Notes from The Virtual Wall
On 11 Apr 1966, C Company, 2/16th Infantry, was engaged and surrounded by a larger Viet Cong force in a heavily forested area about 35 miles east of Saigon. In the ensuing battle, C Company was destroyed as a fighting force - 34 dead, 72 seriously wounded, and only 28 still effective - but they held until relieved on 12 April.
Decorations for heroism during the action were awarded to many of the soldiers, including posthumous awards of the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Robinson, the Distinguished Service Cross to platoon leader 1LT George C. Steinberg, and the Air Force Cross to Air Force pararescueman
A1C William H. Pitsenbarger
who came into the battle with a medevac helicopter and stayed to fight.
The ferocity of the action and the bravery of the soldiers who fought it come through clearly in the text of Sergeant Robinson's Medal of Honor Citation:
The President of the United States|
in the name of the Congress of the United States
takes pride in presenting the
MEDAL OF HONOR
James William Robinson, Jr
for service as set forth in the following
United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Company C was engaged in fierce combat with a Viet Cong battalion. Despite the heavy fire, SGT Robinson moved among the men of his fire team, instructing and inspiring them, and placing them in advantageous positions. Enemy snipers located in nearby trees were inflicting heavy casualties on forward elements of SGT Robinson's unit. Upon locating the enemy sniper whose fire was taking the heaviest toll, he took a grenade launcher and eliminated the sniper. Seeing a medic hit while administering aid to a wounded sergeant in front of his position and aware that now the 2 wounded men were at the mercy of the enemy, he charged through a withering hail of fire and dragged his comrades to safety, where he rendered first aid and saved their lives. As the battle continued and casualties mounted, SGT Robinson moved about under intense fire to collect from the wounded their weapons and ammunition and redistribute them to able-bodied soldiers. Adding his fire to that of his men, he assisted in eliminating a major enemy threat. Seeing another wounded comrade in front of his position, SGT Robinson again defied the enemy's fire to effect a rescue. In so doing he was himself wounded in the shoulder and leg. Despite his painful wounds, he dragged the soldier to shelter and saved his life by administering first aid. While patching his own wounds, he spotted an enemy machinegun which had inflicted a number of casualties on the American force. His rifle ammunition expended, he seized 2 grenades and, in an act of unsurpassed heroism, charged toward the entrenched enemy weapon. Hit again in the leg, this time with a tracer round which set fire to his clothing, SGT Robinson ripped the burning clothing from his body and staggered indomitably through the enemy fire, now concentrated solely on him, to within grenade range of the enemy machinegun position. Sustaining 2 additional chest wounds, he marshaled his fleeting physical strength and hurled the 2 grenades, thus destroying the enemy gun position, as he fell dead upon the battlefield. His magnificent display of leadership and bravery saved several lives and inspired his soldiers to defeat the numerically superior enemy force. SGT Robinson's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon the 1st Infantry Division and the U.S. Armed Forces.