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Four U.S. Officers Wounded in Vietnam

May 23, 1962 - A son of General Lucius D. Clay, President Kennedy’s former representative in Berlin, was among four U.S. officers wounded today in South Vietnam during an attempt to block the escape of a force of Communist Viet Cong guerrillas. Lieut. Col. Frank B. Clay (pictured), the general’s son, was wounded in the arm, leg, and neck when the guerrillas fired on a helicopter that was pursuing them. Using two lightly armed U.S. Army helicopters, Col. Clay tried to cut off the Viet Cong he observed streaming over a broad field on the Plain of Reeds. With blazing machine-gun and rifle fire, the two helicopters skimmed at a low level across the path of the fleeing Communists. By slowing the Communist retreat for a few minutes and enabling the Vietnamese ground forces to move up, the Americans may have contributed to the final rout of the guerrillas, who suffered unusually severe losses. Tonight, the Vietnamese Seventh Division asserted that 74 Communists had been killed and 31 captured. Six Vietnamese soldiers were killed. A .30 caliber bullet penetrated the plexiglass nose and shattered the instrument panel of Colonel Clay’s helicopter. The bullet nicked the heel bone of Capt. Robert F. Cornell Jr. of Vicksburg, Miss., and showered the pilot and the interior of the helicopter with aluminum and plexiglass splinters. Colonel Clay had multiple cuts on his left arm, left leg, and neck. Also wounded were the co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Bennie B. Potts, and Col. Howard C. Blazzard. The wounded men were examined at the American dispensary at the Saigon airport and were reported in “good” condition.


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