waterway.

Faced by three Regiments of the 320th NVA Division, BLT 2/4 was forced to fall back to defensive positions north of the river, but they stopped the enemy attack. NVA reinforcements were turned back by men of the Army's 3rd Bn, 21st Infantry, Americal Division, which occupied blocking positions at Nhi Ha to the northeast.

The NVA attempt to open an invasion corridor into South Vietnam had failed. The "Magnificent Bastards" of 2/4 Marines and the 3/21st Infantry had saved the day, for if they had failed the NVA would have been free to overrun the major supply bases at Dong Ha and Quang Tri and the entire DMZ defenses would have been undermined. However, the cost had been high. The Marines and sailors suffered 89 dead and another 297 seriously wounded, while Army forces at Nhi Ha sustained 28 deaths, 1 MIA (captured, later repatriated), and 130 wounded. But the enemy suffered even greater losses - not only did the NVA fail to achieve their objective, they also left 1,568 bodies on the battlefields.

The 3/21st Infantry lost twelve men in the fighting on 02 May 1968:

  • B Company:
    • PFC Robert A. Romo, Rialto, CA

  • C Company:
    • 1LT Edward F. Guthrie, Idabel, OK
    • PSGT Eugene Franklin, Fort Lauderdale, FL
    • SGT William J. Morse, Glen Cove, NY
    • SGT Paul L. Yost, Bidwell, OH
    • CPL Thomas J. Bradford, Lincoln Park, MI
    • CPL Richard M. Gallery, Amherst, NY
    • SP4 Johnny Miller, Kinston, NC
    • SP4 Larry C. Schwebke, Ackley, IA
    • SP4 Pierre L. Sullivan, Chambersburg, PA
    • CPL Thomas M. Walker, Richmond, CA
    • PFC George L. Cruse, Liberal, KS

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend,
Rod Forman

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 30 Jun 2003
Last updated 08/05/2007