Wednesday, April 04, 2012

TFH 4/4: EN2 Joseph J. Ennis, USN

In late 1966, the United States Army and United States Navy formed the Mobile Riverine Force to facilitate combat against the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese backers in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. The troops for the effort were provided by the 2nd Brigade of Army's 9th Infantry Division. The Navy provided the various boats and ships that carried them into battle.

One of these boat types was the Armored Troop Carrier, or ATC. ATCs were modified Landing Craft Mechanized Mark 6 (LCM-6). They typically carried a mix of heavy automatic weapons with light armor protection and had a crew of six to ten sailors. Each ATC could carry upwards of 40 soldiers and their equipment, including artillery and vehicles.

On this day in 1968, Engineman 2nd Class Joseph J. Ennis was the boat engineer and a machine gunner on ATC 92-2. When the column of boats ATC 92-2 was part of came under heavy attack from the shore, Ennis sprang into action. When he was wounded, he ignored it. When his machine gun malfunctioned, he got another. When others were wounded aboard, he cared for them before seeking aid himself. For his gallantry in action, he received the Navy Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Engineman Second Class Joseph J. Ennis, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism on 4 April 1968 while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against communist insurgent (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. As Boat Engineer and 30-caliber gunner, Petty Officer Ennis was aboard Armored Troop Carrier (ATC 92-2). River Assault Division 92, River Assault Squadron 9, Task Force 117 (TF-117), during strike operations in support of United States Army units along the Song Ba Lai River in the Mekong Delta region. When the Viet Cong launched an attack on the entire column of boats with rockets, recoilless rifles, automatic weapons, and small arms, Petty Officer Ennis immediately returned fire with his machine gun which was mounted in the well-deck forward. Seconds later, a rocket exploded on the canopy directly over Petty Officer Ennis, knocking him down and severely wounding him. Although stunned and in great pain, he returned to his weapon, only to find it inoperable. After making his way aft to the boat's magazine to obtain another machine gun, he returned to the forward well deck and immediately fired the weapon from a hand-held position against the enemy until his ammunition was exhausted. Petty Officer Ennis then began administering first aid to other wounded personnel in the well deck. As the boat neared the bank, he quickly reloaded his weapon, stood on the ramp fully exposed to the enemy fire, and put down a withering base of cover fire for the assault troops, maintaining his position until every able-bodied soldier had gotten ashore and had reached a relatively safe position in the tree line. After an hour of fierce combat, ATC 92-2 cleared the area. Petty Officer Ennis continued to assist in treating and moving other wounded until all had been removed to a medical aid boat. Only then, when he was nearing collapse from loss of blood, did he proceed to the medical aid boat for treatment of his severe wounds. By his outstanding professionalism, concern for his fellow men, sense of responsibility, and courage under fire, Petty Officer Ennis upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

I searched for "Joseph J. Ennis" and did not find any records that fit the Navy Cross recipient from April 4, 1968. I do know he survived the Vietnam War as he is not listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. If he is deceased, his burial is not listed by the Veterans Administration. If he is still living, I'd expect him to be in his mid-60s to early-70s now.

The heritage of the "brown water" Navy of Vietnam days is carried on today by the Special Warfare Combat Crewmen of Naval Special Warfare Command.


  1. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Hi Allan this man is my father he is still alive and living in Chicago Illinois.My father will celebrate his 67th birthday on April 28th.Thank you so much for posting.

    Lisa Ennis Drzewiecki

  2. Thank you so much for commenting, Lisa! I'm glad you found this, and hope you'll pass along a hearty "happy birthday" and my sincere thanks for his service to our country to your father for me!

  3. Brenda11:14 AM

    this man is my husband
    and we are so proud of him
    he also got the purple heart.
    THANKS FOR POSTING IT. ITS nice for him too be remembered.


  4. As I was from your daughter's comment, I'm so happy you found this Mrs. Ennis. Please pass along my well wishes and admiration to your husband.

    Our Nation is free because of the brave men and women who have defended it and our values, and I'm both honored and humbled to do just this small part.



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