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Lightsinger, Billy C.

Billy Cecil Lightsinger was born in 1934 and joined the US Army in 1952. By 1964, Sergeant Lightsinger was serving in combat in Vietnam. In 1967, SFC Billy Lightsinger was an advisor to the 43rd Ranger Battalion, 9th Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. To cope with the escalation by the Communists, Ranger units were organized into battalions and their mission evolved from counter–insurgency to light infantry operations. The Ranger battalions intercepted, engaged and defeated main force enemy units. The US Army  Non–Commissioned Officers assigned as advisors were arguably the most talented Sergeants that the Army had to offer. Many of these Sergeants were experienced cadre from the Ranger Department at the Infantry School, or experienced small unit leaders with Infantry, Special Forces or Marine backgrounds; some had fought in the Korea War like SFC Lightsinger. On 8 September 1967, SFC Lightsinger was accompanying the lead element of the battalion on a search and destroy operation when, immediately after helicopter insertion, the unit came under intense enemy automatic weapons and smal arms fire the right flank. Realizing that unless a unit were dispatched to a strategic point 150 meters away to establish a base of fire the battalion's position would become progressively worse, SFC Lightsinger urged the Commanding Officer to send a squad to the location. When no action was forthcoming, SFC Lightsinger, with complete disregard for his personal safety, stood up and charged across the open rice paddy; enemy bullets licking up water all about him. Because of the thick rice paddy mud and the weight of the radio he was carrying, SFC Lightsinger fell 50 meters from the objective and, with one squad now following, crawled the rest of the way. Inspried by his action, a company moved out and began advancing toward the objective. Not waiting for the company to close in on his location, SFC Lightsinger took charge of the squad that had followed him and led them in an attack on a nearby Viet Cong weapons factory which forced the enemy to withdraw, leaving behind valuable stores of arms and ammunition. After seizing the objective, SFC Lightsinger led the company in pursuit of the retreating enemy. Reestablishing contact, SFC Lightsinger manuevered the main elements against an enemy automatic weapon site, while he approached it from the flank. Armed only with a pistol, SFC Lightsinger charged the machine gun in a one man assault, killing two Viet Cong and capturing the maching gun. As a direct result of SFC Lightsinger's extraordinary courageous actions and indomitable fighting spirit, the Viet Cong unit suffered numerous casulaties and were forced to withdraw. For his gallantry in action this day, SFC Billy Lightsinger was awarded the nation's third highest valor medal, the Silver Star.

Master Sergeant Billy Lightsinger retired from the US Army on 1 October 1972. Billy C. "Kool" Lightsinger, 66, of Huntsville, died 22 December 2009 at a local nursing home.