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Friendly Fire Casualties for U.S. Forces in South Vietnam

July 20, 1963 - Apparently mistaking each other for Communist guerrillas, U.S. soldiers exchanged fire in darkness at an airstrip 65 miles south of Saigon Thursday night. One was killed and another wounded. U.S. military authorities, disclosing the gun battle today, classified the incident as accidental. The Army identified the dead soldier as Specialist Carl Ballard (pictured) of Madill, Okla., and the wounded man as Specialist Donald L. Whitehouse, Crofton, Ky. Military sources said the shooting broke out shortly before midnight. A guard at the Vinhlong Airstrip opened fire at what he thought were Viet Cong guerrillas approaching the base. Another guard joined him, and shortly afterward other base personnel were firing into the darkness. The shooting lasted several minutes before officers ordered a cease-fire.

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