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Three American Generals Face Communist Fire in South Vietnam

Mar. 28, 1963 - Three American generals came under Communist fire yesterday during a battle in the Mekong River delta 175 miles south of Saigon. One, Brig. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, 51, of Columbus, Ga., dragged several wounded Vietnamese soldiers to safety in the face of heavy automatic weapons fire and the explosion of Communist mortars 25 yards away. He is the son of “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell, who led U.S. and Chinese troops in Burma during World War II. The battle near Thoi Binh village in the Camau Peninsula cost the lives of 45 Communist soldiers. The generals who came under fire with Stillwell were Brig. Gen. Charles J. Timmes, 55, of New York, chief of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group in Vietnam, and Brig. Gen. Robert R. Rowland, 45, of Lodi, Ohio, chief of MAAG’s Air Force section. The battle began after a column of Government troops, taking part in a three-pronged drive, marched into a small hamlet. The three generals, who had been observing from a helicopter, decided to land in the village. A few minutes later, Communist soldiers hidden nearby launched a counterattack. The Reds apparently thought they were dealing with a single weak company of Vietnamese troops instead of the three companies that actually were in the area. U.S. sources believe the Communist guerrillas had trouble estimating Government troop strength and thought they were springing a trap. Instead, they fell into one.


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