I, Sp/4 Pisarski, was with Tracer-5, and saw the following actions take place on the 12th of March, 1969. On the 12th of March, I, myself, was walking point with Sgt. Chrietzberg, the team leader behind me.  He was in turn followed by Sp/4 Robinson, our compassman, Sp/4 Joslin, flank security, and Sp/4 Franklin, who was our rear security.  At approximately 1130 hours of the 12th, the team was in contact with enemy forces. 

At the initial contact, being the point man, I could not see, nor was I in a position due to my sector of fire to see the immediate reactions of everyone.  When time finally permitted a look at the situation at hand, everyone was pretty well settled in fighting position.  The following is what I saw of each individual’s actions. 

At this time Sgt. (E-5) Chrietzberg, the team leader, was near my side.  He gave the command to stop firing.  At this time he took a look at our situation.  He knew it was bad, but he took the initiative to try to being our morale up.  He made sure that everyone was safe and unharmed.  If anyone of us needed water, a cigarette, or gum, he would pull some out from somewhere.  He also aided some Cobra’s and platoon from Co. A in the annihilation  of some NVA troops. 

Approximately at 1600, he was notified of a choice he had to make.  It was either spend the night there at our location or try to reach the company.  He then asked us of our choice.  We said we would take the chance if he wanted to.  He then decided to give it a try to return to the company.  About 5 minutes later we were on our way with Sp/4 Franklin walking point.  We made our way down part of the trail we came up on.  Chrietzberg engaged an enemy position, by throwing a frag into it.  This silenced the fire from it.  We moved a little farther when we were ambushed by machinegun and small arms fire.  This was the last time I saw him.  We were then separated. 

When Sp/4 Franklin’s came into my view he was in a fighting position near our team leader’s side.  He was protecting our team leader’s right flank.  He offered encouragement and any help he could give.  Hen the Cobra’s came in for their gun run, he aided our team leader in adjustment of them.  After we had decided to move to Co A, Franklin offered to walk point.  Since he had the vast knowledge and experience of point, he was chosen to walk it.  We made our way towards 61’s location.  When Franklin stopped and opened fire into an opening of a bunker, the result of his action caused the death of a NVA.  As he walked he brought to the team leader’s attention signs of the enemy.  At this moment we discovered that we walked into the enemy.  The last time I had sight of Franklin, is when I saw him throw a grenade into a machinegun position.  This was the very last time I saw this man. 

Sp/4 Robinson, who was our compassman on the start of our mission, was already in place above and to the right of me when I saw him.  It was from this position that he saw 12 NVA soldiers.  During the time that we were on the side of the hill, he was real easy and constantly checking his actions.  When the gunships were trying to locate our position it was Rocky (Sp/4 Robinson, Rocky was his nickname) who took upon himself to flash the panel for the pilot to see.  It was his effort that made our position known to the pilots. 

As we got ready to move to 61’s location, Rocky took up the position just in front of me.  At this time I was rear security.  He was very alert, looking on both sides of us for signs of the enemy.  At the time we got ambushed Rocky noticed a NVA firing from a bunker.  He crawled to it and placed a grenade inside.  He successfully silenced it.  It was also at this time that he threw another at a spider hole.  He downed the NVA in this one too.  He then proceeded to make his way towards the top of a bomb crater with myself following.  A concealed machinegun position opened up and prevented further advancement.  He told me to go back down the hillside and he would give cover for me.  Well, Robinson fired he knocked out that position.  Then under protection of fire he made his way back to Sp/4 Joslin and myself.

When he got to us, he noticed 5 more NVA carrying a machinegun and ammo.  He relayed this to me.  Both of us successfully ended their careers.  At this time we started towards a different hill with Rocky in the rear security position.  He then told the two of us to move faster because of enemy movement in our direction.  That night in our night location he practiced very excellent noise and light discipline. 

In the morning he looked kind of ragged and very tired.  I knew that sleep didn’t come easy for him.  He showed a few signs of nervousness, which he did his best to control.  Throughout the day he was very much alert.  When he had discussions on what to do, he offered very fine and sound judgement and reasoning.  The morning and part of the afternoon went without any action.  When we were at our night location he himself kept a very vigilant watch.  When we had a conversation, trying to keep our minds off the thought of capture, he talked of the USA and how nice it was.  That night passed without enemy action. 

One the morning of the 14th, I awoke to find him standing guard.  In a short while we started to move.  When we sighted Firebase Swinger he offered some encouragement about our finding friendlies.  When we met a group of NVA sitting in a valley, he operated like a fine machine.  After contact was broken, very little was said by anyone.  He was doing fine.  He looked a little sick, which later proved to be correct.  He drank some water at a stream and vomited.  All this time he refused anything to eat.  I guess he thought that the two of us needed food pretty bad.  After we got water at a seasonal stream we once again made contact.  Rocky during this time did not fire in the same direction I did.  He noticed some NVA packs to my left and opened up on them.  As I turned and passed Rocky, he was still firing.  He was the last one to stop.  I ran to the right of the trail.  I saw him run down it with AK rounds pounding the dirt behind him as he ran.  This was the very last time I ever saw him.  He wasn’t hit when he ran out of my view. 

The last man of the team, and the other survivor, besides myself, out of the three is Sp/4 Joslin.  I will refer to him as Jocko, his nickname.  I didn’t know too much about him, being he was a new man in Recon.  But, when I saw him after the initial contact he was sitting directly above my position.  During that time he was doing real good.  He made use of what was taught and explained to him.  When we were moving off of the hillside he took up the compassman’s position.  When we got separated from the team leader and assistant team leader, he proved to be quite a good guy.  He held his head at all times.  He tried to find a path to the team leader and assistant, but was cut short due to enemy machinegun and small arms fire.  He then returned to a safer position.  While Rocky and myself were pinned down by a sniper, Jocko proceeded to fire on him.  No more shots came from the dangling figure.  Once we were all (3 of us) together again, he led the way up the hill we just left moments before.  We searched for a night location and with success found one.  The rest of the night passed without enemy activity around us. 

In the morning of the 13th, Jocko offered to us information concerning the location of friendlies to our east.  He then took the middle position was acting as our compassman.  Nothing happened to alert any reactions of danger.  Throughout the day very little was said.  In the afternoon we proceeded to our night location.  When we got there, Jocko took an inventory of what he had in the way of food.  This amounted to two rolls of Lifesavers and two packages of chewing gum.  We ate a couple of lifesavers and some bushes.  He offered the idea of having one man awake at all times for guard during the day.  The rest of the day passed without anything to alert our senses. 

On the 14th Joslin caught sight of Firebase Swinger, and asked if we wanted to go in that direction.  We took an azimuth and started in that direction.  When we were down in the valley and made contact, Jocko was on my right side and performed beautifully.  We then retreated back up the hill.  He was still in the compassman’s position. 

Roughly a couple of hours later while taking an elephant trail, we walked into the NVA.  I was momentarily blinded by the belt buckle of an enemy.  So, Jocko opened fire first.  We both got the same NVA soldier.  Then I stopped firing and turned to run.  I passed Joslin, then he stopped and followed.  Since I did not go up the trail, I saw Joslin starting to follow Sp/4 Robinson up the trail.  At that moment about three AK’s opened up.  Joslin came to the concealed position that I was occupying.  After this it was just the two of us. 

Joslin followed up the hill and stepped on a bunker and informed me about it.  As we made our way through the bunker complex, Joslin and I both saw a NVA soldier digging.  He then said to hurry and move out.  No shots were fired at this time.  Joslin suggested to look for a hiding place.  In a little while we were in one.  For the rest of the day we could hear the NVA walking around.  No words passed; none had to. 

On the morning of the 15th, I awoke to find Joslin up.  He asked if I was ready to move.  A sound was heard coming in our direction.  It burned out to be one NVA soldier.  After waiting for a while Jocko asked again about moving.  So we departed our location.  While we were moving, Joslin was acting as rear security and compassman.  He noticed many signs on the trails we crossed and brought them all to my attention. 

Towards the afternoon we entered the bombing area.  He walked with all his senses alert.  When we came across some G.I. rucksacks, Jocko looked for food, water and ammo.  After he had what he could carry, we proceeded to leave.  We found a trail and followed it for a short distance.  Joslin noticed that it was marked and suggested that we get off of it.  We did and found a place to sit down and eat.  It was during this time he heard a chopper take off.  He saw it and stated the direction it came from.  He said it sounded like it was very close.  We then proceeded in the general direction from where he saw the chopper take off. 

We came upon this hill and were looking for some more food and water.  It was at this time we found out we were among friendlies and were reunited with our unit. 

                                                                                                                /s/  John L. Pisarski

                                                                                                                Sp/4, 1/8th Inf

                                                                                                                19 March 1969

James A. Franklin Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross 

      eyewitness John L. Pisarski

click to see eyewitness reports

eyewitness Chietzburg        eyewitness Pizarski       eyewitness Joslin

Thank you  from the men of the A-1-8

Specialist Four James A. Franklin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism on 12 March 1969, while serving as assistant team leader for a reconnaissance team, Tracer-5, acting as point for his unit, A Company 1/8th Infantry, near Polei Kleng, in the Central Highlands, Republic of Vietnam. 

James Franklin Vietnam 1969
James Franklin 1969
James Franklin and Runkle Vietnam 1969
James Franklin and Runkle Central Highlands 1969