August 24

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Aug 24, 1969:

U.S. unit refuses commander's order

Company A of the Third Battalion, 196th Light Infantry Brigade refuses the order of its commander, Lieutenant Eugene Schurtz, Jr., to continue an attack that had been launched to reach a downed helicopter shot down in the Que Son valley, 30 miles south of Da Nang. The unit had been in fierce combat for five days against entrenched North Vietnamese forces and had taken heavy casualties. Schurtz called his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Bacon, and informed him that his men had refused to follow his order to move out because they had "simply had enough" and that they were "broken." The unit eventually moved out when Bacon sent his executive officer and a sergeant to give Schurtz's troops "a pep talk," but when they reached the downed helicopter on August 25, they found all eight men aboard dead. Schurtz was relieved of his command and transferred to another assignment in the division. Neither he nor his men were disciplined. This case of "combat refusal," as the Army described it, was reported widely in U.S. newspapers.

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