K Troop 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

The Blackhorse In Vietnam 1966 - 1972

hosted by Bob Hersey


Billy Gene Rodgers


PFC - E3 - Army - Selective Service
11th Armored Cavalry
20 year old Single, Caucasian, Male
Born on Dec 25, 1946
Length of service 1 year.
His tour of duty began on Jan 10, 1967
Casualty was on Jul 21, 1967
Body was recovered

Panel 23E - - Line 104

Explanation Of Terms

*Editors Note:   Some sources have PFC Rodger's first name as Billie.  The official record has it as Billy.

Do You Have A Remembrance Of This Hero?  Post It By Clicking The Button Below.

Post Remembrance Here

Rodger McConnell remembers Billy Gene Rodgers

September 14, 2006
"Haunted By The Boots"
Posted By: Rodger McConnell
e-Mail: rodgermcconnell@bresnan.net
Relationship: Rode in the ACAV behind into the ambush.

"Some paid with their lives…some paid for the rest of their lives."

They must have belonged to you, Billy Gene. The boots, that is. They have haunted me for nearly forty years. During that time, I've forgotten the names of most of those who died that day. But you were the only white enlisted kid from K Troop who was killed. The patent leather jungle boots must have belonged to you.

Everything about those boots fit your personality and your quirky sense of humor. The rest of us wore the standard issue jungle boots, and after a very brief period of time humping the bush, they'd all look the same-like size 10 D Hershey Bars! I don’t remember where you said you had gotten them, but your patent leather boots were different. You'd simply wash away the mud with a little water and they’d glisten like diamonds!

Billy Gene, I saw you minutes before you died-right before we were sent in to try to rescue the men of L Troop. They were getting mauled in a VC ambush a klick or two ahead of us on the highway, and were fighting for their lives. We of K Troop sat in our ACAVs in the hot sun, listening to battle reports on the radios while nervously waiting for the order to "go." You jumped from your track to hand-deliver a message from the captain of K Troop and, to help cut the tension, you busted us up with one of your famous off-the-wall one-liners Then, boots agleam, you flashed that crooked little smile and trotted back to your ACAV. Moments later, we got the word from the colonel flying above and mounted up for our rendezvous with destiny.

Thundering down the road at top speed, my FO track was 50 yards or so behind you when your command track rolled into the kill zone of the ambush. As I watched over the front of my ACAV, your track began taking heavy automatic weapon and RPG fire from the trees along the right side of the road. Seemingly now in slow motion, my track crawled into the kill zone and was likewise swallowed up by the same river of green tracers. Later, I would see that the volume of fire had been so intense that enemy bullets had shot away or grazed each of our three track-mounted radio antennas in at least two places. The fight lasted nearly four hours and miraculously, we on the FO track took only two light casualties. The men in the ACAV behind us, the third track in the column, were not as fortunate. They were hit by at least one RPG round and had several seriously wounded troopers who had to be Dusted-off. Billie Gene, your track was the hardest hit, and suffered four fatalities.

I didn't see you again until after the battle, and then all I saw were the boots. But, I didn't see them, either…not at first. We survivors were in a state of shock after the long fight, and my walk over the ambush area was eerily like that of a dream. Though I had no idea who, or how many of us had died, I remember feeling so painfully guilty, and at the same time so incredibly happy about the fact that on this day in the crapshoot of war some boys got to live while other boys had to die.

Someone snapped me out of my trance by hollering for me to help him carry our dead to a helicopter waiting in a hastily prepared landing zone. Before I arrived on the scene, each of the unidentified bodies had been totally encased in an army blanket and placed on a canvas stretcher. Billie Gene, yours was the last anonymous body that I carried. I grabbed the handles at the foot-end of your stretcher and, while hurrying to the chopper over the uneven terrain, I stumbled and collapsed under the weight of your body, dropping your feet onto my right knee. The blanket fell away and, when I looked down between my hands, I was in no way prepared for the stark image of your two blood-splattered, patent leather jungle boots, gleaming brightly under the hot Vietnamese sun.

In the years since 7/21/67, I’ve seen those boots a countless number of times in my thoughts and dreams. You were too young and too nice a kid to die on that dusty little road so very far from home. But each of us died at least a little that day. And a large part of me died with the patent leather jungle boots that would sparkle in the sun no more.

Rest in peace, my brother,

Bandit Niner-one

Home | Base Camp | Photos | Guest Book | Taps | Contributor's Corner
Honor Roll | Links | Feed Back | Reunions | Search | Site Map