Steve Hathaway, 2nd Bde LRRP K/75 Ranger, KIA Jun 23, 1969

Steve Hathaway

SGT – U.S. Army
4th Inf Division, 2nd Bde LRRP – Company K (Ranger), 75th Infantry
21 March 1948 – 23 June 1969
Maitland, Florida
Panel 22W – Line 119

Hathaway pic 1

“Ivy Leaf” – July 1969

Hathaway grave marker

MILITARY DATA

Service:               Army (Selective Service)

Grade at loss:   E5

Rank:                     Sergeant

ID Number:           53705378

MOS:                       11B40: Infantryman

Len Svc:               1 – 2 years

Unit:                     4 INF DIV, 2nd BDE LRRP, K/75 REGIMENT

CASUALTY DATA

Start Tour:         04/02/1969

Cas Date:            06/23/1969

Age at Loss:       21

Remains:               Body recovered

Location:             Kontum, South Vietnam

Type:                     Hostile, died outright, ground casualty

Reason:                 Other explosive device

AWARDS:

Silver Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, Vietnam Service

Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal

GRAVESITE

Palm Cemetery, Winter Park, Florida

* * *

Link to Remembrances:

https://www.thewall-usa.com/guest.asp?recid=21935

https://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/21919/STEVE-HATHAWAY

https://business.highbeam.com/137469/article-1G1-79352574/reprieve-hell-vietnam-had-never-seen-firing-range-quite

* * *

Warren Gallion Writes –  

Steve Hathaway was killed shortly after being inserted on 23 June 1969. His team and mine were both being inserted at the same time. Hathaway’s team was inserted first and then my team. We were barely on the ground when the helicopters had to get back to help Hathaway’s team. Hathaway was killed and the other three were wounded. One of my later missions was to go into the same place Hathaway was killed. We did find spider holes dug all around the landing zone, but I do know they got on the ground without incident. This incident is featured in my story “Insertion Gone Bad”. Attached is a picture from the 4th Division newspaper taken a few days before he was killed.

Warren Gallion, 2nd Bde LRRP, 4th Inf. Division (Apr 69 – Oct 69)

June 23, 1969

INSERTION GONE BAD

A LRRP team was most vulnerable when they were inserted. A single helicopter just flying in and dropping us off would alert the enemy to our location and presence. To give us a chance we would fly with an entourage of gun ships and other helicopters. The gun ships would start flying low and fast across the tree tops near our landing zone. If the gun ships didn’t draw fire our helicopter would drop into the LZ while the gun ships continued to fly at tree top level to distract the enemy. The four of us would clear the helicopter as quickly as possible so the helicopter could return to the air and not give away our location. We would disappear into the brush and the helicopters would soon disappear also. We would normally lie still and quite for about an hour to see if the enemy would come to the LZ to check out the commotion.

One of our worst fears was to have a team member on the ground with no communication. How many lives do you risk to save someone that might already be dead? I carried the radio as part of my 45 pound pack for my team. I always told my team I didn’t mind jumping first with the radio, but I wanted to hear 3 thumps right behind me.

Some days we would spend hours at the pad waiting for the helicopters to pick us up for insertion. There was always and excuse for why we were left on the pad to ponder the fate of our next mission.

  • Helicopters had mechanical problems.
  • Bad weather and they can’t get to us yet.
  • They went to support someone in contact.

Sgt. Hathaway and I talked about our missions as we both waited for our teams to be picked up by the helicopters. Although we were on separate missions, we had been briefed together since we would only be a few miles apart and our goal was to learn more about some recent enemy activity in the area. After an eternity the helicopters arrived and it was time to go to work. As the helicopter left the pad, it became more difficult to suppress the intensity and speed of my heart beat. From our helicopter I watched the gun ships work the treetops as Sgt. Hathaway’s team was inserted first. With his team in place, the helicopters returned to the skies and made the short flight to our area.

The gun ships began working the tree tops again for our insertion. As our helicopter dropped into the LZ we each slid out onto the skids of the helicopter. Still over 5 feet from the ground, the tall grass was blown back and I picked out my spot to jump to. I bent my knees and turned loose of the helicopter. The instant before my feet left the runner, I heard machine gun fire and the pilot pulled up and I was thrown into the air. I hit the ground feet first and stomach second. The wind was knocked out of me completely. As I gasp for air I was grabbed by both arm pits and pulled to my feet. I was relieved to see it was my own men. I told them I heard machine gun fire. They said, “No”, the helicopter blades just hit a tree limb and the pilot adjusted. I was relieved I would not have to fight in this condition.

I turned on the radio to let the helicopters know we were on the ground safely. I picked up the radio transmitter and said “This is Delta Tango.” The response was quick and abrupt. “Roger Delta Tango, CLEAR THE AIRWAVES”. I turned the radio off to conserve batteries and went into silent mode. As I watched, listened and felt my heart and breathing return to normal, I could feel the rage building inside as I thought about how the helicopter pilot ordered me off the radio. The pilot must have seen my men help me up, and he left without even checking to see if I was injured.

After two hours I made my next radio check. Before I could register my complaint about the pilot, I was told they had some news. During our insertion, Sgt. Hathaway’s team made contact. The helicopters had cut our insertion short to respond to Sgt. Hathaway’s call for help. Three of the team members were wounded, and should live. Sgt. Hathaway was dead, and his body had been recovered.

* * *

5/9/11

In Memory of Sergeant Steve Hathaway

Being in the 2nd Bde. LRRPs 4th Infantry Division in 1969 was one of the most exciting, dangerous and fulfilling parts of my life. It was great being associated with some of the bravest and best; I don’t know about other LRRP or Ranger units, but while I served in the 2nd Bde LRRPs we were winning and making Charlie’s Life hell on Earth. I don’t listen to any of   this   bullshit   about us losing or giving anything but our very best effort! And by the way, let me make one thing perfectly clear, when I left South Vietnam we were winning!

I knew one of the best, his name was Sergeant Steve Hathaway. Steve was KIA in June of 1969, and   as   best   I   remember all of guys in his team were wounded. At our A.O. near   Highlander   Height’s   on   LZ Mary Lou near Kontum everyone was by the radio ready to go help if needed. Steve Hathaway was killed soon after his boots hit the ground. The feeling among the 2nd Bde LRRP’s was the mission had been compromised from the start!   It was just after the insertion ship started to pull away that the team was hit by small arms fire and RPG’s. Steve and I were both Florida boys, he from Maitland, Florida and I lived 50 miles away in Eau Gallie, Florida. I looked up to Steve, he was older than me, and was always looking out for me. He had attended NCO School at Fort Benning and was a great soldier and a fine ranger. I promised myself I would go back and speak to his family when and if I made it home! He always talked about his family and especially how he and his dad were going to start a frog farming business   when   he   got   back   home   to   Maitland,   Florida. We’re going to start a frog farm he would say to me with a smile on his   face. Then he would explain some of the details to me and to who ever would listen. I remember the guys laughing, thinking it was some kind of joke or gag, A Frog Farm ha ha. But.nothing could have been further from   the   truth, that was Steve’s   dream!   And   just   look around today, you’ll find lots of frog farms producing frog legs for sale to restaurants all over the world..

I have been to Steve’s home many times visiting his mom, Mrs.Ruth Hathaway and Steve’s older brother Bert Hathaway.. I think Steve’s father die hurting so much for his fallen son, at least that was the feeling I always got when talking to Steve’s mom and brother Bert.

The Hathaway family are one of the kindest & warmest families you could ever meet. That’s just the way Steve was toward me.. Mrs. Hathaway treats me just like I am her son, and Steve’s brother, Bert, is the same   as   a   brother   to   me.   I went   there   to   be   a   part   of presenting Mrs Ruth Hathaway long over due Gold Star Award. I travel there with   two former Presidents of the 75th Ranger Associations and both are two of my cherish and   closest   friends.   K. Company’s   then President   Dana McGrath and former past president from Papa. Company Terry Rock Roderick. We took the family out for lunch and had such a fine family type gathering. I always tell Mrs. Hathaway all the positive things about Steve I can, and of course nothing to upset her. I’m sure Dana or Terry will tell you what a wonderful family the Hathaway’s are and we stay in touch to this day. We all went and visited Steve’s grave site in the Lakeland Cemetery. Then after the small ceremony and prayer we placed   a wreath in Steve’s honor   by   his   grave.   We   all   embraced   and   said   our goodbye’s, their wasn’t a dry eye among us.

I was happy to show our love and respect for Steve and his family. To this day I visit them at every opportunity, I always cherish the time I spent with the Hathaway family. As for the rest of us in 2nd Bde. LRRPS 4th Inf. Div. we always gave our best. Like the motto states All Gave Some. Some Gave All . I write this to preserve the Memory of one of our many fallen brothers . With all respect for Sergeant Steve Hathaway and his family who made the Supreme Sacrifice!

Rangers Lead the Way-Always

Jim Testerman aka J.T. Hogg

 

* * *

2nd Bde LRRPS, K Company 75th Ranger Regiment Ranger “Steadfast” (69 – 70), Feb 2004

My thoughts were immediately thinking how perilous insertions are and honestly can’t say what the huey’s did after we were inserted. We have had teams wiped out during insertions or many killed or wounded, strict attention was paid to what we were doing in field. No time to dily daly here. It might be a while before we agreed we were safe to move on. Some preferred to “lay dog” as Gary Linderer calls it. One of my friends was killed on insertion, I must mention his name. I didn’t know him well but he was my friend. Steve Hathaway, 23 Jun 69. I was at LZ Mary Lou where his body was brought to. I had returned from a three week course at Camp Enari. That day I stepped off a bus and returned to my unit and informed to go to LZ right away. Sad

Leave a comment