Vietnam veterans who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade will gather at a memorial at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center to remember 76 Sky Soldiers who died 50 years ago in the Battle of Dak To.
Among those who died was 2nd Lt. Jeffrey R. Sexton. He was killed while trying to save the life of a medic during the June 22, 1967 battle in the Kontum province of South Vietnam. The gathering is at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the 173rd Airborne Brigade Memorial.
Sexton of Arizona was 22 when he died. Members of his family are expected at the informal ceremony.
Located in the Central Highlands, Dak To was the location for a series of combat operations by the North Vietnamese Army during the second half of that year. It had been used as a forward operating base to gather information on the Ho Chi Minh Trail across the border into Laos.
Heavy contact with the People’s Army of Vietnam started during the summer, prompting a series of search and destroy operations by the 4th Infantry Division, 173rd Airborne Brigade, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and Airborne units.
From 1965 when the first ground formation deployed to 1971 in Vietnam, the 173rd Airborne Brigade suffered heavy losses with more than 1,600 “Sky Soldiers” killed in battle.
Many were lost in the Battle of Dak To in violent fighting for Hill 875. That battle included two battalions of the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry.