Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Abandoned in Hell - New Book by Moliner William Albracht

The Library Journal:
Albracht, William & Marvin J. Wolf. Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate. NAL:Penguin. Feb. 2015. 384p. index. ISBN 9780451468086. $27.95; ebk.ISBN 9780698144262. HIST

In early November 1969, 21-year-old U.S. Army Captain Bill Albracht led 126 men on a desperate, against-all-odds escape from Firebase Kate, located in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands, near the Cambodian border. Albracht and Wolf (Buddha’s Child) present a vivid, often gripping account of the attack by 6,000 members of the People’s Army of Vietnam. Storming Firebase Kate guaranteed Albracht’s and his military unit’s death if they didn’t leave hastily, although the escape plan offered no promise of their staying alive. 

Captain William Albracht lives in Moline with his wife.

Initially, Albracht received support from helicopters and 156 anti-North Vietnamese Montagnards (to whom this book is dedicated) but ultimately survival would depend on Albracht’s resourcefulness at moving his men through jungles in pitch-black darkness for 16 hours. 

VERDICT This fast-paced narrative encapsulates Vietnam War themes, significantly the bravery of grunts and company grade officers and their loyalty to one another, and also bureaucratic mistakes with tragic consequences made by inexperienced officers and government officials too far removed from front-line action. Ultimately, Firebase Kate, as Albracht says, was built in a vulnerable location and its men were “written off” when they could no longer defend it. Readers of such excellent battlefield works as Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway’s We Were Soldiers Once...And Young will delve into this one.—Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA

Greg McCluskey 
Bill Albracht is one of the very few, living, triple Silver Star recipients. As a Green Beret, he was the youngest Captain in Vietnam. He was only age 21. Wounded 3 times, he received 3 Purple Hearts. He also received 3 Bronze Stars and more. After the Army and graduating college, Bill became a Secret Service Agent for a quarter of a century. He is a super volunteer in his community. He has a Big heart and a great sense of humor.


William L. Albracht; Three Silver Stars

 | October 14, 2014 18 Comments
William L. Albracht
The other day, we talked about Francis Graham, the former UDT Navy diver and Special forces Vietnam veteran, and it reminded me of a few months ago when a member of the media asked me to check on William L. Albracht, who he’d heard had earned three Silver Stars, so off I went to Military Times’ Hall of Heroes thinking I’d bumped into another phony – but lo and behold, he had actually earned three Silver Stars, from October 1969 to May 1970. You can read the citations at the link.
The last one had been awarded in December 2012, reported by the Quad-City Times;
Just 21 years old then, Albracht — one of the youngest Army Special Forces captains — arrived at a remote outpost in South Vietnam known as Fire-Base Kate on Oct. 28, 1969. That same day, North Vietnamese forces attacked the base.
“Against great odds and while being greatly outnumbered by the North Vietnamese, Capt. Albracht led
his soldiers through the first wave of attacks,” Smith said, adding that Albracht and his men were outnumbered 40-1. “It was not looking good for the home team.”
While under enemy fire, Albracht carried a wounded soldier to safety and then risked his life again by directing medical evacuation helicopters.
“At one point, he exposed himself to enemy fire to wave off approaching Medevac helicopters — who were vulnerable to B-40 rockets — while attempting to land,” Smith said.
Later wounded himself, Albracht refused treatment and evacuation “so he could lead the fight.”
Days later with supplies running low, he executed orders to evacuate the remaining 150 U.S. soldiers and South Vietnamese soldiers. On Nov. 1, 1969, he led the group through darkness into the dense jungle to link up with another unit five kilometers away.
“For six hours, Albracht and his men persevered, plowing through the jungle with the North Vietnamese in hot pursuit,” Smith said.
Finally near a wide-open clearing, he “sensed a military force was present but was unsure the other side was occupied by the friendly ‘Mike-Force’ or a North Vietnamese ambush. Albracht then walked alone through the clearing to find the friendly ‘Mike-Force’ was on the other side.” He then led his soldiers “stealthily through more enemy lines” to safety.
You can read the whole story about the “Miraculous Escape from Firebase Kate” at the Vietnam Veterans Association. His Congresswoman, Cheri Bustos, has asked the Secretary of the Army to review the story and consider Mr. Albracht for the award of the Medal of Honor.
Added: Someone tells us that a book is coming out next year about Mr. Albracht;ABANDONED IN HELL: The Forgotten Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate.