“We have tanks in our wire!” sounded the company radio as tracer rounds and mortar blasts illuminated the night sky on Feb. 6, 1968. A North Vietnamese Army (NVA) force of two sapper companies, three infantry battalions and 14 PT-76 tanks surrounded the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp.
Among the 24 Green Berets defending the camp stood demolitions expert Spc. 5th Class Daniel R. Phillips. Known as the “new guy,” Phillips had only been in Vietnam for three weeks when the fight began.
Born in 1944, Phillips lived with his mother in Philadelphia before enlisting in 1966. Fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a Green Beret, he was assigned to 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, after completing the selection process.
Eager to be where the action was, Phillips joined Detachment A-101, stationed at the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp in Vietnam. Along with aiding in the defense of the camp, he helped train and advise locals in the Civilian Irregular Defense Group, the majority of the camp’s defenders.
Only five miles from Khe Sanh, the camp at Lang Vei was a prime target for NVA forces. Guarding the western perimeter of the camp when the battle began on the night of the 6th, Phillips was awokened to the sound of four NVA tanks moving on his position.
Roused to action, Phillips and fellow Green Beret William Craig fired their 81mm mortar against the oncoming wave of enemy combatants. Wounded in the face after taking a direct hit to the mortar pit, Phillips brought the fight to the enemy and destroyed an enemy tank after charging towards it with grenades and anti-tank weapons.
Expending the last of his ammunition, Phillips was last seen attempting to escape through the camp’s northern perimeter.
The battle continued until the following morning, ending with the rescue of its remaining defenders. Of the 24 Green Berets, seven were killed, three were captured and eleven were wounded.
In what became known as the “Night of the Silver Stars,” penned by Phillips’ cousin in his book of the same name, the Battle of Lang Vei is not only remembered for its immense loss, but also the immense courage of its defenders.
Out of five Green Berets declared missing in action after the battle, Phillips is the last one who has yet to be returned home. Declared deceased by the U.S. Army on July 10, 1978, efforts to recover his remains continue and Phillips is listed in the analytical category of Active Pursuit by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
For his actions in the early hours of Feb. 7, 1968, Phillips was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart. His name is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
We honor his service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to email@example.com with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Jackson Baker
Editors: Cate Manning, Mary Margaret Brennan
Researcher: Christopher Rosenquist
Graphic Designer: Jaylon BucklesRecommend0 recommendationsPublished in