Hoi Tin Lau

Private First Class
Army of the United States
20 June 1945 - 03 February 1968
Pasadena, California
Panel 37E Line 010


Silver Star

Combat Medic

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Hoi Tin Lau

20 Oct 2007

I spoke with Hoi the evening before his death. He was a gentle and caring medic who was dedicated to his job. Hoi told me that he had planned to pursue medicine when he returned to the World. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe he also told me his family was originally from Taiwan.

Of all the deaths I witnessed in Vietnam, the killing of Hoi Tin Lau was the most traumatic. His death affected me more than any other, most likely because he was there to preserve life not take it. My heart stopped for an instant as I watched Hoi being cut down by a sniper. His death left me greatly saddened and inflamed. I truly believe that Hoi Tin Lau would have gone on to serve humanity in a significant way.

Hoi received the Silver Star for his bravery and devotion to his fellow troopers along with the Purple Heart. He also earned the love and respect of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry.

I wrote a story about that awful day of February 3rd, 1968 for the 12th Cavalry web site; the name of the story is "The Battle at Thon La Chu". This is an excerpt from that story.

One of the troopers from 2nd platoon moved up a lane in the village, and, as he did, a sniper shot him in the shoulder. The platoon's medic, Hoi Tin Lau, and another soldier left a safe position to give aid to the downed soldier. Lau ran to the trooper, dropped to his knees, and opened his medic bag. Then, as I watched, he was shot by the sniper and fell dead next to the wounded trooper. The other soldier crawled off into a ditch along the side of the road. I had talked with Hoi Tin Lau the night before. He was a wonderful, gentle, and caring medic who looked much younger than his years. What a terrible, terrible loss! I think of him often.

From a cavalry brother,
David Dulin Dentinger

A Note from The Virtual Wall

One of the primary VC objectives in their 1968 TET offensive was the ancient Imperial capital, Hue City. The VC were very successful in infiltrating troops into the city and in capturing key points during the first two days of the offensive - but holding the city depended upon their ability to bring more troops and supplies into Hue. While the ARVN and US Marines were tasked with recapturing Hue, elements of the US Army's 1st Cavalry and 101st Airborne Divisions were charged with preventing enemy reinforcements from influencing the battle for Hue City.

The 2nd Bn, 12th Cavalry was positioned as a blocking force in the vicinity of Thon La Chu, a hamlet 4 kilometers west-northwest of Hue. On 03 Feb 1968 the cavalrymen engaged an NVA battalion moving toward Hue and fought them to a stand-still in a battle that lasted most of the day. Nine US soldiers were killed in the fighting:

  • A Company:
    • PFC Frank A. Azzarito, Brookfield, CT

  • C Company:
    • SP4 Michael B. Cervera, Bloomfield, NJ
    • PFC Harold L. Gray, St Louis, MO
    • PFC Harold S. Higginbotham, Coral Gables, FL
    • PFC Edward W. Hughey, Sprott, AL
    • PFC David Quinones, New York, NY

  • HQ Company:
    • SGT Eugene D. Treadwell, Essex Center, VT
    • PFC Hoi T. Lau, Pasadena, CA (Silver Star)
    • PFC Edward Manowski, Rowland Heights, CA
04 Feb was essentially a replay of the 3rd - the enemy trying to go through or around the 2/12 Cav and the 2/12 Cav trying to prevent it. Neither side was entirely successful and 12 more cavalrymen were dead. The Commanding Officer, 2/12 Cav, realized that he could not remain where he was; enemy strength was increasing while he had been advised that he could not expect reinforcements or even replacements for his dead and wounded. He decided on a truly audacious move - a night march on 04/05 Feb took the battalion through the VC/NVA forces to higher ground to the southwest, ground where a strong defensive position could be established and held and from which the valley below could be denied to the VC by direct and indirect fires. The tactic worked; the battalion maintained its new position without undue difficulty - and enemy forces approaching Hue from the northwest were unable to either hold their positions or breach the cordon of fire. The remnants of two enemy regiments broke up into smaller elements and withdrew to the west.

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 Oct 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009