The Magnificent 12
By LTC Douglas K. Lehmann (USA Ret)

LTC Douglas K. Lehmann (USA Ret) was commanding officer of the
175th Engineer Company from Nov. 67 / May 1968

At age 61, I retired after a successful career.  Today, if anyone asked, what was my most difficult, important, and rewarding job, the answer is easy.  It was at age 28, as CO of the 175th/A Company from November 1967 to May 1968.  In the words of COL Louis Gelling, Brigade Commander, this company:

"Repeatedly, as the situation changed and as the Brigade moved, … insured that the engineer support kept pace with the tactical situation.  …[The] company's transformation of natural terrain into a fortified fire base or command post because the routine course of events."  6 May 1968

This company was the best overall unit I ever served with during my Army career.  They had more total ability, intelligence, and experience that any other that I was in or served with.  The NCO corps was superb.  The same 3 Platoon Sergeants and 9 Squad Leaders were with the unit from July 1967 to July 1968.  There is no question in my mind that these 12 men were the heart and soul of the company and its outstanding results are a direct application of their leadership and technical skills.  The Platoon Sergeants brought years of experience and the Squad Leaders led by example, strength, and endurance.  We had no time for sports, but if we had, we would have swept many a tournament.  Let COL Gelling tell about the work that these 12 made possible:

"…the…company has constructed a complete brigade operational center on a small hill in the Republic of Vietnam.  All structures and installations were built of heavy timbers and sand-bagged to protect personnel from mortar and rocket attack.  This operational center includes a logistical  operating base which the entire brigade is supported.  Large helicopter landing areas, bunkers fro ammunition storage, a fresh water supply producing u to 9,000 gallons of water per day, numerous large and medium tent frames for troop billets, and a large medical clearing station are only part of the construction that has been accomplished.  In addition, five fire support bases have been completely refurbished and two new bases constructed.  These bases included sleeping bunkers, firing positions, and command and control elements for an infantry battalion, one infantry company, and an artillery battery.  During the same period the company has renovated the brigade rear support area to provide better living accommodations, a post exchange, medical holding facilities, kitchens and supply rooms for the entire brigade, motor pools, and a helicopter staging point for resupply.  …[The[ company…has…a can-do spirit…that foster high morale."  18 Feb 1968. (Not listed that came later are the observation tower, daily road mine sweeps, and support to Operation Delaware at Camp Evans [1st Cav Div].)

My time was spent planning and ranking missions, getting key supplies, making job assignments, and checking them.  Once the work was assigned, the company pretty much ran itself.  Everyone from Private to Lieutenant did his job but the glue was the leadership of those magnificent 12 NCOs.  I'm not sure to this day if I ever acknowledged or thanked all the engineer soldiers on what they did.  I also cannot tell you the remaining careers of these 12 NCOs.  I can't say who stayed in the Army, who retired and started second careers, or who returned directly to civilian careers.  I do know that all 12 had to have successful careers in whatever they did based on what they were then.  To them, belated thanks from me, the 196th Brigade, the Army, and your country.  You did a job well done and rarely equaled by engineer troops anywhere and at any time.  Take pride and look back with satisfaction for your extraordinary year.

LTC Douglas K. Lehmann (USA Ret)