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William Michael Saunders

American Legion

Del City Post 73

Private First Class – United States Army - Vietnam

William Michael “Mike” Saunders

September 14, 1949 – March 23, 1968

 

Mike watched the war in Vietnam unfold while he was a student at Del City High School.  As the war progressed, he felt bad about being on the sidelines, and believed he needed to do his part for his country.  As a result, Mike left high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17.

Mike's tour of duty in Vietnam began on December 14, 1967.  In January 1968, Mike was shot and wounded.  He received a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart, and was returned to duty when his wounds healed.

Mike was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry in action two days prior to his death for distinguishing himself during an attack on his battery near Hue, Republic of Vietnam.  They were attacked by a numerically superior force of North Vietnamese Army Regulars.  Completely disregarding his personal safety, Private First-Class Saunders ran from his bunker to the guns while enemy mortar rounds and rocket propelled grenades were landing all around him.  While he was preparing the ammunition for the howitzer, he realized that a member of his battery was helplessly pinned down by enemy fire.  Private First-Class Saunders courageously charged through the bullet swept area to the perimeter where he could provide suppressive fire against the enemy forces.  He returned through a hail of enemy bullets to the guns and continued to prepare ammunition to be fired on the oncoming enemy.  When Private First-Class Saunders saw an enemy grenade rolling into the trench where six members of the battery were working he shouted a warning in order that the men could seek cover, and was fatally wounded by the grenade.  Private First-Class Saunders' personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.  [General Orders:  Headquarters, 101st Air Cavalry Division, General Orders No.  4338 August 3, 1968.]

Mike was a paratrooper in B Battery, 1st Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment 101st Airborne Division.  He served for one year and was 18 years old when he died of wounds from a grenade explosion in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.  Mike is buried at Sunny Lane Cemetery, Del City Oklahoma, in Section 10.  Block 2.  Row 11 Position 86.

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