The Battle of Chu Moor Mountain
by Sam Drake
I will attempt to describe the Battle of Chu Moor from my perspective.
First day on April 26th:
We moved up the mountain from the valley floor, C Company was informed that D Company was in contact with a sizeable NVA enemy force. We were instructed to join with D Company if at all possible. The mountain was extremely heavy with the jungle canopy and about three-quarters of the way up the mountain side, we were spread out in two to three files out making way through the dense jungle when we were fired upon by the NVA. I was far to the left when we were hit; however most of the engagement was to the right of me. I was nearest to a young soldier whose name was Truman Lovins. He was hit in his right arm, medic Shyab moved up under fire to give aid to him; he helped Lovins off the Hill to the LZ for evacuation. I recall 4-5 wounded and 1 or 2 killed that first day. We moved back down the Hill about 75 to 100 yards to a location that was nearly flat with a very large tree in the middle of our perimeter. C Company called in an air strike in the afternoon. We then started digging bunkers and clearing a landing zone. As I recall that night there was no known enemy activity near our bunkers. We dug our bunker at the base of the large tree.
Day Two April 27th:
About 9:00am all was quiet and the sun was shining. In the AM we were ordered to move back up the Hill. We slowly started up the Hill. My thoughts as we were forming to go would be I will be fighting for my life and it could be my last day. There were about three to four small trails that you could take after passing the last bunker in our perimeter and there was one young soldier that was in the front of me. We moved up the hill; however I don’t remember the young soldier’s name because he was new to the company. We continued moving up the Hill when we came across a fallen tree, the soldier crossed over the tree as he was about three to four yards in the front of me when the NVA open up on us from their bunkers and he was hit in the neck. They then directed their fire towards Sgt. Cappaletti and me while we were behind the fallen tree. Someone called for the Medic within seconds Charlie Shyab was by my side and told me to cover him. Charlie Shyab moved up the Hill to help the young soldier that was hit by the NVA. The NVA must have moved back down in the tunnel or bunker because we didn’t receive any more automatic rifle fire. Charlie exposed himself to work on the young man’s neck wound but wasn’t able to save him. Charlie pulled him back to our position as we moved back down the Hill by rolling, crawling to get to the new location where most of C Company troops were behind us. We then called in an air strike on the NVA. The air strike was a helicopter gun ship that fired rockets. We threw a smoke grenade where we thought the NVA bunkers were. The helicopter gun ship was coming straight at us, where the smoke grenade marked the spot. We then moved back down the hill to our bunker in the late afternoon. The enemy was only 100 yards up the Hill from us. In the night the NVA moved down closer to us into some of the trees.
Day Three April 28th:
In the morning about 9:00am we were ordered to move back up the Hill once more. We moved slowly knowing that the NVA were up in the bunker/tunnel waiting for us. The head of C Company was about 100 yards up the Hill when mortar rounds and hand grenades started exploding around the front of the columns where someone yelled, they’re in the trees. I started firing at anything that looked like NVA up in the trees. There were some guys off to my right that could see the enemy bunker but was too close to that bunker that their M-79 wouldn’t arm itself. They repositioned and fired two to three rounds that hit the bunker. All the while we were getting fired upon. I heard that James Campbell was hit and others were hit. Charles Shyab was moving all over that hill trying to save our guys. We moved back down the Hill for the third time. Another airstrike with F-4 Phantoms with deep bunker busting bombs were going to be used. The Captain [Larry Konnermen] told everybody to take cover in your bunkers because the Bombs they were going to use were 600 pound Bombs. After the F-4 Phantoms came in and dropped Bombs, we had to put our Gas mask on because our firebase was going to fire some tear gas rounds on the hill. After all the artillery stopped, the helicopter came in to evacuate the dead and wounded all the while the NVA were probing the area with mortars.
Day Four April 29th:
I don’t think we moved up the hill because we were too tired and beat up with half of our Company wounded or killed. I don’t remember exactly what happened that morning because it was extremely stressful! We started reinforcing our bunker with more sand bags for the next round. Richard Cassano and I shared the same bunker along with Sergeant Cappaletti. I remember having Richard holding the sand bag while I shelved dirt into the bag. Richard had his feet in the bunker entrance fearing all the time that will be hit with mortars that’s how bad are situation has become. It was getting harder to find soft dirt so I told Richard he was going to have to leave the bunker entrance and help hold the bag. All the time Sgt. Cappaletti was walking around in a daze. I think he was shell-shocked. Within next few minutes Sgt.Cap was being loaded up in the Helicopter and headed for the firebase. It was becoming extremely bad! The Helicopter was bringing more troops, 1/14 more supplied and body bags for the dead that they left with our wounded. Some of the troops that got off didn’t know that our LZ was hot. They just walked up the Hill from the L.Z. The NVA were mortaring us constantly. Lt. Zimmerman was on one of the Helicopter that came in and I remember some of his guys greeting him at his 3rd platoon bunker. Unfortunately his 3rd platoon was zero in by the NVA. I was on the opposite side of the tree when the NVA mortar hit the 3rd platoon bunker. I was hit in my left hand and I dove to the base of the large tree. Richard Cassano was near the 3rd platoon bunker when he was hit. After being hit he ran to our side of the tree. He fell short of the tree so we pulled him to the base of the tree. Bud Roach tried to save him; however couldn’t. Lt. Zimmerman was killed, Doug Royalty was killed and some others were wounded. C Company was being pulled out and being replaced with the 1/14. I do remember getting on the helicopter and hoping we would clear the area before the incoming mortar hit. It was a short ride to the firebase. I do remember landing and seeing all the body bags lying around the LZ with our guys inside them. I didn’t remember too much after that, I think I was in shock.
It’s been 44 years and some of what I remember of Chu-Moor maybe out of sequence. However, it is my opinion that Charlie Shyab, at the battle of Chu-Moor went far and above the call of duty to assist the wounded. He tried repeatedly to save as many men as he could knowing that he put himself in harm’s way over and over again. He truly deserves recognition for his selfless acts during this terrible time of the Vietnam War.