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1st Lieutenant Phillip L. Lee

 


Camp Wollbach re-named to Camp Phillip L. Lee, the Eaglehorse honors a fallen hero

  • 58, 193 hostile and non hostile US forces killed in Vietnam conflict

  • 3096 hostile and non hostile US forces killed with Ohio listed as home of record

  • 2357 hostile and non hostile US forces killed in Vietnam during 1971

  • 729 Blackhorse troopers hostile and non-hostile killed in Vietnam

  • 10 hostile and non hostile US forces killed in Vietnam on 17 April, 1971. Sergeant Willis Norwood Andrews, Specialist 5th Grade George James Orr and Specialist 4th Grade Gray Lee Reynolds all of Troop F 2/11 ACR are killed in a sharp fire fight in Binh Doung Province. First Lieutenant Phillip Lewis Lee is severely wounded and evacuated.

  • 7 US soldiers hostile and non hostile killed in Vietnam / dead of wounds in US hospital system on 6 June 1971, First Lieutenant Phillip Lewis Lee dies of wounds received in Vietnam. He had been evacuated to a VA hospital in the United States.

 

 

     
 
Lt Lee at left with platoon in 1971.
--Danny Jordan / Echon
 
Lt Lee in the field.
--Danny Jordan / Echon
 
         


LTC (Ret) Lee Allen: At the time that Phillip Lee was wounded, which as I recall was on April 17, 1971 LTC John L. Ballantyne was the squadron commander of the 2nd Sqdn (Separate) and I was the deputy commander and rear detachment commander. We were what was left of the regiment after the others stood down and returned home. We had an aviation company and a maintenance company and numbered about 1,700 officers and men. We were OPCON to a brigade of the 1st Cav Div (3rd, I think) and were operating north and east of Chu Chi, northwest of Saigon. The primary mission at the time was securing the operation of a Rome Plow company and general security of the area.

The day Lee was wounded, E and F Troops, as I recall, were out on a recon in force. They took some fire from a hedgerow and moved in. At that time they took increased fire, from the sides as well as the front, if I remember correctly. Several vehicles were hit with RPG's and a number of them burned. The units were in the fire zone for quite a time and it wasn't until Maj. Borden the S-3 and the CO got to the scene and started coordinating the effort that things cleared up. The entire action took several hours and ended with a dismounted assault on the hedgerow which held the enemy positions. As I remember we lost five KIA and about a dozen WIA in the action.

Lee took a bullet across the shoulder blades which cut his spinal cord and paralyzed him. He was evacuated to Bien Hoa. I visited him there a couple times. The squadron had an NCO assigned to the hospital to see that all of our wounded got whatever they needed.

 

 

     
 
Lt Lee.
--Tony " Doc " Balas / Echon
 
At left, Gary Lee " short round " Reynolds, killed in the same engagement in which Lt lee was mortally wounded. We have been unable to find images of Willis Andrews and George Orr.
--Ken Vander Hoek / Echon
 
         

Wayne Watts: It was just after noon on April 17. It was bright and hot. We were on a recon patrol. The order of march was first platoon, second and third platoon. First platoon had already made their right hand turn away from the hedge row on our left. For some reason the entire column stopped. This left the second platoon’s left side exposed to the hedge row area. We naturally looked to the area where we thought the enemy might be. I was looking through my binoculars and saw and NVA regular soldier standing in the center of the hedge row motioning for us to come on in. I called Lt. Lee and advised that we had NVA on the left. (To this day, I can still see that NVA pith helmet and the star with the round circle on it.) We immediately traversed to the left and got on line for an assault. We were in a no-fire zone and Lt. Lee had to call for permission to fire on the NVA. At this time the NVA had not fired at us. we received permission to fire with small arms only (7.62 or below). We began firing on the dug-in hedge row and bunker position we received RPG, 51 Cal. and rocket fire.

At this point, I was looking at Lt. Lee when I saw him get hit. My first impression was feathers flying from the back of his neck. I later learned that it was a pillow that he was resting his back on that was hit. The medic, Doc Tony Balas, rode on my track (F-25). I told Doc, "the LT. has been hit. Hold on and I will get you over there." Doc immediately jumped off my track and ran over a dug-in bunker position to get to Lt. Lee's track. We immediately opened up with all weapons to include the main gun on the Sheridan tanks and 50 cal. on the ACAV's...and anything else we could find.

We stopped and called the S-3 Air for artillery support. The reply came back, " Negative " We are cavalry. Charge!

We assaulted the hedge row dug in bunker positions and over ran them. As we backed out, one of the Sheridan tanks received a direct hit and burst into flames. This is tank that Spec/4 Gary Reynolds was the driver and could not get out of the drivers compartment. The loader had already jumped off the tank because it was in flames. We tried to get to the tank but could not due to intense heat and enemy fire. I saw Gary once try to come out of the loaders hatch and saw him when he was hit by enemy fire and fell back inside the tank.

 

 

     
 
Camp Wollbach re-named to Camp Lee 1976. This is a scan of a photo copy that Erwin Ritter sent. It was originally in the 2 June 1976 Main Post Wurzburg newspaper with a brief article in German noting the re-naming of Camp Wollbach to Camp Phillip L. Lee.
The article gave a very brief overview of the border surveillance mission, the 2/11 ACR and the history behind the new name. It mentioned that Lt Lee's mother attended the re - naming ceremony as well as the Regimental Cdr, Col Ballantyne and the Camp OIC, identified as LTC Lee Allan. All three people are visible with backs to camera in the scan.
-- Ritter
 
The Camp Lee sign as of 1980.
--Mitchell
 
         

We fought until dark. E Troop also arrived and assisted in the assault. As night fell and we all pulled back, this is when we brought in artillery, mortars and air strikes through out the night. We had approximately two people left on each vehicle that had not been wounded or dead.

Michael Craig: I served with Lt. Lee when he was killed. In fact we were dusted off on the same helicopter.

Lee Allen: Lee took a bullet across the shoulder blades which cut his spinal cord and paralyzed him. He was evacuated to Bien Hoa. I visited him there a couple times. The squadron had an NCO assigned to the hospital to see that all of our wounded got whatever they needed.

It was clear from the beginning that Lee was very seriously wounded and would probably never recover. When I talked with him I was impressed with his courage and good nature in the face of a terrifying future. He was soon evacuated to the States. I did not know it at the time but was later told by his mother that the sort of wound he had almost never was overcome and that the spinal cord injury that high almost always resulted in lung failure and death in a matter of weeks. I recall that she said he lasted about 5 or 6 weeks. He left behind a young wife and mother.

 

 

     
 
The Camp Lee sign as of May 2003 as found on top of the two bay motor shop.
--Norbert Ruckel
 
         

Col (Ret) Clint Anker: The idea for renaming the camp came from LTC Lee Allen, who was commanding 2/11 ACR at the time. He had served with LT. Lee in Vietnam, if I remember correctly. Lt. Lee's mother came out to the camp for the ceremony.

Lee Allen: When the idea of renaming Wollbach came up I remembered Phillip Lee because his situation seemed to represent a lot of what the Vietnam war came to be. He had faithfully answered the call of duty, had served with dedication, was mortally wounded and died. He left behind people he loved and who loved him. His death was the ultimate sacrifice to duty, honor and country.

I am not absolutely sure who had the idea to rename the border camp. I had been trying to remind the squadron of the service of the unit only a few years before and the value of upholding that tradition. However it came about, I think everyone who heard of it came to support the idea. I recall that we sent a request through channels to USAREUR. It returned in record time with positive endorsements from all levels.

At this time I am unable to recall all the many efforts made by squadron members to set up the program to rename the camp, but two seemed particularly important. Maj. Lou Voelkel, XO, made it possible to bring Philip Lee's mother over for the ceremony. During our annual gunnery trip to Grafenwoehr he cornered the market on flip-top beer to sell in our canteen.

Flip tops were popular and many came to our squadron to partake. Lou made about $1,300 profit, as I recall, and all that money was used to bring Mrs. Lee from the states and make her welcome and comfortable while she was a guest of the squadron. It was a little out of the ordinary to handle things this way but it worked.

Major Frank Kolezar, S-3, was a great liaison with the German military and civilian community and handled arrangements for their participation in the ceremony and subsequent festivities.

As I remember, G Troop was at the camp during the dedication and did great work preparing the place. They installed a new fence, painted, landscaped and generally did a bang up job.

The ceremony was held at noon on Memorial Day 1976. We had several German organizations represented at the ceremony besides the Bundeswehr and Bundesgrenzschutz. We fired the traditional 50 gun salute at noon. It has been raining lightly but cleared for the salute and it was a magnificent sight and sound to hear the rolling cannon shots across the hilly countryside. There were a few speeches and an unveiling of the new camp sign which had been painted by the S-3 section ( I don't recall the name of the trooper who did the work, but it was beautiful job.)

I believe that all present appreciated the significance of remembering the sacrifice of Phillip Lee and felt proud to be there. His mother was very grateful for the honor paid her son, and thanks to the beer money was given first class treatment by the squadron during her visit.

 I was proud of the squadron effort and to be part of it.

 

 

     
 
The Border Camp is to my rear, this is the open field just across the road. The ceremony is the re - dedication of the camp as the name is changed to honor Lt Lee.
--Mike McGehee
 
         
 
Another view of the assembled troops, band from Fulda, German guests from the Bundeswehr and Bundesgrenzschutz.
--Mike McGehee
 
         

Stefanowicz: Lt Lee was from Columbus, Ohio but had come to consider Virginia his home. The city of Columbus and state of Ohio honors it's participants in the Vietnam war with a civic memorial but it contains no names. The Camp Lee sign that spanned the entrance to the border camp until the site was returned to German control lies on the roof of the former two bay motor shop. It is faded but still legible.  Lt Lee is remembered at the National Vietnam Memorial in Washington on panel 03W / 080.

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We gratefully thank the following troopers for helping us tell this story: Lee Allen, Clint Anker, Jack Tartella, Michael Craig and Wayne Watts. Pete Echon provided the photos from various troopers showing both Lt Lee and Troop F in the field in Vietnam. Other photos as credited.

 

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