The Edmond Sun

Local News

August 9, 2006

The tale of Edmond’s hero

EDMOND — Like many young men in the 1960s, Fredrick Joel Ransbottom’s life was abruptly disrupted when his military draft number was called.

Ransbottom honored his obligation to his country and signed up for service with his best friend Clint Wheeler.

Like many young men in the 1960s Ransbottom never returned home.

Ransbottom went to Army Officers’ Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Ga., and from there he shipped to Vietnam and eventually led a newly formed long-range reconnaissance team in the Quang Tin province of South Vietnam.

First Lt. Fredrick Joel Ransbottom was in charge of men occupying three outposts in the northern sector of the country, near the Laos border. At first their mission was to travel in small teams within enemy territory to monitor the movement of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops and later to protect the American special forces camp as it was being evacuated from the area.

The three outposts proved to be an ideal border surveillance site with an existing airfield. They weren’t in a safe area, but instead were scattered on the top of three mountains looking down on Kham Duc, the Green Beret camp.

“We were always outside the wire, meaning we were in ‘bad guy’ territory,” said Allen “Doc” Hoe of Honolulu, who was Ransbottom’s medic.

The only village in the area was located on the other side of the airstrip and was occupied by post dependents, camp followers and merchants.

“The high-ridgeline site overlooked a valley where the Green Beret camp, first occupied in September of 1963, was being evacuated,” Hoe said. “We held all three positions there.”

Their job was to occupy the outposts to monitor enemy movements as the camp below was being evacuated.

All three positions were overrun by a massive NVA division starting on May 10 and finishing the morning of May 12. The attack was the result of what Hoe calls “perhaps one of Gen. (William) Westmoreland’s greatest blunders.”

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