Craig John Loftus, 3rd Bde LRRP, KIA Jan 9, 1969

Craig John Loftus

PFC – U.S. Army
4th Infantry Division –   3rd Brigade LRRP
29 June 1948 – 09 January 1969
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Panel 35W, Line 62

Loftus pic 1Loftus grave marker

MILITARY DATA

Service:               Army (Regular)

Grade at loss:   E3

Rank:                     Private First Class

ID No:                   68005956

MOS:                       11B10: Infantryman 11B

Len Svc:               1 year

Unit:                     4th Inf Div, 3rd Bde LRRP

CASUALTY DATA

Start Tour:         08/19/1968

Cas Date:             01/09/1969

Age at Loss:       20

Remains:               Body recovered

Location:             Gia Lai, Pleiku Province, South Vietnam

Type:                     Hostile, ground casualty

Reason:                 Gun, small arms fire

AWARDS

Purple Heart, Bronze Star with V, Combat Infantryman Badge, Vietnam

Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal

GRAVESITE

Ft. Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Link to Remembrances:    

https://www.thewall-usa.com/guest.asp?recid=30977

https://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/31038/CRAIG-J-LOFTUS

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Robert Hernandez <rhernandez@coldwellbanker.com>

San Francisco, Ca.  –  November 12, 1999

Served with 3rd brigade LRRP’s, Aug.68 – Aug.69. I am searching for one of my team members, Ronald Went who was from Detroit Michigan. Along with Craig Loftus & Augustus McDowell, he and I volunteered for the LRRP’s out of 4th Infantry Division Repo Depo at Camp Enari. We were all airborne qualified and wanted to keep our jump status and the LRRP’s was the only jump qualified unit in the 4th Infantry. Of the 4 of us who volunteered that August day, he and I were the only one to come out physically intact 1 year later. Craig Loftus was killed in action on January 9, 1969 and Augustus McDowell was WIA near the end of his tour. Ron and I pulled our first Recon mission together and I sure would like to know how his life turned out. If any one knows of Ron Went, please contact me.

Craig and I volunteered for LRRP out of 4th Div. REPO DEPO in Aug. 68. Craig was a proud paratrooper and excellent soldier. He excelled in pre-recondo school and graduated from 5th Special Forces MACV Recondo school in Nha Trang. The deaths of Craig and Todd was devasting to our LRRP platoon. They were popular, respected Team Leaders and hard to replace. I will never forget them.

Jim Hall – 1335 N. Broad St., Woodbury, NJ 08096 – jimdochall@yahoo.com

Fellow 35th Infantry (Cacti) member

Cacti Hero

In memory of our 35th Infantry Regiment (Cacti) Brother. Your service and sacrifice will always be remembered by those of us who proudly served with you. For any family or friends who may read this, we honor you for the sacrifice that you made with your terrible loss. In order to more fully honor our Brother we would love to hear from any Family, old friends, neighbors, schoolmates and teachers so that we might learn as much as possible about his life. We specifically would like to obtain a photo ( It matters not if it is High School, Military, or family û group photoÆs are OK) Please contact us if you knew him and let us know that our hero is still remembered. Dick Arnold and Doc Hall 35th Infantry Regiment (Cacti) Association (www.cacti35th.org ) You can reach Dick Arnold at 3611 Delmar Rd/ Indianapolis, IN 46220 or phone (317) 251-2369 or Doc Hall at the address and e-mail indicated.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

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DAILY REPORT – 1/35th, 3rd BDE 4th INF DIV

9 January 1969

Bn (1/35) Forward Fire Base

LZ Lanetta YA857457

Unit Locations:

A 1/35 (-) LZ Lanetta YA857457

B 1/35 (-) LZ MaryEtta YA766492

C 1/35 (-) LZ Betty YA905505

D 1/35 OPCON to 2/1 Cav

Recon Plt (-) LZ Lanetta

4.2″ Mortar Plt, LZ Lanetta

Summary: Log opened at 0001 hours 9 January 1969. Unit locations: At LZ Lanetta YA857457, Battalion Headquarters (Forward), A Company 1/35, E Company, C Battery 2/9 artillery, 3rd platoon D Company 4th Engineers Battalion, counter mortar section from the 52 group; At LZ MaryEtta YA766492; B Company, 1 CSF platoon from the new Special Forces Camp at Plei Djerang; At LZ Betty YA905505; C Company, At grid YA729501; OPCON Units: D Company OPCON 2/1 Cav; At LZ Oasis; Headquarters and Headquarters Company Support (S-4 Forward); At Base Camp (Camp Enari); Battalion Headquarters (Rear).

At 0905 hours 2nd platoon B Company reported that they were being fired upon 200-250 meters from their night location grid YA855651, unknown size force resulting in one friendly WHA, one platoon from A Company was inserted to assist in the operation. The Battalion Commander conducted artillery, gunships and tactical air strikes on suspected enemy locations. Contact was made again at 1330 after the platoon from A Company was inserted. Readout on all casualties: 2 KHA one from B Company and one from the LRRP team; total 2 KHA and 8 WIA, one from B Company and 7 from A Company; 1 WIA from the LRRP team (note, LRRP later DOW’s), total 2 KHA and 8 WIA’s, 3 WIA’s was Dusted-Off other WIA’s were treated at the Battalion Aid Station. No enemy assessment was made. At 1400 hours 45Y relay station reported that A Company 2nd platoon had made contact with 4 NVA at ZA085405, platoon threw hand grenades, 2 friendly WIA were sustained. Contact was broken. Artillery was employed and on target. No enemy assessment was made.

0830 hours (C) From Bde S-3 to the Bn S-3: Reference the 9292 element B Co with the LRRP’s, search the area and call Bde when you are ready for extraction, sent to the 2nd platoon of B Co via Snoopy Baron.

0905 hours (C) 2nd platoon of B Co reports through Snoopy Baron that they are being fired upon 250-300 meters from their night location.

0915 (C) 2nd platoon of B Co requests a Dust-Off for one EM which is WIA, also requested gunships and artillery is being employed at this time.

0920 (C) Bde informs us to have one platoon on immediate standby, have them on the pad ready to be lifted our because the birds are enroute to pick them up, S-3 informs A Co to saddle up and standby on the strip.

1001 hours (C) The first lift of A Co 3rd platoon is airborne at this time.

1007 hours (C) LRRPs report that they have 2 WIA’s and 1 KIA.

1100 hours (C) In reference to item 35 the Bn CO requests to have the 2 additional gunships come to the area of contact.

1150 hours (C) Gunships have expended in the area of contact and they are enroute to Plei Djerang at this time to reload.

1330 hours (C) From the Bn CO to TOC: 8292 reports heavy contact, we requested gunships from Bde.

1337 hours (C) Bde informs us that they have a set of gunships enroute to the area of contact at this time, also a set of guns at Plei Djerang.

1350 hours (C) Bde CO informs the Bn CO to have all elements move back to the LZ for extraction ASAP.

1400 hours (C) Bde informs us that A Co 2nd platoon is in contact at grid 092408, we informed the Bn CO.

1400 hours (C) 45-Y informs us that the 8192 element had contact at grid 085405, spotted 2 NVA/VC in the water and they threw grenades at them, 8192 has 2 WIA at this time, we request a Dust-Off.

1445 (C) Curlie 51 is on station at this time, he has birds for the two platoons that were in contact this morning, 2nd platoon of B Co and the 3rd platoon of A Co. The birds are on the pad at Plei Djerang; Curly 51 was briefed by the S-3 on the insertion and the extraction procedures for today.

1505 hours (C) Bde S-3 informs us to use the ships and extract the 8193 and 8292, the saturate the area with artillery and gunships.

2000 hours (C) Readout on the casualties of today: A Co; Following WHA were Dust-Off: Zimmerman, David D, line no. 71 frag wound in the right leg- Bucher, Harry, line no. 18 frag in the right leg- Radgen, Evich Nicolas line no. 127 finger shot off, Torres, Juan line no. 162 frag in the chest- the following are at the Aid Station at LZ Lanetta, Jefferson, Harry, line no. 1 frag in the chest, McWilliams, Donald line no. 10 neck wound- Brown, Reginald line no. 16 left hand and chest; B Co WHA, Duke, Cecil line no. 95 frag in the arm now at LZ Lanetta Aid Station: KHA Hayes, Jesse B. Line no. 107: equipment captured; 1 SKS SN 23488 (found by A Co 2nd platoon), 1 large metal powder container found by A Co 3rd platoon.

2005 (C) LRRP casualties: 1 WHA Todd Wood (note, later died of wounds), 1 KHA Craig Loftus

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The following is from the journal Ralph Leebert kept during his tour.

Ralph was the squad sergeant for 3rd squad, 2nd platoon, B Co., 1st Bn., 35th Inf., 4th Inf. Div. (1968/1969).

LZ Maryetta.  Wednesday, January 8, 1969:

Today started as usual, nothing out of the extraordinary was foreseen. We worked as usual on the bunker and trenches. Then a little after eleven in the morning our platoon was told to pack up for a mission southeast of Maryetta. The mission was an ambush along a river bank that flows through a village classified as VC sympathizers. Lt. Mariella had to hold a briefing at LZ Lanetta before we would leave. Upon his return we were told that the platoon would leave at 5:30. The CA would be conducted at that time. We would travel after touch down approximately eight hundred meters, set up and wait. Remain there the next day, them move out at dark to another location.

Just prior to our pick up, a LRRP team came in contact so we were to go and give them help. Every bird was up and heading towards the area of contact except Sgt Charles Rigsby, myself, plus four other men. All we could do was listen on the radio to the action. The LZ at the other end was hot, but after the gunships worked the area over the birds went in. The first bird came back and picked us up and we were dropped about 200 meters short of the original LZ. Had the LZ been hot we would have been in a world of hurt, but since it was not we were able to make it to the platoon okay. After arriving and joining the platoon we quickly headed towards the woodline, then made an abrupt about face and went back to the LZ to set up for the night.

Thursday, January 9, 1969:

The way the day started anything could have happened. Yesterday there were dinks in the area, so that meant there possibly could be some today. Our objective was to destroy a cultivated area that the LRRP’s had found. Apparently the dinks were using it for food supply. Accomplishing along with the above we also were to conduct a sweep of the area. Sergeant Melvin Berrong had lead squad last evening on the CA so this morning Redmond, he had the point. My squad was depleted badly. I have two men in the rear and four stayed at LZ Maryetta, as they had just returned from a SRRP mission and we were not taking them along.

Jim Redmond had four of his men on a SRRP mission when we left, so he had the LRRP’s we came to extract out, join his squad this morning. One LRRP walked point for the platoon because he knew exactly where we were to go. Jesse Boyd Hayes was walking lead for Redmond’s squad. Third was an engineer carrying an M-79 grenade launcher, Redmond, his RTO, Thomas Morrow, Stanley Rice, the remainder of the LRRP’s, then my squad started, and Sergeant Berrong’s squad. We moved out and headed for the woodline. Entering the woodline we proceeded what appeared to be forty meters, maybe a little less. At this point coming from our left front two shots were fired. A return burst from a sixteen was heard, then two AK-47 rifles opened up on automatic.

It didn’t take but the first round fired to have everyone on the ground. But because the ambush happened so fast, it was just a matter of seconds to realize that one man was hit and the LRRP (Craig Loftus) and Jesse Hayes were hit (both walking point). The rest of Redmond’s squad pulled back to where I was and we regrouped. Sergeant Berrong’s squad was sent to the right to try and flank the dinks. At the same time everyone was busy getting things going for our defense. Lt. Mariella was getting medivac, Lt. Jackson (artillery), was starting the process for redleg fire (Howitzers or cannons), and possibly gunships.

While the above was still going, Redmond and I were helping the medic take care of the wounded LRRP (Todd Wood, he later died of his wounds). After we had him bandaged up we had to get him back to the LZ to be extracted. Two men carried him back to the LZ. Still, we had two men out about twenty meters and we did not know what their condition was. Redmond plus his RTO, Harold Hodge were going to crawl out and see but we were all called back.

Lt. Jackson was still having trouble getting artillery; the E-6 in command of the LRRP’s had a head-hunter for an air strike, so Lt. Jackson decided that since he was unable to get us support from the rear, he would adjust the jets in making their run. A plan was devised at this same time. When the jets opened up with the 20-mm guns, six men would rush forward, get the two men from up front and bring them back. The strategy worked to get the men but they were both dead. Neither one of the two actually had a chance. Both took a shot in the heart plus other rounds from the mid section up.

The platoon set up a perimeter to get all three men out. Within a few minutes there were choppers all over the place. The first bird to land was carrying men from Alpha Company. The second was the medivac. Once the men were out it made it a little easier to counter act against the dinks. Alpha Company had a platoon CA’d to help us. First they headed for the woodline and we had to call them to our location. Lt. Jackson had some fire going out in that direction, therefore, it was important to get those men out.

Once Alpha company was with us we started to move out. Alpha was on our left side. The redlegs called and said that they had some guns for us. We once again pulled back to the LZ. Lt. Jackson did a wonderful job, especially since it was 175-mm guns putting two hundred-pound bombs in our area.

Maybe twenty or twenty-five minutes passed and we were off again. This time Alpha had point and our platoon followed. We must have moved about four to five hundred meters when we got in another firefight. This time we were ready for them. Alpha was putting out a good volume of firepower, while our platoon maneuvered. First, I was told to take my squad to the left then abruptly I was told to go to the right. At first all I had was David Shaffer, my M-79 man, Cauthen, A rifleman, and myself. Then a few minutes later three men from Sgt. Berrong’s squad came and joined us. I had Shaffer put out a good volume of 79 rounds although we couldn’t see any dinks. James Jackson, the M-79 man from Sgt. Berrong’s squad, had something go wrong with his weapon, so that left me with one man defenseless. I left Cecil Duke (WHA, frag in arm) with him and we continued to push to the right to cut the dinks off from getting by. I cannot say how much time passed until we were called back. There were still NVA soldiers around but more support was coming in so we had to fall back as not to be hit by our own incoming rounds.

Once we reached the LZ we were picked up and taken out of the area. I was the last man out of the area from the platoon so I ended stayng the night with Alpha Company. Everybody was nice to me and I had no trouble getting a place to sleep. I was not sad to see the day come to an end. I felt so good being in a secure area again.

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