FORCE RECON Bachta, Thomas E.

John Robertson

Staff member
Thomas E.
  • UNIT
1 Force Recon Company (1 MarDiv)
  • RANK
Silver Star
South Vietnam 1966
from Chicago,Illinois


Silver Star : The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant [then Corporal] Thomas E. Bachta (MCSN: 2051749), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Radio Operator with the First Force Reconnaissance Company, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 8 August 1966. While accompanying a four man reconnaissance team deep in enemy controlled territory, sixteen miles west of Dong Ha, Sergeant Bachta's patrol linked up with a platoon sized reaction force of the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines. The reaction force had been inserted to search for fifteen Viet Cong sighted earlier by the patrol. When the search proved to be fruitless, the reaction force commenced heli-lifting out of the area. Although suffering from heat exhaustion, Sergeant Bachta remained with the rear elements of the force to assist in communications. As the first half of the unit was helicopter lifted out, the remaining twenty-four men came under vicious rocket, machine gun fire and grenade attack by a combined force of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, estimated to be two companies, killing four Marines, including the Platoon Commander, and wounding others. As the unit formed a defensive perimeter, Sergeant Bachta unhesitatingly took charge of one side of the perimeter, encouraging the men and directing their fire. Simultaneously, he radioed situation reports to his Commanding Officer and to supporting aircraft. Soon after the first attack, the Company Commander of Company E, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, accompanied by his radio operator and four men, were flown in to assume command. The enemy mounted another assault, in which the second radio operator was wounded. Immediately, Sergeant Bachta took over his duties, in addition to his own, despite repeated assaults. Subsequently, the Company Commander was wounded, and by midnight, could only periodically direct the battle. With exceptional initiative and leadership, Sergeant Bachta maintained the continuity of command, directing fire, controlling air cover and radioing situation reports. His presence of mind in the face of deadly enemy fire was instrumental in the survival of the twenty-four Marines and the annihilation of more than thirty-seven North Vietnamese Regulars. By his daring actions, outstanding professional skill and loyal devotion to duty, Sergeant Bachta upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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