|Birth: ||Feb. 8, 1949|
|Death: ||Mar. 27, 1970, Vietnam|
BILLY JACOB HARTSFIELD 1949 - 1970
Died Quang Tin Province, Republic of Viet Nam.
196th Light Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal Division). Air Medal w/ OLC. Purple Heart. Republic of Viet Nam Service Medal.
Slip off that pack. Set it down by the crooked trail. Drop that steel pot alongside. Shed those magazine-laden bandoliers away from your sweat-soaked shirt. Lay that silent weapon down and step out of the heat. Feel the soothing cool breeze right down to your soul ... and rest forever in the shade of our love, brother.
Billy Jacob "Gator" Hartsfield, of Lamont, Florida, was a member of Bravo Battery, First Battalion, 14th Artilley, attached as Forward Observer/ Recon Sergeant to Charlie Company, First Battalion, 46th Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. He is honored here by the veterans of 1/46th.
"The Professionals," of 1/46 came in-country via the USS Upshur on October 4, 1967 as part of the 198th Light Infantry Brigade. The 198th became part of the Americal Division. After one month of orientation at Duc Pho, the battalion was deployed north of Chu Lai and patrolled from Hill 54, Hill 69, LZ Young and LZ Baldy in Quang Tin Province. In March of 1969, the battalion moved to LZ Professional, in the mountains southwest of Tien Phuoc, Quang Tin Province, to relieve a battered 1/52 Infantry of the 198th. In July of 1969, 1/46, which had been operating under operational control of the 196th LIB of the Americal, became a permanent member of that brigade.
The battalion operated from LZ Professional until August of 1970. In February of 1970, the battalion established a temporary firebase at LZ Mary Ann, at a remote mountain site near Hau Duc, Quang Tin Province. The battalion returned to Mary Ann in the summer of 1970 and operated from there and LZ Young, which was between Tien Phuoc and Tam Ky, during 1970 and 1971.
The battalion left Mary Ann in April of 1971 when the Americal Division was deactivated and the 196th Brigade reverted to its status as an independent brigade and deployed at Danang, to provide security for the port. In June, 1972, 1/46 left Vietnam.
Of the names on the Vietnam Veterans Wall, 233 of them, close to half the battalion's actual field strength at any given time in Vietnam, were members of 1/46, or died while deployed with us.
Tallahassee Democrat, Sunday Morning, December 6, 1970:
Time Moves Slow in the 'Cautions'
Lem Hartsfield was 10 years old when he moved to Nut-All Rise on the east bank of the Aucilla River in 1920.
Back then, he divided most of his time between a cane pole and an old squirrel gun and 50 years haven't changed much.
"I've been all over these parts," Lem said about the canals, sinkholes, and swampy riverland in the southern parts of Taylor and Jefferson County. "Even raised 11 kids down here in these woods mostly with a fishing pole, and by frog gigging and gator hunting."
"Why one time, me and one of my girls shot a big old gator down on the [Aucilla] River. He must have been nine or ten feet long," Lem added. "We shot him but he got away - the water was high."
Lem's woods are a sparsely populated area located mostly in the southern part of Jefferson County near where the Aucilla River and the Wacissa River join.
Indians once dominated the land. Now, except for seasonal hunters, few people go there, much less to live on it.
The area, known as the "precautions", a word meaning "take care" to crackers who often shorten it to just the "cautions."
"What few people that lived down here, used to have hogs and cows in the woods, that's how they made their living,"
Lem said, "But now, everybody has had to go to town to find work."
"Things got so bad around here at one time, people used to wear a badge to keep from selling moonshine to each other."
When the water table falls, many small river carved caves and sinkholes are left exposed.
"One time they caught a fellow back in one of those caves making moonshine," Lem said. "He had his stove pipe run out of the top."
In the 50 years that Lem Hartsfield has been hunting the low lands near Nut-All-Rise, the land and the game have changed considerably.
Although the area is still considered one of the best sections in the state to hunt, it's not like it was years ago.
"Back when there wasn't anything but a mule road, there used to be a lot of game, a lot of deer and a good many bear," Lem said. "But it's got to where now if some game walks on the road, they get shot at and don't think they don't know it."
Good hunting is not the only thing the area is known for. As recent as last summer, archeologists were bringing out mastadon bones and relics of other prehistoric animals found in North Florida.
The area still shows marks of the pre-Civil War era when slave labor was used extensively. Only a few miles north of Lem's house is where "Colonel Powell used to raise cotton by slaves," Lem said. "You can still go out there and see the old rows where they planted cotton."
Slave labor was also used to cut a canal from the Wacissa River to the Aucilla to make a direct water route from the small town of Wacissa in Jefferson County to the coast, a distance of approximately 30 miles.
The canal, though badly grown over and almost useless, the victim of falling water tables, was aptly named "half mile rise" because you could "hear the water running half a mile away," Lem said.
"Me and my girls used to fish the Half Mile Rise," Lem said. "Use to catch a big batch of those red-bellies in there almost every time."
From a buddy, posted on the Viet Nam Memorial site:
"We called him "Gator." When I knew him, he was "Recon Sergeant" for artillery with Charlie Company, 1/46th Inf, 196th Bde, Americal Division. The arty battery that supported us would have a "recon sergeant," an RTO and a "forward observer"(an officer) posted with us to direct artillery support. For a time when we went without an FO, Gator served as our "FO." Gator was a devil may care sort. He liked to play up the "good ol' boy" bit with us. I remember him into his cups a bit when we were on LZ Professional and sitting in the Arty mess hall. He'd pretend to get riled at the cook we were drinking with. He'd rise to his feet in mock anger, hook his arm into the crook of my arm, and then pretend to struggle with me saying, "don't hold me back, Doc." I shared a poncho hootch with him during one field cycle. A Korean photographer came out to shoot pictures for a battalion annual that was published in late 1969. There is a photo of Gator and I in the annual, smiling out at the photographer from our hootch. Gator was gung ho. He re-enlisted to join the "boxcars" Chinook helicopter unit back in Chu Lai as a door gunner. According to the web site for that unit, he later went into OJT as crew chief. It was in that capacity that he was killed in an accident on the pad. I loved Gator's sense of humor. I heard about his death when I was in Germany. A guy from the artillery battery on LZ Professional came into our arty battery in Germany. I ran into him when I was doing GI sick call at the Babenhausen dispensary. He told me the news then. I didn't know what to say. Here's to you Gator, many happy times, many sad times remembered for you. There is one time I wish I was there to hold you back. So long."
"Gone But Not Forgotten"
Lamont Walker Cemetery
Maintained by: Epictetus
Originally Created by: Jim In Washington
Record added: Jun 23, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 38672017