Prommersberger, James Edwin, Sgt

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Last Rank
Last Primary MOS
1371-Combat Engineer
Last MOSGroup
Engineer, Construction And Equipment
Primary Unit
1966-1966, 1371, 3rd Combat Engineer Bn/C Co
Service Years
1963 - 1966



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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by James Prommersberger-Family to remember Marine Sgt James Edwin Prommersberger.

If you knew or served with this Marine and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Youngstown, Ohio

Casualty Date
Apr 16, 1966
Hostile, Died
Multiple Fragmentation Wounds
Quang Nam
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Green Haven Memorial Gardens - Canfield, Ohio
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Panel 6E, Line 118

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Marine Corps Engineer Association (MCEA)Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2008, Marine Corps Engineer Association (MCEA) [Verified]
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]

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 Unit Assignments
3rd Combat Engineer Bn
  1966-1966, 1371, 3rd Combat Engineer Bn/C Co
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
C Co, 3rd Eng Bn, 3rd MarDiv Republic of Vietnam 1966 *************************** The Virtual Wall *************************** Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall ***************************

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant James E. Prommersberger (MCSN: 2012082), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company C, Third Engineer Battalion, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in action against enemy Viet Cong forces in Vietnam, on 16 April 1966. During an intense enemy night attack, heavy small arms and mortar fire received from more than 200 attacking Viet Cong inflicted numerous casualties on Sergeant Prommersberger's mine clearance team. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, he crawled under heavy mortar and machine gun fire to a wounded Marine and rendered assistance. Upon hearing two more wounded Marines call for help, he again crawled to their assistance. On this occasion a mortar round hit close by and he fell mortally wounded. Sergeant Prommersberger's uncommon bravery, devotion to duty and self sacrificing efforts in behalf of his comrades reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: April 16, 1966

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Company: Company C

Battalion: 3d Engineer Battalion

Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF
Died with six others in a patrol engagement near the village of Cam Van (3), 8k from Liberty Bridge.

I am re-printing the account of the battle from Jim Chase who added to LCpl Yagle's profile. He was WIA that day.  It is an incredible first person account and I commend him for his putting it to paper. EB, Cpl (Ret)

I was with Tom when he died. He was firing a 81mm Mortar trying to stop a weapon that was killing Marines when he was killed. The following is something I wrote regarding that Operation. We were on this mission to destroy ordinance from an abandoned Arvn fort, etc. It was a company size mission and Hotel Company was the lucky Company and 3rd Section 81mm Mortars were with them. I was from 2nd section but volunteered for this operation. I had only been in Vietnam 40 days. I had a base plate and several rounds on my back. It was so hot and my load was so heavy I was sweating and dripping, like a pig on a spit. Lord, I was miserable. Next thing I knew we were hovering over a field and in the distance there was a two story French style farm house that reminded me of one in the movie, "A walk in the Sun", about this house in WWII that this army unit had to take.
Anyway, we were hovering and I was waiting to touch down, like in training, when I was pushed out. Realizing the weight on my back would flatten me; with the toe of my boot I pushed off the chopper and I swung around and landed on my back. Stunned, I laid there until the chopper flew off. Then I knew why he never landed. I could hear the bees, bullets whizzing by. I felt like a turtle stranded on his shell but knew I could not lie there in the open. Fear gave me the strength to roll over, arise and run. I arrived at a dike, a foot or so high and spun and crashed down with my back against it. Before I could catch my breath we were being ordered into a cane field at which time we stopped receiving fire. I hooked up with another new guy and was marched down this road to the fort, all the time watching this fire fight between the Cong and this rocket firing propeller plane.
The Communist were shooting at this plane from a small roofless house. I know I was told not to step off the road because of mines, but I kept thinking, "Why don't they send someone over there to just throw a grenade into the house? The gooks can't see us, no windows on our side, and I could do it easy" I was too shy to ask permission. No one ever did anything. I figured I just did not see the big picture. The Commie's even shot the plane down and we did nothing. I was quite confused as I watched the plane fly off smoking, getting lower and lower until trees blocked my view. We entered the fort and blew up a bunch of ordinance that was left there and then we kept going and set down in a big open field, a series of dry rice paddies. It was April 15, 1966. The ground was rock hard, where 81's were. With the weenie e-tool I had I could only dig about six inches deep, but next to a foot high dike. We were so tired. My job was over. I carried the ammo and base plate out here. I lay down in my shallow hole, with this new guy(Bennett, I think) using my boots as a pillow. Off to sleep I went.
 I think I stood a watch on the mortar that night and then back to sleep. Around 3 or 4 am on April 16th I awoke to the sound of a machine gun (in coming). Then a second and then a 57mm recoilless rifle opened up. I'd hear it fire. Then it would sound like it skipped twice and the shell would explode. Fear was all over me like a cheap suit. Next, small arms joined in and the sound of mortars leaving their tubes (Not ours). It had been sprinkling so I had a poncho propped up with my rifle. My rifle got hit, right off, and it was ruined, so I pulled the whole mess down, as to attract less fire. All hell was breaking loose. The mortar team that was on watch was firing back and rounds were dropping all around us. Bennett took a hit in the forehead and kept standing up. He would get hit and I'd pull him down and then he would stand up again, until finally he just stayed down and moaned.
 I took what felt like a shotgun blast in the back, so I pulled my flak jacket out from under me, as I was sleeping on it, and pulled it over my head and upper body. Next I felt something go through my boot and big toe. It burned. My back was wet. The inside of my nose was burning. My ears were hurting. I was in terror waiting to be blown apart. I found out later that it was estimated that 700 rounds were dropped on us in a half-hour. I called a Corpsman over for Bennett, as soon as possible. He kicked me out of our little hole so I crawled down the line visiting and reading my bible by the light of flares and explosions. Tom Yagle, the only married guy in the section, was dead. He was trying to get the 57mm recoilless with the 81mm mortar, when it got him. His last scream was, "I got him". I think he meant he had the recoilless rifle bracketed and his next rounds would get the 57 recoilless. However, the recoilless got a perfect hit on the yoke of our 81mm mortar. We could only tell it was he by his curly hair, as his face was nothing but white flak jacket fiber glass and his arm was blown off. Another Mortar man named Tony Hughes lay dead also.
 Pat Dougherty finally stopped the 57mm Recoilless Rifle. The 57 was only 40 yards from his hole, but was firing at the 81mm Mortar. His Hole partner Cpl Cripe was shot in the head. Pat Dougherty was busy trying to help Cripe, until he realized Cripe was a goner. Dougherty had a LAW, which is a small rocket, that can be pulled open and fired by a single man. He got the weapon ready. The 57 was firing right over his hole. Finally when he could tell for sure, where it was, he fired just after the 57 fired. The 57 did not fire again so Pat must have gotten it.
As I continued to crawl along, in the open, there was a guy was laying on his back all shot up and I asked him how he was and he said, "OK". He asked if I could hand him his .45, which was lying in this small hole. I reached in and it was covered in liquid. The lights flashed and I saw the blood dripping from the pistol I was handing him. There were 7 dead and 33 wounded. Later I was lying in a depression waiting for Medevac and I heard someone calling my name. I crawled over to a Marine (I did not know him), who's head was covered all around with a bandage. He could not see me. He calls out, "Chase". I said, "What?" He says, "You are OK, you made it?" I said, "I'm fine" He settled down and I crawled away. Later I found out he meant LCpl Victor Edward Chase, not me. Victor, age 20, died that day, along with the other 6 Marines and a lot of Viet Cong.
 I took the last medevac huey out of there and ended up at C-Med Da Nang. They laid me on a stretcher across a couple of sawhorses. There were guys laying everywhere. It reminded me of the scene at the railroad station in the movie, Gone with the Wind. My back and foot hurt until I observed the guy next to me had no foot. There were a lot of guys with limbs missing and bad face wounds. It was very sad. I just lay there and waited my turn. Finally they came and got me and laid me on a x-ray table. There was blood everywhere. The smell was overwhelming. As they started with me, they brought in a guy that was screaming. The Doctor asked me, ever so politely, "Would you mind?" I said no and I hopped off the table, on my good foot and hopped over to a railing and held on to it and watched. This guy was out of his mind. He was a big Marine. I understand he was called "Blue", and he was from Texas. The VC had thrown a grenade in his hole. His right leg was gone below the knee and the other leg, below the knee, was cut all the way down every few inches and then twisted around 1 1/2 times and there was no foot at the end. He was out of his mind and flailing. I just stood there and watched until they took him away and then I hopped back over to the table. I was told later that he had joined the Marines rather than accept a football scholarship. My 18-year-old mind was being totally overloaded with all of this. But what could I do,I was stuck in this insanity. They were all Hero's that wet April morning of 1966.
Jim Chase wrote this.
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