6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK)
Assigned to the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division)

Redeploying  North          23d Infantry Division (Americal Division)

OPORD 20-69: 6th Bn, 56th Arty (- Btry C) moves to the vicinity of Chu Lai, RVN, conducts a relief of the 2d LAAM Bn (USMC), establishes command and control facilities and assumes responsibility for low and medium altitude air defense of the Chu lai area.

The relocation of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, Less Battery C, from the Saigon-Bien Hoa area to Chu Lai was the result of an extensive study of air defense requirements in Vietnam by USARV (U.S. Army, Vietnam), 7th US Air Force, MACV (U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam), and CINCPAC (Commander in Chief, Pacific Command). The redeployment of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, less Battery C, to Chu Lai not only involved the redeployment of the Battalion, but the withdrawal of the 6th Battalion, 71st Artillery (HAWK) US Army and the withdrawal of the 2d LAAM BN (2d Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion) USMC from Vietnam. This was directed by JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) SECRET message 06760, 082258Z August 1968.


6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) US Army

This operation order began a new phase and many first for the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery in Vietnam. The first was a tactical move using Land Ship Tank (LST)’s to relieve the USMC 2nd Light AntiAircraft Missile (LAAM) Battalion in place in a combat zone.


 At 241600Z August 1968 the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (-) was released from it air defense mission in the Tan Son Nhut/Bien Hoa area.

On 10 September 1968 elements of Battery D, 6th Bn, 56th Arty loaded the first LST and departed Newport Docking Facility on 11 September 1968.

At 191230Z September 1968, Btry D, 6th Bn, 56th Arty assumed operational status relieving Btry A, 2d LAAM Bn (USMC) (BT512159)

At 261200Z September 1968, Btry A, 6th Bn, 56th Arty assumed operational status, relieving Btry C, 2d LAAM Bn (USMC) (BT563043)

At 020846Z October 1968, Btry B, 6th Bn, 56th Arty assumed operational status, relieving Btry B, 2d LAAM Bn (USMC) (BT536103)

Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) departed the staging area and occupied the the Headquarters and Service Battery area, 2nd LAAM Bn (USMC) Chu Lai on 12 October 1968 at BT 553054.

Next USARV GO 4664, 8 Oct 68, relieved 6th Bn, 56th Arty from attachment to 97th Arty Gp (AD) and assigned the battalion to the Americal Division, effective 10 oct 68.

This order assigning the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery to the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal Division) marked the first time that a HAWK missile battalion was assigned to an infantry division in combat.

Newport Docking Saigon VietnamChu Lia LST Dock

C Battery, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery Remained at Tan Son Nhut Air Base


C Battery, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery remained at Tan Son Nhut Air Base (XT846518). C Battery remained assigned to the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery and under operational control of the 7th US Air Force via Control and Reporting Center (CRC) Tan Son Nhut Air Base.

The HAWK missile shield of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, assigned to the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal), Division Artillery protected the Army’s largest division in Vietnam, covering two large provinces in I Corps, Quang Tin and Quang Ngi and part of Quang Nam in the north. And Battery C, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery’s HAWK missile’s iron fist and shield defended Tan Son Nhut Air Base and the Saigon area in the south from air attacks from enemy missiles and aircraft.

TYPHOON BESS and the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK)

The 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, less Battery C, arrived in the Chu Lai area during the autumn transitional season between the Southwest and Northeast monsoon. The most sufficient local weather feature was “TYPHOON BESS” which struck the coast of Vietnam, between Da Nang and Chu Lai, during the period 3-4 September 1968. The Chu Lai area experience winds of 40 knots velocity and heavy rains. Approximately 12 inches of rain was recorded during September and 23 inches during October. These adverse weather conditions existed while the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, less Battery C, was occupying their tactical sites and returning to an operational status. The Battalion's normal operation was not affected to any great extent by these adverse conditions.

6th Battalion, 56th Artillery Assume Operational Control of Sector V, Chu Lai Defense Command (CLDC) for Ground Defense

On 1 October 1968, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th Battalion 56th artillery assumed operational control of Sector V, Chu Lai Defense Command (CLDC) for ground defense.  This involved providing a command element for coordination and direction of all sector ground defense activities. The sector had an outer perimeter of approximately 8.5 miles. The command element required the full time efforts of seven personnel (1- CAPT; 2-E6; 4- E4) who manned the Sector V, tactical operations center on a 24 hour a day basis.

The Battalion trained three rapid reaction forces to be deployed on short notice to block any enemy penetration within the Chu Lai Defense Command. On 1 November 1968 the southern boundary of Sector V, was expended. This required additional guards and communications.

Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th Battalion assumed operational control of Sector V, Chu Lai Defense Command (CLDC) for ground defense on October 2, 1968. On March 4, 1969 at 6:25 a.m. eleven 122mm rockets were hired into the Chu Lai Defense Command (CLDC). The rockets brought the total number to 86 expended on the CLDC sine the current enemy offensive began on February 23, 1969. Southern Cross Americal Division newspaper, Vol. 2 No. 7, Chu Lai, Vietnam, march 30, 1969.

Dogs of War

Upon arrival in the Chu Lai area, the security dogs required a 10 day period to get acclimated to the heat. Due to the non-availability of dog kennels one the tactical sites, temporary kennels were constructed pending installation of permanent candle facilities. After a thorough study of the local security requirements, several changes in security dogs have handler utilization were made. Battery D, located on Ky Hoa Island, was augmented with four security dog handler teams from Battery D. The dog handler teams located at Battery A were utilized to secure the southern perimeter of Sector V CLDC. Headquarters Battery used the security dogs on the battery perimeter do to the possibility of infiltration. Battery C, located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, lost their security dog handler team authorization 31 October 1968.

Thanksgiving Day Menu C Battery, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) Vietnam 1968

God Bless the Army Cook

God bless the Army Cook. In every war, far off duty stations, or army post, the U.S. Army’s Cooks always insured the troops had their traditional Thanksgiving Day meal. No hardship has ever stopped them from giving this gift to the American soldier.

Pots on Field Stoves

Do you remember not having ovens big enough for a turkey and the cooks putting them in big pots on top of the field stoves and steaming them?  Those cooks had a hard job.  Nobody was upset; we just enjoyed the best they could do. Joseph A. Belle-Isle, C Btry, 6th Bn, 56th Arty (HAWK) 1968


Menu courtesy Joseph A. Belle-Isle

Chu Lai Map with Batteries of the 6th Bn, 56th Arty

The 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, location of batteries while assigned to the 23d Infantry Division (Americal Division) Chu Lai, Vietnam.
            1. Battery D, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (BT515159)
            2. Battery A, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (BT563043)
            3. Battery B, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (BT536103)
            4. Headquarters & Headquarters Battery, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (BT553054)

The Southern Cross the Americal Division news paper 22 December 1968


The Americal Division news paper, The Southern Cross, Vol. 1, Page 3, dated 22 December 1968, HAWK Missile Bn. Joins Division.

CHU LAI—A unique and powerful artillery unit has brought added punch to the Americal. The 6th Bn., 56th Arty., recently assigned to the division, is different from all others in Vietnam. Instead of artillery rounds, it fires deadly swift HAWK missiles.


Under Division Artillery

Formerly part of the 97th Arty Grp., the air defense missile battalion will perform under the command of Americal Division Artillery with operational control vested in the 7th USAF. The battalion is commanded by LTC William R. Warren.


The missile battalion’s mission is to provide air defense protection against attacking low and medium altitude, high-speed hostile aircraft, by destroying, nullifying, or reducing their effectiveness.


Civic Minded Too

The unit also contributes to the Civic Action Pacification Program by supplying manpower and materials to assist villages near it sites.


Yearly each battery must fire two HAWK Missiles at a jet drone target aircraft. As ad result of this training, the battalion is ready if called upon to attack hostile aircraft.


No newcomer to Vietnam, the 6/56 has been in country since Oct. 1, 1965. It withstood all communist offensives, including the TET offensive in the Saigon, Long Binh and Bien Hoa area.


On July 26 last year the unit was presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period Nov., 1965 to June, 1966.

Americal Division, Order of Battle Vietnam, 1 November 1968

This order of battle was obtained from a copy of the Americal Division Operational Reports-Lessons Learned (ORLL) for the period 1 August 1968 to 31 October 1968. Copy obtained and provided by Mr. Les Hines, Des Moines, IA.


Headquarters Americal Division
APO San Francisco 96374


7 November 1968

Subject: Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31 October 1968

(RSC-CSFOR-65)  (RI)  (U)




(as of 1 November 1968)   




     HHB, Div Arty


     3rd Bn, 16th Arty


     3rd Bn, 18th Arty


     1st Bn, 82nd Arty


     3d Plt, Btry, 29th Arty, Searchlight (OPCON)


     G Btry, 55th Arty (.50)


     251st Radar Det


     6th Bn, 56th Arty

                D Btry, 6th Bn, 56th Arty, Photo by Eddie Donato                      HHB, 6th Bn, 56th Arty, sign, Chu Lai, Photo by Eddie Donato

                                                          HHB, 6th Bn 56th Arty location on the beach at Chu Lia

 Unidentified Aircraft

During the period ending 30 April 1969 the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery air defense system alert status was increased on four separate occasions to track unknown aircraft entering the Da Nang Air Defense Subsector. After accepting and tracking the targets received from the Da Nang Control and Reporting Center, three tracks were subsequently identified as friendly. The fourth track to enter the system was a dual track. It entered the system from the north-east and proceeded into the outer edge of the ADIZ and was locked on by a battery of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery. The track quickly reversed direction and exited the subsector ADIZ.

Tet 1969/ Counteroffensive

Enemy activity in the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery area was very light until Tet, 23 February 1969. During the Post Tet 1969 offensive, several 122 mm rockets impacted within the battalion’s area destroying one SEA hut and damaging two others. As a result of hostile action, 14 casualties were suffered by the battalion and three HAWK missiles sustained minor damages. The repair of all damaged missiles was accomplished in two days.

Battery D, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, You Are on Your Own

D Battery has six security dog teams employed. The battery was located on Ky Hoa Island. D Battery was not under the Chu Lai Defense Command it was responsible for its own ground defense.

                          D Btry 6th Bn 56th Arty, Ky Hoa Island, Chu Lai

Southern Cross, Americal Division newspaper, Vol. 2, No. 12, Chu Lai, Vietnam, June 8, 1969. Homing All The way Killer (HAWK) The HAWK missiles of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery were poised, ready to destroy any approaching enemy aircraft in the vicinity of Chu Lai. If you fly, you die and “NIGHT HIDES NOT”

B Battery Commander’s Tour

Cpt. James Ebner flew out of Travis Air Force Base, California enroute to Long Binh via Bien Hoa Airbase Vietnam on 3 August 1968.

I was on battalion staff (one of several captains vying for a real job, but not getting one until after the move to Chu Lai)

I remember that I had just arrived at Long Binh in time to hear the Bien Hoa bomb dump blow up my first night in country. When I made it to my unit my first mission was to do an AR600-10 investigation of a suicide by a member of Charlie battery who jumped off the top of their water tower, featured in one of your photos on your site. Included an interesting visit to the Tan Son Nuht mortuary to examine the body with the CID folks.

I took over Bravo battery from a Spencer Hawkins in Jan 69, not long after it settled in to its location on a bluff behind Americal HQ as shown on your map. The Marines had left some months before. Bn CO was William Warren, who gave me the command. My first sergeant was Fred Fugate who took me under his wing and kept me out of peril until I learned the ropes. He was replaced by a James White. My 2 line platoon sergeants were SFC Bornowski and SSG John Ford. My WO techs were CW2 Jim Galloway and Ramon Cruz. My XO was James K. Devaney, then Lake Rumsey. My platoon leaders were LTs Piggott and Zamora.

Most of my time was routine site duty defending the Chu Lai base from the NVAF, such as it was. We had a PACOM ORE and got a perfect score, probably the only one battery to get one during the whole war. The most exciting thing that happened was the "Second Tet" of 69. Chu Lai sucked up about 98 122s in the space of a few minutes, a remarkable feat of TOT by Charlie. We were bemused by next day's Stars and Stripes headline: "Saigon blasted; 6 rockets batter city""

The best time was the departure. We were stood down and a BN HQ task force under the EMMO (a Bruce Thackston)POM'd the equipment and missiles. We flew out in C141s right from Chu Lai base. It took three of them to finally get us to Biggs AFB after about 48 hours of flying and waiting for replacement planes. It was a lousy trip, but it got us out of the victory parade which nobody seemed to be interested in. When I finally led the disembarkation with guidon and first sergeant, I was greeted by the welcoming committee OIC, Major Chuck Decko, an old buddy, who assured me that we were home. Wouldn't want to repeat it, but it was the most interesting and fulfilling 7 months in my life. By Cpt. James Ebner, B Battery Commander

Vietnam War Casualties -US vs NVA/VA

The Tet Offensive of 1968 was conceived by General Giap, commander of the North Vietnam Army and his staff.  General Giap had planned and executed the battle at Dien Bien Phu which drove the French out of Vietnam in 1954. During the battle of Dien Bien Phu, General Giap stated he was willing to lose 10 men for every 1 enemy soldier killed.

During the Vietnam War the US Forces had 47,378 killed in action (KIA) and the NVA/VC had 1,100,000 KIA. The NVA was willing to accept high casualties.

The Purple Heart Medal

Criteria Governs Award of the Purple Heart

The following criteria governs award of the Purple Heart in ALL branches of service, not just the United States Army. The text here is taken directly from AR 600-8-22, 25 February 1995 and Public Law 104-106 - Feb. 10, 1996 (sub-paragraphs have been indented to ease reading) AR 600-8-22 / 25 February 1995


(a) IN GENERAL.--(1) Chapter 57 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section: 

"§ 1131. Purple Heart: limitation to members of the armed forces 

"The decoration known as the Purple Heart (authorized to be awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016) may only be awarded to a person who is a member of the armed forces at the time the person is killed or wounded under circumstances otherwise qualifying that person for award of the Purple Heart.".

(2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item: 

"1131. Purple Heart: limitation to members of the armed forces.". 

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.--Section 1131 of title 10, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall apply with respect to persons who are killed or wounded after the end of the 180-day period beginning on (18 Nov 1997) the date of the enactment of this Act.

2-8. Purple Heart 

The Purple Heart was established by General George Washington, at Newburgh, New York, on 7 August 1782, during the Revolutionary War. It was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General Orders 3, 1932 and is currently awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016, 25 April 1962, Executive Order 12464, 23 February 1984 and Public Law 98-525, 19 October 1984. 

a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded 

(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.

(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.

(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.

(6) After 28 March 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of the Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed Services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.

(7) After 28 March 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.

b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.

(1) A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an Oak Leaf Cluster will be awarded to be worn on the medal or ribbon. Not more than one award will be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant or from the same missile, force, explosion, or agent.

(2) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.

(3) When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.

(4) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows: 

(a) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.

(b) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.

(c) Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological or nuclear agent.

(d) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.

(e) Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.

(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.

(b) Heat stroke.

(c) Food poisoning not caused by enemy agents.

(d) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not released by the enemy.

(e) Battle fatigue.

(f) Disease not directly caused by enemy agents.

(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.

(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.

(i) Post traumatic stress disorders.

(j) Jump injuries not caused by enemy action.

(6) It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration, the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples:

(a) In case such as an individual injured while making a parachute landing from an aircraft that had been brought down enemy fire; or, an individual injured as a result of a vehicle accident caused by enemy fire, the decision will be made in favor of the individual and the award will be made.

(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of "friendly fire" in the "heat of battle" will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the "friendly" projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.

(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence.

c. A Purple Heart will be issued to the next of kin of each person entitled to a posthumous award. Issue will be made automatically by the Commanding General, PERSCOM, upon receiving a report of death indicating entitlement.

d. Upon written application to Commander, ARPERCEN, ATIN.- DAR-P-VSEA, 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132-5200, award may be made to any member of the Army, who during World War 1, was awarded a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate signed by the Commander in Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, or who was authorized to wear wound chevrons. Posthumous awards to personnel who were killed or died of wounds after 5 April 1917 will be made to the appropriate next of kin upon application to the Commanding General, PERSCOM.

e. Any member of the Army who was awarded the Purple Heart for meritorious achievement or service, as opposed to wounds received in action, between 7 December 1941 and 22 September 1943, may apply for award of an appropriate decoration instead of the Purple Heart.

f. For those who became Prisoners of War after 25 April 1962, the Purple Heart will be awarded to individuals wounded while prisoners of foreign forces, upon submission by the individual to the Department of the U.S. Army of an affidavit that is supported by a statement from a witness, if this is possible. Documentation and inquiries Should be directed to Commander, PERSCOM, ATTN: TAPCPDA, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471.

g. Any member of the U.S. Army who believes that he or she is eligible for the Purple Heart, but through unusual circumstances no award was made, may submit an application through military channels, to Commander, PERSCOM, ATTN: TAPC-PDA, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471. Application will include complete documentation, to include evidence of medical treatment, pertaining to the wound.

PUBLIC LAW 104-106 - FEB. 10, 1996


(a) AWARD OF PURPLE HEART.—For purposes of the award of the Purple Heart, the Secretary concerned (as defined in section 101 of title 10, United States Code) shall treat a former prisoner of war who was wounded before April 25, 1962, while held as a prisoner of war (or while being taken captive) in the same manner as a former prisoner of war who is wounded on or after that date while held as a prisoner of war (or while being taken captive). 

(b) STANDARDS FOR AWARD.—An award of the Purple Heart under subsection (a) shall be made in accordance with the standards in effect on the date of the enactment of this Act for the award of the Purple Heart to persons wounded on or after April 25, 1962.

(C) ELIGIBLE FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR.—A person shall be considered to be a former prisoner of war for purposes of this section if the person is eligible for the prisoner-of-war meda1 under section 1128 of title 10, United States Code.



Soldiers of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery Awarded the Purple Heart in Vietnam

 Name  Battery  Date of Action
 SP4 James E. Kralowski  Battery B  4 May 1968/Killed in Action
 SP5 Walter  J.  Maguire  Jr.                Battery B                                                 12 May 1967                    
 SSGT Billy R. Story  Battery C  12 Jun 1967
 PVT Kenneth J. McGarity  Battery D  5 Nov 1967
 PFC Thomas L. Colbert  Battery A  31 Mar 1968
 SP4 James Richardson  Battery D  22 Aug 1968
 PFC William J. Kascan  Battery D  22 Aug 1968
PFC LARRY H. Oakes  Battery B  4 May 1968
PFC  Donald R. Thumbauer  BAttery B  4 may 1968
 PVT Richard D. Keys  HHB  13 April 1966

Southern Cross Americal Division newspaper, Vol. 2 No. 21, Chu Lai, Vietnam, August 20, 1969. With a goodbye from Vietnamese schoolgirls, the battalion standing tall, the air defenders of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) request permission to depart Chu Lai, South Vietnam.

You keep Chu Lai Vietnam safe from enemy air craft. When the radars of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) locked on they turned tail and headed for the DMZ.

Department of the Army Operational Reports - Lessons Learned
(Chick on the below listed tabs for reports)

Operational Report Lessons Learned, Headquarters, Americal Division, Period Ending 31 October 1969
Website Builder