The operation on which Cook was
killed took place at the (sic) 29 January 1966 in the An Lo Valley. Three teams
totaling 17 Americans were committed, of whom five were killed, three wounded
and two MIA. The following is a list, from official sources, of those men:
Keating, Henry A. SFC RA
Whitis, Robert P. SFC RA
Dupuis, Nurman C. SSG RA
Chiariello, Agostino SSG RA
Bell, Brooke A. SSG RA
Webber, Frank R., Jr. SFC RA
Cook, Marlin C. SFC RA
Dotson, Donald L. SSG RA
Hoaglund, George A. SSG RA
Hancock, Jesse L. SFC RA
Hiner, Charles F. SSG RA
Huston, Marcus L. SFC RA
McKeithe, Billy A. SSG RA
Gray, Wiley W. SSG RA
Terry, Ronald T. SSG RA
Hodgson, Cecil A. SFC RA
Badolati, Frank N. SSG RA
According to Chuck Hiner -- and the records -- the team was inserted into the An
Lo Valley at last light on 27 January 1966. Two wet days later -- it was raining
hard -- the six-man team was sitting down taking a break when it came under
heavy fire from a large force of Viet Cong.
"In the initial burst of fire Cook, Weber, and Hoaglund were hit," said Hiner
"and I don't know but I think Dotson and Hancock were hit then too. I don't know
for sure because they were on flank security. When we got hit I went to the top
of the hill to keep anybody from coming over the hill on top of us.
"Cook (the radio man) was flank security on the left side and he couldn't get to
the radio -- he was paralyzed. He called me back down and I cut the radio off
"There was a pile of rocks in the middle of this clearing so I took the radio in
there and lay down on it and started calling.
"I called everybody and their mother who would answer.
"We kept getting fire in on us and fire in on us.
"After we got the FAC (Forward Air Controller, a Capt. Kenneth L. Kerr) on the
radio and started doing our shit I started looking around. I could hear Dotson.
He was hit through the chest and I could hear that death rattle. This other kid
(Hancock) -- first trip in, first time on the ground, the whole nine yards -- he
was dead. They had stitched him from the ankle to the top of his head. Hoaglund
was more-or-less still alive. Cook lasted a long time in there but he finally
died, I guess maybe about 1:00 or 2:00 o'clock that afternoon."
Webber had four bullets, all in the arm, from the first burst of fire and
shortly after it started Hiner was wounded when he was shot in the head by a VC
firing an AK-47.
"The dude shot at me the same time I shot at him," said Hiner. "I hit him first,
though, and it caused him to jerk up. It (the round) went about a quarter of an
inch in my scalp. It went down into the bone and just left a perfect groove.
"I had called airstrikes in on top of our position to keep from getting overrun.
It was either do that or get overrun so 'What the hell.'
"We were fighting -- I would dare say the closest -- within 10 feet of each
other. It was that tight. That's why, when I popped smoke and told the FAC to
take it 360 degrees from the center of that, he said 'I can't do it because it
will come in on you.'
"I said well it's either you or them. And that's the way it went.
"He didn't like it but I didn't like it either."
During a lull near the end of the battle, which lasted four hours, Hiner crawled
down the slope to strip the dead -- Hoaglund, Dotson and Hancock -- of their
ammo since he and Webber were almost out.
Hiner said when he got back to Hoaglund, he found him on his back, beside a
tree, with the rifle muzzle pointing toward his head. "He had one arm shot off,
the other was hanging by a thread."
During the final minutes of the battle, two reaction forces moved frantically
through the thick bush toward Hiner's position. One was from the 1st Air Cav.,
the other, that was first on the ground, was a Reaction Force from Project Delta
commanded by a Lt. Holland -- and led by Sgt Maj. Walt Shumate, who later became
an SF legend in his role as the Sgt. Maj. for "charging"Charlie Beckwith in many
"You know when I knew I had made it?" asked Hiner, who recounted that he and
Webber, down to just a few rounds between them were crouched down behind a log.
"I looked up and saw Walt's bare ass coming over the top of that log. Walt told
me later he was busting bush so hard and fast coming up that hill, he had busted
out his pants."