Name: Willard Donald O'Brien
Pay Grade: E4
Home of Record: Tucson, AZ
Birth Date: December 18, 1949
Death Date: May 11, 1970
Cause of Death: ground casualty by multiple fragmentation wounds. FO team member.; wounds
Died in Cambodia at age 20
The body was recovered.
Willard Donald O'Brien was a recent addition to the FO team with Echo Company when he was KIA in Cambodia. He had been in Delta Battery 2/4th Arty from early in 1970 at Can Giuoc. His job in the battery was with the FDC and he was senior in rank at E4 early on and did the job of a more experienced Sgt. and did it well by all reports.
He had enlisted in the Army and went to a school I think now at this distance in time Helicopter Flight school but washed out for some reason. Then if I am remembering it right was reassigned to the Arty FDC school and had an OCS chance but something happened and he didn't complete the OCS possibility although he earned a 13e20 FDC MOS. This was a difficult MOS that required extra ability to master.
Sometime before Cambodia only volunteers from the 2/4th arty were sent to the infantry as FO teams. O'Brien was valuable to the battery FDC but wanted a chance to prove himself in the field.
He hadn't been with the infantry more than a couple of weeks. I listened on the radio in Cambodia as his element was inserted and listened as his FO Sgt. Bolander directed fire after O'Brien was KIA. I could hear the tears and anger in his voice as he attempted to direct fire. I remember it now like yesterday.
O'Brien didn't have to go to the field . It was his choice. He was a fine young man who deserved a better fate.