Everette Earl Cofer
Killed in Action 3-Apr-70 SVN
With Deep Respect – Rest in Peace: SSG Everette (Ev) Earl Cofer was the last CCS recon man killed at CCS before the cross-border mission was turned over to the ARVN SF teams. He was one of our best recon team leaders. He was 34 years old and married at the time of his loss. His home of record was Water Valley, MS. He is buried at Turkey Creek Baptist Church, Water Valley, MS. His name location on THE WALL is panel 12W, line 87.
On 09/21-24/69 – Recon Team PICK led by SP5 Everett Cofer, was inserted from the Northern MLS at Duc Co into the Cambodian Mount Lam Lyr area, the highest peak in the area due west of Duc Lap, in the Fishhook area. USAF BMTE FAC Capt. George Schmidle directed the insertion of the team without event on 09/21/69.
“…On 21 September, SP5 Cofer and seven other team members located a large enemy base camp, and over the next three days they gathered information and took photographs for intelligence purposes. At dusk on the second day, his team was engaged by elements of the hostile force, but managed to elude the enemy in the dense jungle. On the third day, SP5 Cofer elected to return to the vicinity of the base camp in hopes of capturing a prisoner from whom intelligence could be garnered. It was on 24 September before SP5 Cofer spotted a lone, armed enemy soldier approaching the ambush site. Realizing that the enemy would be alerted if shots were fired, SP5 Cofer waited until the communist was opposite his position, then assaulted and disarmed him. After binding and gagging the prisoner, the team slipped away to an improvised landing zone to be extracted. As they were awaiting the helicopter, an enemy patrol appeared, but rather than abandon the prisoner, SP5 Cofer defended his position until successfully exfiltrated.” (Per Hqs USARV GO#550, dtd 02/27/70.)
Other members to receive an award were: 1-1 SP4 Robert J. Graham BSM; 1-2 SP5 David J. “Zack” Paul BSM; 1-3 SGT Edward D. Smythe BSM.
Their “Air Asset” Partners were the Slicks of the 155th AHC “Stagecoach” 2nd Platoon and the 20th USAF SOS Gunships. The 155th AHC Extraction Slick AC/ pilot was Gerald A. “Sandy” Smith, Jr. The lead gunship pilot was Green Hornet AC CPT Phil Stinson. The insert FAC was USAF CPT George Schmidle. The extraction FAC was USAF MAJ Karol Franzyshen.
On 03/30-04/02/70 Recon Team PICK led by SSG Everette “Ev” Cofer undertook a mission deep into enemy territory. They were supported by the 195th AHC. Team members were: 1-1 SGT Robert J. Graham PH; 1-2 SP4 Stephen L. Boylan WIA PH & BSM.
SGT RJ “Rob” Graham’s and SP4 Steve Boylan add their perspectives of this mission, which was Boylan’s ninth: “We inserted from Quan Loi. It was a road watch mission – for as long as possible but probably 10 days or so. Everette Cofer was the team leader. He took over from Fred Winters when Fred moved to Quan Loi. Graham moved up to 1-1. On this operation, Stephen Boylan was the new guy, so Graham unloaded the Prick-25 radio. We had Na Khu, the interpreter, three other SCU – named Y Kit Nie, Siu Wok, and Y Ray Nie. We started the long walk toward the target area that was a heavily used road and trail system that meandered into and out of the forest several clicks inside Cambodia. It was the same area that Cofer and Boylan with four SCU had reconned so successfully a week before. We were coming up on target. The target was a road intersection in the “Hook” or the “Angels Wing.” One of the SCU team members – Y Ray Nie, got sick and was exfiltrated by chopper a day or so before we reached our target. The evacuation irritated Cofer because the door gunners of the medevac chopper opened up on our perimeter in case any enemy were targeting them. The resulting noise pretty much told anyone within earshot that Americans were in the area and surely put the NVA on the alert. We reached our target about three days after insertion.”
“This was a big target so we took a few days walk to get to this point. We had an aborted attempt at a road ambush and POW snatch at the end of the third day. We observed several trucks loaded with troops and materiel traveling the road at regular intervals. We had set up on the wrong road, and didn’t see the other road in the trees. We RON’d on the side of a steep ridge after checking out a sheer escarpment several hundred feet high and a valley far below that was full of burning bamboo which sounded like gunfire to us) and then endured a night of torrential monsoon rain. We were trekking parallel to the road but on the other side of a ridge that ran along the road. We could hear construction, machines and movement of timber, etc so we edged closed to the ridgeline to take a look. We skirted a woodline/brushline for a short walk of about 100 meters on the way to the top. We were enroute to an ambush point when Cofer had us cross a small open area which exposed us to enemy view and we were compromised – the team walked by an enemy “Listening Post.” There were two men in Pith helmets that were well covered but one looked up and moved as RJ passed, probably to fire. There was eye contact and Graham and a SCU opened up. After that … everyone opens up. Boylan says “Contact, contact” in the handset and Cofer moves the team to a nearby bomb crater – a favorite tactic which was to jump into one of the many bomb craters in the area and get below ground level with a clear field of fire 360 degrees.”
“We waited for an exfil. This was Indian country and they were obviously coming to take a look. Cofer and Graham manned the edge of the bowl that faced the road. Cofer was to Boylan’s left. We both were over the edge with weapons and ammo ready. Boylan was in the lower back side (radio man). One SCU was to Graham’s left rear behind Cofer and another SCU was behind to his right rear. Boylan was in constant contact with FAC and advised him of our situation and the FAC began to run covering fire with rockets and machine guns to keep the NVA away from the edge of the tree line. It was going to be a while before the cavalry arrived and FAC told us there were a bunch of bad guys on the way up the hill. Boylan’s rifle jammed and he was reduced to throwing grenades. It was several minutes before the air assets appeared on scene and then it seemed that time stood still. We kept waiting for them to appear and Graham kept his sawed off M-79 firing in their direction. FAC said they were coming up the ridge, they were close and there were about 65 or 70 NVA troops engaged in the fight with us. We saw movement and started to return fire over the rim of the crater.”
“The air support arrived within a few minutes and they began a good job of keeping the NVA well back from the edge of the tree line where they could not bring effective fire to bear on our position. After several minutes of intense combat with a lot of ordnance being expended on the NVA position in the forest the lead gunship informed Boylan that the air support needed to be withdrawn so that they could re-arm and re-fuel but there were two Cobras on the way to help out. That made him a little nervous because the Cobra pilots were never part of the pre-mission briefings and so they didn’t know our strategy for effective close air-ground support. The FAC was the only air support we had now and all he had were two M60’s and no rockets. The Cobras finally showed up and managed to not kill us although at one point they very nearly did with a salvo of 40-mm grenades from their nose guns that almost went into our crater. The NVA were kept at bay long enough for the Huey gunships to return and so we began to quickly formulate a plan for extraction. It was at this time that things suddenly happened in a rapid-fire stream of events.”
“Cofer and Graham were covering the tree line in one direction and two SCU were covering their sections and Boylan was directing fire from air assets. SCU Siu Wok was carrying the M-79 grenade launcher and one of his rounds bounced off a tree and came right back at the team and hit the edge of the crater and disappeared in the jumble of rocks at the crater rim without detonating. Boylan was the only one who saw this happen and shouted “Grenade!” just before the round got lost in the crater rim. RJ reacted instantly to Boylan’s shout and started to look for what he thought was a hand grenade but was told to forget it, as it didn’t land in the crater with us. RJ and Cofer then scrambled back to the top of the crater and started firing at the tree line again. Several more minutes went by with bullets from AK’s and RPG’s pinging all around the rim of the crater but we were safe beneath the rim and the air assets did a bang up job of keeping the NVA from the tree line where they could probably have lobbed grenades in on us or even mortars. Suddenly there was a huge explosion from the edge of the crater, where the M79 round had landed, ripped through our position. Boylan was knocked backwards by the force and barely stayed on his feet. He had received a shrapnel wound to his left knee that looked bad initially but was still able to walk fine. He then noticed that Cofer was slowly rolling down the inside of the crater and appeared to be unconscious. Graham felt a tug at his left elbow. As the dust settled literally and his senses returned, he looked at his left arm. The blood was spurting out. The artery was severed. The entire team was splayed out around the bowl like pork in a wok. Graham’s immediate reaction was to stick his finger in the hole and the bleeding stopped. He had to change hands to fire and looked over the edge of the crater and saw no movement. Looking around the circle. Cofer was on his back not moving. Kit was on his side holding his face together. Boylan was still on the radio so I thought he was OK. Ken seemed uninjured and was coming to.”
“Graham and Boylan immediately moved to Cofer. He wasn’t breathing. There was a hole right in the middle of his forehead and his eyes were up in his head. I hammered him hard in the chest. He spit up a lot of crap but started breathing. Kit was hurt bad but he would be OK. He had a hole in one cheek and out the other. Boylan put a makeshift tourniquet on RJ’s upper arm since he was losing blood fast from his wound to the inner side of his elbow and they got Cofer’s face out of the dirt and RJ tried to get him breathing again. We prepared Cofer’s Stabo rig harness and called for evacuation by rope ladder since there were bamboo obstacles and it was too risky to chance a touchdown by the choppers.”
“We couldn’t get Cofer into a chopper by ladder so we snap linked him into the Stabo rig and Graham and Kit started climbing the port side ladder and Boylan and Siu Wok climbed the starboard ladder. The machine gun fire got very intense for the short time we were on the ladders because the NVA gunners were trying to pick us off the ladders. Boylan tried to climb the rope ladder but the pain was too great with the weight of his Alice pack on his back so he jumped back to the ground and pulled on his quick release and the pack fell away to the ground. He put a full 20 round burst from his weapon into the pack to destroy the PRC 25 radio codes and all the other stuff he carried in it. After that he was able to climb hand over hand without using his injured leg and we made it safely into the chopper. He leaned out and watched the lift off of Everette’s limp body and saw that he was okay in the harness but couldn’t see any sign of consciousness. RJ then pulled him back in to the chopper and that is when his knee started hurting bad. He said, “I tore open the hole blasted into my pant leg and saw the knee sort of looked like a rose petal in full bloom which surprised me because the adrenalin rush of the moment kept me from feeling the pain in force until we were on our way back to Quan Loi.”
Graham remembers, “I climbed up and into the Huey. A sight I’ll never forget. The blood had started to flow again as soon as I pulled my finger out of the hole and as I climbed in, it pooled in the sleeve. As I entered into the chopper and tilted my arm, the blood came out of the sleeve and coated the entire inside; inside the front windows, the team (like they needed more) and the door gunner’s visor; I saw him barf over the mike. This was the first time I had a chance to check the rest of the team and I saw an amazing site. Boylan had taken a piece of shrapnel right through the kneecap. This man managed to climb a rope ladder!!!! And, he still kept commo!!! An amazing feat!!! Kit had a piece of shrapnel go right through both cheeks and didn’t hit a tooth!!!”
“We flew back to Quan Loi where the chopper pilot gently lowered Cofer to the waiting hands of the medical team below and they whisked him off before we could even touch down. Boylan said, “That was the last I ever saw of Everette Cofer and when I tried to hobble my way to him several guys grabbed me and helped me back to the chopper which then took off for Quan Loi where I was off-loaded by medics. As we landed, Gary Doak was there to greet us as he was running the same series the same day I think. We all went to the medic shed. Cofer seemed stabilized as much as possible, so RJ spent some time at the bar by himself. Everette died that night if I remember right. It was all in a haze a bit after that. There was a memorial at CCS Recon. Boylan was sent to the hospital. RJ never saw him again. RJ went to the hospital to see how Kit was doing. It was an ARVN hospital so you can imagine the treatment for a Yard. “I think there were some words (or money) exchanged and we took good care of his family while he was gone – only a couple of weeks I think.” (RJ Graham’s PH orders were per 5th SFGA GO# 0886, dtd 05/17/70.)
The following excerpts of SSG Cofer’s Silver Star citation describe his role in the actions: “…While serving as the team leader of a six-man, long range reconnaissance team inserted deep into enemy controlled territory. Upon reaching their target area, SGT Cofer’s team established positions near a trail in order to observe enemy traffic. To obtain a better vantage point, SGT Cofer moved his team toward another ambush site, but during this move the team was spotted by a lone enemy soldier. SGT Cofer immediately led his team toward a prearranged extraction land zone. The enemy, coming in ever-increasing numbers, soon surrounded the team. SGT Cofer called in gunships and directed suppressive fires that caused the enemy to withdraw temporarily. After the gunships expended their supply of ammunition, SGT Cofer was informed that a 40-man enemy force was moving toward him. The numerically enemy superior force took cover and began firing B-40 rockets and heavy automatic weapons fire at SGT Cofer’s position. Exposing himself to the intense enemy fire, SGT Cofer rushed the enemy position to mark it with white phosphorus grenades. As he was returning to his team’s position, a rocket burst nearby, fatally wounding him. SSG Cofer’s gallantry in action, at the cost of his life, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.” (Per USARV GO#1661, dtd 06/05/70.)