CAPT - 03 - Army - National Guard
2520 - Training Officer
Advisory Team 85
1st Infantry Division
22 Years of Service
Tour began on October 29, 1968
Married with four children and one grandson
42 Years Old
He was also a World War II veteran
November 8, 1926 - August 19, 1969
Cynthia Sauceda Sanchez remembers her uncle...
I am Cynthia (Sauceda) Sanchez and Jose Llamas was not only my
uncle, but my HERO. I was very excited to learn of this web site
from my cousin Robert Llamas. When I saw my uncle's picture, it was
like living that awful day again! I cried and cried, I was so happy to
see his picture, but at the same time so sad that were are without him.
My mother is Carmen Sauceda and she is Uncle Jose's only sister. Thank you
for this web site and keeping all of our service heroes' memory alive.
Please take time out of your busy day and stop to give thanks not only to God,
but to all of our servicemen and women who have served so bravely and are
serving so that we may live in complete "FREEDOM"!
Jason Holcom remembers his uncle...
Captain Jose Llamas was my uncle. My mother Carmen L. Sauceda was his sister.
As his daughter wrote, it is like it was yesterday that we received the news of my
uncle. I have memories when we went as a family to visit and we kids would go out
and see the horse that was owned by Mr. Doty. All I can say is that my Uncle Joe
was a fantastic man that fought for his country.
Jose Llamas leaves a message about his namesake...
My name is Jose Llamas also and I live in Sevilla, Spain. I am proud of having
the same name.
Patty Brock remembers her father...
My name is Patricia and I am the daughter of Jose. The traveling Faces On The Wall
is currently at the school that I teach at (Ell-Saline High School, Brookville, KS),
and I was surprised to see it!
At any rate, someone mentioned this on-line site to me tonight, and I am viewing it now. I
couldn't read through the article at school, as after all these years, the memories are
still too painful. I remember just as if it were yesterday the chaplain coming to the door.
My Aunt Carmen wasn't with him. He was by himself, and the knock at the door was in
the wee hours of the morning. I remember laying in bed and hearing the knock, knock of
the door. No one would answer - it was as if we all knew. I remember the chaplain telling
mom and asking if there were someone who could come over. I assume that's when Aunt
Carmen was called. I remember my mom sobbing, "Oh my Joe, my Joe". The pain
and sadness in her voice is something I'll never forget.
Thanks for making people aware of those who lost their lives for our country. My father
is a hero and I hope my son, who bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather,
becomes half the man my father was.
This plaque is in the Kansas Army National Guard Armory in Newton.
"God, Country and Family"
On August 19, 1969, Kansas Army National Guard Capt. Jose Llamas, known
as Joe to his friends and "Pep" to his parents, was killed by hostile fire at Cai Doi
Hamlet, near the Cambodian border in the Republic of Vietnam. Llamas was serving
as an advisor to a Republic of Vietnam Army battalion reaction force.
Today, nestled among Kansas' prairie elm and cedar, surrounded by a green carpet
of trimmed prairie grass in St. Mary's Cemetery, Newton, Kansas, rests Joe's gray
Army headstone, which reads, in Spartan style:
CPT ADVISORY TEAM 85
VIETNAM BSM & 2 OLC PH
NOV 8 1926 AUG 19 1969
Two miles west, three simple bronze plaques hang in the foyer of the Newton Armory
George F. Martinez and Pfc. Robert L. Boese, also
in memory of Llamas, Spc. 4
killed in Vietnam in 1969.
On May 13, 1968 the 69th Brigade, Kansas Army National Guard, was activated for
federal service in Vietnam. At the time, Llamas was the commander of Company
C, 1st Battalion, 137th Infantry. Although he was 42 years old, had served in Europe
in World War II, had enough service years to retire, had a good job as a machinist with
the Coleman Company in Wichita and had a young wife and four grade school children,
Llamas accepted the call to duty without complaint. "I have to go with my men," he
told his wife, Mary.
The brigade went to Fort Carson, Colorado for training. Llamas' anticipation to serve
with his men was short lived. From Fort Carson, approximately 65 percent of the
enlisted men and 97 percent of the officers of the brigade were sent to Vietnam. Then
2nd Lt. Lloyd "Gene" Krase assumed command of Company C and Llamas was "on
the first levy out" to Vietnam. Krase, now the 35th Division commander and other
Kansas Guardsmen followed shortly.
Llamas initially served with the 1st Infantry Division. In March 1969 he was assigned as
Senior Advisor, Mobile Advisory Team IV-62, Advisory Team 85, Delta Military
Assistance Command, United States Army Advisory Group, IV Corps Tactical Zone,
United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). The last months of
Llamas' life are chronicled in his letters home and the citations to three Bronze Star
Medals awarded posthumously.
On June 1, 1969 in a letter to Mary, Joe wrote:
"Haven't been able to write lately but as I have told you this ARVN Battalion that I
am working with is the Reaction Force for this province so whenever anything comes
up we are flown in. We've been constantly on the go for the past weeks so I really
haven't had time to write. I'm glad to be here at base camp. I'm tired and filthy. You
can probably smell me clear from home if you try real hard. Had three letters from
you when I got here and you really don't know how much a letter from home means not
to just me but everybody over here.
...It's so hot and humid and now everywhere we go, we are waist high in water.
Early this morning we made an airborne assault and when I jumped off the chopper
I caught my foot on something and fell flat on my face in three feet of water. The VN
Commander got a big bang out of it, but I got even with him when we were sweeping
the area and he stepped in a foxhole which you can't see because of the water and went
completely out of sight. I'm getting to get pretty fond of some of them. They are always
looking out for me. I don't worry too much in the field because I blend in with them
pretty well from a distance, but my three NCO's stick out like a sore thumb. They
stand about 2-3 foot above the Vietnamese.
I received your letter where you sent a copy of the services for (Maj. Robert E.)
Turner, (a Kansas Guardsman from McPherson, also assigned to MACV). I was
certainly shocked when I heard it, but you get used to having old and new friends
going to their Maker, not really used to it, rather resigned I guess is a better word.
All of us over here think well it can't happen to me but I guess when the Good Lord
decides to call you home, you go..."
Fifty-seven days later, on July 27: "...at approximately 2245 hours (10:45 p.m.) an
estimated Viet Cong platoon attacked the village of Cai Doi and the 858 Regional
Forces Company Compound. Capt. Llamas immediately deployed the team members
to predetermined positions. When it was learned that a reaction element had suffered
severe casualties, he immediately organized litter teams with a reaction element and,
under intense automatic weapons fire, led these elements into the area of contact. He
then deployed the reaction element to provide security and directed the evacuation
of the causalities. After the evacuation was completed and while still under heavy
automatic fire from the enemy weapons, Llamas assessed the situation and personally
adjusted mortar fire on the enemy positions. After the hostile positions were
neutralized he directed a sweep of the area of contact under adverse conditions,"
according to General Orders, No. 5146, Posthumous Award of Bronze Star Medal
with "V" Device, 28 August 1969.
Nineteen days later and four days before his death, on August 15, from Moc Hoa,
"about 1,500 yards from the Cambodian border," Joe wrote to Mary:
"It's raining cats and dogs outside right now and I've just finished taking a shower
under pure rain water! I took all my cloths off and enjoyed it. Lately it's been
raining so much that the rivers and canals are extremely muddy and a lot of debris
in them. We just got back from an operation and although it was pretty much a
success it cost me a very good friend. Maj. Hamrick who was the Forward Air
Controller was with us and was killed by a B-40 Rocket. He helped us out a lot
by giving us many of the things we needed as well as doing a good job getting us
air support when we needed it. He was a lot of fun and now it leaves us all sad
to see one more familiar face gone forever. I realize that this is going to happen
but it never makes it feel any better."
Four days later, on August 19, a month before his tour in Vietnam was to end, at Cai
Doi Hamlet, Llamas' unit:
"...suddenly came under intense enemy mortar fire. At the same time the enemy
launched a three pronged ground attack bringing the team under intense small arms
and machine gun fire, Llamas immediately rallied the members of the team and had
them establish defensive positions within the team house. Under his direction the
team began to repulse the attack. While thus engaged the team house received
a direct hit from an enemy mortar round resulting in the death of Llamas." Taken
from General Orders, No. 5147, Posthumous Award of Bronze Star Medal (First
Oak Leaf Cluster) with "V" Device, August 28, 1969.
In addition, Llamas was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrifice
and a third Bronze Star Medal, Second Oak Leaf Cluster, for his service with MACV.
In the days that followed, Joe's wife and family were personally notified of his death.
Joe's sister, Carmen Sauceda, received the Western Union Telegram delivered by
compassionate Army personnel; together they informed Mary. At the request of
the Llamas family, his friend, Maj. Bill Krehbiel, a retired Kansas Army National
Guardsman from Halstead, escorted Joe's body home. Krehbiel was also serving
On Saturday, August 30, Joe's funeral was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic
Church in Newton and military services were conducted at his grave site at St.
Mary's Cemetery. Newton's mayor, the VFW and American Legion post commanders
and the local G.I. Forum chairman jointly proclaimed that Saturday as "Capt. Jose
Llamas Day." Mary Llamas received written condolences from President Richard
Nixon and from Senator Bob Dole.
The details of Llamas' Vietnam service only partly describe him. Although diminutive
in stature, Joe was a giant among men. Three words more aptly depict him: "God,
country and family."
Llamas was born in Grants, New Mexico to Pablo and Maria Llamas, who immigrated
to the United States from Mexico. The Llamas family eventually moved to the Walton,
Kansas area where Pablo Llamas worked for the railroad. There, in the heart of
America, Joe, his sister and seven brothers were raised devout Catholics, to love each
other and to love this country.
In February 1944, three months after his 17th birthday, Joe dropped out of Walton
High School to enlist in the Army. After basic training, he became a heavy mortar
crewman. Llamas served with the 272nd Infantry Regiment and the 541st, 861st,
914th and 994th Ordinance Companies in France, Belgium and Germany. He was
promoted to Technician Fifth Grade as a small arms weapons mechanic and light
truck driver. In 1946, upon his separation from service in WWII, Llamas was awarded
the Combat Infantry Badge, the American Defense Service Medal, the World War II
Victory Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Theater Ribbon, Victory Ribbon
and the EAMET Ribbon.
After serving in the Reserve Component for a short time in 1947, Llamas enlisted in the
Kansas Army National Guard as a master sergeant. He was assigned as a Mortar Section
Leader in Company C in Newton. He distinguished himself as a 60mm expert gunner and
was promoted to Weapons Platoon Sergeant and, after completing Army Extension
Courses was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned as the Weapons Platoon
Leader. Llamas continued to serve in Company C, eventually becoming the company
Llamas loved the Guard and the friendships he developed in it. Krehbiel recently remem-
bered Joe, saying, "He was a good citizen, a good soldier and a good buddy." Other Guard
officers, now retired, including Chief Warrant Officer Wally Bacon remember Llamas in
equally kind expressions. Retired Col. Robert Baker said, "Llamas was an outstanding
leader; he was a 'people guy' who cared about his troops; he was well liked by the men
in his unit; he never asked anyone to do something he wouldn't do himself."
In his civilian trade, Joe first worked as an electrician in Newton and eventually began a
career at the Coleman Company in Wichita, first as a welder then as a machinist.
Llamas' wife said "Joe's friends were in the Guard," and that he didn't associate
very much with his civilian co-workers.
Others in Llamas' family followed his example. His brother, Guadalupe Llamas,
retired from the Kansas Air National Guard. One nephew, Robert Llamas served as
a squad leader in Company C, 1st Battalion, 137th Infantry before the battalion was
retired from service. Another nephew, Mike Llamas, recently retired from Battery F,
1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery.
Aside from the Guard, Joe was devoted to his family and to his church. Joe was married
to Mary Sauceda in 1954 and with her had four children, Stephen, now age 43, Elizabath,
now age 41, and Richard, now age 37. With his several siblings, his family and his
extended family in Newton, family gatherings were large in number. Although quite
serious and shy by nature, at family gatherings Joe was the prankster.
"Joe was normally introverted, except for the military," said his wife Mary, but he had
a humorous side. "Sometimes he would get up early in the morning and wake up all of
us, playing military band marches on the phonograph," she said.
Joe was also a devoted fan of the Newton High School Railroaders football team. "I
would see him at all the home games," said Guillermo "Willie" Monares of Newton.
"Jose was a very nice, very likable, loving person."
In life, Joe was devoted to God. He was a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic
Church in Newton. Through education from the Diocese of Wichita, in 1961 Joe became
a qualified instructor of Christian Doctrine and taught catechism in the church. He was
active in church organizations and was vitally interested in the youth of the community,
supervising various groups and sports programs.
In each of Joe's letters home to Mary, he expressed his deepest love for her and his
children. Joe's August 15th letter home to Mary arrived after word of his death. It
read, in part:
"When you see Mom and Dad tell them I'm fine and in the best of health. Tell my kids
I love them and that I will be home soon. My darling, I miss you very much and soon
hope I will be able to hold you in my arms again. I love you my Darling and I'll write
whenever I can."
If you would like to post your remembrance
about Jose, please