Specialist Billy Allen Kelsall, B CO, 1ST BN, 12TH CAVALRY, 1 CAV DIV
Army of the United States, Savannah, Georgia, 13 June 1946 – 10 December 1967
Remembered on the Vietnam Memorial, Panel 31E Line 075. SP4 Kelsall was interred in Greenwich Cemetery, Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia.
Also remembered on the Virtual Wall.
On 06 December 1967 a reconnaissance helicopter of the 1st Bn, 9th Cavalry spotted a radio antenna sticking out of a hut near the village of Dai Dong (2), about 12 miles from Qui Nhon. “A” Troop, 1/9 Cav, sent an infantry platoon to investigate. At 1630 hours, as the infantrymen were approaching the village, the platoon came under intense automatic and small arms fire and was pinned down. The Weapons Platoon of the 1/9 was sent in to help and they also were pinned down and unable to move. The two platoons had stumbled on a large element of the 22nd NVA Regiment and were in considerable danger of being overrun and destroyed. Additional troops from 1/9 Cavalry, 1/8 Cavalry, and 1/50 Infantry were inserted in order to extricate the two endangered platoons. Although the combined force encountered stiff resistance the 1/50’s armored personnel carriers provided the necessary edge and the 1/9 platoons were extracted by 2100. Four US soldiers were killed in the fight.
This engagement was the beginning of the Battle of Tam Quan, a running fight which continued until 20 December and which resulted in the destruction of the 22nd NVA Regiment as a fighting force – but which also cost the lives of several dozen Americans and an unknown number of ARVN troops.
Remembered also on The Military Honor Wall.
I was there when SP4 Kelsall was killed. We (B,1/12th Cav) were sent into reinforce one of the 1/50th Mech units in enemy contact. SP4 Kelsall was with 3d platoon, if I remember correctly. It also seems to me he had just returned from either R&R or an extension leave.
At any rate 3d platoon had lead and my unit, 1st platoon, was in their rear following. We suddenly came upon an empty armored personnel carrier of the 1/50th, abandoned, but with it’s engine running. While we stopped to search for US casualties the NVA opened up on us killing Kelsall in the opening burst. We recovered his body after a sharp fight and brought it back with us as the NVA began forcing us back. We spent the rest of the night in contact with the enemy and my platoon had care of Kelsall’s body until we were able to send him out the next day. He helped me through the fight that night because our ammo got low and I had to use his ammo as well.
former platoon leader, 1st platoon, B Company, 1/12th Cav