Palatka Dailey News - August 21, 1964
Palatkan Dies In Red Ambush
First Lieut. William David Howsare Ragin, 24, of Palatka, was killed by ambush in Viet Nam on Aug. 20, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Ragin, learned today.
He was returning from an operation mission when his group was ambushed.
Notice bt telegram that the young officer, son-in-law of Brig. Gen. W.J. McCaffery, had been killed followed only one hour a previous telegram from the Secretary of the Army, Washington, telling the Ragins that their son was missing in action.
"The Secretary of the Army has asked me to inform you with deep regret that your son, First Lieut. David H. Ragin, died in Viet Nam, Aug. 20." said the Adjutant General, Major Gen. J.C. Lambert, USA. "His remains have been recovered and positively identified. You will be advised promptly when further information is received. Your daughter-in-law will furnish instructions concerning the return of your son's remains. Please accept my deepest sympathy."
The telegram reporting Lt. Ragin missing, stated that his wife, Mrs. Mary McCaffery Ragin, was being notified. Mrs. Ragin and her two daughters, Beth, 2, and Lisa, 1, are making their home at the present time with Mrs. Ragin's parents, Gen. and Mrs. McCaffery, at Ft. Monroe, Va.
Lt. Ragin left for Viet Nam on July 4, following his completion on June 30 of study at the Vietnamese Language Institute. He was graduated from Palatka High School in 1957 and the Citadel, in 1961. He was born in Palatka and spent his childhood and youth here.
In addition to his parents, his wife and daughters, survivors are; sisters, Mrs. J.R.Walls, of East Palatka and Miss Deborah Sue Ragin who lives with her parents, 901 S. 13th St.; grandmothers, Mrs. Callie Howsare of Palatka and Mrs. Ada Ragin, East Palatka, and many other relatives here.
Final Mission of CPT William David Howsare Ragin
Outnumbered at least two to one, ARVN casualties from the approximately 360 soldiers in the field that day were reported to be 81 killed in action, 64 wounded in action and 61 missing in action. The bodies of the four American advisors were recovered by a small American tactical unit the following day and flown by helicopter back to Tan Son Nhut. After a memorial service on August 25th, these brave men made their final flight home and laid to rest.
Captain Byron Stone, from Houston, Texas, was a Ranger Qualified Infantry Unit Commander assigned to BDQ (Biet Dong Quan) Advisory Team TD 41, Special Detachment 5891, Headquarters, MACV Advisors, MACV. A 1960 graduate of Texas A&M University, Stone had already completed one tour in Vietnam and had been awarded a Bronze Star for valor. He was 26 years old when he died and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
First Lieutenant James Coyle, an “Army Brat” born at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, was a Ranger Qualified Infantry Unit Commander assigned to Special Detachment 5891, MACV Advisors, MACV. A 1961 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point , Coyle was married and the father of two children. His second child was born just eight days before his death on August 20, 1964. He was 25 years old when he died and was posthumously promoted to Captain and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
First Lieutenant William Ragin, from Palatka, Florida was a Ranger Qualified Infantry Unit Commander assigned to BDQ (Biet Dong Quan) Advisory Team TD 41, Special Detachment 5891, Headquarters, MACV Advisors, MACV. A 1961 graduate of The Citadel in South Carolina, Ragin was married and the father of two daughters. He was 25 years old when he died and posthumously promoted to Captain and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Sergeant First Class Tom Ward from Cincinnati, Ohio was an Infantry Senior Sergeant (Instructor) assigned to 41st ARVN Ranger Battalion, Special Detachment 5891, Headquarters, MACV Advisors, MACV. A 38-year old married father of one son, Ward had over 15 years of service. He was 38 years old when he died and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
[Taken from coffeltdabase.org and Fournier, Richard (2014, August). Bloodiest 60 Minutes of Fighting In South Vietnam. VFW Magazine,. Retrieved from digitaledition.qwinc.com]
Distinguished Service Cross Citation
Date of birth: 17-Oct-39
Date of death: August 20, 1964
Home of record: Palatka Florida
William Ragin graduate of the Citadel and his wife was the daughter of the Commandant there.
AWARDS AND CITATIONS
Distinguished Service Cross
Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Infantry) William David Howsa Ragin (ASN: 0-94420), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Captain Ragin distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 20 August 1964. Captain Ragin was serving as an Advisor to a Ranger Battalion of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam when the friendly forces were suddenly ambushed by hostile elements. Undaunted by the extremely heavy gun fire, Captain Ragin completely disregarded his own personal safety, took a lead position, and encouraged the friendly forces to defend themselves. During the ensuring engagement in which the enemy gun fire was concentrated on his position, he demonstrated fortitude and perseverance by retaliating with the utmost accuracy and succeeded in annihilating a great number of enemy troops during a battle that lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Despite overwhelming onslaught, he covered the withdrawal of the Rangers with outstanding effectiveness and continued his courageous efforts until mortally wounded. Captain Ragin's conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroic actions are in the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the military service.
General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 2 (February 5, 1965)
Action Date: 20-Aug-64
Company: American Advisor
Battalion: 41st Ranger Battalion (ARVN)
Division: Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
Remembering An American Hero
As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.
May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.
With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir
IN REMEMBRANCE OF THIS FINE YOUNG MOST HEROIC ARMY OFFICER WHOSE NAME SHALL LIVE FOREVER MORE
WILLIAM DAVID HOWSARE RAGIN
WAS A GRADUATE OF
THE MILITARY ACADEMY OF THE SOUTH
IN THE CLASS OF 1961
WHO LATER ON BECAME
A POSTHUMOUS RECIPIENT OF
THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism in Vietnam on 20 August 1964 while serving as an Advisor to a Republic of South Vietnam Ranger Battalion.
On that day his unit was suddenly ambushed by a large enemy force.
Captain Ragin completely disregarded his own personal safety, in taking a lead position, encouraging the friendly force to defend themselves.
During the ensuing engagement in which enemy gunfire concentrated on his position, he retaliated with accuracy and succeeded in annihilating a great number of enemy troops during the 1-hour 40-minute battle.
Despite the overwhelming onslaught, Captain Ragin covered the withdrawal and survival of friendly forces at the sacrifice of his own life.
Captain Ragin's conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroic actions are in the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the military service.
THE PROUD YOUNG VALOR THAT ROSE ABOVE THE MORTAL,
AND THEN, AT LAST, WAS MORTAL AFTER ALL
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN
NOR SHALL YOU EVER BE
R E M E M B R A N C E