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Monday, December 27, 2010

DSC Awarded to Vietnam-War Bowie-Knife Fighter

The following account of an action involving a bowie knife during the Vietnam War appeared in the Oakland Tribune, March 1, 1967:
Hand-to-Hand Combat With a Pistol and a Bowie Knife
DSC for Heroic Sergeant 
A Buena Park soldier who charged a Viet Cong bunker armed with a bowie knife and  a pistol, killed two enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, then later on shot two more to death after he was critically wounded, has won the nation's second highest award for valor -- the Distinguished Service Cross. The DSC was pinned on Staff Sgt. Richard M. Hale, 27, by Lt. Gen. J. L. Richardson, Sixth Army Commanding General, in rites yesterday at Letterman General Hospital where Hale is a patient.

Sgt. Hale, a native of Ada, Okla., was leading a six-man squad in Operation Attleboro near Tay Ninh, last Nov. 19 when their armored personnel carrier ran into a strong, entrenched Viet Cong Force.

When the First Battalion Mechanized of the 25th Infantry Division came under heavy fire, said his citation, "Sergeant Hale immediately ordered his personnel carrier into the center of the action." When grenade fragments felled one of his men, said the citation, Hale ordered the rest of the squad to evacuate their wounded comrade.

"Then, with complete disregard for his safety, while armed only with a bowie knife and a pistol, he charged the hostile emplacement alone. Dauntlessly running 30 meters through intense hostile fire, he leaped into the bunker and engaged the two insurgents in fierce, hand-to-hand combat.

"After killing both Viet Cong, (he) reorganized his squad and continued to search the area until he was shot in the chest by a sniper. Although painfully wounded and weak from the loss of blood, he gallantly crawled to the hostile position and killed two more more insurgents with his pistol."

Sergeant Hale was serving his second tour of duty in Vietnam. He spent five months in 1964 as a door gunner on the helicopter "gun ships" in Vietnam.


  1. Hello
    My name is Irma Shenk and this is my Uncle Dickie! I have been trying to find him for over 40 years. Can you help me?
    Irma Shenk

  2. I'm sorry, I don't know anything beyond what's in the article. With the internet, it's not as difficult to locate people as it used to be, though.

  3. Many have asked where was your weapon, I had just killed two vc with my shotgun and was reloading my shotgun when a vc pop up out of a spider hole, he was smiling at me and had me cold in his sights in the AK 47. I threw my shotgun in the air toward him, he followed the weapon and didn’t pay attention as I ran toward him, I caught the shotgun by the barrel and swung it hard, it broke my stock but it killed him as it took off his forehead. I have no idea why I did this, no thinking. I didn’t bother picking up his weapon just kept on running to neutralize the nearest bunker. I had a Bowie knife for close quarters.
    That’s why I had no weapon
    Richar Hale