VIETNAM - VELA, VITALIO JR

Vela, Vitalio

VIETNAM - VELA, VITALIO JR
VELA, VITALIO JR

Rank: Sergeant

Unit: I Troop, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

MOS: 11D – Armor Reconnaissance Specialist

Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Badges: Combat Infantryman Badge

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

Note: 1st platoon

Enlisted by: Regular

Date of birth: 13-Feb-1944

Hometown: Falfurrias, Texas

Marital status: Never Married

Campaign: Vietnam Conflict

Entered service: 27-Jul-1965

Start of tour: 8-Jul-1967

Incident date: 14-Feb-1968

Date of casualty: 14-Feb-1968

Age at death: 24

Cause of death: Hostile, died. Artillery/Mortar/Rocket. Artillery, rocket, or mortar.
Vitalio Vela Jr died from fragment wounds and burns received while a passenger on military vehicle on combat operation when vehicle was hit by hostile anti-tank round.

Three Blackhorse troopers died in this incident:
PFC Randall John Gustafson
SGT Vitalio Vela Jr
PFC Joseph Robert Weaver Jr

Location of fatality: Binh Duong, South Vietnam

Place of interment: Sacred Heart Cemetery, Falfurrias, Texas, USA

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

Vietnam Veterans Memorial panel and row: 39E 041 (view Vietnam Veterans Memorial link in a new window)

 

SILVER STAR

SILVER STAR
POSTHUMOUS

SERGEANT VITALIO VELA JR
14 FEBRUARY 1968
I TROOP, 3rd SQUADRON
11TH ARMORED CAVALRY REGIMENT

Sergeant Vela distinguished himself by gallantry in action involving close combat against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Sergeant Vela distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 14 February 1968 while serving as a Track Commander with Troop I, 3d Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. During a combined operation with elements of the 9th Infantry Division near the village of Cau Dat, the friendly force suddenly began receiving a sustained barrage of small arms, automatic weapons and recoilless rifle rounds from an unknown sized Viet Cong force. Sergeant Vela, in command of the lead armored cavalry assault vehicle quickly wheeled around so that his machine gunners could match the enemy fire. When a rocket struck the track, causing it to erupt into flames and wounding all aboard. Sergeant Vela refused medical attention until all other crew members had been cared for. Ignoring his serious wounds, Sergeant Vela covered the evacuation with a .50 caliber machine gun, allowing all casualties to be safely removed to a medical aid area. He remained behind at his machine gun, skillfully repelling the enemy force until he was mortally wounded. Sergeant Vela’s extraordinary heroism in close combat against a Viet Cong force was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Headquarters, 9th Infantry Division General Orders No. 1416 (17 March 1968)