Sunday, August 28, 2011
Schuylkill Counties 33 Casualty During the Vietnam War Pfc. Thomas P. McKerns, Mahanoy City.. August 28, 1969.
Three days after Sgt. Paul F. Kostick was killed at Tay Ninh August 25, 1969, Schuylkill County once again suffered another casualty in the Vietnam War. On August 28, 1969 at Quang Tin Province South Vietnam, while sprinting through an open field to help wounded members of his platoon who were pinned down by the North Vietnamese. Pfc Thomas P. McKerns was hit with a hail of machine gun fire and killed. Pfc. McKerns was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device and Oak Leaf Cluster, among other medals.
Tom was from Mahanoy City, he was 21 years old at the time of his death. He was a member of Company B, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry.
The 4th Battalion went to Vietnam in the spring of 1966, operating initially in War Zone D and around Tay Ninh near the Cambodian border. In 1967, the battalion moved north to help form the 23d "Americal" Infantry Division. Operating at Quang Ngai, Chu Lai, and the Que Son Valley for most of the rest of the war, the 4th Battalion fought to keep Viet Cong guerillas and the North Vietnamese Army from capturing the coastal lowlands. Two of the battalion's members earned the Medal of Honor almost a year apart near the bitterly-contested village of Hiep Duc. When American forces departed, the 4th Battalion 31st Infantry was part of the last brigade to leave Vietnam. It was deactivated in 1971.