Paul David Savanuck

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
27 March 1946 - 18 April 1969
Baltimore, Maryland
Panel 26W Line 002

Bronze Star (Valor), Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Paul David Savanuck

14 May 2001

To my brother in arms,

Paul wasn't assigned to the 3/5th Cav. He worked for Stars & Stripes as a photographer and was permanently assigned to another unit. But he also died there that night. We asked that he be grouped with the 5th ACR out of honor for his memory.

Your sacrifice for your country and freedom is honored and remembered by the 3rd Squadron, Fifth Armored Cavalry Regiment as well as the American people. The fact that you gave your life for a cause you believed in will serve as a reminder to the world that war is terrible and should always be a last resort to preserve the freedom and right to unrestricted life that exists for every American.

This Wall of names, memorializing our fallen brothers, fathers, sisters and mothers, friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances and others, stands as a monument to your deeds of heroism.

You cannot and will never be forgotten ...

We thank you and love you!


27 May 2007


Until today - the evening before Memorial Day 2007 - I only knew of you, but never remembered your name.

It was in 1969 that I was transferred - actually volunteered - to go from Pacific Stars & Stripes in Tokyo to Saigon. And if my memory, now nearly 40 years later, still serves me correctly, I may have been your replacement. I remember upon my arrival being told of the "first Stripes staffer to have been killed" in the Vietnam War, only the second in Stripes' history. And I was told that I even resembled you a bit (though I think, in all candor, that many of us at that age, in the military, "looked a lot like each other.")

I did not stay there long; missing a major story in Saigon (the Tokyo bureau had to run AP copy for that story) may well have contributed to my transfer to a MACV PIO in the Delta, though to this day I wonder if my 19-year-old carefree attitude about life may have contributed to it as well.

But it really doesn't matter. What DOES matter is now, nearly 40 years later, I know who you are. And from this day forward I will honor your memory.

May you rest in peace.

Bob Reichle
E-mail address is not available.

08 Oct 2007

I was stationed with Paul in Vietnam. We were with the 23rd Artillery Group based in Phu Loi. He took some great pictures of me standing in front of my jeep that I have framed and have hung in the family room of our home here on Long Island for many years. Paul and I were the only two Jewish guys on the entire base. I remember flying down to Saigon with Paul on various occasions to visit an orphanage there. What a great guy he was. I only had three days to go in Vietnam when I was notified of his death. What a total shock. Being non-combat soldiers, I never even came close to experiencing the death of another comrade. I attended his memorial service offered by a rabbi who came in from Long Binh.

I am going to perform in a play called THE REMEMBERED at Hofstra University on October 13th and 14th, and am attaching the flyer with all the info.

All the very best
from Army buddy,
Richard Kaplan
516 680-6359 (cell phone)

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Staff Sergeant Paul Savanuck, an Army journalist, was assigned to HQ Battery, 23rd Artillery Group. As noted in the article below, he became a Stars and Stripes staffer two weeks before his death. It is unclear if he had been formally transferred to the Stars & Stripes Pacific Office, Tokyo, Japan (a USARPAC activity) before he was killed in action. In any case, he was attached to the 3/5 Cavalry on assignment.

At about 1300, 18 Apr 1969, C Troop, 3/5 Cav, and C Company, 1/9 Marines, departed Fire Support Base C-2 to conduct a search and destroy mission north of the Cam Lo Valley. At 1730 the mounted force reached Nui Tot Mon, where the Marines dismounted and moved westward up the Cam Hung Valley. At dusk the Marines set up a night defensive position on high ground above the Cam Hung while Charlie 3/5 Cav established their NDP in the Cam Lo Valley.

At about 2030 (8:30 PM) C/3/5 Cavalry's night defensive position was attacked by a reinforced company of North Vietnamese Army troops. The attack began with heavy mortar fire which covered the approach of "sappers" - essentially satchel-charge troops on a one-way mission. The NVA were able to destroy several armored personnel carriers and breach the NDP's northern perimeter. In violent hand-to-hand combat, the NVA was discouraged - but Charlie Troop lost seven armored vehicles and - much more importantly - thirteen men:

  • HQ Btry, 23rd Arty Group
    • SSG Paul D. Savanuck, Baltimore, MD
    An additional 22 men were wounded.

    The after action report is available on the Black Knight web site.

    Graduate died in Vietnam
    DINFOS library renamed after soldier
    Story by Jeff Crawley
    Editorial assistant
    The Fort Meade, Maryland base newspaper

    The Defense Information School (DINFOS) Staff Sgt. Paul D. Savanuck Memorial Library was dedicated here July 18.

    Formerly known as the Technical Reference Center (TRC), the library was renamed after Savanuck - an Army journalist and Baltimorean who was killed during the Vietnam War.

    Isabel Savanuck, Paul's mother, as well as family and friends joined the military community for the ceremony which was performed in the foyer outside the library.

    "Sgt. Savanuck did not make his name primarily as a journalist," said DINFOS Commandant Col. Hiram Bell Jr. "He made his name as a soldier who did the right thing at the worst possible times ... ."

    That is what is really being honored today, said Bell. We tell our young folks that come through this building that they are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen first. They may be called upon to do the kinds of things Savanuck did, he said.

    Savanuck was one of 11 Americans slain April 18, 1969, near Cam Lo, when North Vietnamese Army soldiers overran an encampment occupied by C Troop of the 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment. Savanuck was working for the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper.

    He was on his way to do a story near the demilitarized zone, according to an article in the The {Fort Benjamin} Harrison Post, dated May 9, 1969.

    It was only 14 days earlier that SP5 Savanuck, 23, had reported to work as a "Striper."

    Savanuck was posthumously promoted to staff sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star Medal for valor and the Purple Heart.

    "All journalists, reporters, editors, photographers, ... public affairs officers are part of something important - sharing news and information with those who need it and want it and have no other way to get it," said Thomas Kelsch, publisher of Stars and Stripes.

    Savanuck aggressively pushed to become a Stars and Stripes reporter, said Kelsch. When Savanuck was assigned to the 23rd Artillery Group in Phi Loi, Vietnam, he volunteered seven times within a six-month period to work for Stars and Stripes.

    Savanuck aspired to be the best journalist, said Brig. Gen. Carol Briscoe, deputy assistant adjutant general for the Maryland Army National Guard. "He achieved his goal when his work was brought to the attention of the Pacific Stars and Stripes."

    Public affairs personnel are sometimes put in harm's way when reporting and photographing conflicts and war, said Briscoe.

    "But it is oftentimes that their bravery captures the events that actually are the footstones of our history," she said. Savanuck believed that a journalist had to be out in the field to grasp the true emotion and feeling of the war, said Briscoe.

    Savanuck had been a journalism student at the University of Maryland when he enlisted in the Army July 10, 1967. He graduated from the DINFOS Basic Military Journalist Course in Dec. 1967, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. He finished fifth in a class of 62 students. Upon graduation, he volunteered to go to Vietnam but was sent to Germany.

    In 1968, while Savanuck was assigned to the missile base at Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 81st Artillery in West Germany, he began to persistently request to go to Vietnam.

    Long-time family friend Jack Cohen said, "He fought with Senator {Daniel} Brewster: 'Get me to Vietnam, I can't be a journalist in Berlin at a missile site.'"

    When Savanuck received orders to Vietnam, he had won his cause and was going to be a reporter in the true sense of the word, said Cohen.

    Cohen knew Paul Savanuck - the child and young man. Cohen had been Savanuck's Cub Scout leader. "Paul was caring, Paul was kind, Paul was trustworthy," said Cohen.

    Cohen told the story of how the responsible 15 year-old Savanuck had led a community group on an out-of-state excursion.

    In 1971, the Jewish War Veterans of Baltimore formed Post #888 in honor of Savanuck. Cohen was one of the founding members of the group.

    "It's (the library) fantastic, I'm just so thrilled with what they've done," said Isabel Savanuck. "I never expected this."

    The TRC name did not reflect what the small but full service library does, said DINFOS Librarian Charles Watson.

    "We're very pleased with the name change," said Watson, "it's an honor to Staff Sgt. Savanuck, his family, to military journalists and especially to the Army."

    The process to change the name took over a year, said Library Technician Brenda McQuillan, who began working at the TRC at Fort Harrison in 1994.

    Pfc. Castanon, a DINFOS graduate awaiting further assignment, works at the Staff Sgt. Savanuck Memorial Library. "It's really awesome that they are doing something for a fellow student of ours," she said.

    The Savanuck family has made contributions to the TRC since 1980. In 1991, Savanuck's father, Daniel, made a visit to the Fort Harrison TRC which displayed a memorial plaque in honor of his son.

    The master of ceremonies was Wesley Ellenburg, DINFOS chief of faculty development. Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Hendricks, of the DINFOS Maintenance Instruction Department, gave the invocation.

    The DINFOS Joint Color Guard posted the colors. The Francis Scott Key Chapter of the Association of the United States Army sponsored a reception following the ceremony.

    The Staff Sgt. Paul D. Savanuck Memorial Library is for use by DINFOS students, faculty and staff. For more information about the library, call 677-4694.

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    With all respect
    Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
    Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
    Memorial first published on 14 May 2001
    Last updated 08/10/2009