For more than four decades this man has haunted me. Few of us have the honor to witness actions of a true hero. I did. Yesterday I received my second clue to locating him and his family. Here is a message I just posted in a veterans chat room that is specifically for Army and Navy veterans who served with the Mobile Riverine Force in Vietnam.
Do You Know This Man?
Loren Salzman, an infantryman with Delta/Echo Company, 4th & 47th, Ninth Infantry Division, from Dec. 1967 to Dec. 1968, just emailed me, “I have attached my photo of Sgt.Thomas who was our senior NCO or First Sargent as I recall. I remember him being out in front of our formations, calling us to attention, etc. I will double check with our c/o Echo Six.”
On August 18, 1968, Sergeant Thomas, in the middle of an ambush, stuck his head up through the hatch leading to the cox’n flat on Tango 112-11. “Do you need any help,” he shouted. I was driving the boat and pointed to our unmanned Port 50 cal. Without hesitation Sargent Thomas crawled into the turret and began shooting. Moments later he took a direct hit from a B-40 that had burned through the armor. I was medevaced that day and for the past 46 years I have been troubled about Sergeant Thomas. I learned his name from Cleve Chick at the 2013 MRFA Reunion. Thanks to the article titled “Ambush Survivors reunited 45 years later” in winter edition of River Currents I just received another clue. In visiting with the other survivors at the Reunion, they all agreed, Sergeant Thomas had just been transferred to 3rd platoon, Co. D, 4/47th Inf Bn.
There was so much chaos on that day in the welldeck of Tango 112-11 ( 1 KIA, 27 WIA) that I believe Thomas’s act of heroism went completely unnoticed. I’ve checked the Wall and do not find him so I am assuming he did live.
Sergeant Thomas deserves proper recognition. If he is gone, his family deserves to know of his actions.
Anybody how might be able to add to this information—please contact me.