On Sunday, 15 May 1968, Captain Landers' unit was engaged in a major operation against NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and VC (Viet Cong) guerrilla forces in Gia -Dinh, Saigon. His Company was the forward unit in the battalion operation that day and was therefore the first to make contact with the enemy force. The forward platoon came under heavy effective enemy fire during which it sustained five casualties. Captain Landers was ordered to withdraw his troops; and air and artillery support was called in to clear the area. After about two hours, he was ordered to move his Company out. As they advanced, they again came under heavy effective fire from the enemy, who were operating from concealed underground bunkers. The First Platoon was receiving such a heavy volume of fire that movement was impossible and the whole battalion was by this time, being engaged in combat. On realising that the First Platoon was not advancing with the reminder of his unit, Captain Landers decided to move to the front line, from his command position within the Company, in order to assess the situation, and get the halted Platoon moving again. Taking a small team including his radioman (RTO 4) plus two others, they made their way to the front line Platoon. The First Platoon Leader had been wounded slightly in the initial firefight and Captain Landers asked him if he wanted to "dust off" 5 but he declined and requested to stay on.

Captain Landers then ordered an assault on the enemy positions, with teams using fire and manoeuvre tactics. The Captain and his team moved with the assaulting teams, who succeeded in knocking out about six enemy bunkers. As they advanced, they came upon another line of about eight to ten bunkers, which they then engaged using the same tactics. Thinking that all the bunkers had been checked, Captain Landers' and his team moved towards a house. They had advanced about thirty metres beyond the bunkers, when they came under fire from the rear.

The time was approximately 15.30 hours local time.

4 Radio-Telephone Operator 5 "dust off" = "medical evacuation from the battle area"

Captain E.J.Landers (second .from right), his RTO's and Medic.This photograph, taken on return from ground operations on 2 May 1968, was the last one sent home by him.

This is the last known photograph taken of Captain E.J. Landers before his death.


Captain Landers, his RTO and another soldier were killed in the bursts of fire, and another Officer, a Lieutenant, who was wounded, lay near their bodies. The Leader of the First Platoon and his RTO were also wounded. An eyewitness' report stated:

"Captain Landers was about fifteen metres in front of me laying next to another man. I could see that they both

were dead. Another officer was between me and Captain Landers. He had only been wounded. I tried to get over to him but when I moved the shooting started again. I could see rounds hit all three of them. I shot back but I did not know where the shots came from. Every time I tried to move they opened up again."

The report went on to say: " Just about that time, Colonel Waldrop came on the radio and I informed him of the situation. I still could not move without getting shot at. The gun-ships came in, which kept the V.C. hard-down while I made my way back to the rest of our guys."

Captain Landers and seven members of his command were killed in action on that day. Six others were wounded. News of his death was relayed to his wife and family by local priest Reverend J. O' Dwyer a few days after he was killed.

Click on the rifle badge to go on to the next page