Louis William BranchSpecialist Five
85TH MAINTENANCE CO, ARMY SPT CMD DANANG, 1 LOG CMD
Army of the United States
22 June 1939 - 07 January 1968
Panel 33E Line 064
The database page for Louis William Branch
I knew SP5 Louis W. Branch very well in Vietnam. He was killed in a mortar and sapper attack on January 7, 1968, in Phu Loc, Vietnam. Louis Branch was assigned to the 85th Maintenance Company when it was activated in-country in August 1966. We were in Phu Tai Valley together in 1966 and moved to Da Nang January 1, 1967. Branch was a good soldier and an excellent mechanic. It was reported that he died firing his M16 at the enemy.
From a unit member.
A Note from The Virtual WallThe 5th Marines' Command Chronology for January 1968 contains the following entry:
"On 7 January, an enemy force of 2 battalions reinforced vith sappers and local guerrillas effected a carefully-planned, coordinatod attack on the Phu Loc District Headquarters, Combined Action Platoons H-6 and H-7, 1/5 Battalion Command Post and Co D 1/5 outpost. Tho enemy sapper elements successfully penetrated the District Headquarters and CAP H-6 and completely overran CAP H-7. The attacks on 1st Battalion, 5th Marines positions, however, were limited to attacks by fire with mortars and RPG series rocket launchers. Enemy forces involved are believed to have been the 1st Bn, 4th NVA Regiment, K4B Main Force VC Battalion, the C118 Local Force Company, the C19 Engineer Company and the C24 Sapper Company."Initial reports in the 5th Marines' Operations Log indicated that CAP Hotel-6 had 5 dead and 2 missing; CAP Hotel-7 had 7 dead and 2 missing; and the Army unit at the District Headquarters had 1 dead and four wounded.
The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines Chronology provides additional information:
"These incidents culminated with a series of coordinated attacks on the morning of 7 January. Commencing at approximately 0335H, the Phu Loc District Headquarters and CAP H5 (ZD 0800), and CAP H6 (ZD 1400) and CAP H7 (ZD 2001) along Highway 1 were subjected to coordinated sapper and infantry assaults which the enemy supported with heavy mortar and B-40 rocket fire. Shortly thereafter, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines Command Post (ZC 076985) was subjected to heavy mortar and recoilless rifle fire.and their Operations Log gave a higher casualty count for the actions at the two CAPs and the District HQ: 18 Marines and sailors dead, one soldier killed - and four men missing. When daylight came the CAP Marines were able regain their positions and counted nineteen dead:
The mortar and rocket attacks on the 1/5 positions had caused seven other deaths:
In one of the terrible accidents inevitable in war, a mutilated body was identified as that of LCpl Steven D. Nelson. His family was notified of his death, while another Marine family was advised their Marine was missing and believed captured. On 21 January LCpl Nelson returned to friendly hands - he had been captured and escaped when his guard fell asleep. While one can imagine his family's reaction to the news of his survival and escape, one must also remember that LCpl Nelson's return erased the last hopes for another Marine family.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 06 Aug 2007
Last updated 11/14/2007