Mr. Dillard Massengale, Combat Wounded Veteran. Served in the Vietnam War: 1967-1968, in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division - "BIG RED ONE"
Dillard Massengale, a Vietnam Veteran is one of 11 brothers and sisters in his family. His father was a WWll Army Veteran, and one of his brothers, Donald Ray Massengale, was also a Vietnam Veteran serving with the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, of 1st Calvary Division, at Bear Cat, Vietnam.
Dillard was born and raised in Smokey Junction and graduated from the Norma High School in 1966. After working a short time after graduation he received his Draft Notice for the U.S. Army on or about October 1966. Dillard started serving in the Army on February 1, 1967. Dillard completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning Georgia, Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Polk Louisiana, and after a 17 day leave he was on his way to Vietnam, arriving on June 28, 1967. Dillard was assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division - "BIG RED ONE" and was in Vietnam for about 9 months before being wounded in combat and returned to the U.S.A.
While in Vietnam, Dillard spent time at these Base Camps: Phuoc Vinh, Quan Loi, and Lai Khe. He also spent time at Black Virgin Mountain, and Fire Base Whiskey. Dillard fought in battles at places like An Loc, Lock Ninh, Dian, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Iron Triangle, and An My. Dillard was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device, for heroism, for his actions at An My on February 1, 1968 at An My.
Dillard’s main job in Vietnam was MOS (Primary Occupational Specialty) 11B Light Weapons Infantryman, but he also was trained to operate the 81mm Mortar, and he also performed the duties as an FO (Forward Observer), and RTO (Radio Telephone Operator), during his tour.
Along with his weapon, backpack, ammo, water etc. Dillard also carried a 23 pound AN/PRC-25 Radio. The AN/PRC-25 provided his Commander with a means to communicate with other Units back in the rear in case of an emergency, and with other elements while on patrol or recon. Sometimes, Dillard himself would use the Radio to direct Mortar fire during a Fire Mission from the Mortar Platoon that was within firing range of him and the rest of his men that was on patrol, and the radio, along with a good map, provided the tools needed to do his job as an RTO. From stories told by some of his buddies he met at their annual Unit Reunion, he was one of the best FO and RTO’s they had ever seen and they all wanted him along on their patrols because of his ability to accurately direct the Mortar Fire onto the enemy when needed.
While on one such patrol, Dillard was severely wounded by small arms fire and shrapnel from an enemy grenade or Mortar rounds exploding nearby. The Viet Cong and NVA soldiers had ambushed their patrol during an S&D (Search and Destroy) mission. After receiving basic field medical care from his Medic, of numerous wounds to his stomach and other parts of his body, he was medevacked by helicopter using a cable hoist to extract him from the thick jungle where a Landing Zone (LZ) was not possible.
While under heavy enemy fire, and while he was being hoisted from the ground to the helicopter, he was able to expend the last of his ammunition by firing his M-16 Rifle to lay down much needed fire power onto the enemy below before finally running out of ammunition and dropping his weapon to the ground as he was pulled into the helicopter and flown back to the nearest medical facility. After receiving what medical care he could get to keep him alive, he was transferred to the 106th Military Hospital in Japan, where he received much needed surgeries to patch up the wounds in his body. After a few weeks of care and convalescent in Japan, Dillard was transferred back to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for further treatment. Later, he was transferred to Fort Benning Georgia where he received another surgery, called a Colostomy, and a Laparotomy, to repair parts of his intestines which had previously been removed in Japan. After the surgery he was placed on Administrative Leave so he could go home for a while. After his leave time was up and he returned to Fort Benning Georgia, he was transferred again, this time to Fort Hood Texas to finish out his term of service in the Army.
After receiving his Honorable Discharge, on January 31, 1969, he was finally headed for home, back to good old Smokey Junction where he still calls home to this day.
Bronze Star Medal, w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster, w/”V” Device
Army Commendation Medal, with “V” Device
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal, with three Bronze Service Stars
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, with Palm Device
Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Unit Citation, First Class
AWARDS: Combat Infantryman Badge
WEAPONS QUALIFICATIONS: Marksman (Pistol), Expert (Rifle), Second Class Gunner (M-60 Machine Gun)