04 Nov 1999
William M. Geier
and the other men of
9th Infantry Division, 4/47th Battalion, C Company - 2nd Platoon -
"Mobile Riverine Force". Area of Operation: Mekong Delta.
Bill Geier was our medic in Charlie Companys 2nd Platoon. He and the rest of us came together in May of 1966, as the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated for action in Viet Nam. All of us trained together and bonded friendships for many months before our train trip from Fort Riley, Kansas in January of 1967, to Oakland, California. Then, onto a troop ship, the General John Pope and three weeks later landing near Vung Tau. At each leg of the trip, our 9th Division band sent us gloriously on as we naively believed the mighty 9th would bring an end to the war by year-end.
To me, Bill Geier was already a hero even before the morning of June 19, 1967, when the 4/47th disembarked from Navy landing craft in the rice paddies down in the Mekong Delta. Bill had already risen to many previous occasions to patch up our wounded. This fateful day, we were on another search and destroy mission with the 2nd Platoon taking point and I ended up as the point man. All morning, we humped from one rice paddy to the next while flanking a narrow tributary that fed the Mekong River.
It was late morning, when the first shot rang out causing everyone to hit the ground. I found myself lying exposed in the middle of a rice paddy and I quickly sprang up and raced back 50 yards to a rice paddy dike for cover. As I ran, everyone was scrambling for cover as bullets and rockets were screaming through the air. The Viet Cong and NVA were entrenched across the small river - we were clearly ambushed. Several squads of our guys in small boats in the river were immediately killed. A sniper was hitting men all around me from a tree line off to our left and thats when Bill Geier came hustling up exposing himself to enemy fire to help as we were yelling, medic medic. First, he bandaged Bob French, who had been hit in his lower back and then Bill began attending to Ronnie Bryans buttocks wound. I was firing my M79 grenade launcher towards the tree line when a bullet shot right through my barrel, narrowly missing me. Suddenly, Bill was hit as he was giving a shot of morphine to Ronnie. Bill was mortally wounded. I tried everything to bandage him and to keep him talking. For a little while he talked and guided me with the bandaging.
I desperately wanted him to keep talking but, Bills breath and his life just slipped way
.. and there was nothing that I could do.
For hours, our choppers and jets were screaming in from the rear slamming the entrenched enemy with some rockets hitting our side of the river; a few guys were hit with friendly fire. At one point, a courageous medevac pilot came right in for our wounded and we hustled Bob French on a stretcher onboard. The pilot was hit right away in his left shoulder causing the rear rotor to instantly swing hard throwing Bob onto the ground. Other medevacs were landing way to the rear for our wounded. I looked back once and saw a group of wounded guys scramble onto a chopper and as I watched it go airborne, it was hit about 200 feet in the air. We were all yelling, go - go go! Weaving and sputtering, it lost control and went crashing down onto its side losing everyone on board. Four Hueys were shot down that day. By late afternoon, as the firing began to calm we were ordered back to the landing craft at the rivers bank. I remember remarking, "Thank God, were leaving". One of our Company Commanders abruptly corrected me telling us that were going across the river to assault Charlie.
Landing on the other side, we began running and shooting everywhere as the enemy scattered like rabbits. They still had a little fight left with some small arms fire and mortars coming in. Clearly, the battle was almost over - but then, a mortar came whistling in exploding nearby and hitting my firing hand with fragments. When I scrambled back to find a medic, I was bandaged, along with several others, and we were lifted out of there.
Later on, I learned that "A" Company had been wiped out in that ambush.
I can still visualize Bill Geiers face to this day though, we were all 19 to 20 years old his face seemed so much younger. I will never forget the bravery of Bill Geier and all of the men in the 4/47th on that horrendous day. Nor will I ever forget how tremendously fortunate that that snipers bullet scarcely missed me and shot through my grenade launchers barrel. Certainly, that sniper had me pinned in his cross hair.
P.S. If other 4/47th soldiers read this and can provide additional details, it would be very much appreciated.