SGT – E5 – United States Army
11C40 - Infantryman
A Company, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry,
199th Light Infantry Brigade
Tour began on May 21, 1970
21 Years Old
Born November 6, 1948 in Omaha, Nebraska - August 21, 1970
Tim Dolan was with Ronald on that tragic day...
My name is Tim Dolan, and I was a member of Alpha Company 4/12 199th
Light Infantry Brigade. I served with Ronald Munger and was with him when
he lost his life on that fateful day almost 40 years ago.
Munger was a soldier's soldier. While he and I didn't agree all the time,
I respected him as my squad leader and cherished his friendship. I'd like
everyone reading this, especially his family to know how courageous
his actions were that day.
I hadn't thought about it for quite some time, but after reading Rolf's
story, the events of that day came rushing back.
When first getting back from Viet Nam, I tried on several occasions to
locate someone from the Munger family to tell the story of how Butch died.
I knew it would be hard for everyone to relive that tragedy again, but I
just felt that if I were killed in a place 8000 miles from home, my family
would have wanted to know what actually happened.
I'd like to thank the people from Faces on the Wall.
Without their website, I would have never had the chance to explain the
events that changed my life and that of the Munger family forever.
I was at the front of the column that morning when we were ambushed by
an unknown NVA force. Normally, I would have been walking point, as
I had done for the past several months. But for some reason on this
mission, my platoon leader took me off that assignment, so I
volunteered to carry the M60 machine gun.
Instead of me PFC Perkins was assigned to walk point; he was the other
guy in Rolf's story that was wounded in the stomach. Perkins was a
county boy from Tennessee, a tough guy that had been in country for
several months. As a boy he had spent a lot of time in the woods
hunting. Consequently, when it came to maneuvering in the bush, he
had a keen eye.
That morning it seemed that we had gotten off to a slow start, usually
each day we would hump (walk) for 8 to 10 clicks (1 click =1000 meters)
and then set up our perimeter late in the afternoon for that night.
Our missions were normally carried out in triple canopy jungle, meaning
that little light penetrated to the jungle floor. Even though the temperature
during the day was in the high nineties with humidity reaching 100%,
the shade made the conditions almost bearable.
However, that day the terrain was different, it was flat and the jungle
canopy was almost nonexistent, the brush was thick, almost
impenetrable and the hot sun was beating down on us.
It seemed everyone in the platoon was frustrated by our lack of progress.
We would stop then move a couple hundred feet and stop again. At one
point, I even yelled to Butch, let me trade with Perkins, "I'll take the point"
I said, thinking that I could move us along quicker. But he
refused and we continued on at our slow pace.
Suddenly there was an explosion (Claymore mine) than automatic
weapons fire which I believe was a Chi-com machine gun.
We had walked straight into an NVA ambush!
In an instant it was total chaos. A barrage of automatic weapons fire
reigned down on our position. They must have watched us as we
walked into their trap. They seemed to know exactly where to direct
their fire. Some how, I was able to make my way to the front of the
column and began lying down suppressing fire with the M60. I could
see Perkins who was just to the front of me, 5 to 10 yards. My assistant
gunner was off to my left, I don't remember his name but he was a
pretty big guy carried the extra ammo. Munger was lying
to my right, about 5 to 6 feet away.
The fire fight was ferocious; for those who have never experienced
combat, it's hard to describe. It's almost like the fight takes on a life of
its own. The ebb and flow of semi automatic fire, interspersed with
automatic fire, sprinkled with the occasional explosions from M79
grenade launchers and mortars creates a continuous deafening roar.
I must have fired close to a thousand rounds in the first 5 minutes.
At one point, I started to worry about running out of ammo, so I called
for more. Everyone was firing at a high rate.
Perkins was hit pretty bad; he was bleeding profusely and was in a
significant amount of pain. He kept screaming for his mom,
"Mama Mama help me Mama". Munger and I were screaming
back to him to hang in there and that he would be alright. Unfortunately,
we were pinned down pretty good and couldn't get to him.
The enemy rounds were impacting in front of us, to the side, even
cutting the branches over our heads, there was simply no where to
take cover. All we could do was to get down to as close to the Jungle
floor as we could. We all felt like a sitting ducks. On top of that, the
brush was so dense that we couldn't even see the enemies' muzzle
flashes to determine which way to direct our fire.
The contact lasted what seemed to be an eternity, then all of a sudden
the firing began to subside a bit. Our lieutenant who was fairly new in
country was pretty far back behind us, he began shouting to cease fire.
I never understood why he gave the command, because the enemy was
still engaged in the fire fight. Then all at once it got calm, 10 to 20
seconds of pure silence. All of a sudden the shooting began again,
but it wasn't heavy firing, just a few single shots. The lieutenant
began screaming again to cease fire. But it had no effect, the
sporadic shooting continued. I guess NVA either didn't want to
cooperate, or they couldn't speak English. Thinking that it was
one of us, the lieutenant yelled to Munger to find out who was shooting.
That's when it happened. Even though Butch knew they had us pinned
down and that if he made a move it would give away his position, he
acted like the brave soldier that he was and followed the lieutenants'
order. He lifted his head up only about 12 to 18 inches to look around.
Within a few seconds his head flung back and his helmet flew off. His
head fell back down and he lunged forward, driving his face into the
ground. I looked over at him; he had a hole in his forehead just below
his hairline. His head was bleeding pretty badly. The blood was pooling
on the ground just in front of his face. With that I began firing again
I was running low on ammo. Then I began yelling "more ammo, more
ammo" my assistant gunner had given me all he had and by
then we only had a few hundred rounds left.
From behind us and not fully aware of the situation, I could hear the
lieutenant yelling for Munger. "Munger, Munger who's doing that
shooting"? He kept yelling for Munger and that's when I yelled back
"Munger's dead"! At that point, he must have realized that we were
still engaged with the enemy, because he stopped calling.
A few minute later someone showed up with more ammo for the gun,
I think it must have been Sergeant Vance but I'm not sure. He was
fairly new in country, so I didn't know his name as well as some of the
others in our platoon. We snapped the extra belts of ammo together
and loaded them into the gun. By then I was pretty tired from holding
the machine gun, it weighed in excess of 25 lbs and soaking wet I
couldn't have weighed much more 130lbs. I handed the M60 over to
the sergeant. He began firing continuously while I fed the ammo. This
lasted for several minutes and then we stopped firing. Finally there was
silence, no shooting from either side. I'm not sure whether we killed or
wounded them or they just melted away into the jungle like so
often they did after making contact.
Soon after, the rest of the platoon including our medic began
making their way up to the front of the column. We were able to get
Perkins out to make shift LZ and evacuated back to the hospital.
Unfortunately, Sergeant Munger was gone.
That was a long time ago, (40 years) but I'll never forget that fateful
morning in a Southeast Asian jungle when Sergeant Ronald Munger
made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
In 1991 I had a chance to visit the Viet Nam memorial in Washington, D.C.
While there I was able to obtain an etching from the wall of
his name which sits on my desk today.
Bob Bump remembers his friend...
I remember Sgt. Munger, now 35 years later. I was present during
the firefight. I went to The Wall in Washington, DC and made a
rubbing of his name. I wrote his father later.
Jarrod Munger honors Ronald...
SGT Ronald 'Butch' Munger was my fathers 1st cousin. I would like to thank
you for the web site and the information on it. My family was never told how
Butch died in Vietnam. I had just typed 'Munger' into the Google search
engine and found your web site. Thank You.
This message was left in the Faces On The Wall
notebook that travels with the tribute...
He was a good guy to my Aunt, that was because he was my cousin.
Rolf remembers Ronald...
This is Rolf Hernandez, let me tell you about myself. I was in Vietnam from
November 1969 to October 1970. I was with the 199th Light
Infantry Brigade first and then when President Richard Nixon started pulling
the troops out, I was sent to the 101st Airborne Division in the North. I
was in the invasion of Cambodia and we were under the command of the
1st Cavalry Division.
While in Cambodia, I was lucky to leave early for my
R&R to Australia. When I got back, I was sent back to the field, I
remember we landed on a portable air field, then we had to cross the rice
paddies to get to the base up the hill. I was there a couple of days and one night
while on guard, Cpt. Ernest McMullan came by and said to get ready to leave
as soon as it was daylight. We were going to airmobile to another base that had been
under constant fire all night, actually we didn't leave until that afternoon.
We were dropped off not far from around the base and then we worked our
way towards the base going up the hill. I remember we found an NVA
body just barely buried, he had a handkerchief around his mouth which
meant he must to have been wounded and was screaming and either
he died later or was buried alive. Later I saw a man on the ground by the
creek like he was drinking water, but it turned out to be another body.
By this time we were close to the base, we were airmobiled somewhere in
the jungles. I don't remember if we were three or four days in the
jungle or a week, but we hadn't had any contact with the NVA. We
were just a few yards from a clearing when it all happened. I was carrying
the radio, Bobby Riddle was the RTO, we usually carried two radios
in the company, and if I'm correct, one with the captain and the other
with the Staff Sgt., but that particular mission we had three radios.
I remember I was the last person on the line, well on this day in the middle
of the afternoon, that's when all hell broke loose. The shooting started and then
there was a lot of screaming and yelling, we were all confused at first, we
didn't know what was happening up front, whether somebody got shot or we
had killed somebody. They kept screaming for smoke grenades, but well
before that we were told not to move, but the screaming went on, so I decided to
go to the front to take the grenades, I had a yellow one. Bobby told me that I
wasn't supposed to leave the radio, but I told him that the front needed help
and somebody had to take the smoke grenades. On my way to the front, I
collected a few grenades and passed the Captain, he asked me where I was
going, so I told him I was going to the front to take the smoke grenades.
When I got there, the first person that I saw was Staff Sgt. Vance, he was very
upset, and then I saw Sgt. Munger lying on the ground with his face up. He told me
to stay with him until the medic got there and he was going to see the other
person that also had been shot. Later we found out that the other soldier got
shot twice in the stomach, but made it. I screamed for the medic to come and I
was in tears to see Sgt. Munger lying there not moving or breathing. He had
been shot on the back of the head.
When the medic finally arrived, he started pounding on his heart and was very upset
just to see him not breathing. A few seconds later, Sgt. Munger started breathing
heavily, I was at that time more emotional and with tears on my face to have seen
a miracle that he woke up from the dead. At that time the medic went to the front to
see the other soldier and where Sgt. Vance was. Before he left, he told me that if
Sgt. Munger stopped breathing, just to pound on his heart. By this time the dust off
helicopters were on their way.
Another soldier came to me and said there was a clearing just a few
yards from where we were, and we needed to take him to the clearing. The
other soldier and I tried to carry him, but because he was tall and heavy, we
couldn't lift him up, so we called for more help, and another soldier came. The
three of us tried to lift him, but he was still too heavy, so we had to call for more
help, and finally it took four of us to lift him. As we lifted him up, the shooting
started, so we put him down again. This happened about three times until I finally
said, "Lets get him out of here!"
The jungle was so thick, that even a few yards seemed forever. As we reached
the clearing, the chopper was just getting there. He didn't touch the ground
completely, and we put him on the floor of the helicopter. We found out later
that he didn't even make it to the base.
I just thought that his family would like to know how it all happened. Thanks again
for letting me share my thoughts, Sgt. Ronald Munger, a true soldier.
If you would like to post your remembrance
about Ronald, please click here.