Book chronicles one of the Vietnam War’s most desperate battles

Author honored at AUSA chapter luncheon on Fort Jackson earlier this month

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Colonel (Ret.) William P. “Bill” Collier Jr., U.S. Army, was singularly honored by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, president of the Fort Jackson-Palmetto State Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), during the chapter’s monthly luncheon, June 6.

Speaking briefly to gathered AUSA members and guests at the Fort Jackson NCO Club; Collier, a life member of AUSA, discussed his newly released book, ‘OUTNUMBERED 20-to-1,’ about the desperate 54-hour battle of Mo Duc, Vietnam, in 1972 and his happenstance leadership of the same.

Attending the luncheon was Col. (Ret.) Steven B. Vitali, U.S. Marine Corps, who wrote the Foreword to the book and, like others before him, compared the Collier-led battle to Texas’ ill-fated last stand at the Alamo and the British Army’s successful defense of Rorke’s Drift during the Zulu wars.

“As the last significant battle in the war, Mo Duc speaks to the greater American military tradition and it significantly showcases the valiant efforts of those freedom-desiring albeit ill-fated South Vietnamese soldiers who made their last stand, winning the battle, though not the war,” wrote Vitali in his Foreword. “Standing on the command precipice was then-Major Bill Collier whose defiant stance against overwhelming odds served as the juggernaut and protagonist against the strategic and political ambitions of the North Vietnamese leadership.”

Collier, who was awarded the Silver Star in 1972, was nominated by Vitali and other combat veterans for the Medal of Honor in 2012. Though the nomination itself failed to meet the requisite number of American witnesses on the ground – Collier was leading South Vietnamese forces – the nomination received strong endorsements from U.S. Air Force pilots flying forward-air-control missions over the Mo Duc battlespace.

“Against overwhelming odds, Bill Collier was the right leader on the ground at that particular point and place in time,” said Sheriff Lott, who has long-known Collier, worked with him in a law enforcement capacity since the war, and read the book within weeks of its publication. “Aptly titled, the North Vietnamese enemy outnumbered Collier’s beleaguered South Vietnamese garrison 20-to-one and broke through at certain points along the line nearly overrunning their entire position.”

Making matters worse, the panic-stricken South Vietnamese leadership virtually collapsed at Mo Duc (with at least one senior officer deserting his post) leaving Collier, a U.S. Army artillery officer, the only man available to assume overall command, rally, regroup, and encourage the troops, call for supporting fires, and beat back wave-after-wave of numerically superior enemy forces.

Collier credits his and his outnumbered force’s success to divine intervention, and he clearly expresses this throughout the book. “God was with me,” he said. “I prayed for His guidance and protection throughout the action, and He provided.”

Lott presented Collier the AUSA Fort Jackson-Palmetto State Chapter coin of excellence for his book, Army Career, work with Veterans, and a Lifetime of service to AUSA.

Outnumbered 20-to-1 was published on January 3, 2023, and is available at

– Pictured (L-R) are AUSA members Col. (Ret.) Steven B. Vitali, U.S. Marine Corps; Col. (Ret.) Bill Collier, U.S. Army; and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, president of AUSA’s Fort Jackson-Palmetto State Chapter.