Pongratz, Ronald Eugene


Rank: Specialist 4

Unit: A Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

MOS: 11D – Armor Reconnaissance Specialist

Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Badges: Combat Infantryman Badge

Unit awards: Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm device

Enlisted by: Regular

Date of birth: 14-Jul-1946

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Marital status: Never Married

Campaign: Vietnam Conflict

Entered service: 18-Oct-1963

Start of tour: 26-Jun-1967

Incident date: 18-Apr-1969

Date of casualty: 18-Apr-1969

Age at death: 22

Cause of death: Hostile, died of wounds. Small Arms Fire. Gun or small arms fire.
Ronald Eugene Pongratz died as a result of wound received while driver of a military vehicle on combat operation when a hostile force was encountered. He was admitted to a military medical facility and later expired. / Driver of Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV) on combat operation when engaged hostile force in firefight. Individual admitted to 2d Surgical Hospital, Lai Khe, on 18 Apr 1969 at 1755 hrs and later expired.  Incident occurred on 18 Apr 1969 at 1300 hrs.

Nine Blackhorse troopers died as a result of this incident:
SP4 James Alexander Baka
SP4 Thomas M. Fitzpatrick
2LT Daniel Michael Leahy
SP5 Roy Francis Maas
SGT Don Jay McAtee
SP4 Robert Leroy Morgan Jr
SP4 Joseph Edward Morrow Jr
SP4 Donald William Noel
SP4 Ronald Eugene Pongratz

Location of fatality: Tay Ninh, South Vietnam, XT 430 600

Place of interment: Houston National Cemetery, Houston, Texas, USA

View this soldier‘s Find a Grave page (opens in a new window)

Vietnam Veterans Memorial panel and row: 26W 003 (view Vietnam Veterans Memorial link in a new window)




13 and 18 APRIL 1969

Specialist Four Pongratz distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Specialist Four Pongratz distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 13 and 18 April 1969 while serving as a vehicle commander during a reconnaissance-in-force mission. As his armored vehicle team was moving through the jungles north of Dau Tieng in Tay Ninh Province on 13 April, an enemy force initiated a mortar and automatic weapons assault from a series of concealed fortifications. Specialist Pongratz quickly directed his vehicle to lay a base of suppressive fire while the team began an on-line assault and overran the bunker complex. Specialist Pongratz was leading a dismounted sweep when suddenly a hostile soldier threw a grenade into the midst of the team. He grabbed the device and threw it away. Although the explosion inflicted shrapnel wounds to his arm he fired on and killed the enemy. Declining evacuation, Specialist Pongratz stayed with the mission, and on the morning of 18 April, another hostile bunker system was encountered and overrun. As Specialist Pongratz was conducting the right flank of a dismounted sweep, an enemy emplacement opened fire pinning down several men. Rushing the position, he tossed a grenade which silenced it. Then, as another bunker attacked the team, Specialist Pongratz charged the fortification. Despite being struck by rifle fire, he continued to crawl toward the bunker into which he delivered another grenade, ending the hostile resistance. Specialist Four Pongratz’ extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Headquarters, United States Army Vietnam General Orders No. 4052 (3 November 1969)


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