Monday, March 05, 2012

TFH 3/5: Second Lieutenant Robert J. Hibbs, USA

Robert John Hibbs was born in Omaha, NE during World War II on April 21, 1943. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through ROTC at the University of Northern Iowa in 1965 and was soon sent off to war in Vietnam with 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment - then part of the 1st Infantry Division.

On this day in 1966, Lieutenant Hibbs was commanding a 15-man ambush patrol when they came upon a much larger enemy force advancing towards the 2nd Battalion's main position. He led his men on an effective ambush of that enemy force, then launched a surprise attack on another. Always leading from the front and by example he eventually was cut down, but not before rescuing a stricken trooper, charging two machine gun positions, and preventing materiel from falling into the hands of the enemy. Hibbs' courageous charge and gallant acts were ultimately found worthy of our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (A-L):


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Don Dien Lo Ke, Republic of Vietnam, 5 March 1966. Entered service at: Des Moines, Iowa. Born: 21 April 1943, Omaha, Nebr. G.O. No.: 8, 24 February 1967. Citations: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. 2d Lt. Hibbs was in command of a 15-man ambush patrol of the 2d Battalion, when his unit observed a company of Viet Cong advancing along the road toward the 2d Battalion's position. Informing his command post by radio of the impending attack, he prepared his men for the oncoming Viet Cong, emplaced 2 mines in their path and, when the insurgents were within 20 feet of the patrol's position, he fired the 2 antipersonnel mines, wounding or killing half of the enemy company. Then, to cover the withdrawal of his patrol, he threw hand grenades, stepped onto the open road, and opened fire on the remainder of the Viet Cong force of approximately 50 men. Having rejoined his men, he was leading them toward the battalion perimeter when the patrol encountered the rear elements of another Viet Cong company deployed to attack the battalion. With the advantage of surprise, he directed a charge against the Viet Cong, which carried the patrol through the insurgent force, completely disrupting its attack. Learning that a wounded patrol member was wandering in the area between the 2 opposing forces and although moments from safety and wounded in the leg himself, he and a sergeant went back to the battlefield to recover the stricken man. After they maneuvered through the withering fire of 2 Viet Cong machine guns, the sergeant grabbed the dazed soldier and dragged him back toward the friendly lines while 2d Lt. Hibbs remained behind to provide covering fire. Armed with only an M-16 rifle and a pistol, but determined to destroy the enemy positions, he then charged the 2 machine gun emplacements and was struck down. Before succumbing to his mortal wounds, he destroyed the starlight telescopic sight attached to his rifle to prevent its capture and use by the Viet Cong. 2d Lt. Hibb's profound concern for his fellow soldiers, and his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country. 

Lieutenant Hibbs rests in peace in Greenwood Cemetery, Cedar Falls, IA. He is memorialized on Panel 05E, Line 118 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

Today, the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry is part of the 172nd Infantry Brigade stationed at Grafenwöhr, Germany. The brigade, including 2-28INF, is currently deployed to Afghanistan in defense of our liberty.

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