In a battle for the district capital of Phuc Long Province in the III Corps area about 60 miles northeast of Saigon in the country of Viet Nam, Special Forces 2LT Charles Q. Williams would distinguish himself in the battle of the Dong Xoai CIDG camp and later be awarded the Medal of Honor.

In the same action, CM3 Marvin Shields, Navy Seabee would posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Dong Xoai was home to 400 Montagnard CIDG strikers and 24 US troops including Special Forces and Navy Seabees. On the dates of 9-10 June, the Viet Cong, with North Vietnamese Support attacked the base with 1500 guerrillas armed with AK-47s, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, rocket launchers and flamethrowers.

The 14-hour battle would leave 20 of the Americans either killed or wounded along with 200 Vietnamese strikers and civilians. Vietcong dead numbered between 500-700.

Williams was the XO (Executive Officer) of the Special Forces A-Camp when the Vietcong began massing for an attack on the camp late on June 9. The Americans were aware of the buildup outside the camp and placed their troops on full alert.

This caused the Vietcong to begin their attack over an hour early, and at 2330 they began to mortar the camp, hitting both Vietnamese and US positions before an infantry assault by the 272nd Regiment.

Buildings at the Dong Xoai Special Forces camp at Dong Xoai. (US Navy photo)

It was during the initial artillery fire that the Special Forces commander of the camp was hit and seriously wounded which would place Williams in command of the camp. He wasn’t the typical 2LT. Williams had been an NCO in the 82nd Airborne Division before going to Special Forces and Officer Candidate School.

Williams organized his defenses in his compound and determined the source of the insurgents’ main effort and led the troops to their defensive positions on the south and west walls. The Vietcong initially took heavy casualties by failing to negotiate and recognizing the barbed wire and minefields that the team had laid out. Williams attempted to establish communications at the District Headquarters, found that there was no operational radio with which to communicate with his commanding officer in another compound.