Vietnam Veteran Receives Bronze Star For Valor For Actions In 1967
(October 26, 2009)
U.S. Army Garrison Baden-W�rttemberg Command Sgt. Maj. Annette R. Weber congratulates retired Staff Sgt. Alfred Pankey Jr. for his service after he was presented the Bronze Star with Valor during the annual U.S. Army Europe and USAG Heidelberg (Germany) Retiree Appreciation Day Oct. 17,
A Vietnam veteran was honored for his
valor in combat with the presentation of a Bronze Star medal
at Heidelberg's Retiree Appreciation Day on Patrick Henry
Village, Oct. 17.
Retired Staff Sgt. Alfred Pankey Jr., a former U.S. Army
Europe cavalry scout, was formally recognized for the
courage and leadership he displayed during a four-hour
firefight against superior North Vietnamese forces during a
battle with the 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment,
June 19, 1967.
The 9th Infantry Division originally cut orders in August
1967 for a Bronze Star for Valor recognizing Pankey for his
bravery, however, he did not receive the decoration until
Brig. Gen. Allen W. Batschelet, USAREUR deputy chief of staff for operations,
presented the award in front of a room full of retirees, family members and
current Soldiers gathered at the Village Pavilion for the services available at
the annual event for retirees.|
"Even though it was a long time in coming, I feel like I have earned it," Pankey
said. The 3/11th ACR annual historical summary reported at about 1 a.m. on June
19, 1967 the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 274th Viet Cong Regiment, reinforced
by their regimental heavy weapons company and the 5th Viet Cong Division
anti-aircraft weapons company, attacked 3rd Squadron's perimeter along Highway 2
near the Cambodian border.
According to the 3/11th's report, the squadron "was attacked from three sides
and subjected to an intense volume of fire. Team K and Headquarters Troop, who
were manning the perimeter, reacted quickly and laid down a heavy volume of
The 9th Infantry Division's award citation published Aug. 24, 1967, said the
enemy attacked furiously and without warning.
"Sergeant Pankey and his fellow Soldiers were subjected to mortars, rockets,
recoilless rifles, automatic weapons and small-arms fires from an estimated
battalion of Viet Cong," the orders read. Exposing himself to the enemy, Pankey
directed his platoon's fire and helped evacuate wounded Soldiers from the
Pankey's platoon leader and sergeant were mortally wounded during the onslaught.
Realizing the situation had become critical, Pankey rallied his men and
maneuvered them to strengthen a vital sector of the perimeter, the award orders
"Charlie was following us for 28 solid days," Pankey remembered. "All of a
sudden, he started opening up with everything you could name .... He was coming
in from all directions."
Manning a .50-caliber machine gun, Pankey fired in the direction of the incoming
attack during the four hours of non-stop fighting.
"I thank the 'old man' above," Pankey said. "Bullets were flying that night and
not one hit me. It could have happened. Charlie was shooting with everything
with full force."
The next morning, Pankey and a team patrolled the battle site. He was one of the
first to see the devastation.
"A sweep of the battlefield at first light revealed 56 Viet Cong bodies," the
squadron reported. In addition two wounded prisoners were taken, nine troopers
in the squadron were killed and 32 were wounded. This battle was known as the
"Battle of Slope 30."
The former cavalry scout worked his way through the ranks and voluntarily served
two more 12-month tours of duty in Vietnam. In 1979 Pankey served along the
border with the former East Germany.
After retiring in Germany 1982, Pankey began a mail and telephone quest for his
medal that ended with a surprise note in his Bamberg post office box in July.
Pankey, who lives in Erlangen, Germany, with his family, said the award he
received is not for him but for those he served with in Vietnam.
The 42-year wait was worthwhile, he said. "Heidelberg has made me happy," he
said. "They did a good job. I enjoyed it, and my family enjoyed it, too."
Article and photo by Navy Dave Melancon
U.S. Army Europe
Army News Service
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