Bill Zimmerman

To our buddy Lt William E Zimmerman

KIA 4/28/68 – Chu Moor Mountain – Kontum Province

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Bill’s brother Chuck served in the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.

Chuck writes:

…we found through much research Bill was declared “clear to leave” the country to meet his wife Claudia in Hawaii.  Claudia was about to get on the plane with her bags packed when her father called with news about Bill.  Bill decided to return to the men in his platoon when he learned that his replacement was wounded and medevac’d out of fierce battle with 66th Regular NVA at Chu Moor.  Bill was KIA approx. 20 minutes after he stepped off the chopper on his return to the firefight.

I was in Vietnam with 1st INF out of Lai Khe all of 1967.  My brother Bill arrived in September ’67 but we never saw each other again.  I knew from the report that accompanied Bill’s Bronze Star there was much more to the story that our family did not know.  For one, he was already cleared to leave the area to meet his beautiful wife, Claudia – we are still friends.  It has taken over 30 years to get the rest of the story.  I recently met Bill’s OCS roommate in Chicago for the first time.  The roommate told me Bill made him and a few close friends swear they would never let anyone know Bill had a brother in Vietnam.  Bill wanted to be a career soldier – and he would have been a damn good soldiers’ officer had he survived.  If the Army realized I was in Nam, Bill would have likely been deferred – a huge flag on his record, Bill being someone who wanted to be in for the long haul.  I begged him not to come over.  It was hot and getting hotter.  And we were – as it seems – playing touch and go – hit and run with the VC, rather than engaging them with full intention of clearing the area completely.  Bill was killed, along with a lot of other brave men fighting for an unknown hill.

Because Bill and I were only 18 months apart in age, we did much together and were very close.  We were both active in sports – Bill was always a little better than me.  We dated some of the same girls.  We like playing army when we were kids – Bill always wanted to be the general.  I miss him, as does my sister and Claudia.  When we get together we drink, we cry and we laugh when we remember the things we did when Bill was alive.  There are a lot of names on the wall and we need to insure that they are not forgotten.

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HEADQUARTERS

4TH INFANTRY DIVISION

APO San Francisco 96262

GENERAL ORDERS:       21 May 1968

NUMBER:                           2083

AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL FOR HEROISM

  1. TC320                      The following AWARD is announced posthumously:

ZIMMERMAN, WILLIAM E JR         FIRST LIEUTENANT INFANTRY  United States Army, Co C, 1st Bn, 22nd Inf. 4th Inf Div, APO 96262

Date action:                        28 April 1968

Theater:                              Republic of Vietnam

Reason:  For heroism in connection with military operations against a armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.  First Lieutenant Zimmerman distinguished himself while serving as a Platoon Leader.  On 28 April 1968, Company C was occupying Chu Moor Hill west of Kontum City when a large North Vietnamese force launched a heavy volume of rocket, mortar, and automatic weapons fire at their position.  Despite the intensity of the hostile fire, Lieutenant Zimmerman rushed to the perimeter positions occupied by his men.  Astutely, analyzing possible enemy assault routes, he aggressively organized retaliatory fire.  Pointing out targets and shouting words of encouragement, Lieutenant Zimmerman greatly inspired his men in repelling the hostile assault.  As the fire fight grew in intensity, ammunition became critically low.  Grasping the seriousness of the situation, Lieutenant Zimmerman organized and led a resupply team to replenish the ammunition supply along the defensive perimeter.  As he maneuvered through the hostile fire with the resupply team, he was mortally wounded by a hostile mortar round that impacted nearby.  His outstanding leadership and aggressive actions clearly prevented more serious casualties and greatly aided and inspired his men in repelling the hostile assault.  First Lieutenant Zimmerman’s courageous leadership, professional skill, and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Authority:      By direction of the President under provisions of Executive Order 11046, 24 August 1962.

GO  208

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Bud Roach served with Lt. Bill Zimmerman

Bud writes:

A little “rest of the story” about the pictures you have of LtZ on the charliecompany website.  The picture of LtZ by himself inside a bunker was taken Christmas ceasefire ’67 at a firebase.   The one of him and I posing in front of what I think is the firebase aidstation.  In my chest pocket is about 30 morphine surrettes.  We were supposed to have 10 but everytime a medic went in (especially wounded) we got his morphine.  This was probably later, after Kontum.   The two pictures of LtZ with the deer were probably the last pictures taken of him.  My guess is the 25, 26, or 27 of April 68.  The one where he is alone if you look closely on the stump next to him is my radio.  We could listen to armed forces radio, and Hanoi Hannah on occasion.  It took about 8 D cell batteries and they were hard to come by in the boonies.    Lt Zimmerman told me on a number of occasions that he would be a general some day.  My answer was always that I would be a civilian in___(the numbers of days I had left in Nam) days.

One thought on “Bill Zimmerman

  1. Bill Zimmerman my brother…. After meeting with the brave men that survived that served with Bill during the horiffic battle against insurmountable odds at Chu Moor and hearing their stories, I and others felt Bill should have earned the Silver Star. Bill’s determination to return to his men, after he was given leave of his duty to go on R&R and a future change of assignment, speaks volumes for Bill’s character, his dedication and respect he felt for the men he served with for almost nine months prior to being KIA. My brother’s only unselfish thought that dreadful day he was KIA was to be with his platoon and other brave soldiers trying to survive another day during the fierce fighting. My regret and sadness I carry with me to this day, is my parents passed away not knowing ‘the rest of the story’ and just how brave their son was. Nor did they know how much his men trusted and respected him for his leadership to the very end.

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