LCPL Ronald Lee Longanecker, age 18, Portland Oregon. He is listed on The Wall at panel 09E, line˙ 7
The following is taken from the After Action Report 3-66 dated 8 July 1966 and from personal recollection of the action.
On 23 June 1966 a recon unit was formed from Recon Group Bravo which at the time was located at Phu Bai and moved to an area near the Dong Ha Airstrip.
The reconnaissance operation was called Task Unit Charlie. It was sent north to verify if the NVA had infiltrated through the DMZ. On July 1 patrols began to be inserted by CH46 into the unknown jungle terrain.
Between 1-7 July 4 recon patrols were inserted but then emergency extracted because of massed troops of the North Vietnamese Army that were occupying the zones.
On 8 July at 1630 Recon Team Partyline, a 16 man patrol, was inserted at coordinates YD058498. Upon insertion it was taken under fire by numerous small arms and automatic weapons. It was extracted without incident.
At 1815hrs the team was in the process of insertion into a different zone, at YD072468, when NVA were observed in the LZ. The NVA opened fire and the first helicopter pulled out of the LZ and radioed the second to do the same. The second helicopter attempted to pull out before landing but lost engine power. To lighten the load, the pilots jettisoned fuel but crashed while doing so and immediately burst into flames. All but one Marine was able to exit the burning helo.
Ronald Lee Longanecker perished in the blaze.
The recon team and the helo crew then evaded the NVA and were picked up by another helicopter at YD059465.
During this attempted insertion eight men from the Partyline Team were also WIA.
Ronald Lee Longanecker became the first of many Marines to die in Quang Tri Province. The crash site was never searched by friendly forces and Ronald also became the first of many Marines to be listed as KIA/BNR in Quang Tri.
To date the JTFFA has not searched the site which is in an area southwest of Cam Lo.