- Full Name: BILLIE ALLEN HALL
- Date of Birth: 9/21/1939
- Date of Casualty: 3/9/1966
- Home of Record: SAND SPRINGS, OKLAHOMA
- Branch of Service: ARMY
- Rank: SSGT
- Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
President of the United States
Distinguished Service Cross
Is Awarded Posthumously
Billie A. Hall
Rank and Organization: Staff Sergeant, Special Forces Detachment A-102
Date and Place: 9 March 1966, Republic of Vietnam
On 9 March 1966, Special Forces Detachment A-102 at Camp Ashau was subjected to a mortar barrage and small arms fire. After a day of continuous enemy bombardment, Camp A Shau was attacked by two North Vietnamese Regiments. With the advantage of surprise, superior firepower and bad weather the enemy hurled wave after wave of troops at the weakening defenses on Camp A Shau.
The vicious battle forced the evacuation of the camp, and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Sergeant Hall, a medic, had accompanied a company of one hundred and forty-three men to reinforce Camp A Shau. When the attack started, Sergeant Hall grabbed his weapon and aid kit and ran from his quarters. Seeing many wounded in the center of the camp he ran through the enemy fire to assist in dragging the wounded to safety and treating them. Throughout the bombardment, he ran from position to position treating the wounded. Seeing two wounded Americans lying on a road in the center of the camp in the midst of numerous mortar explosions, Sergeant Hall ran to their aid. With enemy mortar rounds bursting all around him, he reached the two men and dragged them into a ditch and gave them medical aid. A direct hit on this trench killed one of the wounded Americans, an interpreter and wounded two other Americans nearby. Although Sergeant Hall had both his legs blown off when this round exploded, he refused medical attention. Being the only qualified medic at that location, he realized his responsibility to the wounded. Only after these men were treated and moved did he allow himself to be carried to the dispensary. On reaching the dispensary, though in extreme pain and weak from great loss of blood, Sergeant Hall permitted only slight treatment of his severe wounds to stem the flow of blood so he might live longer to direct operations at the aid station. Through an interpreter, he directed indigenous medics in caring for the wounded. He continued this gallant task until his body could withstand no more the demands being placed upon it, and he lapsed into a coma and died.
Sergeant Hall's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the cost of his own life, was a continuous inspiration to the entire garrison of Camp A Shau. His sacrifice was the spark needed to ignite the flame of desire in each man to repulse the relentless enemy as long as means were available. Sergeant Hall's unimpeachable valor in close combat was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
The Sand Springs Education Foundation's Hall of Fame banquet will honor Billie Hall, a 1953 graduate, and Charles Jestice, graduate from the class of 1958.
Both men grew up in Sand Springs and left after graduation with bright futures.
For Hall, while his future was short, he made the most of that time.
Billie Hall's name is one that has been in the media locally quite a bit.
Hall joined the U.S. Army after his graduation and was later assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division sent to Vietnam in 1965 as a medic in the Special Forces Green Berets.
During the battle of A Shau in 1966, while attending wounded soldiers, a mortar round exploded near Hall, tearing off his legs and cutting his stomach. According to witnesses, Hall tried to drag his torn body to other wounded to treat them but did not have the strength.
He had others drag the wounded to his position and told them how to treat the wounded.
The witnesses said only after the wounded had been treated did Hall allow himself to be carried to a nearby dispensary area. He refused any drugs for the pain and had only tourniquets applied to his legs so he could continue to treat the wounded.
Hall survived for five hours in the center of the battle before he slipped into a coma and died of his injuries. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
For his extraordinary heroism in action, Hall was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1967 and today local organizations have united to have Hall awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. While the community is still pushing his case at a federal level, Hall will be inducted into the Sand Springs Education Foundation's Hall of Fame.
23 April 2008:
SAND SPRINGS, OKLAHOMA — A renewed effort is gaining steam to get a Medal of Honor for a local Vietnam War veteran who sacrificed his life for the sake of his comrades.
The Pentagon has been asked for another review of the file of Army Staff Sergeant Billie “Sonny” Hall, a Special Forces medic who died March 9, 1966, in Vietnam.
Hall was nominated for the Medal of Honor shortly after his death, but he was passed over. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross instead.
The Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award, is given to military personnel who risk their own lives to help others.
Members of American Legion Post 17 in Sand Springs have been pushing for the Medal of Honor for Hall, and they have enlisted the help of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn.
They also have received letters of support from U.S. Representatives Dan Boren and John Sullivan, as well as U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.
Coburn recently sent a letter to the Pentagon, asking it to look at Hall's case once again.
And on July 30, Coburn also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, asking for his involvement on Hall's behalf.
Bob McFarland, one of those who are spearheading the renewed effort for the Medal of Honor, said several new witnesses have come forward to describe Hall's heroism.
Among them is retired Master Sgt. Victor C. Underwood, who wrote that if Hall did not earn the Medal of Honor, “then no one ever has.”
The same sentiment was expressed by John W. Bradford, who was a platoon leader for the 5th Special Forces Group Mobile Strike Force on March 9, 1966.
“I know several Medal of Honor recipients,” Bradford wrote. “None, in my opinion, are more deserving of the award than is Billie Hall.”
He noted that many special forces personnel are alive today because of Hall's selfless actions as a medic.
Hall died at the battle of Camp A Shau along Vietnam's border with Laos.
The camp, defended by a small band of Special Forces and South Vietnamese troops, was under siege by overwhelming enemy forces in a battle that lasted more than 37 hours.
In the first hours of the attack, with artillery rounds, grenades and bullets raining on the camp, Hall dodged it all to help wounded soldiers.
One mortar shell exploded near Hall as he was rendering aid to another soldier, and the blast tore off his legs.
In spite of the immense pain and blood loss, Hall continued with his medic duties, instructing others how to treat the wounded.
And Hall refused to be given painkillers, believing that others more wounded than himself needed the medication.
Underwood witnessed it all.
Even before Hall lost his lower legs, Underwood said, he sustained fragment wounds in his arm and side, but he continued helping wounded soldiers — “the mortar rockets continued raining down all this time.”
After Hall took the mortar hit, Underwood said he took instructions from Hall on where to place tourniquets on him and later used forceps and clamps to ease the bleeding.
Underwood said he was able to slow the bleeding but not stop it.
He said he also tried to give Hall morphine, and “he asked me not to do it.”
Hall eventually was taken to the camp's medical bunker, but not before all the other wounded soldiers around him were taken first, Underwood said.
From other eyewitness accounts, Hall dragged his shattered body around the floor of the bunker, all the while giving instructions on how to tend to the wounded.
Eventually, Hall's body gave out, and he died.
Bradford was among those who will never forget Hall's courage on that bloody day.
“Hall's actions saved many lives,” he said, “including mine.”
HALL, BILLIE ALLEN
- DATE OF BIRTH: 09/21/1939
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/09/1966
- BURIED AT: SECTION 51 SITE 946
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard