William McGonigle 

PFC - E2 - United States Marine Corps
0811 - Field Artillery Batteryman
D Battery, 2nd Battalion, 13th Marines
1st Marine Division

1st Marine Division

19 Years Old
Wichita, Kansas
October 29, 1948 to May 10, 1968

 

Bill Grossman remembers Billy...

I went through boot camp with Billy.  I am wearing a KIA memorial
bracelet with his name on it this Memorial Day weekend.  Rest
in Peace!  Semper Fi!

 

The following are excerpts from the article Fierce Fight at Kham Duc that appeared
in the June/July 2007 issue of VFW Magazine.

U.S. troops defending a tempory Special Forces campsite near the Laotian border on
May 10, 1968, were shocked when NVA forces hit them with artillery and mortar fire in
the predawn darkness.  Ngok Tavak, an old French fort, and Kham Duc, some five miles north
and about 50 miles southwest of Da Nang in northwestern Quang Tin province, represented the last
remaining Special Forces presence on the Laotian border in I Corps.

The camp provided a reconnaissance window through which the Americans kept tabs on the
Communists' movements along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  And the Gis knew, following the
Tet Offensive and the temporary overrunning of another Special Forces camp at Lang Vei
in February 1968, that at some point the NVA would hit Kham Duc.

Their concerns were reinforced by reports in March indicating the NVA's 2nd
Division, which had been in Vietnam for several years, was on the move.  Awaiting the
enemy at Ngok Tavak was the 113-man 11th Mobile Strike Force composed on native
Nungs, ethnic Chinese recruited mostly from Cholon, the Chinese section of Saigon.

Three Green Berets, three Australian Training Team advisers, as well as 43 Marines and
one Navy corpsman of D Battery, 2nd Battalion, 13th Marines with two 105mm howitzers,
also were apart of the force.

A mortar barrage began at 3 a.m. on May 10, and the gorund attack commenced some 30
minutes later.  But it was the treachery of some of the supposedly allied ethnic
lowland Vietnamese of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) from Kham Duc
that was most disconcerting.

Before the NVA assault on Ngok Tavak started, as small group of CIDG soldiers led
the initial charge into the Marine section of the isolated outpost.  Yelling "Don't Shoot!
Don't Shoot!", the turncoat CIDG platoon barreled inside the camp and immediately
assaulted Marine positions with hand grenades and satchel charges.

Suffering heavy casualties, the defenders killed the infiltrators and stopped the initial assault.
But a subsequent three-pronged NVA attack soon overran half the camp.  An Air Force
AC-47 gunship flying above the base and blasting away at the enemy throughout the night
may have been the only thing that saved the defenders.

American losses at Ngok Tavak were 15 KIA and 21 wounded.  Twelve bodies were not
recovered at that time. 

Fast forward to August 2005.  After 12 years of investigations and three excavations that
represented the single largest MIA recovery operation in U.S. history, the remains of
12 Americans who fought at Ngok Tavak were identified.

They were buried at Arlington National Cemetery on October 7, 2005.

Billy & Crew 

 

Pictures from The Sabre, Wichita High School South's Yearbook.

1966
 

 

 

1967
 

 

 

An excerpt from The Kansas VFW Bulletin
November, 2004

...Another VFW and Ladies Auxiliary member of Kansas will be receiving their son
home from the Vietnam War very soon.  Harry and Grace McGonigle of Post 3115,
Wichita, have been notified and accepted the remains of their son William "Billy"
McGonigle, MIA since May 10, 1968.  Our prayers and God will look over this
family and help them through this ordeal.  More to come comrades and sisters.  God
Bless!

Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, October 2005.

Arlington National Cemetery 

 

The following pictures are from the Veterans' Memorial Park
in Wichita, KS

Memorial Park 

 

Purple Heart 

 

Veterans' Memorial 

Etching 

 

Memorial Bench 

Memorial Bench 

 

Marine Memorial 

Marine Etching 

 

Grace and Harry McGonigle light a candle for their son at the
POW/MIA Ceremony in Salina, KS May 2002.  They are being
escorted by Sammy L. Davis, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Grace and Harry 

POW/MIA Ceremony 

 

Grace and Harry McGonigle left this for William at the
Faces On The Wall memorial while it was in Salina, KS May 2002.

Memorial 

 

William McGonigle 

 

If you would like to post your remembrance
about William, please
click here.

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