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Vietnam Deaths

Berger, Gerald

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Gerald David Berger
  • Date of Birth: July 7, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Topeka, KS
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Platoon: D-1
  • TBS Class Standing: 346
  • MOS: 0802
  • Serial Number: 092978
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: March 24, 1968
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - August 5, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Mis-Adventure
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 49W - Row 012
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Gerald D. Berger – Gerry was a single Marine, who completed OCS with the 2nd Platoon of Delta Company. He was assigned to 1st Platoon of Delta Company at Basic School. Gerry was an artillery officer (MOS 0802), who did a stateside tour before being posted to Vietnam. He arrived in-country on March 24, 1968 in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. On July 24, 1968, after an interim assignment, Gerry assumed command of the 4.2 inch (107mm) Mortar Battery of 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, which was attached to BLT 2/7 at the time. BLT 2/7 had made an amphibious operation (Eager Yankee/Houston IV) earlier in July in Thua Thien Province. When Gerry joined the BLT, it was conducting Operation Swift Play/Allen Brook designed to find, fix and destroy enemy forces, capture or destroy enemy materiel and destroy enemy fortifications in the Go Noi Island area, approximately 9 kilometers southeast of Hill 55 in Quang Nam Province. On July 31st, BLT 2/7's mission was expanded to providing security for the engineers and their heavy equipment assigned to land clearing on the Island. This security mission required two of the BLT's companies. Gerry's 4.2 inch mortar battery was co-located with these security elements and the Battalion's 81mm mortar platoon. At 04:35, BLT 2/7's integral 81mm mortar platoon was firing an H&I mission. A defective 81mm HE mortar round exploded as it left the mortar tube killing Gerry and wounding three of the mortarmen. Gerry died in Quang Nam Province approximately 9 kilometer southeast of Hill 55 (BT 025551).

Prepared by Dave Mellon

Bergerson, John

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: John Francis Bergerson
  • Date of Birth: May 21, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Mercer Island, WA
  • College: University of Washington
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: NROTC
  • TBS Platoon: E-1
  • TBS Class Standing: 118
  • MOS: 0802
  • Serial Number: 092624
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: October 6, 1966
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - January 29, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Silver Star & Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 14E - Row 094
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt John F. Bergerson John was commissioned out of the NROTC program at the University of Washington. He was assigned to 1st Platoon of Echo Company for his Basic School training. At the time of his death, John was an artillery forward observer (MOS 0802) with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. He was attached to the 3rd platoon Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines on January 29, 1967. Bravo 3 was being inserted by helicopter into an LZ approximately 2 Kilometers, south east of Hill 55 (AT 992599) as part of a blocking force in support of a Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines sweep. As the helicopters approached the LZ, they were met with heavy small arms fire and only a portion of the platoon was inserted. With the partial platoon's survival in the balance, John moved to an exposed position to call accurate artillery fire on the Viet Cong platoon positions. The fire mission was intended to suppress the enemy small arms fire and allow the balance of the platoon to land. At 11:15, as John was adjusting artillery volleys, he was mortally wounded by a sniper round to the head. John was awarded the Silver Star (posthumously) for his valor. He died in Quang Nam Province south west of Danang. John was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

March 20, 2005

John is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Posted by: Robert Sage
e-Mail: rsage@austin.rr.com


January 21, 2006

Lieutenant John Francis Bergerson, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Bergerson of Mercer Island, was killed in action near DaNang, Republic of Vietnam on Sunday, 26 Jan (1967). He was serving as a forward observer for the First Battalion, Eleventh Marines. Lt. Bergerson was born 21 May 1943, in Manhattan Beach CA. His family moved to Mercer Island in November of 1944, and has resided here ever since. Lt. Bergerson was graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1961, and graduated from the University of Washington in December of 1965. A member of the NROTC, he was commissioned a second Lieutenant upon graduation. He attended basic training at Quantico VA, and attended the US Army Artillery and Missile School at Fort Sill. He was sent to Vietnam 6 Oct 1966, Lt. Bergerson had a 30 day leave before going overseas. He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Francis C. Bergerson, and a brother PFC Carl Bergerson, USMC, presently stationed at Norfolk VA. Memorial services will be held at the Redeemer Lutheran Church tomorrow, Friday, at 4pm.Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery. The family has suggested that remembrances can be made to the USMCR Civic Action for Vietnam, 406 Balasalles Building 1028 Connecticut NW Washington D.C. 20036 (MI Reporter, Mercer Island, 2 Feb 1967)

Posted by: Arnold M. Huskins

Bobo, John

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: John Paul Bobo
  • Date of Birth: February 14, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Niagara Falls, NY
  • College: Niagara University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-2
  • TBS Platoon: E-1
  • TBS Class Standing: 303
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 092986
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: Unknown
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - March 30, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Metal Of Honor
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 17E - Row 070
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt John P. Bobo – John matriculated OCS with the 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company. At Basic School, he was assigned to the 1st Platoon of Echo Company. John was the Executive Officer and Weapons Platoon Commander (MOS 0302) for India Company 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, affectionately known as the "Flaming I". 3/9 had been relieved of SLF duty in early March of 1967 and were heli-lifted into Dong Ha. They were relocated by truck to Camp Carroll to provide perimeter security for a brief time and then began search and destroy operations north of Cam Lo. On March 27th, the Battalion was tasked with finding and engaging 2 battalions of NVA who were known to be operating 6 kilometers north northwest of Cam Lo. At 18:00 on March 30th, The India Company CP group and two squads from 2nd platoon were establishing a night ambush site (YD 101651), when the Company came under heavy 60mm mortar and automatic weapons fire. The NVA force, estimated to be company-sized unit reinforced with heavy weapons, closed with India Company component during the mortar barrage. Despite the exploding mortars, John recovered a 3.5 inch rocket launcher from a Marine casualty and organized a new team. He directed the team's rocket fire on the enemy machine gun positions to blunt the attack. When a mortar round nearly severed John's right foot, he refused evacuation, and ordered that he be placed in a firing position. He strapped his web belt around the leg as a tourniquet and further jammed the leg into the ground to stop the blood flow. In this position, he covered the withdrawal of the command group to a more advantageous position by delivering accurate rifle fire on the advancing enemy. While his body was riddled with gunshot wounds, the time his valiant actions bought were sufficient to allow the command group to reorganize and repulse the NVA attack. India Company's casualties in the action included 16 KIAs including the Company Commander, Captain M. P. Getlin and John. Additionally, India Company suffered 52 WIAs, but John's actions undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous India Company Marines. For his courageous actions in Quang Tri Province, John was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

December 3, 1998

John was a dear friend. We attended Niagara University together. We corresponded on a regular basis while he was in Nam. I honor and remember John to this day.

Posted by: Mike Cirrito
Relationship: Friend


May 13, 1999

Knew him but he may not remember me. Good Marine.

Posted by: Edwin Fitzgerald


March 19, 2001

CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR was presented to his family on 27 August 1968 at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. by the Secretary of the United States Navy Paul R. Ignatius.

Posted by: Clay Martston


October 28, 2001

You are a hero to the alumni at Bishop Duffy.

Posted by: Mark Kapinos Dunedin, Florida
Email: maryannol@aol.com
Relationship: School alumni


January 10, 2002

In an act of heroism above and beyond the call of duty, this American gave his life so that others might live. We honor his memory and sacrifice by preserving the torch of liberty that has been passed to us.

Posted by: Doug Sterner
Relationship: Medal of Honor Historian


August 11, 2002

Vietnam Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
His citation reads "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Company I was establishing night ambush sites when the command group was attacked by a reinforced North Vietnamese company supported by heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire. 2d Lt. Bobo immediately organized a hasty defense and moved from position to position encouraging the outnumbered marines despite the murderous enemy fire. Recovering a rocket launcher from among the friendly casualties, he organized a new launcher team and directed its fire into the enemy machine gun positions. When an exploding enemy mortar round severed 2d Lt. Bobo's right leg below the knee, he refused to be evacuated and insisted upon being placed in a firing position to cover the movement of the command group to a better location. With a web belt around his leg serving as a tourniquet and with his leg jammed into the dirt to contain the bleeding, he remained in this position and delivered devastating fire into the ranks of the enemy attempting to overrun the marines. 2d Lt. Bobo was mortally wounded while firing his weapon into the main point of the enemy attack but his valiant spirit inspired his men to heroic efforts, and his tenacious stand enabled the command group to gain a protective position where it repulsed the enemy onslaught. 2d Lt Bobo's superb leadership, daunt less courage, and bold initiative reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

Burial
Gate of Heaven Cemetery
Lewiston
Niagara County
New York, USA


February 5, 2003

Want to thank you John for giving your life and saving mine and the others who were with you. Thank you for being a true leader.

Semper Fi Marine

Posted by: William N. Stankowski
Relationship: He was my PLT COMMANDER


May 26, 2005

I took this picture of John while he was sharing something funny from a letter he had just received from home.


Posted by: Jack Riley
Email: gruntI39@charter.net
Relationship: I was with him when he was killed.


November 15, 2007

John was my first I/3/9 platoon commander in July 1966. I served as a squad leader for John and was one of the Marines who survived the Battle of Getlin's Corner due to his heroic actions on 3/30/67. John's devotion to his fellow Marines on that terrible day is hard for me to explain to anyone who doesn't understand what happens to men in combat. John's bravery, as evidenced by his Medal of Honor, was only surpassed by his love for his family and his fellow Marines of India Company. I owe my life to John and our brothers of "The Flaming I". I honor their memory everyday and will continue to do so as long as I live.

Semper Fidelis

Jack Riley
2nd Sqd. 2nd Plt.
I/3/9 1966-1967

Posted by: Jack Riley
Email: gruntI39@charter.net
Relationship: I was with him when he was killed.

Colburn, Denver Jr.

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Denver Dewey Colburn Jr.
  • Date of Birth: February 25, 1941
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Brooksville, FL
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-1
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7561
  • Serial Number: 093025
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: October 15, 1967
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - January 8, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash - Land
  • Air or Ground: Helicopter - Crew
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Thua Thien
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 33E - Row 081
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Denver C. Colburn – Denny had enlisted service in the Corps prior to volunteering to attend OCS. He to completed OCS with the 1st Platoon of Bravo Company. Upon commissioning, he proceeded directly to Pensacola for flight training and followed the rotary wing track. He arrived in Vietnam on October 15, 1967. A qualified UH-34 pilot (MOS 7561), Denny was assigned to HMM 362, MAG 36, 1st Marine Air Wing and flew out of Air Facility at Phu Bai. On January 8, 1968, two birds launched from Phu Bai for a night emergency medevac mission. Compounding the problem, it was raining and there was a low ceiling. Denny was scheduled as the co-pilot for the wing aircraft, but he switched with Captain Charles Bowers to get some flight time with Major Robert Cramer, pilot of the lead aircraft. Despite the inclement weather, Major Cramer and Denny were determined to extract the critically injured recon Marine. When they neared the objective area, they instructed their wing to orbit in a holding pattern above, while they attempted to land. The ceiling had dropped to less than 500 feet, so they directed the recon team to light flares in order to guide them in. For over an hour, they made low-level passes from different directions in order to identify the LZ and land, but cloud cover and the lack of continuous illumination thwarted each attempt. Determined to extract the casualty, they climbed to higher altitude and contacted Hue Approach Control and requested radar vector to the recon team. While descending, they broke out of the clouds approximately 1500 meters south of the evacuation site and simultaneously struck trees on a ridgeline causing the helicopter to crash and burst into flames (ZC 119969). Denny and the pilot, Major Cramer were killed. The crew chief, gunner and corpsman on board were severely burned. Additionally, the corpsman suffered a broken leg. The survivors and the bodies of Denny and the pilot were recovered the next morning on January 9, 1968. Denny died in Thua Thien Province approximately 19 kilometers east southeast of the Phu Bai Air Facility, where he was stationed. He was single. Major Cramer was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for this mission, which took his life and that of Denny.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

October 16.2010

Personal Narrative Of Walt Shauer of HMM-362

"On January 8, 1968, Captain Colburn was flying a night medevac mission as Co-Pilot with Major Robert M. Cramer as Aircraft Commander for HMM-362 in a UH-34 in a mountainous region west of Hue."

"We listened to Bob and Denny conversing with the ground unit on FM radio in the squadron ready room. They had launched into very bad weather; rain, fog and low clouds, with the LZ in the mountains. Bob told the infantry unit with the emergency casualty he was going to spiral down through the clouds, break out below and spot the LZ and make the pick up. They hit a ridgeline, exploded and burned. The ground unit saw the flash and fire but could not get to them."

"Sgt John Corona my outstanding crew chief who was normally assigned to me and YL-37 was their crew chief for that flight. He escaped from the aircraft with serious burns, and evaded VC during the night; we picked him up the next morning, along with the remains of Major Cramer and Captain Colburn. Sgt Corona was medevaced to the burn center at Yokusuka Naval Hospital, Japan, and later returned to the squadron to finish his tour."


February 7, 2002

Capt. Denver Dewey Colburn Jr., 093025 was the co-pilot on January 8th, 1968 when he and Bob Cramer hit a ridge attempting a night medevac. He had actually been assigned to the chase aircraft but had swapped with Chuck Bowers to get the experience of flying with Major Cramer. His hometown was Brooksville, FL and he was 26 at the time of his death.

Posted by: HMM-362 History Project


January 26, 2004

Denny: You were only 26 when you left us; it's now been 36 years and those of us from the HHS Class of '59 will be 64 this year. You gave the ultimate - your life- for our freedom. Thank you.

Posted by: Joyce Adkins
Email: sadkins4@tampabay.rr.com
Relationship: We were high school classmates

Costello, Richard "Dick" F.

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Brian Daly Conlan Jr.
  • Date of Birth: February 6, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: South Orange, NJ
  • College: Seton Hall
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Platoon: D-1
  • TBS Class Standing: 463
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 093032
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - January 25, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 14E - Row 076
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Brian D. Conlan

Brian was born in Orange, NJ and raised in South Orange, NJ. He attended Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, NJ for primary and middle school. The Football Team at Our Lady of Sorrows has a "Most Valuable Player Award" named in honor of Brian. He completed high school at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. Finally, He closed out his academic career at Seton Hall's South Orange Campus in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies. While at Seton Hall, Brian was active in athletics and numerous clubs. He played soccer and wrestled for the University. He was a member of the Booster Club, the St.Thomas More Pre-Legal Society and the Setonian Film Society. Brian also joined the Triphibian Guard Varsity Club. This was a short lived (1959 –1970) organization which competed with the Pershing Rifles Drill Team on the Seton Hall Campus.

When Brian arrived for the 38th Officer Candidate Course at Quantico, VA in early October of 1965, he was assigned to the 2nd Platoon of Delta Company. At The Basic School, Brian was assigned to the 1st Platoon of Delta Company. Brian was serving as a platoon commander (MOS 0302) with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines when he died. On the morning of January 25, 1967, his company had been tasked with sweeping approximately 2500 meters east from its overnight position into a grid square approximately 6 kilometers north-north-west of Hoi An to establish a new Company Patrol Base within 2 kilometers of the South China Sea. At 08:45 Brian tripped a suspected ChiCom grenade bobby-trap. He suffered mortal fragmentation wounds to his abdomen and left leg. An emergency medevac was called, but Brian succumbed to his wounds enroute to the medical facilities at the Naval Support Activity, Danang. The incident which resulted in his death occurred in Quang Nam Province (BT 108627).

Brian was returned to New Jersey and laid to rest in the family plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery at 125 Central Avenue, East Orange, NJ 07018. His grave is found in Section G, Lot 12, Grave 2.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

February 18, 2000

2nd Lt. Brian Conlan's memory lives on. A "Most Valuable Player Award" has been named after him and is awarded each year by Our Lady of Sorrows School, South Orange, NJ, which he attended. Brian graduated in 1961 from St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, NJ. He, then, successfully completed his education at Seton Hall University, back in his hometown of South Orange, NJ in 1965.

Posted by: Joe Mannino
Email: jmann44@aol.com
Relationship: Marine Brother


June 13, 2001

Often I think of you, Brian. You were a class act, and I thank you and the others for the sacrifice you made.

Posted by: Mike Campion
Relationship: We were high school classmates

Connelly, Edward Jr.

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Edward Walter Connelly Jr.
  • Date of Birth: January 10, 1944
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Agawam, MA
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-2
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola - Choppers ? CH-46
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7562
  • Serial Number: 093033
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: August 9, 1967
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - May 5, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash ? Land
  • Air or Ground: Helicopter ? Pilot
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Silver Star & Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 55E - Row 007
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Edward W. Connelly, Jr. – Ned was a single Marine, who completed OCS with 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company. He also went directly to Pensacola for flight training. Ned became a CH-46 pilot (MOS 7562). When he arrived in Vietnam, he was assigned to HMM-165, along with his Classmate Captain Bob Romero, and flew out of the Phu Bai Air Facility. Ned died flying in support of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. The Battalion was tasked with keeping the Cua Viet waterway open. In late April, the NVA made a concerted effort to interdict the flow of supplies up the river to Dong Ha. This precipitated the Battle for Dai Do, fought primarily by 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in conjunction with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. After the intense fighting by 2/4 from April 30th through May 2nd in the Dai Do area, 1/3 moved through the 2/4 lines and continued the pursuit of the NVA forces to the northwest . As the NVA forces withdrew northward toward the DMZ, they leapfrogged into previously prepared positions consisting of fortified bunkers, trench lines and spider holes, some of which were reinforced with concertina wire and claymore mines. On May 5, 1967, Delta Company 1/3 was on the Battalion point. At first light, Delta, 1/3 ran into stiff resistance as they approached the ville of Truc Kinh. Marines in two salients had sustained heavy casualties and were pinned down. Efforts to reach them had been unsuccessful and some of the wounds were so severe the evacuation of the Marines casualties were categorized as "Emergency". Ned had launched from Phu Bai at noon as the pilot of the lead aircraft in a flight of two CH-46s and was flying a milk run. His co-pilot was 1st Lt Klahn, who as co-pilot had successfully landed the aircraft 8 days earlier, when Captain Robert W. Romero was killed at the controls. After 10 sorties to various landing zones in Quang Tri Province, the flight was assigned the emergency medevac mission in support of the forward elements of Delta Company. They were pinned down 5 kilometers due north of Dong Ha Combat Base. Ned was advised that two groups of Marines, both with emergency medevacs had been pinned down for 9 hours within 150 meters of enemy positions. Supported by two Hueys, Ned began an approach into the fire swept LZ. Once on the ground, at the first salient, several casualties were loaded aboard. Although his aircraft was under intense hostile fire, Ned elected to extract the second group, too. As he approached the second salient the aircraft sustained serious damage from enemy fire and crashed in a rice paddy (YD 242645). Ned exited his aircraft with his crew, assisting his co-pilot, 1st Lt Klahn, who had received a gunshot wound to his left leg. The crew joined the Marine infantry squad. While awaiting a rescue by his wingman, Ned was mortally wounded. His wingman, Captain Bucceri, did swoop in and extract all of the infantry Marines and the air crew. Ned was rushed to Delta Med in Dong Ha, but he succumbed to the gunshot wound and burns sustained in the crash. He died in Quang Tri Province. Ned was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his courageous actions on May 5, 1968. Perhaps the highest praise is found in the 3rd Marine Regiment Command Chronology, in referring to Ned and his wingman, it concluded "the crews of these aircraft functioned without regard for their own lives, but only in the interest of the men they were to support". Ed was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

Squadron HMM-165 (CH-46A), MAG-35


Silver Star Citation

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Captain Edward Walter Connelly, Jr. (MCSN: 0-93033), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE (HMM-165), Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 5 May 1968, Captain Connelly launched as Section Leader of a flight of two CH-46 helicopters assigned an emergency medical evacuation mission in support of a friendly unit which was heavily engaged with a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force northeast of Dong Ha in Quang Tri Province. Arriving over the designated area, he was advised that two groups of Marines had been pinned down for fifteen hours within 150 meters of enemy positions and had sustained casualties. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Captain Connelly unhesitatingly commenced his approach to the fire-swept landing zone and immediately came under a heavy volume of accurate fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, he skillfully landed his aircraft in the hazardous area and expeditiously embarked several Marines. Although his helicopter was under intense hostile fire, he fearlessly elected to extract the second group. Upon making his approach, the aircraft sustained serious damage from the enemy fire and crashed in a rice paddy. Rapidly exiting his burning helicopter, he maneuvered to a nearby position where he was mortally wounded while awaiting a rescue helicopter. His bold initiative and sincere concern from the welfare of his comrades inspired all who served with him. By his courage, superior airmanship and selfless devotion to duty, Captain Connelly upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: May 5, 1968
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Captain
Company: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (HMM-165)
Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Coonon, Daniel

Rank: Captain
Killed in action
OCS: A-3

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Daniel James Coonon
  • Date of Birth: January 17, 1943
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Lebanon, PA
  • College: University of Georgia
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: NCO
  • TBS Platoon: E-1
  • TBS Class Standing: 382
  • MOS: 7582
  • Serial Number: 093036
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: June 15, 1968
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - October 8, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash ? Land
  • Air or Ground: Fixed Wing - Crew
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 41W - Row 031
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Daniel J. Coonon – Dan completed OCS with the 3rd platoon of Alpha Company. At Basic School, he was in the 3rd Platoon of Echo Company. Dan's subsequent history was very similar to that of his Classmate Bob Holt. Dan was married and left Quantico for Naval Air Station, Glynco, GA upon completion of Basic School. He became a Naval Flight Officer and then went to a US squadron to sharpen his skills as a Radar Intercept Officer (MOS 7582) in the F4B "Phantom" aircraft. Dan arrived in Vietnam on June 15, 1968 and was assigned to the VMFA 115 "The Silver Eagles" squadron at Chu Lai. As the Fixed-Wing Squadron Command Chronologies are very brief, there is little detail about Dan's tour in Vietnam. One mission which did get specific reference occurred on August 24, 1968: Lovebug 511, a section composed of the lead aircraft piloted by Major Hudson with Captain Coonon as RIO and Lt/Col Schultz piloting the wing aircraft with 1st Lt Martin as his RIO launched in support of an element of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Division. The Army unit had been forced into a defensive position by an estimated NVA company. Working in the face of intense enemy fire, Lovebug 511 decimated the enemy positions with precise delivery of napalm and 250 pound Snakeye bombs destroying 4 enemy structures, a recoilless rifle and numerous AK-47s. The Bomb Damage Assessment by the Army unit confirmed that Lovebug 511's ordinance caused six secondary explosions and killed 17 NVA by body count". Twenty days after Captain Holt died as RIO, Dan was lost as well, under similar circumstances. On October 8, 1968, two Hueys from VMO-2 were tasked with inserting an 11-man patrol from 1st Recon Battalion with the Call Sign "Fudge Cake" (F2-1) into a haven in the mountains west of An Hoa on Map 6540 I in grid square 0855. When they arrived at the designated first LZ, enemy troop activity was noted in the zone. It was decided to divert to an LZ approximate 1 kilometer to the southeast and to prep the new zone with two flights of fixed wing aircraft. Dan's aircraft, piloted by Captain Joseph J. Jones was one of those scrambled from Chu Lai to provide the LZ prep. The recon patrol report documents the insertion occurred at 12:30, so the Dan's participation in the LZ Prep, immediately preceded the insertion. The aircraft had dropped its bomb load on the first pass and was in a dive intending to deliver rocket fire on the Landing Zone during their second pass. As they closed on the LZ, the "Phantom" was hit by NVA anti-aircraft fire. Though badly damage, the aircraft came off the pass and vectored to the northeast. This suggests that Captain Jones was attempting to make a run for the closest airfield at Danang. The aircraft was able to fly approximately 15 kilometers, but then crashed into the eastern face of a small valley created by a north flowing stream that emptied into the Song Lo Dong (ZC 189643) and exploded. At the time of the crash, another patrol from 1st Recon (Blue Spruce B-3-1) was just concluding a two-day surveillance mission just 1500 meters to the northwest of the crash site. As the recon patrol had witnessed the crash, they were tasked with the remains recovery mission. The same two Huey's from VMO-2, who had inserted the "Fudge Cake" recon team, extracted the "Blue Spruce" recon team from their haven site and then reinserted them for the body recovery mission across the valley. The recon team landed in an LZ approximately 400 meters east of the crash site and worked their way over to it through thick elephant grass. Once Dan's body and that of Captain Jones had been recovered, the recon team and the remains were flown to LZ 401 at Danang Airfield. Dan died in Quang Nam Province on October 8, 1968 approximately 24 kilometers southwest of the Danang Airfield. Dan was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

Captain Coonon was shot down July 4, 1968 along with his Pilot Major Bibler by a .50 caliber - both survived. On October 8, 1968 he was shot down again by ground fire and both he and his pilot Capt. Joseph Jones were killed. He was with VMFA - 115 Chu Lai.


February 5, 2008

I was an RIO in squadron VMFA-115 and was shot down in late June '68. I flew with Mayor Bibler several times but do not remember Captain Coonon. He must have arrived just as I was leaving. During my entire tour in Vietnam there was only one aircraft from VMFA 115 that had been shot down and that was the plane my Pilot (Jack Proctor) and I were in. The year following my departure I was told that VMFA 115 lost four other aircraft due to enemy fire. I wish I had met up with Dan while I was there, it would have been nice to have seen another classmate. RIP my friend.

Posted by: Terry Cox
Email: tcox95@cox.net

Cox, Jackson

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Jackson Elliott Cox
  • Date of Birth: August 15, 1941
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Waynesboro, GA
  • College: University of Georgia
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-4
  • TBS Platoon: E-1
  • TBS Class Standing: 210
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 093044
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - March 25, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 17E - Row 041
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Jackson E. Cox – Jack completed OCS with the 4th Platoon of Bravo Company. At Basic School, he was in 1st Platoon of Echo Company. Jack was the platoon commander (MOS 0302) for 1st Platoon, Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. In March of 1967, Battalion Landing Team 1/4 was assigned to the Special Landing Force and, after completing Operation Deckhouse VI, was tasked with Operation Beacon I, a 10 day sweep west from Gio Linh to Con Thien. Jack's Delta Company was heli-lifted from the USS Princeton (LPH-5) to an LZ near the Combat Base at Gio Linh on March 20th. The Battalion fought as series of engagements as it moved west. On March 25th, Delta Company was tasked with moving another kilometer further to the west, from the perimeter they established the evening of March 24th. As Delta 1 prepared to move out, they received small arms fire. Jack was shot by an NVA sniper in the head, while he was leading his platoon out of its overnight position. He died in Quang Tri Province approximately 3.5 kilometers northeast of the Combat Base at Con Thien (YD 146735). He was single. Earlier in his tour, Jack had been awarded a Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing "V" for valor.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

1st BN/4th Marines





Magnolia Cemetery, Waynesboro, GA
Note Bronze Star (Valor), NavComm. and Purple Heart on upper marker.
Marker photos reproduced under 17 USC §107

May 31, 1999

Jack was a boyhood friend. We met as boys when he would come to my hometown, Covington, Ga. to visit his Aunt. We were the same age. Our contacts were infrequent, but I was aware of his accomplishments throughout high school and college. I was a 1st Lt. in the Army and completed my tour in the US in 1965. To his family and friends who may read this, please know that in this person's opinion, in addition to your personal loss, the state and country lost a future government or business leader.

Posted by: Donald L. House, Atlanta
Relationship: boyhood friend


May 31, 1999

We met on the day we entered OCC. He was a fine man who did not to deserve his fate. He always had a smile on his face, that's what I remember best. A born leader, he epitomizes what a Marine officer should be.

Posted by: James A. Greenough
e-Mail: hmcgreenough@aol.com
Relationship: Company Corpsman For Lt. Cox


March 18, 2000

To Lt. Cox the Georgia Peach, thanks for all you did as CO Platoon leader of 'D' CO to make a Corpsman's life a little better - Doc Greenough.

Posted by: Unknown


May 31, 2004

Jack was a college friend whose death caused deep sorrow. He was a fantastic athlete (quarterback for Georgia Bulldogs) and a scholar (Rhodes Scholar, I believe). He will always be my hero.

Posted by: Karen Branan
e-Mail: k.branan@verizon.net
Relationship: We were college classmates.


November 17, 2004

Photo from the 1965 University of Georgia annual, "Pandoras."
Thanks to Gilbert Head, University of Georgia Archives for his help in recovering Jackson's photo.


Posted by: Jim McIlhenney
Email: christianamacks@comcast.net
Relationship: Marine Viet Nam Veteran.

Dobbin, Louis II

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Louis David Dobbin II
  • Date of Birth: November 4, 1943
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Brighton, MA
  • College: Boston College, Class of 1965
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: PLC
  • TBS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 444
  • MOS: 1802
  • Serial Number: 092463
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - May 18, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 20E - Row 024
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

1st Lt Louis D. Dobbin II – Lou was commissioned through the PLC program. He was assigned to 2nd Platoon of Delta Company for Basic School training. Lou, son of Marine Brigadier General John Dobbin, a WWII ace and Navy Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, was the platoon commander (MOS 1802) of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Tank Battalion. Lou's tank platoon was attached to Battalion Landing Team 1/3 for Operation Beau Charger, a search and destroy action. It was the first Marine thrust into the Demilitarized Zone and targeted the area just south of the Ben Hai River. For Lou, the operation began with an amphibious landing over Green Beach, just inside the southern limit of the DMZ at 08:13 on May 18, 1967. Lou's tanks came ashore just minutes after Delta Company 1/3 had landed unopposed and established a beachhead. 2500 meters to the northwest, a platoon from Alpha Company, 1/3 had been inserted into a "hot" LZ Goose by UH-34 helicopters carrying 5 troops each. The balance of Alpha Company was inserted into the more secure LZ Owl, 800 meters to the southeast of LZ Goose. The Alpha Company platoon in LZ Goose was under attack by what was later judged to be approximately three NVA companies. Lou's tanks were called forward to assist in the relief of the beleaguered platoon. With an infantry escort from a Delta Company platoon, Lou's light section of two tanks moved northwest and arrived at LZ Owl at 09:20 to link up with the other two platoons from Alpha Company. The combined force fought their way forward and was able to extract the surrounded Alpha Company platoon from LZ Goose at approximately 11:00. It was during the heavy fighting at LZ Goose (YD 256794) that Lou, who was manning the top hatch providing direction to his driver and identifying targets for his 90mm gun was shot in the chest and abdomen. The reunited Alpha Company fell back and called in airstikes, artillery and naval gunfire on the NVA units. Lou died on May 18th, the first day of Operation Beau Charger, which supported the larger Operation Hickory. He fell in the DMZ, just south of the Ben Hai River and approximately 8 kilometers northeast of the Combat Base at Gio Linh. Lou was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

Louis David Dobbin
First Lieutenant
3RD PLT, C CO, 3RD TANK BN, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
04 November 1943 - 18 May 1967
Brighton, Massachusetts
Panel 20E Line 024

23 Nov 2003
You will always be remembered.
One of three of my Basic School roommates who were killed in action.
Semper Fi, Marines
Joe

Joe Hancharick, Jr.
6125 7th Street, King George, VA 22485
joeh@crosslink.net

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a roommate at The Basic School, Quantico,
Joe Hancharick, Jr.

On 18 May 1967 a Battalion Landing Team built around the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, conducted airborne and amphibious assaults into the southeastern part of the Demilitarized Zone under the name Operation Beau Charger. The North Vietnamese Army's 326B Division held the ground and defended the area with vigor. Because the first flight of UH-34s (from HMM-263) took very heavy fire a decision was taken to spread the heliborne landings among several LZ?s. While this action reduced the risk to the air assault crews and passengers before landing, it increased the risk once the Marines were on the ground because they were dispersed rather than landed en masse. Heavy fighting began as soon as the Marines hit the landing zones.

The largest concentration of Naval gunfire ships since Korea - 8" and 6" gun cruisers and destroyers - supported the landings, but their efforts were hampered when the Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer was amongst the first killed. By the end of D-Day, the amphibious and air assault forces had linked up and began a sweep south. Although the operation continued until the Landing Force was re-embarked on 26 May, the greatest number of US casualties occurred on 18 May amongst the scattered air assault force, with 18 US dead:

  • 3rd Plt, C Co, 3rd Tank Bn
    • 1st Lt Louis D. Dobbin, Brighton, MA
  • Co, 1/3 Marines
    • Cpl Stanley M. Godwin, Fort Meade, FL
    • Cpl Russell F. Keck, Okmulgee, OK (Navy Cross)
    • Cpl Richard L. Land, Hazelwood, MO
    • L/Cpl Kenneth N. Cheek, Philadelphia, PA
    • L/Cpl Paul F. Doyon, Ipswich, MA
    • PFC Charles L. Anderson, Seattle, WA
    • PFC Mark A. Dalgliesh, Amarillo, TX
    • Pvt Edward J. Christensen, Bristol, CT
  • C Company, 1/3 Marines
    • L/Cpl Franklin G. Hazzard, Leominster, MA
  • H&S Company, 1/3 Marines
    • HM3 Michael F. Smith, USN, Fairfax, CA
    • L/Cpl John J. Nemchik, Trenton, NJ
  • A Btry, 1/12 Marines
    • ENS John W. McCormick, USNR, Villanova, PA (Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer) (Silver Star)

By the time the Landing Force was back-loaded on 26 May, the casualty count had increased to 23 killed and 79 wounded in action. The NVA had taken many more casualties and much of their infrastructure had been reduced to rubble by naval gunfire (for example, the destroyer USS SUMNER alone fired over 1100 5" rounds), but since no effort was made to hold the ground the 326B Division eventually returned.

BEAU CHARGER was one of four coordinated assaults into the Demilitarized Zone which divided the two Vietnams. Details of the operation and a listing of known Marines and sailors who died in the fighting between 18 and 29 May 1967 can be found on The Virtual Wall's Operation HICKORY Memorial.


November 24, 2006

Lieutenant Dobbin is at rest at the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY.

Posted by: Michael Robert Patterson
Email: webmaster@arlingtoncemetery.net
Relationship: A grateful American
e-Mail: mpkgozur@aol.com

Fickler, Edwin

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Edwin James Fickler
  • Date of Birth: May 4, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Kewaskum, WI
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: C-3
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7511
  • Serial Number: 395408403
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: Missing In Action - January 17, 1969
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: Declared KIA - February 4, 1974
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died While Missing
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash - Land over A Shau Valley
  • Air or Ground: Fixed Wing - Pilot
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tin
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Not Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 34W - Row 023
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Edward J. "Jim" Fickler – Jim completed OCS with the 3rd Platoon of Charlie Company. Another Air Option, he proceeded directly to Pensacola for flight training. As a single Marine, Jim was able to focus on his academics and became a high achiever in Flight School. Jim's hard work paid off and he was assigned to the fixed wing curriculum and became a qualified A-6 "Intruder" pilot (MOS 7511). When Jim arrived in Vietnam, he was assigned to VMA(AW) 242. During the period December 9, 1968 to January 2, 1969, Jim was awarded his 14th Air Medal. For January 17, 1969, Mission 6363, a direct air support mission, was originally assigned to the squadron executive officer, Major Luther A. Lono. Something precluded Major Lono from flying and the mission was reassigned to Jim. Jim launched out of Danang Air Base on schedule at 20:43 under call sign “Ringneck 363” to rendezvous with an Army Forward Air Controller, Captain Charles A. Thomas call sign "Redeye 05". For about 6 weeks, VMA(AW) 242 had been supplying direct air support/armed reconnaissance flights against enemy infiltration routes after 20:00 daily in the Ashau Valley. The objective was to interdict truck traffic attempting to supply NVA forces in the Ashau Valley. The squadron's flight would typically come on station at 21:00 and be vectored to targets of opportunity identified by the airborne Army FAC. There were NVA anti-aircraft gunners active in the Ashau Valley that evening, as the FAC had advised Jim of Anti-Aircraft Artillery (flak) at 10,500 feet at 21:10. The meteorological conditions on January 17th in the Ashau Valley were cloudy with 500 feet broken, 8000 feet overcast and visibility 7 miles. The terrain of the Ashau Valley is best described as rolling to mountainous ascending to 6000 feet above sea level. Fifteen minutes after reporting the flak (21:25), the FAC noticed a target in the northern end of the valley and passed it to Jim. Jim and his bombardier/navigator, 1st Lt Robert J. Kuhlman would have engaged their Airborne Moving Target Indication radar to identify the truck and begin the planning and execution of the strike. Shortly thereafter, the FAC observed what he thought at the time was Cluster Bomb Units exploding followed by a secondary explosion, which the FAC assumed to be 500 pound bombs. The explosions took place on the far side of a hill, so they were not directly observed, but they did back light the hill. At 21:45, Redeye 05 attempted to contact Jim with another target but there was no radio response. The FAC later concluded that what he had thought were CBUs may have been anti-aircraft fire and the secondary explosion instead the crash of Jim's Intruder. The aircraft was declared overdue by Jim's squadron at 22:15. All potential diversion airfields (Ubon AFB, Udorn AFB, and Chu Lai were contacted and it was determined that the flight had not diverted to any of those bases. Search and Rescue efforts were initiated by the squadron at 22:25. Electronic search by MAG 11 aircraft was immediately initiated and continued through the night. Sophisticated visual, electronic and photographic searches continued for almost five days, but were conclude with negative results at 12:30 on January 22nd. The location of the loss was reported as YC470921. Jim's bombardier/navigator, 1st Lt Robert J. Kuhlman was also lost in the crash. The two aviators were initially carried as MIA; however, Jim was declared dead on February 4, 1974 and his status was changed to KIA/Body Not Recovered. Since the end of the Vietnam War, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has conducted several interviews in the hope of identifying the crash site and remains; however, to date nothing of substance has been found. Jim died in the Ashau Valley in Thua Thien Province west of Hue.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

Edwin James Fickler

Captain
H&MS 11, MAG-11, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
04 May 1943 - 04 February 1974
Kewaskum, Wisconsin
Panel 34W Line 023
VMA (AW) 242




Captain Fickler was assigned to H&MS 11, MAG-11, while 2ndLt Kuhlman, of Richmond, Indiana, was assigned to VMA(AW)-242.

The POW Network and Task Force Omega sites both have descriptions of this incident, but they conflict one with the other. TFO claims that "At 2125 hours, Capt. Fickler and 1st Lt. Kuhlman were providing close air support for embattled US and allied troops operating along the east rim of the A Shau Valley. After completing an attack pass on a known enemy position hidden in the rugged jungle covered mountains, the Intruder pulled off target and was struck by enemy ground fire. It was seen by friendly forces to crash approximately 1 mile south of a primary east/west road running from the east side of the A Shau Valley to Hue City." but that seems unlikely.

The VMA(AW)-242 and MAG-11 Command Chronologies for January 1969 contain information on this loss:

  • The Squadron Command Chronology states that "On the night of 17 January DT-07 [the aircraft side number] with Capt FICKLER and Lt KULHMAN failed to return from their mission in the A Shau Valley. A comprehensive rescue effort was initiated with negative results. Indications point to their being shot down by enemy 37mm guns. However, no wreckage has been sighted."

    "First Lieutenant Robert J. KUHLMAN Jr. 094382/7583, USMC, was missing in action 17 January 1969. The aircraft in which he was flying as Bombardier/Navigator was conducting Direct Air Support/Armed Reconnaissance against enemy infiltration routes into South Vietnam. At 2125 the last radio contact with the aircraft was made by REDEYE 05 [the USAF FAC]. A visual and electronic search was conducted in the A Shau Valley, supplemented as conditions warranted by photographic aircraft. The search was discontinued as of 1600 hours 24 January 1969. The results of the search were negative."

    The squadron Daily Flight Schedule for 17 Jan 69 shows that Captain Fickler had been scheduled for a beacon bombing mission to launch at 2340. He was swapped with a Major Lono to take an armed recon mission with a scheduled takeoff of 2040. 1st Lt Kuhlman was scheduled as the B/N for that mission.
  • B Co, 1/3 Marines
    • 2nd Lt Joseph T. McKeon, Chicago, IL (Silver Star)
    • Cpl Orrie E. Macomb, Great Valley, NY
    • Cpl Clyde U. Mitchell, Winston-Salem, NC
    • PFC Dennis D. Kramer, Placerville, CA
    • PFC John T. Wilson, Phoenix, AZ
  • The MAG-11 Command Chronology states that "On 17 January, an A6A was lost in the A Shau Valley while on a Direct Air Support mission. The Crew is missing in action and the wreckage has not been located." (page 2-1) Although the squadron suggests the possibility that the aircraft was hit by 37mm fire, the intelligence section of the same report indicates that neither the FAC nor the initial SAR forces saw or received AAA fire while in the Valley. Since the wreckage was never located there is no physical evidence.

    One of The Virtual Wall staff is an ex-A6 aviator with about 100 missions along the Laotian border and knows that "fast mover" night close air support via visual dive bombing was essentially unheard of - the risk to friendly troops was just too great. Higher altitude level bombing via SKYSPOT radar was used, and offset bombing from a radar beacon using the Intruder's weapons system also was used... but that too involved higher altitudes and a level delivery. It seems far more likely that the aircraft hit one of the mountainsides while pulling off target. A shallow system dive-bombing run would have been conducted along the long axis of the valley, would have placed the aircraft well below the mountaintops at pull-out, and the normal change of direction after weapons release would have had the aircraft turning toward the hillsides as it came off target at 360 knots (415 mph) or so. Enemy antiaircraft fire may have contributed to the loss, but it could equally have occurred without AAA involvement.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is one who wears his MIA bracelet, Lynne Pozzuto e-mail may be forwarded via the Webmaster@VirtualWall.org


May 31, 2003

Jim will always be with us. We will never forget the sacrifice he made for our country.

Posted by: Kathleen Sigdestad
Relationship: He is my second cousin


February 10, 2004

I just turned 45 yrs. old but can still remember the name I wore on my silver POW bracelet in grammar school. I remember putting blue star stickers next to James Fickler's name on my bracelet and always prayed for him. When names would be released in the newspaper of released prisoners, I always searched for his name on the list. He is with God now and resting in peace. God bless the family left to deal with his loss.
Posted by: Lorraine McCarrick, Robbinsville, NJ

Email: lorraine.mccarrick@bms.com
Relationship: I wore his/her MIA bracelet


November 2, 2004

Jim and I were roommates going through Navy/Marine flight training. We shared many fun times and Fick was always full of energy and spirit. He also was a terrific cook! I remember well the good times Jim had driving his red Corvette! What a great car - bright red with a 427 engine. I got married while in advanced flight training and Jim came to my bride's rescue with some timely cooking lessons. I will always remember him as I am still wearing his POW/MIA bracelet today. I do it for two reasons: 1) To honor Fick's life and service to our great nation; 2) to remind me of my blessings in life and never to take my freedom for granted. I love ya MAN!! Forever, Tom.

Posted by: CAPT Tom Mitchell, USN (Ret)
Email: trm3slm@hotmail.com
Relationship: We served together


March 3, 2005

My sister gave me the bracelet with CAPT Fickler's name on it for my 18th birthday in 1975. I have finally made it to D.C. in 2005. I am going to the wall to find his name. I also keep his bio in our family bible as a remembrance for his family and ours. This was something that my sister believed in.

Posted by: Sonia M. Frees, Seattle
Email: freessm@yahoo.com
Relationship: I wore his/her MIA bracelet


September 20, 2005

I wore your MIA-POW bracelet for several years, until the Viet Nam war ended. I wrote to the Department of the Navy for any information about what happened to you, but they could only tell me that you were missing in action. Finally after 36 years I know what happened that night of January 17, 1969, in your Intruder, and thanks to the internet I found your picture. I have thought of you with a heavy heart so many times over the past 36 years.

Rest well, my friend, I shall never forget you.

Posted by: Lynne Pozzuto
Email: Webmaster@VirtualWall.org


November 10, 2005

I knew Jim just before he went to Vietnam. He had just read a letter from me right before he flew that last mission. To speculate that he could have flown into a mountain is just that - speculation. No one knows what happened unless they were there - I would rather read something from some of his friends than baseless speculation about what happened that tragic night. I will never forget him and think of him often. I went to the Marine Corps Ball with him at Cherry Point in November 1967 - it was a truly magical evening ?unforgettable-just like he is.

Posted by: Hilda
Email: hildap@cox.net
Relationship: Friend


December 21, 2005

Jimmy Fickler was my great uncle. I live in Allenton, Wisconsin, a few miles away from Kewaskum. I have his Marine sword. Rest in peace, Uncle Jimmy, wherever you may be.

Posted by: Jake Seitz
5531 Saint Anthony Road, West Bend, Wisconsin 53090
Email: jakeredneck17@hotmail.com
Relationship: Great-nephew


March 7, 2006

To whom it may concern:

Thank you for the information on this web site. As a young child aged seven or eight I proudly wore an MIA bracelet during the Viet Nam war. I don't know what happened to that bracelet, but I remember it very well. It was a single strip of chromed metal with rounded ends that I wore on my right wrist. It had a small circular sticker on it, a white background with a single blue star. The name engraved on the bracelet, "Capt. E. James Fickler," the name of a man I shall never forget.

Although the only thing I knew of him is that he was missing in action, I have always felt a bond with him. My mother - being fiercely patriotic and having a brother in the army during the war - gave me the bracelet. She gave me a sense that the bracelet was important, that it represented a real person, an American. Now, as it was then, he deserves my thoughts, respect, and gratitude.

Having children who are around the same age as Captain Fickler, and me being a veteran who joined the army at an age older than he was when his plane went down, I am struck by how young he really was. I will keep his picture and continue to remember him often. Thank you for providing closure to the mystery of an honored soul who has always been, and will forever be a part of my life.

Posted by: Stephen Douglas
Email: Webmaster@VirtualWall.org


June 1, 2006

To whom it may concern:

Thank you for this site. I proudly wore your bracelet while in high school. I take it out of a safe deposit box each Memorial Day. It's difficult to explain how close you can become with someone you don't know. I too will never forget the name of Captain E. James Fickler.

Posted by: Rocky Grimes
Email: chilkoot@hotmail.com


July 5, 2006

I also wore your bracelet while in high school and still have this bracelet. I look at it often and say a prayer for you. I always wanted to put a picture to the name I will never forget.

Posted by: Carolina Evans
Email: evanscarolina@hotmail.com


April 25, 2007

My bracelet says "James E Fickler" and it wasn't until years later, on the internet, that I discovered that it should have read "Edwin J. Fickler."

I bought that bracelet in either late 1969 or 1970 and wore it during the remainder of the conflict, including my tour of duty there. The bracelet now sits on my coffee table, in plain sight, so that I and guests to my house will never forget your sacrifice.

Rest peacefully, my friend.

Posted by: John Derickson
Email: johnderickson@yahoo.com


May 19, 2007

I am glad to find this site and to learn more about the man on the MIA bracelet I wore in high school and college. The war ended while I was in ROTC at the University of Mississippi, but my instructors had served in Vietnam and they allowed me to wear the bracelet while in uniform. 30+ years later I thank them for that. When I was commissioned and went on active duty, I had to put the bracelet away. While looking through a box of keepsakes, I came across the small box containing my bracelet. My first thought was to check the internet and it took me straight to this site. Thank you. Your information fills a void and makes me feel even closer.

Posted by: LTC(R) Drue B. Garrison
Email: Webmaster@VirtualWall.org


August 17, 2007

I also wore Capt. E. James Fickler's P.O.W. bracelet for many years. (I didn't know they issued more than one for each MIA.) I prayed for your safe return, and have always thought of you... especially on January 19th. Isn't it something how, without knowing him or even what he looked like, he touched my life and Lynne's too. I just found my bracelet this morning, and thanks to this web site I have a handsome face to help me remember this hero. Rest in peace, Captain Fickler.

Posted by: Tina Pilliter Monroe, Riverside, CA
Email: mtinamxx@yahoo.com


A Note from the Virtual Wall

The A-6 Intruder was designed for single-aircraft night/bad-weather low-level attack missions, but such missions carry risks other than those imposed by enemy gunners. On 17 Jan 1969 an A-6A, BuNo 152586, flown by Capt Edwin J. Fickler and then-2nd Lt Robert J. Kuhlman was tasked with a night low-level strike in the A Shau Valley in northwestern South Vietnam. As usual, the A-6 was unaccompanied and radar contact with the aircraft was lost as it entered mountainous terrain west of DaNang. The crew did check in with a Forward Air Controller who assigned them a target area but then lost contact with them.

Quite simply, the aircraft disappeared, victim to either enemy antiaircraft fire or a ground collision. Search and rescue efforts failed to locate wreckage or either crewman. Both men were classed as Missing in Action and remained in that status until the Secretary of the Navy approved Presumptive Findings of Death, Fickler on 04 Feb 1974 and Kuhlman on 16 June 1978.

Filpi, John

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: John Taylor Filpi
  • Date of Birth: September 14, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Glenview, IL
  • College: Carleton College 1965 - BA Philosophy
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: C-2
  • TBS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 390
  • MOS: 0801
  • Serial Number: 093095
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - January 31, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 14E - Row 100
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt John T. Filpi – John completed OCS with the 2nd Platoon of Charlie Company. At Basic School, he was assigned to 2nd Platoon of Delta Company. John was an artillery forward observer (MOS 0802) with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 13th Marines moving with a squad from 3rd platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines when he died. Mid-morning on January 31, 1967, the squad from C-3, reinforced with John's Forward Observer team, was tasked with moving from Hill 55 to the site of an earlier Charlie Company ambush. The previous night, another squad ambush from Charlie Company had killed 14 of 16 Viet Cong they observed attempting to cross the Ai Nghai river. The follow up C-3 squad, with John's FO Team attached, were tasked with checking the ambush site for any additional activity and then pursuing any survivors. As the squad patrolled throught Giang La (1) village (AT 977601) to the south east, they came under fire from remnants of the Viet Cong Main Force unit from the vicinity of La Hoa (2) village. John immediately moved to an advantageous position to direct a fire mission. The FO team's radio antenna drew fire from VC snipers. At 10:45, it was reported that John was hit with small arms fire in the left shoulder and left leg and had died, along with his radio operator. Ironically, John died approximately 1500 meters to the west of the spot where fellow artillery forward observer John Bergerson was killed two days earlier. John died in Quang Nam Province. He was single. John is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, 9900 Grosse Point Road, Skokie, IL 60076.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

October 17, 2010

I met John during OCS. We were in the same OCS platoon, C-2. It was a hectic time and there was no opportunity for really getting to know the other candidates, but he struck me as a quiet and competent individual. John graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, MN in 1965 with an BA in Philosophy. He successfully completed OCS and was commissioned on December 17, 1965. John was assigned to platoon D-2 in Basic School, while I was in D-3. So I saw him occasionally at TBS as we were in the same Company, but it wasn't daily as it had been in OCS. After graduating from Basis School, John received the MOS of 0801 and proceeded to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for artillery officer training. Upon completion of the Artillery Officer Course, he was assigned to Alpha Battery, 13th Marines. He was supporting 1st Battalion, 26th Marines as a Forward Observer at the time of his death. I found this narrative on the Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines website that referred to the circumstances surrounding his death. There was a VC sniper working the area around Hill 55 that accounted for the deaths of several members of Delta 1/26 and the Battalion. As John was obviously and officer accompanied by his radioman, they were undoubtedly a high value target for the sniper and he took them under fire. The Delta, 1/26 narrative reads as follows:

"January 31, 1967
In an early morning attack, Delta Co. (1st and 3rd Platoons) through Duc Ky (2) forces a VC Main-force unit to retreat towards the La Tho River south and east of Hill 55. This is a very successful operation. To establish predawn positions outside the ville, an early AM river crossing north of Hill 55 precedes the attack by Delta Co. The Charlie Co. blocking force (La Huan (2)) observes 16 VC attempting to swim the Ai Nghai River to escape and has a turkey shoot as they ambush the fleeing VC, killing 14. Delta Co. also kills one VC during their advance.

At midday, a squad of 3rd Platoon is sent out to the Charlie Co. ambush site. En route, this squad comes under fire from around La Huan (2) by the remnants of the VC Main-Force unit involved in the early morning fight. The squad engages the VC and takes several casualties. As reaction force, the remainder of 3rd Platoon still on Hill 55 mounts up on amtracs and proceeds to the area of the firefight. The fighting continues, and two Marines are killed -- the artillery FO and his radioman. More are wounded, including the 3rd Platoon Commander, Lt. Murray. The following artillery Marines from Alpha Battery 1st Battalion 13th Marines are killed:

2nd Lt. John Filpi, 1/31/67, 1967 - Killed by gunshot south of Hill 55
LCpl. Edward Hanshaw, 1/31/67 - Killed by gunshot south of Hill 55

Because of the number of helicopters shot down in the area, no medevac flight is made, and the wounded and killed are transported by amtracs back to Hill 55 for evacuation.

Hotel Co., 2/1 comes under heavy fire from a Main-Force VC unit in the Thuy Bo area. VC weapons include a 50-caliber machine gun and many automatic rifles. The Thuy Bo hamlets are located on the boundary between the 1/26 and 2/1 TAOR, and both Marine battalions patrolled a portion of Thuy Bo village. On the following morning, 2/1 Marines assault Thuy Bo. Marine casualties for the two-day fight are 6 KIA and 26 WIA. There are also many civilian casualties."

Rest in Peace, Marine!
Dave Mellon

Fitzgerald, George

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: George Richard Fitzgerald
  • Date of Birth: February 9, 1944
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Bridgeport, CT
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: NROTC
  • TBS Platoon: E-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 299
  • MOS: 0301
  • Serial Number: 092576
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: July 1966
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - September 17, 1966
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri / Cam Lo District - Operation Prairie
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 10E - Row 106

REMEMBERANCE

  

These photos made possible by Lisa Maturo Bauer.


1st Bn⁄4th Marines


2nd Lt. George R. Fitzgerald
Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division

"George Fitzgerald completed NROTC training at the University of North Carolina and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps following the graduation ceremony. He attended The Basic School as a member of Basic Class 3-66 from January through May 1966. He was assigned to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force in July 1966. He died, while participating in Operation Prairie I, approximately 4000 meters north-north-west of the Rockpile and about 1500 meters north of the northern terminus of the Razorback.

The circumstances surrounding his death have been reconstructed from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines Command Chronology, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines Command Chronology and interviews with then 2nd Lt. Jerry Galvin, a Classmate, who was the Commanding Officer of Alpha Company 1/4 and then 2nd Lt Jim Newman, another Classmate, who was the platoon commander of Bravo 1, during the battle.

George's Company, Delta 1/4, which was led by Captain D. K. McMahon, Jr., was composed of 140 Marines. They were tasked, along with Bravo 1/4, with conducting a reconnaissance in force North of the Rockpile. Delta Company was in the lead and Bravo Company was in trace. When Delta Company moved out on the morning of September 16th, George was not with his platoon. He was at sick call at the Battalion CP and was being treated for an open sore on one of his hands, which had become infected. As Delta Company moved northward, they encountered green communications wire, a sure sign of an NVA presence. Delta Company originally engaged the NVA at 1125 on September 16th. At the time, the Battalion’s Commanding Officer, LtCol Jack Westerman had his command post located approximately 2500 meters north of the Rockpile and approximately 2000 meters to the southwest of his engaged units, with his reserve, Alpha Company and units of his H&S Company.

In the opening salvo, George’s platoon, which was on the Company point, suffered several killed and wounded as they advanced down into a gully. Bravo Company, led by Captain Fredricksen, which was following in trace of Delta Company attempted to go to the relief of Delta Company, but similarly encountered NVA in reinforced bunkers and sustained 5 KIAs along with WIAs. Bravo Company was able to prepare a hasty LZ for the evacuation of their casualties and called for a medevac.

Bravo Company then continued their movement north to consolidate with Delta 1/4 in a defensive perimeter. Bravo 1/4 used a HU1E gunship to strafe the NVA fortified positions blocking their path, so they could join Delta 1/4. Once the two companies linked up, a defensive perimeter was reset and they began work on a new larger LZ to allow medevac helicopters to come in and remove the Delta casualties. An LZ was hacked out of the thick jungle vegetation prior to nightfall but medevac helicopters were unable to land due to heavy machine gun and small arms fire. The medevacs were rescheduled for first light on the 17th. Flare ships came on station and illuminated the battle field for the next two nights.

Learning of the plight of his platoon, George was determined to rejoin them. Precisely when George got to the Bravo/Delta perimeter is unknown. He must have flown in on a medevac or resupply helicopter that had set down at the Battalion CP on its way to the beleaguered Companies. It was either late on September 16th or early on September 17th. The NVA had two heavy machine guns (probably 12.7mm anti-aircraft guns) deployed, which made putting down in the LZ extremely hazardous. Despite the heavy ground fire, a helicopter carrying George and a combat photographer landed at some point and they successfully disembarked.

At 0630 on September 17, the initial medevac chopper that tried to land in the LZ was again driven off by heavy automatic weapons fire. Fixed Air was called in to suppress the heavy machine and the mortar fire that was being directed at the two company perimeter and the LZ. Delta Company sustained two more WIAs from the small arms fire directed at the helicopter. Additionally, it was noted that the 6 Delta Company KIAs from the previous days fighting were still outside their perimeter and, due to extremely heavy small arms fire, had not yet been recovered. The Intelligence Summary reveals that at 0835, Delta Company received a very heavy attack of their lines by the NVA. At this point, it was obvious that the two 1/4 Companies were up against a numerically superior NVA force.

The Battalion Commander immediately dispatched Alpha Company to go the relief of the two embattled companies. The Battalion commander also contacted Regiment, where it was decided to dispatch the attached elements of 2/7, in order to provide sufficient combat power to break the siege of the two companies. When LtCol Westerman learned that 2/7 would be coming to reinforce his besieged companies, he contacted Alpha Company, who were on the trail leading up to the ambush site and had them return to the Rockpile to resume the perimeter security mission for the Battalion CP. Just before Alpha Company was ordered to return to the Rockpile, at 1030 on September 17th, they sighted two NVA soldiers, who disappeared before they could be taken engaged.

2/7, led by LtCol John Roothoff, was comprised of three rifle companies at the time (Echo, Foxtrot and Golf). They received orders at 0845 on September 17th to relieve the two 1/4 Companies. They moved immediately to Thon Son Lam, a small village just east of the Rockpile located on Route 9 and from there to the 1/4 CP location. By nightfall on September 17, 2/7 was able to cover approximately half the distance from Route 9 to the beleaguered companies and set in for the night collocated with the 1/4 CP.

The NVA made an assault at first light on September 17th on the Bravo and Delta perimeter. During the strong NVA attack on their defensive lines that morning, enemy voices could be heard repositioned the NVA troops and whistles were used to control the maneuver units. During the attack, the entire perimeter was subjected to small arms, automatic weapons and 82mm mortar fire. The consolidated companies continued to employ supporting arms to suppress the enemy fire. While helicopter pilots made repeated attempts to set down in the LZ, they were consistently driven off by heavy machine gun and automatic weapons fire during the early morning hours.

Later on the morning of September 17, while trying to maneuver out of the perimeter, the two 1/4 Companies confirmed that they were surrounded and a break out was impossible, as the enemy force was numerically superior. The Companies used their assigned 81mm mortars and integral 60mm mortars on massed troops and to counter enemy mortar fire. The Companies also directed artillery fire missions and airstrikes to establish a kill zone around their perimeter and counter the enemy mortars and automatic weapons fire. Additionally, an aerial observer proved critical in identifying enemy mortar locations and using both artillery and fixed wing airstrikes to neutralize or eliminate them. The enemy made several attempts, during the morning hours to penetrate the two company perimeter and artillery and airstrikes were undertaken at times within 100 meters of the friendly forces. Despite the enemy fire in the LZ, Marine helicopters conducted an emergency resupply of food, water and ammo. It is quite possible that George flew in with this resupply. A combat photographer arrived at the Bravo and Delta perimeter with George. He later took a few iconic pictures of a downed helicopter in the larger LZ.

During the morning of September 17th, only a few helicopters had been able to land resupplying critical water, ammo and C-rations and evacuating a few of the more seriously wounded. At 1230 on the 17th, a Marine UH-34 helicopter, attempting a medevac landing was shot down in the LZ. Fortunately, none of the crew was injured. 2nd Lt Jim Newman and his platoon sergeant went to the aid of the helicopter crew which crashed in their portion of the perimeter. They removed the M-60 machine guns from the downed helicopter and had the crewmen assume positions on the perimeter. The downed helicopter blocked the landing zone and no further medevacs were possible until a new LZ could be cut from the dense jungle.

Early on the afternoon of September 17th, the Delta Company Commander, Captain McMahon, decided that George would lead a patrol down into the northern gulley to recover the bodies of the 6 Marines who had been killed during the initial contact on September 16th. George gathered his Marines and decided upon an envelopment tactic. Once the patrol moved down into the gully, they were again taken under fire by NVA in fortified positions. George was among those wounded in the firefight. He had been shot in the right thigh. George was dragged back to perimeter and placed at the edge of the LZ to await further evacuation by helicopter. 2nd Lt Jim Newman went over to talk to George, while a Corpsman worked on dressing his thigh wound. George was conscious and talked freely as evening approached. 2nd Lt Jim Newman spoke to George on several occasions during the afternoon and early evening trying to keep his spirits up during the wait for a medevac helicopter. The two companies immediately began cutting a new LZ, but it would not be finished in time to save 2nd Lt Fitzgerald’s life. Unfortunately, the round which struck George in the right thigh had severed the femoral artery. Without the advantage of the type of medical expertise which was available only at a Medical Battalion, 2nd Lt Fitzgerald died from internal bleeding after darkness fell on September 17th.

The fighting continued and the casualties continued to mount. By the time the ordeal was over, Delta Company had sustained 17 KIAs and 10 WIAs, injured seriously enough to require evacuation. An additional 35 Purple Hearts were awarded to Marines who were wounded during the fighting, but whose injuries were not serious enough to warrant evacuation. These were ably treated by their unit Corpsmen; however, three Corpsmen were among the KIAs. Unfortunately, some of those who were KIA were lost as a result of friendly fire. Bravo Company sustained 8 KIAs during the extended battle.

On Sunday morning, September 18th, as 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines continued to move to the northwest to break through to the companies of 1/4, Marine Air was conducting airstrikes to keep the NVA away from the Marine perimeter and open a corridor for 2/7. Unfortunately, some of the bombs dropped within the friendly lines, killing 5 and wounding 9, from the two companies. The NVA were being punished by Marine Air and Artillery, so they elected to withdraw rather than face the troops of 2/7 as they moved to link up. At 1547, Golf Company of 2/7 linked up with the two companies. As 2/7 moved into the perimeter, Bravo 1/4 and Delta 1/4 began a retrograde movement to rejoin their Battalion CP north of Rockpile. At approximately 2030 on the evening of September 18, Golf Company 2/7 was able to recover the 6 Delta Company KIAs at the northernmost point of contact, who had been lost in the initial firefight of the battle. These were the Marines, who George was trying to recover when he was mortally wounded.

At 1020 on September 19th, the helicopter which had crashed in the large LZ was heli-lifted out. By 1630, both Delta Company and Bravo Company returned to the 1/4 Battalion perimeter approximately 2000 meters north of the Rockpile.

While 2/7, had moved to the relief of the two companies of 1/4 without casualties, they were to find the area remained a dangerous site. A patrol from Echo 2/7 was ambushed losing 4 KIA and 2 WIA at 1630 on the 19th. Later, at 1800 on the 19th, the perimeter received 31 rounds of 82mm mortar fire resulting in 2 KIA and 3 WIA. At 0730 on September 20th, 2/7 was ordered to retrograde back to the back to the site of the former 1/4 CP.

During the period 1/4 and 2/7 were engaged in this battle, there were frequent disruptions of radio communications. Vietnamese interpreters reported hearing Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese voices. The interpreters reported that one of the NVA units was ordered to destroy 1/4 and 2/7 by September 25th. Another NVA unit reported that it had to disperse because of the air strikes and artillery concentrations the Marines were raining down on them. One NVA unit talked about their inability to join up with another NVA unit because US Marines were blocking their approach. Finally, a transmission from another NVA unit reported that one of its subordinate units was running short of food and ammunition.

By 1900 on September 19th, after Delta and Bravo Companies had returned to the 1/4 CP location, a debriefing of the unit commanders was conducted and the NVA death toll for the three day engagement in which 2nd Lt. George R. Fitzgerald died was set at 173 confirmed and 356 probable. Twenty-four other Marines from 1st Battalion, 4th Marines died during this battle extended battle. George’s body was returned for burial with full military honors. George is buried in St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery, 2205 Stratford Avenue, Stratford, CT 06615. His grave marker is found in Section 11, Plot 549C.

Reported by Dave Mellon with consultation with Jerry Galvin and Jim Newman.
November 15, 2013


This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt George R. Fitzgerald – George was commissioned upon completion of NROTC training at the University of North Carolina. He was assigned to 2nd Platoon of Echo Company at Basic School. George was serving as a platoon commander (MOS 0301) with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, when he died on September 17, 1966 in the vicinity of the "Razor Back Ridge" (XD 960600) approximately 5 kilometers north of the "Rockpile". Delta and Bravo Companies of 1/4 had consolidated during the three-day battle and were besieged by a numerically superior NVA force. During an NVA assault at dawn on September 17th, George suffered a gunshot wound to his right thigh which severed the femoral artery. The first medevac helicopter into the hasty LZ crashed and before a new LZ could be cut, George bled out. George died in Quang Tri Province participating in Operation Prairie. Twenty-four other Marines died during this battle extended battle. George was single. George is buried in St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery, 2205 Stratford Avenue, Stratford, CT 06615. His grave marker is found in Section 11, Plot 549C.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


Charles Fitzgerald
chuckfitz@earthlink.net
Basic School Classmate
444 Country Wood Circle, Lake Mary, FL., 32746, USA

Hey 'Little Fitz'

Fellow Connecticut Yankee, friend and classmate. Never had, a chance to say goodbye, Fitz. I arrived, on Okinawa. (had a 12, week delay, at Quantico, while my son was born, then travelled via ship to Vietnam) Met some of our classmates at the 'O,' club and they told me you were KIA. From that day to this, I missed that promised drink. (just like Gerry Galvin). Doubtless, the booze is far better, where you are. I have missed you, so very sorry that you left us so soon, you were a joy and a damn good Marine.

Semper Fi, old friend.

'Big Fitz'
September 9, 2009


Gerald Galvin
jerryg@morgan-hill.ca.gov
Fellow Marine and Classmate
425, Wright Ave., Morgan Hill, CA 95037, USA

Thinking of You

George, the last time we spoke, it was in the Fall of 1966 and we agreed, to talk again, soon. We were both very young Second Lieutenants from the same Basic School Class, who joined the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines in South Vietnam. We never were able to have that conversation before you were killed in action just north of the Rockpile. I just wanted to let you know that you are not forgotten and you are in my prayers, as is your family.

Semper Fi, Old Friend!
Thursday, August 07, 2003

Ford, Douglas

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Douglas O. Ford
  • Date of Birth: February 18, 1942
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Glen Rock, NJ
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-4
  • TBS Platoon: E-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 112
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 093107
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: March 7, 1970
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - January 10, 1971
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 05W - Row 037
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Douglas O. Ford – Doug completed the Officer Candidate Course with th 4th Platoon of Bravo Company. At Basic School, he was in the 2nd Platoon of Echo Company. A married Marine with a son, Doug arrived in Vietnam on March 7, 1970 for what presumably was a second tour. A qualified infantry officer (MOS 0302), upon arrival he was assigned as Company Commander for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. Later, Doug was assigned as the Commanding Officer of Echo Company 2/5. In January of 1971, 2/5 was involved in Operation Imperial Lake in the Que Son Mountains. On January 3, 1971, Doug's company was extracted from the field by helicopter and moved 20 kilometers to the east to collocate with the battalion rear at LZ Baldy/Baldy Combat Base on Hill 63 (Nui Huong Que). Echo Company enjoyed a 3-day period of rehabilitation while providing perimeter security for the battalion rear; however, Doug was responsible for providing a platoon daily for the Quick Reaction Force (QRF). After their brief rehab, Doug's company began patrol activities around Baldy Combat Base. On January 10, 1971, Echo 1 had the QRF duty. During the early morning hours, the platoon was heli-lifted into a blocking position for Golf Company 2/5 just outside the Phu Thanh ville. Golf Company was under the operational control of the 5th Marine Regiment and tasked with providing bridge and road security along the Main Supply Route (Route 1) as well as conducting platoon sweeps. Golf 1 was tasked with sweeping through Phu Thanh toward the Echo 1 blocking force. As the sweep proceeded, Doug was airborne along with the Battalion XO, Maj. Herbert C. Ram and the Golf Company Commander to observe the progress of the sweep. At approximately 09:15, despite the fact that the Golf 1 had mine-detection dogs working with them, a Marine tripped a booby- trapped 60mm mortar round, which exploded wounding him and another Marine. As the Command and Control helicopter was circling above operational area, the infantry officers onboard decided to have the pilot land, so they could evacuate the two wounded Golf 1 Marines, rather than call for a separate medevac and await its arrival. Upon landing at a hasty LZ set up by Golf 1, Maj. Ram immediately moved toward the casualties with Doug following approximately 1 meter behind. Maj. Ram detonated a second more substantial booby-trap. Neither officer was wearing a flak jacket. Doug and Maj. Ram died of shrapnel wounds from the booby trap in Quang Nam Province, 6 kilometers northwest of the LZ Baldy/Baldy Combat Base (BT 085497).

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

November 27, 1998

Capt Ford was my company commander (Echo Company, 2nd Bn, 5th Regt, 1st Mar Div).

He was the 4th company commander I had during my tour and the best. He loved his troops, knew his tactics, and was a fine person. When Capt Ford came to the company, I didn't quite know what kind of person he was. I challenged him in front of my platoon to a shooting contest and he roundly beat me. Capt Ford did not mock me but showed me and my buddies how to improve our marksmanship. He was a classy person and I will always remember the shooting match on the side of a road connecting An Hoa and Liberty Bridge. Capt Ford and the Bn Operations Officer, Major Ram died when their chopper landed to extract a wounded Marine and one of them stepped on a mine.

I will always remember Capt Ford as one of the finest individuals I have ever met.

Posted by: John S. O'Keeffe, Worthington, Ohio
Relationship: Fellow Marine


February 18, 2001

When Doug Ford reported aboard in 2ndBn 5th Marines, he was initially assigned as C.O. H&S Co. I was his X.O. As the oldest child in my family, I never had a big brother, till I met Doug Ford. I will never forget the close day to day working relationship and the informal evenings in our shared hooch talking about everything imaginable. His friendship and memory are recalled every day of my life. I am honored to have known Capt. Douglas O. Ford and later his mother and sisters.

I will always remember Capt Ford as one of the finest individuals I have ever met.

Posted by: John S. O'Keeffe, Worthington, Ohio
Relationship: Fellow Marin


December 12, 2004

Douglas is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Posted by: Robert Sage
e-Mail: rsage@austin.rr.com

Goodwin, Forrest

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Forrest Goodwin
  • Date of Birth: April 17, 1941
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Tylertown, MS
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: AOC
  • TBS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 453
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 091778
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - March 2, 1967
  • casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Silver Star & Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 16E - Row 002

Forrest was born in 1941 and was always referred to in his family as "Butch". Unfortunately, Forrest's parents divorced while he was very young. Forrest's father, James I. C. Goodwin, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served during World War II. When Forrest was 3 years old, his mother, Mrs. Carrie E. Wright, who had resumed using her maiden name, was committed to the Western State Hospital in Bolivar, TN. With his father still serving in the war, Forrest's care defaulted to his fraternal grandmother, Christine Taylor Goodwin, who raised him in Halls, TN until she died on September 6, 1950. Forrest then went to live with his Aunt, Lila Goodwin and Uncle, "Doc" Ira L. Goodwin (his father's brother) in Tylertown, MS. Forrest completed High School in Tylertown, then graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, a private liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Forrest was a good athlete and played basketball at Millsaps College. Influenced by his older brother, James G. Goodwin, Forrest decided to try and fly for the Marine Corps after graduation. He signed an aviation option contract and reported to Quantico, VA for the the Officer Candidate Course (suspected to be the 35th). James, who was just a year older, was in flight training in Pensacola, FL while Forrest with his college diploma was going through the Officer Candidate Course in Quantico, VA. James ultimately became a qualified Marine CH-46 pilot and Forrest, upon successful completion of OCS, followed him to Pensacola for flight training. Unfortunately, Forrest was not successful in his pursuit of Naval Aviator status and was returned to the Quantico, VA to complete The Basic School. He successfully completed TBS with the 2nd Platoon of Delta Company in Class 3-66. When he arrived in Vietnam, in July of 1966, Forrest was assigned as a platoon commander (MOS 0302) with Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. His Commanding Officer was then-Captain Richard F. Johnson. As 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines had suffered heavy platoon leader casualties, the order went out to other regiments in 3rd Marine Division to transfer experienced platoon leaders to 3/3. Accordingly, Forrest was reassigned as platoon commander of 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in mid-February 1967. His new Commanding Officer was then-Captain John W. Ripley, who would later become famous for dropping the "Bridge at Dong Ha".

Captain Ripley described the military situation and circumstances surrounding Forrest's death as follows:

"Our operation started at the end of February with a battalion sweep west of the Razorback Ridge. On this same day, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines were operating just above Cam Lo, north of the river. That night 2/3 was hit right hard in a coordinated infantry/mortar attack. We were pulled off of the Razorback sweep and put in a blocking position north of 2/3 in an effort to trap the force hitting them (2/3). While moving into position the next day (March 1) we made contact and stayed engaged most of the day. The next day (March 2) my Company had the mission of securing the Regimental Objective and awaiting the arrival of the rest of the Battalion. We did so and in a subsequent sweep of the area ambushed a few NVA who happened to be the outguards of a large enemy base camp. I moved forward to the base camp with another platoon – Forrest's – and set up a systematic search of the camp. It was located in very thick underbrush allowing almost no visibility beyond five feet. The NVA had left hurriedly abandoning much gear, chow, etc. We began moving through the camp and had advanced perhaps 10 meters when we began receiving heavy volumes of small arms fire from the direct front. The NVA were in concealed positions with machine guns, many automatic weapons and grenades. Forrest maneuvered his platoon through the heavy fire to a small clearing pushing the enemy back across it. With his platoon in position at this point, he began an assault of the final enemy position. We were receiving incoming mortars by this time also. Just as Forrest and his radioman got up to move out in the assault a machine gun burst hit them both killing them instantly. Both were hit in the head and neck. The platoon sergeant immediately took command and without losing the momentum of the assault carried it through successfully.

My Company really locked on that day. We won the field but not without cost. I lost Forrest and another Lieutenant (2nd Lt Terry G. Heekin) along with (8) other fine Marines of L Co. Many of us were wounded that day, but we know we hurt them much more. The NVA left almost 50 dead on the field – unusual for them – plus much gear and weapons. The next day a large force of over 200 enemy carrying their dead and wounded were spotted leaving the area of the base camp. These were the remnants of what we feel was a battalion of NVA in that camp. With the amount of heavy weapons, mortars, etc. it had to be a multi-company force.

We continued the operation for another few days with more successful encounter despite of the loss of two platoon leaders and many fine other Marines. It is certainly a credit to Forrest's platoon that it continued to function so well after suffering his loss".

Then-Captain Ripley would recommend Forrest for the Silver Star and it would be awarded posthumously.

The 3/3 Command Chronology and the Silver Star Citation provide additional information on the circumstances surrounding Forrest's death and some slightly different perspectives. On March 2, 1967, Lima Company was operating approximately 5 kilometers North-North-West of Cam Lo. On the afternoon of March 2nd, as the company moved in an easterly direction, they were subjected to increasing 82mm mortar fire by NVA forces seeking to protect a base camp area. When Lima Company located the periphery of the NVA base camp, the Company organized for sweep through the area with two platoons on line and one in reserve. Forrest’s platoon was on the right of the Company formation. As Forrest and his Marines moved into position to enter the base camp, they came under a heavy volume of fire. Despite, the numerous casualties his platoon suffered from the initial volley of small arms fire, Forrest organized his Marines for an assault and led them across 25 meters of open terrain which was being raked by machine gun fire. Forrest fell mortally wounded during the assault, but his Marines overran the enemy positions with a minimum of additional casualties. A total of 10 Marines died during the battle. Forrest sustained a gunshot wound to the back of his head and he died immediately. He died in Quang Tri Province, participating in Operation Prairie I. Ironically, he died approximately 1 kilometer southwest of the spot where his Basic School Classmate, 2nd Lt John Bobo, would fall 26 days later.

Forrest is buried in the Hillcrest Memorial Gardens in Walthall County, MS.


REMEMBERANCE

Forrest Goodwin
First Lieutenant
L CO, 3RD BN, 3RD MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
17 April 1941 - 02 March 1967
Tylertown, Mississippi




07 Nov 2003
You will always be remembered.
One of three of my Basic School roommates who were killed in action.
Semper Fi, Marines
Joe
Joe Hancharick, Jr.
6125 7th Street, King George, VA 22485
joeh@crosslink.net

Silver Star Citation

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Forrest Goodwin (MCSN: 0-91778), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company L, Third Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam, on 2 March 1967. While participating in a search and destroy mission near Cam Lo, in Quang Tri Province, First Lieutenant Goodwin was assigned the mission of searching a recently discovered North Vietnamese Army base camp. As the Marines moved through the area, they were subjected to a sudden heavy volume of enemy automatic and small arms fire from their direct front. The initial burst of fire inflicted numerous Marine casualties. Instantly reacting to the serious situation, he began organizing his men for an assault on the enemy positions. Fearlessly moving throughout the area despite the intense hostile fire, he shouted words of encouragement to his men and directed their accurate suppressive fire on the enemy. When the platoon was in position, First Lieutenant Goodwin ordered the assault and personally led the attack across twenty-five meters of open terrain swept by vicious machine-gun fire. His inspiring example enabled his platoon to successfully overrun the enemy positions with a minimum of casualties. During this engagement, while courageously leading his men, he fell mortally wounded. By his uncommon courage, inspiring leadership and selfless devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Goodwin contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit's mission and thereby upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: 2-Mar-67

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: Company L

Battalion: 3d Battalion

Regiment: 3d Marines


A Note from the Virtual Wall

At the beginning of March 1967 the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, was conducting a battalion sweep in the vicinity of Con Thien. At 1530 02 March Lima 3/3 uncovered a large enemy base camp. Attacked as they set up for an assault on the camp, Lima 3/3 lost two officers and eight men:

  • 1st Lt Forrest Goodwin, Tylertown, MS (Silver Star)
  • 2nd Lt Terry G. Heekin, Covina, CA
  • Cpl Richard B. Blinder, Los Angeles, CA
  • Cpl Richard S. Graham, Latrobe, PA
  • Cpl Richard W. Strahl, Glendale, AZ
  • PFC John W. Barker, Coal City, IN
  • PFC John W. Hanscom, Reading, MA
  • PFC Jackie L. Harris, Richmond, VA
  • PFC Robert E. Martin, Hickory Hills, IL
  • PFC John P. O'Donnell, Youngstown, OH

The point-of-contact for this memorial is<
a roommate at The Basic School, Quantico,
Joe Hancharick, Jr.


November 2, 2003

Will always remember my 3 KIA TBS roommates: Forrest Goodwin, Bob Holt and Lou Dobbins..
Semper Fi, Marines. Joe.
Posted by: Joe Hancharick
e-Mail: joeh@crosslink.net
Relationship: We served together


January 1, 2006

1st Lt Goodwin was my platoon commander when he was with Hotel Co 2/9 Marines. He was transferred to 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines and was killed on 3/2/67 around Khe Sanh. He was a very good man. I was sorry to hear of his death.
Posted by: Pete Rivera
Email: privera67@aol.com
Relationship: Former platoon member


May 27, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - Least we not forget - 2nd Platoon Lima Company.
Posted by: Sgt. D. Lemke - Plt Sgt
Email: bohasha@msn.com
Relationship: We served together


June 29, 2006

I, Sgt. D. Lemke was with you my brother. March 1 to March 6. Operation Prairie, Prairie 1, 3rd BN. 3rd MAR. 3rd MAR. DIV.
Posted by: Sgt. D. Lemke - Plt Sgt
Email: bohasha@msn.com
Relationship: We served together

Hackett, David

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in action PERSONAL
  • Full Name: David Spencer Hackett
  • Date of Birth: September 6, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Ligonier, PA
  • College: Princeton
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: NROTC
  • TBS Platoon: E-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 5
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 092088
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - April 30, 1967
  • casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri / Hill 881 South
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Silver Star & Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 18E - Row 122
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013


1st Lt David S. Hackett – Dave was commissioned from the NROTC program at Princeton, where he played lacrosse. At Basic School, he was assigned to 2nd Platoon of Echo Company and he graduated 5th in the Class and was the honor graduate of Echo 2. Dave was the XO (MOS 0302) of Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines. During the period April 22 through April 26, 1967, BLT 2/3 as part of the SLF was conducting a search and destroy mission (Operation Beacon Star) in Thua Thien Province, approximately 16 miles north of Hue. As the "Hill Fights" developed, 2/3 was tapped to supplement the build-up of forces at Khe Sanh Combat Base. They were heli-lifted to Phu Bai and then moved by C-130 to Khe Sanh. Once on the ground, they followed in trace of other infantry units that had already captured Hill 861 and were positioning to attack 881 South from a northern approach. On April 29th, Mike Company 3/9, while moving to the north of Hill 881 South had encountered entrenched NVA as they moved through a draw (XD 784448). Hotel Company 2/3 moved into the same draw at mid-morning on April 30th. Dave was on a ridge just above the draw when Hotel Company's leading platoons were taken under fire by NVA in well camouflaged entrenched positions by heavy machine guns and sniper rifles, later verified to be equipped with scopes. Observing the location of the NVA machine gun which was inflicting heavy casualties on Hotel Company, Dave sprang up from a small depression and moved 30 meters through heavy enemy fire to provide direction for a Marine M-60 machine-gun team. Dave's direction placed heavy fire on on the NVA bunker in which the NVA heavy machine gun was located and neutralized the position. Still under heavy fire, Dave directed the evacuation of several of the casualties. Recognizing that the Company Commander's radioman had been killed, Dave sent his radioman to take over as the Company Commander's radioman. Next, he moved forward to assist in the direction of the 2nd Platoon, as their platoon commander had been wounded. It was during this courageous action that Dave was shot in the back of the head, by an enemy sniper. He died in Quang Tri Province between Hill 861 and the northern approaches to Hill 881 South in what 2/3 called "Operation Beacon Star – Phase II". He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his valor. Dave was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

1st Lt. Hackett was the Executive Officer for Hotel CO, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division when he was killed by a sniper in the Battalion?s thrust to capture Hill 881N, approximately 7 kilometers North West of the Combat Base at Khe Sanh.


June 11,2013

1st Lt David S. Hackett

As an undergraduate, I had one of the finest role models I could have asked for in an upperclassman by the name of David Hackett. David was on our 1965 lacrosse team. He was not necessarily the best on the team, but he was a determined and a natural leader. He graduated later that spring. And a year later – as we were graduating – we faced the decision of how to respond to the war in Vietnam.

We knew that David was in Vietnam serving as a platoon commander in the Marine Corps. In the spring of 1967, he volunteered for a second tour of duty. But on April 29th, as he led his men against a North Vietnamese Army contingent, David was killed by a sniper's bullet just south of the DMZ.

One would have thought that the life of a Marine, and David's death in Vietnam, would argue strongly against following in his footsteps. But many of us saw in him the person we wanted to be, even before his death. He was a leader and a role model on the fields of Princeton. He was a leader and a role model on the fields of battle as well. And a number of his friends and teammates joined the Marine Corps because of him, as did I.

I do consider myself fortunate to have survived my tour in Vietnam. There were many – men such as David Hackett – who did not. And perhaps because of that, I have always felt compelled to try to give back in some way. I have been lucky to spend the better part of my professional life in public service, and to benefit from the intangible rewards that come from such service.

Comments by Former FBI Director, Richard S. Mueller
May 12, 2013
Commencement Address – College of William and Mary


Silver Star Citation

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant David S. Hackett (MCSN: 0-92088), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company H, Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), in the Republic of Vietnam, on 30 April 1967. While conducting a search and destroy mission in Thua Thien Province, North of Khe Sanh, the company came under a sudden and vicious attack from fortified enemy emplacements less than one hundred meters away. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns, automatic rifles and small arms with sniper scopes, the enemy inflicted heavy casualties. First Lieutenant Hackett unhesitatingly charged thirty meters through a hail of automatic fire to direct an M-60 machine gun team against an enemy bunker. Once this mission was completed, he again exposed himself to the intense fire to organize a stricken platoon and help evacuate the seriously wounded. Upon completion of this task, he once again rushed to the base of fire to encourage and direct his men's fire. While pressing the assault and encouraging his Marines, First Lieutenant Hackett was mortally wounded. By his outstanding courage, indomitable fighting spirit and selfless efforts in behalf of others, First Lieutenant Hackett served to inspire all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: 30-Apr-67
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company H
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Regiment: 3d Marines
Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF


August 20, 1999

I was the Medical Officer (BAS) for 2/3/3 Mar Div. and remember him well.

To me, David was truly the "All American Boy" in the finest sense of the word. He was bright, athletic, personable, hard working, and from my non-military view point, placed his troops welfare ahead of his at all times. On top of this he played guitar. I was envious.

The hill fights around Khe Sanh did none of us any good. I was crushed on this date of 30 April, 1967. I felt I had lost a younger brother who was better and brighter than most of us. I still do.
Posted by: Richard A. Nivala MD
e-Mail: dpnivala@compuserve.com
Relationship: Comrade


January 1, 2006

I didn't know posting a remembrance was possible until one of our Princeton ?Class of 1965? classmates pointed it out recently. So today, on Veterans Day 2002, I simply want to honor Dave Hackett and say that I have visited his name on the Wall on virtually every trip I have made to DC for the past 20 years. His basic decency, natural leadership, and a kind of quiet nobility were well established even as a young man in college. I remember him well and miss him. still.
Posted by: Beau Carter
Relationship: We were college classmates

Hayes, Wayne

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Wayne Michael Hayes
  • Date of Birth: August 10, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Menomonie, WI
  • College: Olivet Nazarene University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: -
  • TBS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 213
  • MOS: 1802
  • Serial Number: 093170
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - July 6, 1967
  • casualty Type: Hostile, Died Wounds
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri / Con Tien
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 23E - Row 018
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

1st Lt Wayne M. Hayes – Wayne complete OCS as a member of 1st Platoon, Delta Company. He was in the 2nd Platoon of Delta Company at Basic School. Wayne was the platoon commander (MOS 1802) with 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Wayne assumed command of the tank platoon after his friend and Basic School Classmate, 1st Lt Lou Dobbins was killed on May 18, 1967. The tank platoon continued as an attachment to Battalion Landing Team 1/3. On July 2, 1967, two NVA battalions attacked from the northeast out of the DMZ with the objective of overrunning the Con Thien, which was manned at the time by 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Bravo Company 1/9 screening Con Thien to the northeast took the brunt of the onslaught. Once the NVA units were fixed, two additional Marine battalions were heli-lifted in and inserted in the path of the NVA advance. 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, led by one of our Basic School Company Commanders - Major Woodring (Delta Company TBS), and BLT 1/3 took up positions abreast to protect Con Thien. As the bodies of 36 Marines from Bravo Company 1/9 were still on the battlefield, one of the additional missions for the two forward battalions was to continue pushing back the NVA until all of the Bravo Company bodies had been recovered. Once in place, 3/9 to the west of Route 561and BLT 1/3 to the east advanced slowly to the north guiding on Route 561. Once BLT 1/3 was committed to the fight, Wayne’s tanks were debarked from the USS Duluth (LPD-6) through the facilities at Naval Support Activity Dong Ha on July 3rd. By July 5th, Wayne's tank platoon had moved from Dong Ha to Con Thien and was in the field again supporting BLT 1/3. At approximately 05:00 on July 6th, Wayne reported to the Commanding Officer of Bravo Company BLT 1/3 with a heavy section (two gun tanks and 1 flame tank). As the morning progressed, a squad from BLT 1/3's Charlie Company, 2nd platoon, patrolling forward of the frontline, got pinned down, a platoon from Bravo Company, BLT 1/3, led by Wayne’s Basic School Classmate, 1st Mike Parker, was dispatched with the three tanks to extract them. By the time they arrive, the small arms fire had ceased, so Wayne was directed to use his tanks to reconnoiter the 400 meters of open ground between the frontline and the tree line to the north. Wayne took his two gun tanks and moved forward about 300 meters. Wayne had the top hatch on his tank open, but he was hunkered down to facilitate providing navigation and targeting instructions to his crews. As Wayne closed to 100 meters from the tree line, shots rang out. Wayne was shot in the left arm, left cheek, left eye and left side of the head. With his tank crew preoccupied dealing with Wayne's wounds, the NVA moved a 57mm recoilless rifle into position and at 12:10 fired a round at the tank, which disabled its turret. The tank crew pulled Wayne and another wounded crewman out of the turret and laid them on the ground behind his tank. A corpsman from Bravo Company BLT 1/3 rushed forward to assist the wounded. As Wayne was alive, but had extensive head wounds, the corpsman performed a battlefield tracheotomy. A medevac helicopter was called in and it took Wayne directly to the USS Sancturary, where he succumbed to his wounds at 16:37. Wayne died from wounds received in Quang Tri Province approximately 3 kilometers northeast of Con Thien (YD 140723), while participating in Operation Buffalo. He was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

July 7, 1999

Wayne was the best man in my wedding on August 14, 1965. He attended college with my husband and I. We were great friends. All of his friends from Olivet Nazarene University miss him greatly.
Posted by: Julie (Clipper) Wiseman, ONU 1969
Relationship: Friend


November 11, 2002

You bought me my first baseball glove when I was seven. You died just before I turned nine. I will always wonder what might have been had you lived. I knew you only through the eyes of a little boy. I wish I could have known you through the eyes of a man. All these years later I still get a special lump in my throat when the National Anthem is played at baseball games. Thanks for the glove, your love, and your unselfish example. In God's providence, I pray we will meet again.
Posted by: Charles H. Hayes
Relationship: He is my brother


January 2, 2009

1st Lt Wayne Michael Hayes died on July 6, 1967. He was serving as the Platoon Commander of First Platoon, Charlie Company, Third Tank Battalion. Most of the general circumstances surrounding his death are capably described in Keith William Nolan's book, "Operation Buffalo: USMC Fight for the DMZ" but more reliable details have been provided by his OCS and Basic School Classmate, Mike Parker, who was in close proximity to Wayne, when he died. 1st Lt Hayes was an Officer Candidate in the 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company at the 38th Officer Candidate Course. He successfully completed the course in Quantico, VA and was commissioned on December 17, 1965. Following Christmas leave, he proceeded to The Basic School (Basic Class 3-66) for further training. He subsequently completed the 1800 MOS training to qualify as a Tank Platoon Commander before being ordered to Vietnam.

The ambush and subsequent assault on Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines by two battalions of the 324B NVA Division on July 2, 1967 kicked off what became known as "Operation Buffalo" - the action in which Wayne was killed. The 7th Battalion and the 9th Battalion of the NVA's 90th Regiment crossed the DMZ and Ben Hai River to strike at Con Thien. The overview is that an NVA Regiment (Minus) was moving toward Con Thien with the intent of overrunning the fire base. Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and Bravo Company were screening Con Thien to the north and northeast respectively. The initial contact between the opposing forces was in the northeast quadrant and due to the NVA 90th Regiment's overwhelming numerical superiority, Bravo Company was nearly annihilated. As Bravo Company was relieved and withdrew from the battlefield to regroup at the Battalion headquarters at Con Thien, the grim statistics of the action were learned. Bravo Company had 17 KIAs, 33 WIAs and 36 MIAs (presumed dead) were unable to be collected from the battlefield immediately given the overwhelming strength of the NVA assault. This was the worst loss of life by a Marine Company during the Vietnam War. Having fixed a substantial enemy force, two additional infantry battalions were flown in by helicopter and tasked with recovering the Bravo Company MIAs and continuing to shielding Con Thien from the enemy assault. Of Bravo Company's 36 MIAs, the remains of 35 would later be located and removed from the battlefield. The body of L/Cpl Wayne Vaster Wilson would never be located and he has been declared dead, but his remains have not been repatriated. The battalions that were tasked with these missions were 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines led by Major Willard J. Woodring, who had been 1st Lt Hayes Company Commander at Basic School and 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines led by LtCol Peter A. Wickwire. After being helilifted to Landing Zones south of the trace, the two battalions move north to create a defensive line between the enemy and Con Thien. 3/9 was arrayed to the west of Route 561 and 1/3 was arrayed to the east, just north of the Trace (the brainchild of Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara). The Trace was approximately 500 meters wide, cleared of all vegetation and extended from Con Thien on the west to Gio Linh on the East. As the battle raged from July 2nd through July 5th, more Marine units were being fed into the battle by the 3rd Marine Division headquarters. One of those units was a Heavy Section of tanks (3) from Charlie Company, 3rd Tank Battalion, led by 1st Lt. Wayne M. Hayes. These tanks arrived at the front at approximately 05:00 on July 6th. 1st Lt. Hayes leading the heavy section moved to the east of Route 561, the north-south supply route that passed east of Con Thien. Bravo Company, 1/3 under the command of Captain Burrell H. Landes was positioned immediately east of Route 561 and its 1st Platoon was tied into to the road and 3/9 to the west.

1st Lt Hayes parked his tanks on a low ridgeline that ran east-west immediately to the east of Route 561 behind the dug in infantry. He immediately sought out the infantry commander in this sector in order to get properly oriented and he was delighted to find that the platoon, Bravo 1, was led by his OCS and Basic School Classmate, 1st Lt Michael Parker. The tanks were initially placed in a reserve position, while waiting to be tasked. At around 06:00, 1st Lt Hayes was eating C-Rations and conversing with 1st Lt Parker, when they heard small arms fire erupt on the low open land to their northeast, where Charlie Company, 1/3 was dug in.

2nd Platoon, Charlie Company 1/3 under the command of 2nd Lt John V. Francis had sent a squad-sized patrol out at first light to reconnoiter the area forward of their lines. The squad was in heavy contact with NVA forces and had sustained several casualties. The commanding officer of Charlie Company, 1/3, Captain Gerald F. Reczek contacted the Battalion Headquarters and requested that a platoon be sent to shore up his company and help with the recovery of the Marine casualties sustained by the ambushed C-2 squad. The Battalion Commander, LtCol Wickwire tasked Captain Landes (Bravo 1/3) with providing the platoon and he in turn selected Bravo 1 under platoon commander, 1st Lt Parker for the mission. As 1st Lt Parker readied his platoon to move to Charlie 2's aid, 1st Lt Hayes indicated that he would bring his tanks and move forward with Bravo 1 to assist. As the combined tank-infantry force moved out, Captain Landes contacted 1st Lt Parker and cautioned him that it was suspected the NVA had 12.7mm heavy machine gun in the area of the Charlie Company contact. Bravo 1 and the tanks reached Charlie 2's position around 07:00. Upon arriving, it was obvious that 2nd Lt Francis was distraught over the casualties his squad had sustained. Rather than risk further casualties in a precipitous response, 1st Lt Parker, as the senior infantry platoon commander present, took command of the remnants of Charlie 2. Once oriented, 1st Lt Parker asked 1st Lt Hayes to move forward with his tanks to reconnoiter the open ground between the frontline and the tree line approximately 400 meters to the north. 1st Lt Hayes decided to move forward with his two gun tanks, leaving the flame tank on the line with the combined infantry platoons. As the small arms fire had stopped, 1st Lt Hayes directed his tanks forward approximately 300 meters. He had his tank's (USMC #201991) hatch open and was hunkered down as low as possible to observe and direct his driver. As they approached to within 100 meters of the tree line to the north, a shot rang out. An NVA sniper had shot 1st Lt Hayes in the face. The two tanks ground to a halt and the flack jacketed crews tried to evacuate and resuscitate 1st Lt Hayes. However, when the tank stopped to deal with the 1st Lt Hayes gunshot wound; the NVA brought up a 57mm recoilless rifle and engaged his tank. A recoilless rifle round penetrated his tank, where the turret met the deck, disabling the turret. The lifeless form of 1st Lt Hayes was pulled from the top hatch and positioned on the ground behind his tank. With the gun tanks stalled approximately 300 meters to his front, the tank commander of the flame tank move forward from his position on the line and ignited the tree line in the vicinity of the 57mm recoilless rifle and the suspected location of the sniper. A hospital corpsman from Bravo 1, rushed forward to help with wounded. Not realizing the extent of 1st Lt Hayes injury and thinking he might benefit from he a tracheotomy the corpsman performed one right there on the battlefield in an attempt to restart his breathing, but 1st Lt Hayes succumbed to the gunshot wound.

Posted by: David Mellon
Relationship: Basic School Classmate

Holt, Robert

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Robert Alan Holt
  • Date of Birth: June 13, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Reading, MA
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: -
  • TBS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Class Standing: 139
  • MOS: 7582
  • Serial Number: 017322564
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: September 19, 1968
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - September 19, 1968
  • casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Air Loss, Crash - Land
  • Country: North Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Unknown
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 43E - Row 037
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013


Captain Robert A. Holt – Bob entered the officer corps through the Officer Candidate Course. He was assigned to the 1st Platoon of Alpha Company at OCS and was commissioned on December 17, 1965. Bob was a single Marine, who completed Basic School with the 2nd Platoon of Delta Company. After, Basic School, Bob went to Naval Air Station, Glynco, GA and successfully completed Naval Flight Officer curriculum. He was then assigned to a US based squadron to get fully qualified as an F-4 Phantom Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) (MOS 7582). Bob's next set of orders sent him to Vietnam. He arrived in-country on May 4, 1968 and was assigned to VMFA-542, flying out of Danang. On September 19, 1967, Bob and his pilot, Captain John A. La Voo were assigned the lead aircraft on Mission 412, a strike against an NVA logistical storage site in North Vietnam approximately 64 kilometers northwest of Dong Ha (XE 807068). Their wing aircraft for the strike was piloted by Captain Sauer with Captain Renninger as RIO. The flight briefed at 14:00 and took off at 15:20 from Danang. Bob's aircraft was armed with 6 Mark-8 (500 pound bombs) and 4 Zuni rockets. During their first run at approximately 15:40, Bob and Captain La Voo dropped their 6 bombs on the target and their wing aircraft did the same. As they returned for a final rocket pass, they were taken under fire by NVA anti-aircraft gunners. They were in a 45 degree dive to deliver their Zuni rockets, when the aircraft received disabling enemy fire. Their wingman saw Bob and Captain La Voo's aircraft roll to the right and then partially recover before impacting the ground. The wing aircraft said there was no evidence of attempted ejection by either crewmember. Bob and his pilot were originally listed as MIA during the period September 19 – 24, 1968, but this was revised to Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. After the war concluded, the repatriation of their remains became the responsibility of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). It was a long and complicated process which brought the remains of these two aviators home for burial. In July 1992, a joint United States/Vietnamese team visited the suspected area of the crash to interview several informants with firsthand knowledge of the crash site. One of the informants turned over remains that were said to have been taken from the crash site. The team also examined some aircraft wreckage in the possession of the villagers. Another joint team re-interviewed one of the informants in August 1993. In January 1994, a third team surveyed the crash site again and recommended it for excavation. Then, in May 1994, excavation team members recovered numerous crew-related items as well as human remains. A fifth team continued the excavation in June and July 1994 and recovered additional remains and crew-related artifacts. The remains were repatriated on August 4, 1994. A sixth team completed the excavation in August 1994, recovering some further artifacts, but no remains.

Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, confirmed the following on May 19, 1999:

      Some remains were identified as belonging to Captain La Voo;
      Some remains were identified as belonging to Captain Holt; and
      Some remains could not be identified as belonging to either man.

On July 19, 1999, an unusual and unique ceremony was held in Arlington National Cemetery. With full military honors, the identifiable remains of the pilot, Captain John A. La Voo were interred. In a separate plot next to Captain La Voo, the unidentifiable remains of both crewmen were interred. Finally, Bob's identifiable remains of were returned to his father, transported to Reading, MA, and formally interred at Forest Glen Cemetery, where his mother, Shirley B. Holt, was buried.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

Robert Alan Holt
Captain
VMFA-542, MAG-11, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
13 June 1942 - 19 September 1968
Reading, Massachusetts
Panel 43W Line 037





November 7, 2003 - A Note from the Virtual Wall

On 19 Sep 1968, Captain John A. La Voo , pilot, and Captain Robert A. Holt, RIO, participated in a strike on a storage site near Mai Xa Ha, about 13 miles north of the DMZ. On his second pass at the target, La Voo's F-4B (BuNo 152232) was hit by enemy fire and continued its dive until ground impact. Neither crewman ejected from the aircraft.

Both men were classed as Killed in Action, Body not Recovered. After several excavation efforts at the crash site, human remains were recovered in September 1994. On 19 May 1999, the Defense Department announced that the remains had been positively identified as those of La Voo and Holt, and the two men were buried in Arlington National Cemetery on 19 July 1999.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a roommate at The Basic School, Quantico,
Will always be remembered.
One of three of my TBS roommates who were killed in action.

Semper Fi, Marines, Joe

> Joe Hancharick, Jr.
6125 7th St., King George, Va 22485
Email: joeh@crosslink.net


January 30, 2006

Will always remember my 3 KIA TBS roommates: Forrest Goodwin, Bob Holt and Lou Dobbins..
Semper Fi, Marines. Joe.
Posted by: Joe Hancharick
e-Mail: joeh@crosslink.net
Relationship: We served together


January 1, 2006

My own research indicates a small error with the events surrounding the burial of Captain LaVoo and Captain Holt. I only submit this information since, to my knowledge, their Arlington Cemetery internment is unique.

In July 1992, a joint United States/Vietnamese team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, visited the suspected area of the crash to interview several informants with firsthand knowledge of the crash site. One of the informants turned over remains that were said to have been taken from the crash site. The team also examined some aircraft wreckage in the possession of the villagers. Another joint team re-interviewed one of the informants in August 1993, while another team, in January 1994, surveyed the crash site again and recommended it for excavation.

Then, in May 1994, excavation team members recovered numerous crew-related items as well as human remains. A fifth team continued the excavation in June and July 1994 and recovered additional remains and crew-related artifacts. A sixth team completed the excavation in August 1994, recovering some further artifacts, but no remains.

Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, confirmed the following:
     1. Some remains were identified as belonging to Captain La Voo;
     2. Some remains were identified as belonging to Captain Holt; and
     3. Some remains could not be identified as belonging to either man.

Therefore, on July 19th of 1999, an unusual and unique ceremony was held in Arlington National Cemetery. With full military honors, the identifiable remains of Captain John Allan La Voo were interred. In a separate plot next to Captain La Voo, the unidentifiable remains of both crewmen were interred. The identifiable remains of Captain Robert Alan Holt were returned to his father, transported to Reading, and formally interred at Forest Glen Cemetery, where his mother was buried.

From a hometown researcher for American Legion Post 62.
Posted by: Larry Goulet, SCPO, USN (Ret)
Email: honcho13@comcast.net

Howell, Gatlin

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in Action PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Gatlin Jerryl Howell
  • Nickname: Jerry
  • Date of Birth: November 7, 1935
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: Nancy
  • Children's Names: Jay 1965 & Mark 1967
  • Home of Record: Colma, CA
  • College: San Francisco State University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-1
  • TBS Platoon: D-3
  • TBS Class Standing: 29
  • MOS: 0312
  • Serial Number: 093190
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Unit: 1st Battalion, 9th Marines (S-2)
  • Start of Tour: July 19, 1966
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - July 7, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Circumstances of Death: Delayed fuse 152mm Artillery Shell penetrated and exploded in the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines Command Bunker at Con Thien
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Navy Cross & Purple Heart with one Gold Star
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 23E - Row 028
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

1st Lt Gatlin J. Howell – Jerry was 30 years old when he completed OCS with the 1st Platoon of Bravo Company. He had served an enlistment in the Marine Corps before going to College under the GI Bill. In Basic School, Jerry was assigned to 3rd Platoon of Delta Company. Jerry was the platoon commander (MOS 0302) for 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines for 10 months. before taking over the Intelligence Shop (S-2) on May 28, 1967 from Basic School Classmate, 1st Lt Steve Snyder. He had assumed command of the Bravo 3 in late July 1966, while it was located on Liberty Road, approximately 3 kilometers south of Dai Loc and 1 kilometer north of the Liberty Road Ferry Crossing on the Song Thu Bon. 1/9 left country in late September to go through an SLF rotation. Refitting and training occurred on Okinawa. Additional training took place at Subic Bay in the Philippines in preparation for an early January Operation Deckhouse V in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. After changing shipping, 1/9 return to Vietnam in early February 1967. At this point, Bravo Company was detached and sent to Khe Sanh to provide security for the Combat Base for the months of February, March and April. After a brief assignment to Camp Carroll in early May, Bravo Company rejoined it parent Battalion, 1/9. Jerry continued as the Bravo 3 platoon commander through the month of May. On May 28th, Jerry took over the 1/9 Battalion Intelligence Officer billet (S-2) from Classmate, 1st Lt Stephen M. Snyder. On July 2nd, while serving as the S-2, Jerry left the 1/9 command bunker at Con Thien to accompany his Basic School platoon commander, Captain "Mac" Radcliffe in rescuing as many of the survivors of the Bravo Company ambush at the "Marketplace" as possible. Jerry's former platoon had been on point and had accordingly suffered the most severe casualties in the close fighting. Jerry's loyalty to "his" platoon and love for his men motivated him to leave the relative security of the Command Bunker and accompany the relief column in the WIA recovery effort. Several acts of valor are described in the Navy Cross citation which detail Jerry’s courageous actions and commitment in recovering the Bravo-3 wounded. Five days later, Jerry was back at his desk in the Combat Operation Center at Con Thien (YD 113703) attending to Battalion Intelligence matters, when at 13:45 a 152mm delayed fuse artillery round penetrated the east facing entrance and exploded inside, collapsing portions of the bunker. The round virtually exploded where Jerry's S-2 desk was located. Jerry's body had fragmentation wounds to the back and right knee. The wounds suggested that he was not at his desk at the moment of impact, but rather some distance from the site facing further into the bunker. Jerry died instantaneously along with 13 other Marines in this incident in Quang Tri Province during Operation Buffalo. The single artillery shell also wounded 27 other Marines in the 1/9 CP. Operation Buffalo had also taken the life of Classmate 1st Lt Wayne Hayes one day earlier. Wayne and Jerry had been in the same Basic School Company, Wayne in platoon D-2, while Jerry was in D-3. Jerry was married and had one child prior to departing for Vietnam. As his wife, Nancy, had visited him during the refitting and training cycle on Okinawa, she became pregnant with their second child, who was born after Jerry death.Jerry is buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery on the beautiful grounds of the Presidio. He is interred in Plot E East 50 A. A picture of his headstone is displayed below:

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

January 22, 2011




Gatlin Jerryl "Jerry" Howell
Bravo 3 Actual
July 1966-May 1967
Bravo Company
1st Battalion, 9th Marines

Battalion S-2 "Intelligence Officer" June 1967-July 1967


Foreword:

I am pulling together this "Remembrance" of Jerry Howell because he was my friend and I want to honor his memory as well as document his service to our great country. It is long overdue. Additionally, I have lost track of his survivors and hope that this might facilitate reconnecting. In retirement, I have the time to address some of these "obligations", which were neglected earlier. I was fortunate to serve in the same rifle company with Jerry in Vietnam - First Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific from mid-July 1966 until I was evacuated on February 25, 1967. Jerry served as a platoon commander with Bravo Company for 10 months, at which time, he went up to the Battalion staff, as the S-2. I will attempt to describe Jerry's entire tour in Vietnam, which is also a partial chronology of the combat history of Bravo Company and his platoon, Bravo 3, for the period. As I was not there for his final 4 and ½ months of Jerry's service in Vietnam, I have relied on information available in the 1/9 Command Chronologies, a couple of authors (Edward F. Murphy - "The Hill Fights - The First Battle of Khe Sanh" and Keith William Nolan - "Operation Buffalo") and some friends who served with Jerry and I in 1/9, specifically, a Basic School Classmate, Stephen M. Snyder, who was the Delta 2 Actual, then Battalion S-2 Delta 1 Actual, Delta XO and then Delta CO, William F. Delaney, who was the XO of Bravo Company, and Melvin L. Thompson, who was Bravo 2 Actual, XO of H&S Co and finally CO of H&S Company.

Background:

My recollections are undoubtedly diminished by the 43 ½ years that have passed since Jerry died and the writing of this "Remembrance". There are many things I would have asked back then, if I had known he would be killed, but at the time, I thought that we would always be friends and some of those items of information would come out as we sat around later in life, enjoying a beer, recalling our youth and telling "war stories". Some of this background information is a matter of fact, found in the written records of the war, while some are my recollections of the facts and the man. I take full responsibility for any errors of fact.

I first met Jerry in Basic School. We were both assigned to platoon, D-3 in Basic Class 3-66. We graduated from the 38th Officer Candidate Course on December 17, 1965 and returned to Quantico in early January (1966) to start Basic School. Our platoon commander was Captain Henry J. M. "Mac" Radcliffe.

My recollection is that Jerry was of Native American extraction and was born and spent his early life in Oklahoma. I believe his family moved to California during his youth. Jerry was born in 1935, so he would have graduated from High School in 1954 or 1955. The point here is that he was too young to have served in Korea. It was a war that he missed. I believe he joined the Marine Corp following High School and did a four year hitch. He would have gotten out in1958 or 1959. He undoubtedly went to college on the GI bill. He graduated San Francisco State, got his teaching certificate and taught school at Pelton Junior High in San Francisco Unified School District from1963 through the spring of 1965, while living in nearby Colma, CA. In addition to teaching, Jerry was a track coach. He was married to Nancy and had one son, Jay. While I am sure that Jerry was an outstanding teacher and coach, I think he felt cheated by his Marine experience, in that he did not get to experience combat - that which we understand at a more advanced age - to actually be the "horrors of war". With his college degree he was officer material. A very persuasive guy, I am sure that Jerry convinced Nancy that it was a life experience he did not want to miss and went back on active duty to see the war in Vietnam first hand. So Jerry, at age 30, joined the other officer candidates in Quantico, VA to comprise the 38th Officer Candidate Course. We began the Course, the officer training equivalent of boot camp for enlisted personnel, on October 11, 1965. Jerry was assigned to OCS Platoon B-1, while I was in C-2, which explains why we never met in OCS. Each Company of Candidates was on an entirely different schedule. Jerry, with former enlisted experience, was undoubtedly a strong resource for those recent college graduates that found themselves in his OCS platoon. Graduating with the Class, Jerry was commissioned on December 17, 1965. The Military Guest of Honor at our graduation was MajGen Lew Walt, the Commanding General of III Marine Amphibious Force.

Jerry was smart and fit and with his enlisted experience knew what the Marine Corp expected from its officers. Being married, he was also focused. During Basic School, Jerry didn't stay in O'Bannon Hall, which was the Bachelor Officer Quarter (BOQ). He lived in married quarters and commuted to Basic School with other married guys in our class. The married officers had a locker room in O'Bannon Hall, which I understand was a pretty raucous place. The married guys, like Jerry, took part in every class and exercise that the bachelors did and then commuted back to their families to take care of their husbandly and fatherly duties. The schedule was grueling for the bachelors as the Marine Corps was pushing us through for service in Vietnam. It must have been an incredible strain on these married officers, as they had the additional responsibility of being husbands and fathers to their families. Jerry finished 29th in his Basic School Class of approximately 470 2nd Lieutenants, despite all of these pressures.

After graduation from Basic School, Jerry had 30 days leave and a reporting date to meet a contract air carrier at Travis Air Force Base for the flight to Vietnam. He moved his family back to Colma, CA and enjoyed some quality family time with Nancy and Jay before preparing for departure to Vietnam. Jerry and I had gotten to know each other pretty well during Basic School, but that was just a prelude. We both had orders to the 3rd Marine Division.

Vietnam - Phase 1 - Da Nang and the VC

We left CONUS out of Travis Air Force Base on 9 Jul 66. After a refueling stop in Honolulu, we flew to Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa. We did the traditional processing at Camp Hansen and then boarded a flight into DaNang. We arrived in Vietnam in mid-July and began our in-country processing. When Jerry and I found we were on the same Vietnam-bound flight from Okinawa and both had orders to report to the Third Marine Division, we decided to travel and report together. We went through some general orientation and Land Mine Warfare and Demolitions training at the Division level before being processed for assignment to a Third Marine Division unit.

As it worked out, we were passed to the 9th Marine Regiment and then along to 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. At the time, Division and Regiment were co-located on Freedom Hill (Hill 327) in DaNang. We spent one of our first evenings in transient Bachelor Officer Quarters and went over to the Regimental Officer's Club for a beer. While we were there, we met a couple of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines 2nd Lieutenants, who had by that time been in country about 2-3 months. We had a few drinks with them and were very interested to learn as much as possible from them as to what we would be facing as new Lieutenants in-country. The two were 2nd Lt. Danny Mitchell, A Naval Academy graduate and 2nd Lt. Bill Sermeus, both assigned as platoon commanders in Alpha Company. During the conversation, 2nd Lt. Mitchell made a comment that I remember to this day, that presaged actual events, he said, "One of you will probably be killed here!" Welcome to Vietnam!

The next day, we rode a convoy down to Hill 55, where we checked in with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines headquarters. It was there, Jerry and I first met Major James L. Day, who was the XO of the Battalion. We were called into his portion of the underground bunker that served as the Battalion CP. Major Day was the first to welcome us aboard. Shortly thereafter, he took us in to meet the CO, Lt. Col Robert E. Jones. It was at Hill 55 that we were also assigned our 782 gear. This process consisted of picking through a heap of gear that was piled on the ground outside the S-4 tent. The equipment was just a mound of web gear and helmets that had been reclaimed from KIAs and WIAs as they were evacuated from the Battalion area. Even as young 2nd Lieutenants, Jerry and I knew this was not the way new personnel should be assigned 782 gear.

Our OQR's indicate that both Jerry and I were assigned to Bravo Company effective 19Jul66; but, we did not reach the Company CP position until 23Jul66. At the time, Bravo Company was assigned to the southwestern most sector of the Battalion's TAOR. The Company was deployed with First Platoon on the Song Thu Bon (Southern Flank) maintaining security for the Liberty Road Ferry Site, Second Platoon on the Song Vu Gia (Western Flank) and Third Platoon positioned in depth providing security for the company CP and the 81mm mortar section. The CO of Bravo Company was Captain Roger A. Splean. He assigned me to 1st Platoon and Jerry to 3rd Platoon. 2nd Lt. Melvin L. Thompson was already in place as 2nd Platoon Commander. Mel had arrived in-country a few weeks ahead of us. Although 2nd Lt Thompson was a decorated veteran of the Korean, in his commissioned status, he was junior to Jerry and me by Service Number. This fact was not lost on Jerry and I when time was later available to reflect on it and harass our "Big Brother".

Initially, Bravo 1 was located approximately 300 meters back from the bank of the Song Thu Bon, but later deployed forward to rivers edge to provide improved security to the pontoon ferry and the LCM-8, which spent each night on the north side of the river.

Second Platoon was located approximately 500 meters from the Song Vu Gia and approximately 1500 meters due west of the Company CP, but had an Observation Post (BOP 2) right on the bank of the river looking into the Arizona Territory. BOP 2 had two tanks inside its squad sized perimeter. The tankers were detached from 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Tank Battalion.

The Third Platoon, which Jerry was leading, the 81mm Mortar section and the Company CP were co-located approximately 200 meters west of Liberty Road and approximately 1200 meters from the confluence of the Thu Bon and the Vu Gia Rivers.

Our positions were essentially astride Liberty Road which connected Da Nang to An Hoa. We were located approximately 4000 meters south of Hill 37 (Dai Loc), which was home to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, commanded by LtCol Victor Ohanesian.

Jerry and I joined Bravo Company after the conclusion of Operation Liberty, a 3rd Marine Division Operation that began on 7Jun66 and concluded on 22Jun66. The operation was intended to push the Battalion's Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) to the south and west and to accomplish "the deliberate, detailed, systematic and thorough clearing of VC forces and complete destruction of VC facilities and influence with the assigned Zone of Action (ZOA)". Kilo Company, 3/9 was attached to 1/9 for the entire operation. Bravo Company was an active participant in Operation Liberty. The Battalion suffered 30 KIAs and 146 WIAs, including 5 Officers, during the month of June. The Command Chronology states "the entire month of June was conspicuously absent of any solid VC contact. Once again, mining and booby-trap incidents were frequent... and most of the casualties taken by the battalion were a result of such activities." While the VC avoided head-to-head contact, sniping was another strategy they used quite successfully during Operation Liberty.

Prior to our arrival in-country on 7 Jul 66, a squad from Bravo 3, which was subsequently assigned to Jerry, found more than 300 concussion grenades and 18 Claymore mines buried under the foundation of an abandon house. I suspect it was the house they were using as the Company CP and this stock of VC munitions was found as the 3rd Platoon dug in for their tenure as the security element at the Company CP site.

When Jerry and I arrived at the Company, Captain Splean kept us in the CP for a few of days to get us properly oriented. On 25Jul66, we participated in County Fair type operation, moving out with elements of 3rd Platoon. The concept of the operation was that one platoon each from Bravo, Charlie and Delta companies would form a cordon around the ville - Phu Loc (2) and a platoon of Popular Force soldiers from the Dai Loc Headquarters would provide the search element. The activity consisted of a night movement from the Company CP, with the 3rd Platoon, to be in blocking positions outside Phu Loc (2) a couple of kilometers north of the Company CP on the morning of 25Jul66. The platoon remained in position during the day, while Popular Forces interviewed the residents of the ville and searched it for weaponry. Jerry and I were assigned to our platoons on 26Jul66. During the month of July 1966, the Battalion?s casualties were 7 Enlisted Marines - KIA and 2 Officers and 41 Enlisted Marines - WIA.

The Company was in a period of relative calm after we joined. The only substantive enemy contact occurred at the BOP-2 outpost. One evening, the Viet Cong attempted to overrun the observation post and destroy its two tanks. The squad from Bravo 2 manning the observation post that evening repulsed the Viet Cong force which was armed with small arms and RPGs and killed 5 without sustaining any Marine casualties. The routine platoon operations consisted of squad size day patrol, a squad sized night ambush, a fire team size night listening post and 50% security on the platoon perimeter during the hours of darkness. During this somewhat static period, Jerry and I had the opportunity to get to know our troops and learn our jobs as Platoon Commanders, through on-the-job training. We were fortunate as well to be assigned to a TAOR which was several kilometers from the Battalion CP on Hill 55. Earlier, Hill 55 had been an ARVN outpost and during that time, the ARVN had deployed numerous anti-personnel mines (M-14 "Tomato Cans" and M-16 "Bouncing Betties") as part of their defensive plan. The ARVN did not provide appropriate security to their minefields and the local VC had appropriated many of these anti-personnel mines. The 1/9 Companies patrolling the area around Hill 55 were subjected to the constant threat of anti-personnel mines. It was these mines that accounted for most of the Battalion?s casualties, during July, August and September 1966.

Our Company, Bravo, was tasked with basically four tasks, (1) blocking the south west boundary of 1/9's TAOR, (2) providing security for the Liberty Road Ferry Site, the pontoon ferry and the LCM-8, (3) providing security for Liberty Road to keep the Engineers safe while they were completing its construction and (4) conducting the daily Mine Sweep of the Main Supply Route (MSR). Jerry's platoon, Bravo 3, was primarily tasked with protection of the Engineers while they were sweeping Liberty Road for vehicular mines and completing the improvements to the MSR to make it an all-weather roadway.

We had occasional vehicular mine incidents that disrupted the construction of Liberty Road by the Engineers and the daily platoon re-supply, but no anti-personnel mine incidents. One Amtrac was disabled as it shuttled from the Company CP, where Jerry's platoon was located to the 2nd Platoon CP on a re-supply mission. Additionally, a road grader, was damaged when it hit a mine planted in the MSR between Jerry's location and mine. Later a dump truck suffered the same fate. In both incidents, the engineers suffered minor wounds, but were not seriously injured.

On 6 Aug 66, Alpha Company conducted a raid into the Arizona Territory. The BOP-2 squad sized strong point on the Song Vu Gia, took regular sniper fire from the west side of the river. In order to relieve the pressure on BOP-2 from this harassing fire, the Battalion put together this raid. The objective was to attempt to kill the sniper(s) and eliminate the firing positions from which they were harassing the Observation Post. 2nd Lt. Thompson had earlier scouted out a fording point on the Vu Gia. At 17:00 on 6 Aug 66, Alpha Company supported by Tanks and Amtracs passed through Bravo 2's position and crossed the river into the Arizona Territory. The raid concluded at 1800 on 7Aug66, when Alpha Company returned to the Battalion's TAOR and resumed its previous missions.

Operation Swanee brought an LCM-8 from the South China Sea up the Song Thu Bon to supplement the capability of the pontoon ferry at the Bravo 1 position on 21 Aug 66. The LCM-8 was used to move heavier equipment more easily across the Thu Bon thereby connecting the northern and southern segments of Liberty Road. The month of August produced an incredible improvement in communications for the Battalion, as the PRC-10 radios were replaced by the new PRC-25. Each squad leader (3) and the platoon headquarters received the new radios for a total of 4 per platoon. The Battalion's casualty figures for August were 5 Enlisted Marines KIA and 22 Enlisted Marines and 1 Corpsman WIA.

Jerry and I didn't see much of each other during this time as our platoon strong points were over 1000 meters apart. I do remember going through the Company CP at one point as I had been named investigating officer for an incident that had taken place up north at 2/3 CP at Dai Loc. When I went through the Company CP, I got to talk with Jerry for a while. I was really impressed that he had been able to get fresh eggs for his troops. Jerry's prior enlisted Marine experience and his naturally gregarious personality put him way ahead of me and most other new Lieutenants in terms of his ability to "scrounge" or put in a more civilian context, "beg, borrow and barter" for the things he wanted or needed for his troops.

I do remember a patrol with one of my squad's on the east side of Liberty Road, which was the line of demarcation between the 1st Platoon and 3rd Platoon Zones of Action. We were in a stand of trees approximately 200 Meters due east of the Company/3rd Platoon CP. Across open fields on both sides of Liberty Road, we could see make out the large stone house that housed the two command posts. One of my Marines noticed a 6 foot by 6 foot platform at a height of about 30 feet in one of the trees. It was obvious that the VC were using this platform to observe the action's of Jerry's 3rd Platoon, the mortar section and the Company CP. I remember my squad leader, Sgt Tolentino, using C-4 and detonation cord to bring down the entire tree.

September saw numerous changes in Bravo Company and the Battalion. On 5 Sep 66, our CO, (Captain Roger A. Splean) was promoted to Major and assigned a job at Division. As the Battalion was designated for relief in late September and reassignment to the Special Landing Force (SLF), Major Jim Day, who was working the personnel assignments for the Battalion Commander, recommended that he give command time to the recent Naval Academy graduates serving with the Battalion. LtCol Jones agreed and 2nd Lt F. D. "Danny" Mitchell was made CO of Bravo Company on 6 Sep 66. 2ndLt Sim Pace, picked up Alpha Company on 2 September and 2nd Lt Gary MacLeod picked up H&S Company on September 25th. LtCol Jones was seriously wounded in an ambush of his jeep on September 26, 1966 with a "through and through gunshot wound of the left thigh." This wound ultimately resulted in Col. Jones medical discharge from the Corps in 1970. The Colonel's driver, L/Cpl Ferrebee also sustained gunshot wounds of the legs. With Col. Jones medevaced, Major James L. Day assumed command of 1/9. 2nd Lt. Danny Mitchell commanded Bravo Company from 6Sep66 through 30Oct66, when he took over the S-3-Alpha assignment on the Battalion Staff. Captain Mike Sayers, who assume command of Bravo Company at that point, actually reported to 1/9 on 15 Sep 66 and immediately assumed responsibility for the S-4 (Logistics) shop. Later, he would take over Bravo Company.

Captain James Simpson, the CO of Bravo Company 1/26 relieved Bravo 1/9 at 1000 on 27 Sep 66 and assumed responsibility for the Company?s missions. After a brief turn over discussion with our counterparts, Bravo Company boarded trucks for the movement to DaNang Harbor. A few hours later, LtCol A. A. Monti the CO of BLT 1/26 relieved 1/9 in place at Hill 55 and assumed responsibility for the 1/9 TAOR at 1800 on 27Sep66. The Battalion proceeded to DaNang and boarded the USS Henrico (APA-45) for sealift to Okinawa. The USS Henrico departed DaNang at 1000 on 29Sep66. During its last month in-country, before departing for assignment to Special Landing Force as BLT 1/9, the Battalion suffered 11 Enlisted Marines KIA and 34 Enlisted Marines and 1 Officer WIA.

Phase II - Special Landing Force (SLF)

As we were passing through Da Nang, en route to the awaiting ship, Jerry and I did see, then Maj. Spleen in the Division area and had a drink with him at the O-Club. When we left Vietnam, I was assigned duty as the Company Pay Officer aboard ship. I still have the sign-off sheets I used as Pay Officer. All of the other platoons and HQ and mortar section sheets were laboriously made out in my handwriting, but 3rd Platoon sheets are neatly filled out in Jerry's handwriting. Typical of Jerry, he had the sheets filled out with the names and amounts, so I just had get the signatures his Marines and pay them. Jerry always did a great job of planning ahead. While we were aboard the USS Henrico, 1/9 was OpCon to CTG-79. Once we arrived on Okinawa at 16:00 on 3 Oct 66 we were OpCon to RLT-26. Upon arrival, we were transported to and billeted in the SLF quarters at Camp Schwab on the northern end of the inhabited portion of the island. We were on Okinawa, undergoing training for a couple of months (October and November). During that period, the Company underwent a significant training cycle. General Military Subject Proficiency Tests were administered and Physical Readiness Tests and Swimming Qualification Tests were conducted. We surveyed our individual weapons and received reconditioned M-14s. We engaged in weapons training to include familiarization firing of all individual weapons and extensive training and firing of all crew served weapons, except the 60mm mortars, for which ammunition was unavailable. During this period, the emphasis was on small unit tactics and the intensive training included: Counter Guerilla Warfare, Demolitions, Land Mine Warfare, and Jungle Lane live-fire exercises. In addition, Bravo Company received instruction in Amphibious Raid techniques on a submarine that was moored just off Camp Schwab. Our training also included a deployment further to the Northwest to the incredibly rugged terrain of Okinawa's Northern Training Area (NTA). The training included negotiating several different types of rope bridges over deep gorges and a zip line, which resulted in a plunge into a pool of very refreshing water. This was a real treat for the troops. Additionally, we conducted a multi-day tactical problem in the NTA stressing land navigation and patrolling techniques as well as familiarization with life in the ?field? for those who had joined the Battalion on Okinawa. Command of Bravo Company passed from Danny Mitchell to Captain Mike Sayers on 31Oct66. While the Battalion was billeted at Camp Schwab, a Memorial Formation was held to honor the 153 members of the Battalion who had lost their lives in Vietnam, since the Battalion landed on Red Beach in Da Nang Harbor on June 16, 1965. The Battalion also celebrated the Marine Corps Birthday at Camp Schwab and each Officer got a small pocket knife from Major Day as a memento of the occasion. The Battalion was also inspected by the G-2 of 9th Amphibious Brigade on 12 Nov 1966.

During this period in garrison, our equipment was totally refitted and our table of organization was completely filled. Jerry requested approval to have his wife, Nancy, join him on Okinawa, during this slow period, so they could spend some time together. At the time, we shared an officers quarters duplex unit that had a common access door and then individual units. I believe Nancy and Jerry spent a night or two in the BOQ, until Jerry located an apartment right outside the main gate of Camp Schwab, in the scenic village of Henoko. My recollection is that Nancy stayed for a period of about two weeks.

As we prepared to leave Okinawa for further training in the Philippines, Jerry led a surgical strike, in which I was happy to participate. During our period of training on Okinawa, we had become aware of the fact that there was a new item in the supply system. It was a camouflaged poncho liner with great heat retention capabilities. As we were headed back into country and it was winter time, we reasoned that it would be great if our company had this comfort item. So, Jerry requisitioned a jeep and we went in search of the item's inventory point on Okinawa. Jerry, in his traditional manner, did a masterful job of convincing the supply staff sergeant who we finally located, that issuing the poncho liners to Bravo Company was the best way to get a field evaluation of this new item. Jerry was successful and we returned to Camp Schwab with enough to outfit all of Bravo Company. This shortly made us the envy of the balance of the Battalion.

The Battalion left Okinawa at 2300 on 2Dec66 aboard ships and traveled to Subic Bay in the Philippines to take up temporary residence in the SLF Camp, United States Naval Base Subic Bay. We arrived at Subic Bay at 0900 on 7 Dec 66. The Battalion was transformed into a Battalion Landing Team through the attachment of support services and supporting arms, specifically, Amtracs, Ontos, Tanks, 107mm Howtars, 105mm Howitzers, 155mm Howitzers and HOW-6s (105mm Howitzers mounted in an Amtrac). We moved into the SLF Camp and continued our training regimen, which included hot weather acclimatization and preparations for amphibious operations. We spend nine days learning amphibious doctrine during Operation Mud Puppy II. The landing was conducted on Mindoro Island, near the village of Nagiba. As Bravo Company was designated to conduct the amphibious assault, it was embarked aboard the USS Thomaston (LSD-28). This was a new ship and the accommodations were quite comfortable for both the Enlisted Marines and Officers. Mud Puppy II was conducted from 19Dec66 through 22 Dec 66. As the operation area was primarily mangrove, no substantial maneuver was available except for riverine operations aboard the attached Amtracs. We did end up pitching poncho shelter-halves in a sandy pine forest near the village of Nagiba toward the end of the operation. We concluded the practice landing and operation on December 23rd and returned to Subic Bay to celebrate Christmas.

Jerry and I were selected to take our platoons to Manila on "Christmas Liberty". After hanging out in the slop-chutes of Olongapo, this was a real treat. We boarded buses that took us to the capital, Manila, and we checked into the hotel, that had been previously negotiated, with our platoons. Jerry and I spent Christmas day together wandering around the capital. We had a wonderful lunch at one of the premier hotels near the Bay. As we walked the city after lunch, again Jerry's gregarious nature came to the fore and he engaged a nicely dressed Filipino in conversation. It turned out that the he was, like Jerry, a teacher. When asked what we might do to get the unique flavor of Manila, the teacher suggested going to the Cockfight, and announce that he was on his way there and would be delighted if we would join him. It proved to be a great afternoon. We were struck immediately as we entered the premises by a sign in several languages (including English) that announced all attendees were to check their guns and knives upon entry. The atmosphere in the enclosure was electric and our host negotiated our wagers on the outcome of the numerous contests. We had a great time betting on the outcomes. Alcoholic drinks were prohibited from the event as emotions ran at the mega-watt level.

We returned to our hotel had dinner and then parted company, as I was headed out to the local bars to make up for the lack of libation during the cockfight. This occasioned another incident which I didn't find out about until the next morning, when we were readying our troops for the bus trip back to Subic Bay. Jerry's Marines loved him; so much so, they arranged a female escort for him for the evening. As Jerry was happily married and a straight arrow, he, of course, rejected their gesture. But, being ever thoughtful, and perhaps a bit frugal, he rang up my room to see if I would like be accompanied for the evening. Jerry was a moral beacon in a sea of testosterone, but frugal as well. He did not want to see the funds that his troop had lavished on him go to waste. It was the thought that counted to him.

We brought our troops back to Subic Bay in time to embark aboard the USS Washtenaw County (LST-1166) on December 28th. This was a WWII vintage ship which was much less comfortable for the embarked troops. The only justification for switching Bravo from the USS Thomaston to the USS Washtenaw County could be the mode of launch. From the LSD, we had to wait for the well deck to flood to launch the troop laden Amtracs, while launch could be accomplished much more quickly off the LST by merely opening the bow and driving the Amtracs, with all hatches secured directly into the South China Sea. The other companies and attached units of the BLT were embarked aboard the USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2), USS Vancouver (LPD-2), USS Thomaston (LSD-28) and the USS Washtenaw County (LST-1166) on December 28, 1967. The following morning, the BLT departed for Vietnam at 10:00 on December 29th. We arrived off the coast of Vietnam on January 3, 1967 to conduct Operation Deckhouse V. The operation we were about to launch was predetermined. It was intended to break up a VC strong hold in the Thanh Phu District of Kein Hoa Province. This was a combined forces action, as the 7th ARVN Division kicked off an operation to the west a couple days ahead of our landing. Additionally, two battalions of Vietnamese Marines identified as Vietnamese Marine Brigade Force Bravo were embarked with the Task Group aboard the USS Henrico (AP-45). One of the Vietnamese Marine Corps battalion's was comprised of the 31st, 32nd, 33rd and 34th companies, while the other battalion was comprised of the 41st, 42nd, 43rd, and 44th companies. The Vietnamese Marines were responsible for the delay in the "landing the landing force" because the operational plan called for them to go down cargo nets to waiting Landing Craft and then to be transported up the estuaries and landed inland (North) of our Area of Action. The heavy seas on 4Jan67 and 5Jan67 made debarkation down cargo nets into landing craft bobbing in the violent seas too dangerous an undertaking for the Vietnamese Marines. Accordingly the entire amphibious operation, D-Day, was postponed to 6Jan67. As Bravo Company was billeted on a LST (Landing Ship, Tank) which had very little draft and was designed to be run up on the landing beach, the incidence of seasickness was quite prevalent during the delay.

The plan tasked Bravo Company with seizing, occupying and defending the landing beach (White Beach) and the adjacent LZ Sparrow to establish a secure BLT operating base. We were to provide initial security and defense for the build-up of forces ashore. Bravo Company was to be relieved of the BLT CP security mission, when a Provisional Company was formed at approximately 15:00. We landed as planned in the 2nd Wave with Jerry securing the left (9:00 to 11:00) flank, 2nd Lt. Mel Thompson and the Company CP the center (11:00 to 1:00) and my platoon on the right flank (1:00 to 3:00).

As the beach was relatively narrow, and space was needed to accommodate the subsequent landings of Marines and materiel, Bravo pushed across the sand and ended up with most of its personnel standing in tidal mangrove swamp. Initially, the water was mid-calf, but by the time we were relieved, the on-coming tide had raised the water level to mid thigh.

As subsequent waves landed on the beach, and the manpower to take over the Battalion CP security was accumulated, Bravo Company was released from this beach security mission and moved off to the north-north-east to establish platoon strong point (platoon Patrol Bases) and protect the BLT CPs Northeastern flank. As Bravo 1 had established it Platoon Patrol Base (PPB) the furthest to the Northeast, I was tasked early on January 7 (D+1) with leading a platoon patrol to the north though an area that had been totally defoliated to see if other company units could use that approach to crossing the mangrove and taking up positions on the north side. My platoon completed the patrol and returned to the Company CP at approximately noon. I reported that we had been able to cross a couple of rather deep streams using a rope bridge and pulling ourselves hand over hand. On the afternoon of January 7th, the Company was split up, with Bravo-1 remaining on the beach and Bravo-2 and Bravo-3 and the Company CP Group proceeding to the north side of the mangrove and then continuing to sweep to the Northeast. The Command Chronology and reports from those that were there ( Bill Delaney and Mel Thompson) diverge at this point. The Command Chronology indicates that the two platoons and the Company CP were heli-lifted approximately two kilometers North to a rice paddy area on the other side of the an area of the mangrove swamp which was approximately 1 kilometer wide. Then 2ndLt Thompson and 1stLt Delaney indicate they marched through the mangrove, along the route I had patrolled that morning to get position to the North and continue the Company sweep. The three platoons were aligned from north to south Bravo 2 and the Company CP group on the left flank, Bravo 3, Jerry's platoon in the center and Bravo 1 on the right flank as we advanced. The three platoons with weapons attached moved simultaneously in a Northeasterly direction for the balance of the operation, encountering reasonably light resistance. There were occasional firefights, but the VC units generally were sniping or sending squad sized units to conduct long range ambushes and harassing actions.

It was during Operation Deckhouse V that Jerry and I first got the opportunity to maneuver our platoons against enemy forces. The S-2 Spot Reports in the Battalion's after action report for Deckhouse V and the narrative of the Command Chronology for the period relate the details of several actions where Jerry's 3rd Platoon was under enemy fire.

At 1655 on January 7, Jerry's platoon received small arms fire from a force estimated at 5 VC, while the firefight did not last long, it did produce 3 VC WIA, who were taken into custody and evacuated to the BLT CP for questioning.

The following afternoon, at approximately 1415, Jerry's platoon received automatic weapons fire from what was estimated to be 3 VC. One Marine was wounded during the exchange, and when they searched the area, Jerry's Marines found ChiCom grenades, 3 M-1 magazines and 400 rounds of 7.62mm linked ammunition.

On January 9 at 0245, Jerry's platoon, Bravo -3, suffered a friendly fire casualty. I remember monitoring the Company tactical net that evening and feeling the anguish in Jerry's voice as he reported the incident. At 02:45, as Jerry's squad sized night ambush returned to his perimeter, the four man listening post, took the squad under fire. One of the Marines was seriously wounded and an emergency medevac was undertaken. PFC D. R. Roberson later died of wounds in the USS Iwo Jima's dispensary. While Jerry and I never spoke of the incident, I could tell from his radio transmissions that evening that it affected him very deeply. Jerry was very paternalistic toward his Marines and I am sure that losing one to friendly fire was a deep blow to him. That evening at 2115, Jerry was again involved in a significant exchange with the VC. In their platoon patrol base and hunkered down for the evening, 3rd Platoon was attacked by approximately 15 VC with 60mm mortars and small arms. In addition to returning fire with his integral weapons, Jerry called in 57 rounds of 105mm artillery, directed 25 rounds of 60mm mortar and directed a C-47 flare ship and UH1E gun ship against the VC position. Jerry's actions during the fire fight, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, produced such total target coverage it resulted in an estimated 10 VC KIA and 5 VC WIA. There were two Marines wounded during the exchange.

On January 10th at approximately 1900, Jerry's platoon was receiving a resupply by helicopter. When the bird landed, the perimeter received 15 rounds of sniper fire. One of Jerry's Marines was killed by the accurate sniper fire.

On January 11, at 1024, Bravo 3 again received automatic weapons fire from a squad sized VC unit. Jerry established a base of fire and directed one of his squads to envelop. This maneuver was successful and the enemy machine gunner and his crew were pinned down. During the firefight, 3 VC were killed and a machine gun and Russian carbine were captured. During the firefight, two Marines were wounded.

At 0210 on January 12th, one squad from Jerry's platoon was returning to the platoon patrol base from a night ambush. They were taken under fire by approximately 15 VC who opened fire with automatic weapons and threw hand grenades at them. The squad leader saw five VC fall in the initial burst of fire. The fire fight lasted approximately 10 minutes and it was estimated that five VC were killed without any sustaining any friendly casualties. Later that afternoon, at 1610, Jerry's platoon stopped four VC Suspects for questioning. This caused approximately 17 VC to prematurely trigger an ambush from a distance of about 100 meters. Jerry coordinated return fire and employed his 60mm mortar and called in 18 rounds of 105mm artillery on the VC. The results were two friendly WIA and 3 VC KIA estimated. Later that afternoon, Bravo 2 and Bravo 3 consolidated their Marines in a single perimeter with the Company CP and 81mm mortar section in anticipation of relief on January 13th. Jerry's platoon manned the perimeter, while Bravo 2 provided the night ambush and listening post and otherwise rested inside the Bravo 3 perimeter. Delta Company was flown in to relieve Bravo Company and continue its mission. Bravo Company in turn was flown out to the USS Iwo Jima and provided the BLT reserve for the remaining days of the operation.

Deckhouse V secured at 1621 on January 15th. The operation, which was compromised by the participation of ARVN and Vietnamese Marines, resulted in light casualties to the 518th VC Coastal Security Battalion and the 530th Company. The operation inflicted the following loses on the VC:

  • VC KIA (Body Count): 21
  • VC KIA (Probable):     41
  • VC WIA (Probable):    53
  • VC POW:                  3

Friendly casualties were reported as:

  • USMC KIA:                6
  • USMC WIA:               38
  • USMC Non-Battle:      46

Bravo Company accounted for 17 of the Battalion's 21 confirmed kills.

Maj Jim Day's Commander's Analysis read: "Operation Deckhouse V was successful. One large deterrent, however, was the advance information gained by the Viet Cong of the impending operation and the general location of it. This information, however obtained enabled the enemy to remove forces from the AOA and thus avoid large scale contact with a superior force. It is estimated that only scattered squad sized VC units remained behind. Those Viet Cong forces and supplies remaining in the AO were found and largely destroyed. Operation Deckhouse V should have a prolonged effect on VC operations in Kien Hoa Province from a psychological as well as a logistical standpoint."

From January 15th to January 23rd, the Task Group was enroute to Okinawa. We stopped in Subic Bay for two days on our journey north. As the Warrant for Bill Delaney's promotion to 1stLt came through while we were in Subic Bay, all the Company officers celebrated the occasion at the Cubi Point Officers Club. We all got wasted in this traditional "Wetting Down" ceremony. Fortuitously, we were at the Cubi Point Club when the USS Enterprise pulled into Subic Bay. It was an amazing sight to behold from the height of the Club. We proceeded on to Okinawa and the BLT returned to Camp Schwab where it was relieved of its SLF responsibility. 1/9 remained at Camp Schwab until January 31st, when it boarded the USS Henrico (APA-45) for transportation back to Vietnam, rejoining the 3rd Marine Division. The Battalion debarked the Henrico on February 5, 1967 and moved by LCM up the Perfume River to the LCM ramp at Hue City. The Battalion was transported by truck to Phu Bai Combat Base. It had been decided that Bravo Company would be detached from the Battalion at this point and sent to Khe Sanh to report to the Senior Officer Present (SOP), 3rd Marine Division/3rd Marine Amphibious Force. The Battalion arrived at Phu Bai at approximately 1300 on February 5th. Bravo Company, which had sent an advance party ahead to Khe Sanh, was chopped OPCON to SOP 3rd MarDiv/III MAF Representative, Khe Sanh at 1400 on February 6th. The Company was flown by C-130 to Khe Sanh and assumed responsibility for the security of the Khe Sanh Combat Base later that afternoon.

Phase III - Khe Sanh

Khe Sanh was a sore subject between MACV, General Westmoreland and III MAF, LtGen Walt. In an attempt to conserve force, LtGen Walt made the decision to replace 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, which had provided security for the Combat Base for a period of approximately 3 months with very little enemy contact, with a single infantry company.

Upon arrival at Khe Sanh, Bravo Company deployed in clockwise manner beginning approximately 500 meters from the east end of the runway, which was oriented from WNW to ESE. Bravo 1 covered from 4 to 8. Bravo 2 was responsible for the zone from 8 to 12 wrapping around the WNW end of the runway and Bravo 3, Jerry's platoon, had from 12 to 4 on the north side of the runway. Bravo Company, despite the vast distances that the lines stretched, immediately resumed its standard procedure of 3 day time squad patrols, 3 night time squad ambushes and 3 night time fire team listening posts. Although 3rd Force Recon made periodic contact and continued to report on enemy movements, there had been very few engagements with the NVA close to the Combat Base. During the month of February, 5 Force Recon patrols were extracted under fire. The first close in contact was on February 25th, when an NVA 82mm mortar section was engaged initially by a squad from B-2 and later by the assigned "Sparrow Hawk" unit, B-1-1 approximately 1500 meters northwest of the perimeter. The action broke up the NVA objective of mortaring the Khe Sanh Combat Base, as part of a coordinated attack on Phu Bai, Dong Ha, Camp Carroll, the Rockpile and Lang Vei. All of the other Marine installations were mortared or assaulted as part of an NVA show of force.

A few days later, however, at 0100 on March 3rd, the NVA did hit Khe Sanh Combat Base with approximately 65 rounds of 82mm mortar. The rounds landed on the north side of the perimeter, in Jerry's platoon area, the adjacent Landing Support Unit (LSU) area and on the Helicopter Pad. Fortunately, no Bravo 3 Marines were injured, but the LSU suffered 1 KIA and 6 WIA. Additionally, the NVA damaged 2 CH-46 Sea Knights and 2 UH-1E Huey gunships. As a result of the increased enemy activity, the number of night ambushes sent out from the Combat Base increased from 3 to 5. The NVA also began isolated probes of the perimeter. During the evenings of March 4th and March 7th, Bravo Company had a WIA each evening as a result of the NVA probes.

On March 7th, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines was sent to Khe Sanh to bolster the garrison and provide for better defense in depth. With the added infantry, the size of the patrols was increased from solely squad sized to a mix of squad sized and platoon sized patrols. Additionally, Platoon Patrol Bases were established at significant distances from the Combat Base to keep the NVA away from its perimeter. Bravo Company had one platoon assigned to perimeter security at the Combat Base and its other two platoons out on 4 or more day platoon patrol base assignments. The platoon patrol bases were moved periodically and squad size patrol and ambushes continued at greater distances from the Combat Base. The infantry patrols, however, were always under the "umbrella" of the 105mm artillery battery located at the Combat Base.

Echo stayed for only 13 days, departing on March 20th. However, on 16 March, one of their platoon's, Echo 1, initiated a significant action. Echo 1 was moving up the southern slope of Hill 861, when it was engaged by superior NVA forces. Bravo 2 which was located in Platoon Patrol Base approximately 1500 meters to the east was dispatched to link up with Echo 1 and help them to disengage and evacuate their casualties (10 KIAs and 29 WIAs) When the combined units attempted to evacuate the KIAs and WIAs, the NVA directed devastating mortar fire on the helicopters and personnel carrying the casualties to the birds. Bravo 2 lost 8 KIAs and had 34 WIAs during this mortar barrage.

On March 20th, Cpl Wright's squad from Bravo 2 ambushed an NVA squad and killed 6 of the NVA.

On March 30, Jerry's platoon was northwest of Combat Base, on the North side of Hill 861 and took under fire the Listening Post of an NVA base camp. They continued to move forward cautiously and moved into the encampment that included caves and sleeping positions. At 0830, the NVA began a bombardment of Bravo 3 with approximately 85 rounds of 82mm mortar fire. Jerry instructed his men to take cover in the NVA bunker complex and there were no casualties. Later, fixed wing aircraft came on station, and Jerry directed air strikes on the area where the NVA mortars were located. One of the F4B Phantoms was struck by ground fire during the air strike and crashed killing the NFO. The pilot was able to eject and survived. This was one of three occasions at Khe Sanh, prior to the beginning of the "Hill Fights" (April 24, 1967) in which Bravo 3, under Jerry's command, had firefights with the NVA.

It was during the "Hill Fights" that Basic Class 3-66 lost three of its members. 1stLt Phillip H. Sauer was the first to die, as he led a small patrol to the top of Hill 861 to determine if he could get his Ontos section up there to support Bravo Company's attempts to extricate themselves with direct fire from the mounted .50 Cal machine gun and 106mm recoilless rifles. 1stLt David S. Hackett was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his conspicuous gallantry on April 30 while serving as XO of Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines for directing crew served weapons fire, evacuating wounded Marines and going to the assistance of a wounded platoon commander, all under heavy enemy fire. In the same coordinated assault, 1stLt John B. Woodall of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines was awarded the Silver Star, posthumously, for single handedly eliminating an NVA bunker that was stopping two of his wounded Marines from being recovered, so they could receive medical attention.

Jerry was scheduled to go on R&R and was indeed in Hawaii with Nancy, when the "Hill Fights" began and through the entire period of Bravo Company's involvement (April 24 - 27). This was a period of intense combat for the Company, the fiercest since Jerry had joined the Bravo Company the previous July. During his absence, Jerry's Platoon Sergeant, S/Sgt Afredo V. Reyes, was acting platoon commander. While the Company was under fire on the slopes of Hill 861, 23 of its number were killed and 38 were wounded. The remnants of Bravo Company left Khe Sanh as they had arrived, by C-130 at 1630 on April 27th.

Phase IV - Con Thien

They were flown to Dong Ha and immediately transferred to trucks for the ride to Camp Carroll, where they would assume another perimeter security mission. During the period April 27 to May 12, Bravo Company would be OPCON to the 3rd Marine Regiment, which had responsibility for the Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) in which Camp Carroll was located. One platoon from Bravo Company was assigned the responsibility for providing security at the Khe Gai Bridge. The other two platoons shared responsibility for security of a portion of the Camp Carroll perimeter security with Lima 3/9. Bravo Company was actively patrolling during this period, running two to four squad sized day patrols, occasionally with tanks on the major roads in the vicinity of Camp Carroll. The Company was also tasked with conducting one or two night ambushes each day. On May 1st, a Bravo squad-sized night ambush killed one NVA. On May 7th, at 1400, a patrol from Bravo 1 called in a practice fire mission approximately 800 meters to their east, but the marking round landed on the patrol, wounding 4, one of which later died of his wounds. These injuries were classified as Non-Battle Casualties (NBC). The following day, at 03:00, Camp Carroll was hit by 24 rounds of 102mm spin stabilized rocket fire. One Bravo Marine was wounded very seriously by the rocket barrage and required an emergency medevac. Generally, the two weeks spent at Camp Carroll were reasonably quiet for Jerry and the balance of Bravo Company, particularly when contrasted with the hell they had endured at the end of their service at Khe Sanh. On May 13th, at 0830, the Khe Gai bridge responsibility was turned over to a platoon from India, 3/3. The Bravo platoon returned to Camp Carroll and rejoined the Company, which was then trucked by 7th Motor Transport to Dong Ha. The convoy left Camp Carroll at 1015 and control of the company was returned to its parent, 1/9, for the first time in 3 ½ months.

Once Bravo Company arrived at Dong Ha, Captain Sayers gave up command to Captain Curd. The Battalion Commander, Major Fulham, who had taken command from Major James L. Day on March 18, 1967, intended to use the Company in a vertical envelopment as Operation Prairie IV continued. As helicopter resources were not available, Bravo Company once again embarked on trucks and backtracked to the Cam Lo Bridge. There they disembarked and move tactically on foot to join their parent Battalion about 2 Kilometers Northeast of Cam Lo and were designate the Battalion Reserve on May 14th.

The Battalion was tasked with conducting a deliberate search and destroy operation northward on the Main Supply Route from Cam Lo to Con Thien arriving by the morning of May 15th. NVA forces utilizing small arms and mortars effectively were to slow the Battalion's advance. Observed mortar fire caused numerous casualties and precluded all but emergency medevacs of Delta Company personnel, who were leading the Battalion advance. Bravo Company remained the Reserve until May 15th, when they were directed to join Delta Company at the front to assist in the evacuation of Delta's casualties. The heaviest resistance was in a fortified bunker complex approximately 2 kilometers Southeast of Con Thien. On May 16th, Bravo and Delta moved to a safe LZ and evacuated their casualties, but took further fire from the fortified complex all afternoon. They withdrew at nightfall and an artillery barrage began at 0550 on May 17 in which 685 rounds of 105mm and 155mm were fired into the target area. Jerry and the balance of Bravo Company swept through the complex receiving only occasional sniper rounds. As dusk approached, they returned and occupied the 75 NVA bunkers they had found in the fortified complex in order to deny the NVA use of them. On May 18, Bravo conducted a bunker by bunker search locating 27 enemy dead and 11 individual weapons, 5 crew served machine guns, 177 82mm mortar rounds, 100 ChiCom grenades and 3 RPGs.

Once the Battalion arrived at Con Thien, Delta took up perimeter security positions inside the wire, while Bravo and Charlie established company strong points south and slightly to the east of "The Hill of Angels". In this screening capacity, Bravo moved north of Con Thien and began finding more extensive fortified complexes. On May 24th they found 11 bunkers and on May 25th they found 100 bunkers north of Con Thien. The NVA were obviously preparing for additional offensive actions and creating positions to which their personnel could retreat when Marine supporting arms were brought to bear against them.

On the morning of May 28th, Bravo Company went inside the wire at Con Thien and Delta Company assumed their screening role. It was at this time that Jerry took over the Battalion S-2 shop from our Classmate 1stLt Stephen M. Snyder. At this point, Jerry had commanded Bravo 3 for 10 months. For the balance of May, June and into July, Jerry would work the S-2 job at his desk in the underground 1/9 CP Bunker at the east end of the bunker adjacent to stairs that zigzagged back up to ground level.

Jerry's work during the month of June is summarized in his Intelligence Report that was published in the Command Chronology for June:

" Intelligence

The following NVA units were believed to be operating in the AO during the month of June. Elements of the 342B Division which included the 90th NVA Regiment, elements of the 341st Division including a report of one engineer battalion operating to the west and northwest of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines position. Captured documents dated 30 May 1967 found at YD 115721 (two kilometers north of Con Thien), identified one unit as 3rd Company, 31st Battalion.

Most of the area north of our position is believed to be a logistical supply route serving most of northern Quang Tri (Province) and the Cam Lo areas. This area also holds storage facilities, ammo dumps and training areas.

The use of air support, air observation, combat patrols and extensive use of the AN/TPS-121 unit enabled the battalion to detect enemy activity in the area. Most of the activity was on a small squad-size level and these were generally detected early enough to minimize their success.

During the month of June, 23 different bunker complexes were found and destroyed. They ranged in size from 2x2x4 to 8x8x10. Propaganda leaflets were found in bunkers and forwarded to the rear.

Most of the equipment captured or taken from the NVA was new or of a new type. In almost every pack was found a gas mask, either the new Chinese issue or a crude but effective home-made mask.

The AN/TPS-21 made 11 sightings of troop movement which resulted in either mortar or artillery missions being fired.

The battalion Psy-Ops Team coordinated the dropping of 250,000 leaflets on 20 June 1967 and 80,000 on June 22, 1967. The themes of the drops were Chieu Hoi safe conduct passes and surrender leaflets. Additionally, aerial broadcasts to the NVA were conducted for a total of 2 ½ hours."

At 09:00 on June 30th, Bravo Company again moved outside the wire under the command of Captain Sterling B. Coates, who had assumed command on June 21st to replace Delta Company in the screening mission. S/Sgt Reyes was the acting platoon commander for Bravo 3, Jerry's former platoon. Bravo Company moved out of the south gate of Con Thien to the east and their destiny at the "Marketplace" on July 2nd. I will not attempt to tell the story of that desperate battle as it is better told by Keith William Nolan in his landmark book, "Operation Buffalo - USMC Fight for the DMZ". Suffice it to say that Bravo Company sustained the highest casualty rate of an infantry company during the Vietnam War. The after action report listed 1/9 casualties on July 2nd as:

USMC KIA - 84     USMC WIA - 166     USMC MIA - 1

While the other rifle companies all suffered some casualties, the majority of these casualties were Bravo Company personnel.

It was into this maelstrom that Captain "Mac" Radcliffe, Jerry's Basic School platoon commander was sent, once it was determined that Captain Coates had been killed. In his capacity as Battalion S-2, Jerry had no business joining Captain Radcliffe, in the relief of Bravo Company, but a loyalty and love for "his Marines" motivated him to do so. Captain Radcliffe and 1stLt Lieutenant Howell supported by Delta 3, commanded by 2ndLt Thomas P. Turchan and accompanied by 4 tanks made their way to the most forward elements of Bravo Company and evacuated as many WIAs as possible, as well as those KIAs which could be reached. As the battle had developed, Bravo 3, Jerry's old platoon had penetrated the furthest into the NVA ambush; so, their casualties were the most forward on the battlefield. It was "his Marines" that Jerry was most motivated to recover.

The Navy Cross citation for Jerry's heroism on July 2nd reads:

"The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS Posthumously to:

FIRST LIEUTENANT GATLIN J. HOWELL
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE


For service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism while serving as Intelligence Officer, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), in the Republic of Vietnam from 2 to 7 July 1967. While manning the command bunker at Con Thien on 2 July, First Lieutenant Howell was closely monitoring the progress of Company B, First Battalion, as it became heavily engaged with an estimated two battalions of North Vietnamese Army Regulars near the Demilitarized Zone. When the unit suffered heavy casualties and was in danger of being overrun, he volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue the beleaguered Marines. Displaying exceptional leadership and tactical skill during his advance, he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy mortar and small-arms fire as he kept the relief column intact, pointing out directions of fire for the tanks and providing effective flank security as he moved rapidly to Company B's position. Immediately evaluating the situation when he arrived in the battle area, he established a defensive perimeter and moved to rescue the forward elements of the besieged company. As he searched for wounded, he observed two men in a hole fifteen meters beyond the friendly lines.

With complete disregard for his own safety, First Lieutenant Howell ran through heavy small-arms fire to treat the men and carry them to the safety of the perimeter. When his right flank was threatened by a North Vietnamese squad, he directed heavy fire against the assaulting force, undoubtedly saving the lives of at least three injured Marines caught between the enemy and the friendly lines. Subject to intense enemy mortar and artillery fire and road mines that disabled two tanks, he moved the casualties to a landing zone. After ensuring the casualty evacuation process was well underway, he refused medical treatment for himself and returned to the forward area to determine that all the wounded had been moved. During a rocket attack on July 7, First Lieutenant Howell was killed in action. By his intrepid fighting spirit, daring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty at great personal risk, First Lieutenant Howell was instrumental in saving many of his fellow Marines from capture, injury or possible death and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his live for is country.

For the President,

Paul R. Ignatuis
Secretary of the Navy

12 Feb 1968
Serial: 1661"

While the citation describes events demonstrating great personal courage, it was Jerry's original decision to leave what was assumed to be the "safety" of the Combat Operation Center (COC) to assist the less combat-experienced Captain Radcliffe and 2nd Lt Turchan in the relief of Bravo Company that was, indeed, his most heroic deed. It demonstrated his loyalty, commitment and love for "his Marines".

Jerry's love for his men is further demonstrated in a letter that he wrote to the parents of Corporal Troy D. Payne, Jr., who was killed in action on April 26, 1967, during the initial action of the Hill Fights, so well chronicled by Edward F. Murphy in "The Hill Fights - The First Battle of Khe Sanh". Jerry's undated letter was on a 16mm microfilm reel in a Bronze Star Medal file for Corporal Payne. The letter was printed off the reel and then retyped by Chaplain Ray W. Stubbe in an attempt to preserve this and many other historical records. Jerry's letter reads:

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Payne:

Please let me introduce myself, I am 1st Lt Gatlin J. Howell. I had the honor of being the Platoon Commander of the unit that your son Cpl Payne was attached to. Troy worked with the 3rd platoon Bravo Company for approximately three months. During this time he was involved in many activities, while with my platoon. I would like you to know that Cpl Payne was one of the most outstanding young men that I have ever served with. He continually exhibited leadership abilities far superior to those we normally expect from our small unit leaders. Prior to the action on Hills 861, we made three separate contacts with enemy units. On all three occasions, it seemed that Troy was everywhere possible doing all within his power to insure success of each operation.

Regrettably, I was in Hawaii on R&R when the company became involved in the action that claimed your son. I've talked to member of the platoon, who were witnesses to his last actions and I will try to relate them to you to the best of my ability. Your son was not in on the initial encounter with the enemy atop Hill 861, due to a cold he had contracted. He was on light duty and remained behind when the company moved out to try and clear Hill 861 and the surrounding areas. As you no doubt know, the company made immediate contact with the enemy and was taking grievous casualties. We were evacuating our casualties by helicopter, which in turn were taking them to Khe Sanh Combat Base for medical treatment. A Marine Corps General landed at Khe Sanh to receive instructions on how to get to the scene of the battle. In a move characteristic of your son, he boldly climbed aboard the general's helicopter and accompanied him to the action, where upon he joined 3rd platoon.

Upon reaching the battlefield, Troy was of invaluable assistance. He carried wounded to the landing zone and fought off repeated enemy attacks with weapons he picked up from his injured comrades. He was comforting the wounded and providing protection for his men even to the extent of using his own body as a shield. Tragically, it was this heroic gesture which resulted in his death.

Many injured Marines were in a landing zone waiting to be lifted to safety when the enemy began to mortar the site. Cpl Payne moved undauntedly to the very center of the impact area to move the stricken men to a safer position. It was at this time that he was hit. He was not subjected to any pain what so ever and died in a valiant effort to help his companions.

I hope that this letter will not cause you any undue distress. I could not let you go unaware of your sons unwavering devotion to duty. The First Sergeant of Bravo Company gave me your letter to read and it caused me to be doubly proud of having served with your son. His loss has been keenly felt by all those who were fortunate enough to know him. On behalf of the third platoon and Bravo Company, may I extend my most heart felt sympathy for the loss of Troy. We will all miss him.

If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to write.

Most Sincerely,

1st Lt Gatlin J. Howell"

Upon Jerry's initiative and supported by numerous eye-witness accounts of Cpl Payne's bravery, his parents were presented with the Bronze Star Medal he was awarded posthumously.

Our Basic School Class suffered another casualty on July 6th as Operation Buffalo continued. 1stLt Wayne M. Hayes was a tank platoon commander with Charlie Company, 3rd Tank Battalion assigned to support Bravo Company 1/3. When Charlie 2 of 1/3 received fire from a 57mm recoilless rifle on the morning of July 6th, 1st Lt Hayes' heavy tank section was dispatched along with a platoon of infantry (Bravo 3) to eliminate it. Upon arriving at the Charlie 2 position, 1stLt Hayes took the recoilless rifle under fire with the tank's 90mm gun and appeared to have eliminated it, but after several minutes it resumed firing. Its replacement crew fired one round, which struck 1stLt Hayes tank between the hull and turret. 1st Lt Hayes received a sucking chest wound and although quickly evacuated, died before reaching a medical facility.

The myth of the "safety" of the Combat Operation Center at Con Thien was ironically exposed a day later on July 7th, when as described by Keith Nolan, "a single NVA 152mm shell with a delay-fuse scored a direct hit..". The NVA artillery shell fired from a battery located in the DMZ literally exploded at Jerry's feet as he worked at the S-2 desk. This single artillery shell killed 14 Marines, wounded 27 and collapsed the COC Bunker. 1stLt Steve Snyder, who was only meters away in the Delta Company CP described the incident as follows: "I don't know the size of the round that killed Jerry or whether it had a delayed fuse. Most of the incoming those days was quick fuse, exploding on impact. I made it to the bunker about 3 minutes after hearing the muffled "thump" when that round hit and entered via the narrow east to west slit trench/ramp on the east side of the bunker that lead down into it. The round had hit a target about the size of a dinner plate. It had cleared the top of the north side of the entrance to the bunker but had passed just under the sandbags on its south side, landing right in front of Jerry on his desk. At the time I thought the round must have slipped in via that trench and exploded high on its south wall, since Jerry's field desk was at the bottom of that trench and he was killed immediately". 1stLt Snyder added, "I talked to Jerry at some length just before I went on R&R at the end of May, when Jerry replaced me as S-2. I recall very vividly that his wife and children were uppermost in his mind and that he wanted very much to return to them. That just serves to highlight how seriously he took his obligation to Bravo, when he asked to be sent down into the maw of Buffalo to extricate Bravo's dead and wounded and carry on for them".

Posthumous

At the time of his death, Jerry was within 30 days of a reunion in California with his pregnant wife Nancy and his son, Jay. Jerry's second son, Mark, would never know his father.

A final memorial to Jerry took place at Pelton Junior High School in San Francisco on May 29, 1968. Military honors were mingled with the initial awards of the "Howell Memorial Plaque", which recognized Pelton track and field athletes who displayed the traits of "courage, dedication, enthusiasm, friendliness, leadership and loyalty". The plaque's criteria captured perfectly those qualities Jerry embodied and lived. Awardees were selected and recognized for the years 1963, the year Jerry first coached and taught at Pelton JHS, through 1968. Attending the assembly were 6 Marines in Dress Blues, including Jerry's 1/9 Battalion Commander, LtCol James L. Day, who would later be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Clinton for an action on Okinawa during WWII and would retire a Major General. Two of the platform guests for "Memorial" were Captain David L. Mellon and 1st Lieutenant Melvin L. Thompson, who had served with Jerry, as platoon commanders, in Bravo Company 1/9. The most poignant moments of the assembly occurred when LtCol Day presented the Navy Cross Medal to Nancy Howell. LtCol Day concluded his comments to Nancy and the crowd with his acknowledgement of feelings that all Marines who were fortunate enough to known and served with Jerry felt upon learning of his sacrifice - "we knew him, we loved him and we miss him".

Jerry was buried with full military honors in Section EE, Site 50-A at the San Francisco National Cemetery, 1 Lincoln Boulevard, Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94129

Semper Fidelis, My Friend!

David L. Mellon
Platoon Commanders Together In
Bravo Company
1st Battalion, 9th Marines
3rd Marine Division, FMF
Vietnam

Posted by: Dave Mellon
Officer Candidate Course Classmate


June 17, 2001

Served as the Intelligence Officer with the First Battalion, ninth Marines, third Marine Division ( Reinforced) Fleet Marine Force and was a posthumous recipient of the NAVY CROSS & PURPLE HEART.

You are not forgotten nor shall you ever be.

Citation for award of the Navy Cross to 1st Lieutenant Gatlin Jerryl Howell:

For extraordinary heroism while serving as Intelligence Officer, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), in the Republic of Vietnam from 2 to 7 July 1967.

While manning the command bunker at Con Thien on 2 July, First Lieutenant Howell was closely monitoring the progress of Company B, First Battalion, as it became heavily engaged with an estimated two battalions of North Vietnamese Army Regulars near the Demilitarized Zone. When the unit suffered heavy casualties and was in danger of being overrun, he volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue the beleaguered Marines.

Displaying exceptional leadership and tactical skill during his advance, he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy mortar and small-arms fire as he kept the relief column intact, pointing out directions of fire for the tanks and providing effective flank security as he moved rapidly to Company B's position. Immediately evaluating the situation when he arrived in the battle area, he established a defensive perimeter and moved to rescue the forward elements of the besieged company. As he searched for the wounded, he observed two men in a hole fifteen meters beyond the friendly lines.

With complete disregard for his own safety, First Lieutenant Howell ran through heavy small-arms fire to treat the men and carry them to the safety of the perimeter. When his right flank was threatened by a North Vietnamese squad, he directed heavy fire against the assaulting force, undoubtedly saving the lives of at least three injured Marines caught between the enemy and the friendly lines.

Subject to intense enemy mortar and artillery fire and road mines that disabled two tanks, he moved the casualties to the landing zone. After ensuring that the casualty evaluation process was well under way, he refused medical treatment for himself and instead returned to the forward area to determine that all of the wounded had been moved.

During a rocket attack on 7 July at Con Thien, First Lieutenant Howell was killed in action. By his intrepid fighting spirit, daring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty at great personal risk, First Lieutenant Howell was instrumental in saving many of his fellow Marines from capture, injury or possible death, and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Posted by: Clay Marston


December 10, 2003

The account in which this Marine lost his life is remarkable in its intensity. Go to the library (out of print book) and get "Operation Buffalo: The USMC Fight for the DMZ" by Keith Nolan.

Posted by: L. Raymond


August 22, 2004

Gatlin is buried at San Francisco National Cemetery.

Posted by: Robert Sage
Email: rsage@austin.rr.com


April 18, 2007

All Was Not Well - Marine Lt. fought and died paying a debt to Government.>
By George Esper

Saigon (AP) - Lt. Gatlin "Jerry" Howell was slightly wounded in sharp fighting between US Marines and North Vietnamese along the demilitarized zone on July 4 and relayed word to his wife: "All is well. I'll be home in 27 more days." Today Jerry Howell, 31, was dead. Enemy gunfire got him Friday.

This was a war he didn't really have to fight, but he believed in it, and he volunteered for it because, as he said one day last week: "The government paid my way through college. I never really did anything for them. Now my debt is paid in full."

Howell had said that at heart he was "really a dove" and would welcome peace but that he believed in the cause for which he was fighting in Vietnam. Looking around at the enlisted men with him, he had explained that all of them had volunteered for combat duty.

A week ago, the Marine lieutenant had looked forward to a reunion with his wife, Nancy, in Alameda, Calif., and their two children, Jay, 2 ½, and Mark, 4 months, who was born while Howell was in Vietnam.

An enlisted man knew Howell had only a short time left to serve and suggested it would be a wonderful feeling when the lieutenant got aboard the airplane taking him home. "If I ever get the hell out of this place," Howell told the enlisted man.

Howell had served in the Marines as an enlisted man from 1953 until 1956, then was discharged, and his college studies were financed under the GI Bill. He had been teaching physical education and coaching track at Pelton Junior High School in the Hunter's Point section of San Francisco in recent years. Less than two years ago he took a leave of absence and enlisted in the Marines again for a three-year tour with the intention of coming to Vietnam. He went to Marine Officer's Candidate School and was commissioned a lieutenant, then shipped to Vietnam for a 13-month tour.

He was wounded slightly while helping recover the bodies of fellow Marines killed in a bloody battle nine days ago just south of the DMZ. The Marines were from a company he had served as a platoon leader until a month ago, when he made intelligence officer for his battalion. After the recovery operation, Howell went back to battalion headquarters at Con Thien, a Marine outpost just 1 1/2 miles south of the demilitarized zone that has come under a steady bombardment of North Vietnamese rockets and artillery.

Last Thursday, North Vietnamese gunners fired more than 800 rounds of artillery, rockets and mortars on Con Thien. Howell survived the heavy shelling. The next day, one shell from a Communist long-range 152m artillery piece hit directly on the battalion command post at Con Thien. Howell and eight other Marines were killed.

SEMPER FIDELIS, SIR!

Posted by: Jim McIlhenney
Email: christianamacks@comcast.net
Relationship: Marine Viet Nam Veteran

Johnson, Lyle

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Lyle Albert Johnson
  • Date of Birth: August 16, 1942
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Great Falls, Montana
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: -
  • TBS Platoon: E-3
  • TBS Class Standing: 362
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 093206
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - October 5, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No CHange
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 27E - Row 054
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

1st Lt Lyle A. Johnson – Lyle successfully completed OCS with the 3rd Platoon of Charlie Company. He was assigned to 3rd Platoon of Echo Company at Basic School. Lyle arrive in Vietnam on June 30, 1967. By October, he was the commanding officer (MOS 0302) of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. His CP was a gateway to that portion of Highway 1 which climbs out of the Danang Plateau and rises to the summit of the Hai Van Pass. Beginning at 06:30 on the morning of October 5th, a squad from his company was providing security for the daily road sweep by combat engineers from 7th Engineering Battalion over Echo Company’s portion of Route 1. At 08:00, the sweep team located a mine and detonated it. At 08:15, a civilian truck the 4th of the day to begin the climb to the Hai Van Pass hit a mine wounding three civilians. With all this action occurring in his tactical area of responsibility, Lyle decided to go up Route 1 with a security detail to check out the recent Viet Cong land mine activity. As they moved north on Highway 1 at 11:20, Lyle and his Marines were ambushed approximately midway between their CP and the summit of Hai Van Pass. A command detonated 250 pound bomb was used to initiate the ambush. The Viet Cong then took the Marines under fire with B-40 rocket propelled grenades, AK-47s and light machine gun fire. As the ambush erupted, the sweep team returning to their base and other Echo Company personnel assigned to the Nam O Bridge security detail rushed to the site. Lyle was killed outright by the explosion of the 250 pound bomb. He suffered fragmentation wounds to the neck, both arms, both legs and back. As the reinforcements poured in, the Marines gained fire superiority and the Viet Cong broke contact. A medevac was called in to extract 5 Marine KIAs and 7 WIAs from the combined Echo Company and 7th Engineer force. Once the casualties were evacuated, an airstrike was called on the high ground the Viet Cong had occupied. Lyle died in Quang Nam Province, approximately 17 kilometers north northwest of the Danang Airfield (AT 936897) on October 5, 1967. Lyle was posthumously promoted to Captain. The balance of Basic School Class 3-66 were promoted to Captain on November 1, 1967, 25 days after Lyle's death, and twenty two and one-half months after originally being commissioned. Lyle was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon

Kempner, Marion

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Marion Lee Kempner
  • Date of Birth: April 16, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Galveston, TX
  • College: Duke University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: A-3
  • TBS Platoon: E-3
  • TBS Class Standing: 178
  • MOS: 0301
  • Serial Number: 093225
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - November 11, 1966
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died of Wounds
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri - Operation Prairie II
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 12E - Row 055
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Marion L. Kempner – Sandy completed OCS with 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company. At Basic School, he was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Echo Company. Sandy was serving as a platoon commander (MOS 0302) with Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines when he was wounded while patrolling south of Chu Lai on November 11, 1966. Mike Company was detached from the Battalion and attached to 2/7 for participation in Operation Golden Fleece during the period November 8 – 14, 1966. The operation's mission was to search and clear VC-dominated areas in the southern portion of Bin Son District, Quang Ngai Province in advance of rice harvesters entering the fields. The Battalion would then provide security for the harvesters as they collected the crop. This would deny the area VC of rice they were planning to consume. On November 11th, Sandy's platoon was patrolling in their assigned area of responsibility to provide security for the rice harvesters. At 13:00 his platoon was wading a small stream that crossed the trail upon which they were advancing just south of the Tra Bong River near Ngoc Tri (2) village (BS 521893). The 10th Marine across the stream tripped a booby-trap, which was suspected to be a ChiCom grenade. Three Marines were wounded in the explosion and two required evacuation. Sandy was immediately behind the Marine, who tripped the booby-trap and he sustained grievous fragmentation wounds to the left side of his abdomen in the explosion. By 13:25, Sandy had been heli-lifted to the 1st Medical Battalion at Chu Lai (BT 539070), where he died of cardiac arrest on November 11, 1966. Sandy was single. Sandy sustained his mortal wounds in Quang Ngai Province, approximately 16 kilometers south southwest of Chu Lai, but died at 1st Med in Quang Tin Province aboard the Chu Lai airbase.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

November 23, 1999

Sandy Kempner was from a wealthy and illustrious Galveston family. If anyone could have avoided this war and sat it out in grad school it was he. Instead, he became a Marine officer and received two purple hearts, the second awarded for his mortal wounds. I was privileged to serve as an officer two years after his death in the same Regiment, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. I am also from Galveston, but didn't know him while growing up there. His family placed his books and other memorabilia in a room called Sandy's room at the Rosenberg library in Galveston. It is a nice quiet place to sit and read and be reminded that it was not just the poor and underprivileged who fought and died in Southeast Asia. He is one of 31 Galvestonians who gave their lives for their country in that fight. Come visit the Rosenberg library and remember him if you get to Galveston.

Posted by: Michael J.W. Remme
e-Mail: mrem@flash.net
Relationship: Fellow Galvestonian


February 20, 2008

The following letter from "Sandy" to his family was posted on the website:
http://www3.niu.edu/acad/history/sp99/vn.htm

2 September, 1966 Dear Mom, Dad, Shrub, the Egg and Peach:

Sorry to be so long in writing, but I have just come back from an abortion called Operation Jackson. I spent a three-day "walk in the sun" (and paddies and fields and mountains and impenetrable jungle and saw grass and ants, and screwed-up radios and no word, and deaf radio operators, and no chow, and too many C-rations, and blisters and torn trousers and jungle rot, and wet socks and sprained ankles and no heels, and, and, and) for a battalion that walked on roads and dikes the whole way and a regiment that didn't even know where the battalion was, finished off by a 14,000-meter forced march on a hard road.

My God, the epic poems I could write to that ambrosia of Marine Corps cuisine-peanut butter and/or hot coffee after three days of that! The only person in the whole battalion to see a VC was, of course, me. I was walking along a trail doing a village sweep all alone, and here comes Charlie, rifle in hand, with not a care in the world until he sees me, and then it's a race to see if he can get off the road before I can draw my .45 and get off an accurate shot (he won). Of course, there was an incident when four snipers took on the battalion, which promptly, more to release the weight of all that unexpended ammunition than anything else, threw everything at them but the Missouri; and that would have been there too, except it could not get up the Sang Tra Bong [River]. So goes about $50,000 worth of ammo. They probably played it up as a second Iwo Jima at home, but it wasn't.

Then, two days after we got back, we played Indian Scout, and my platoon splashed its way through a rice paddy at 3 0 30 in the morning in a rainstorm to surround a hamlet, which we managed to do somehow without alerting everyone in the district, which is surprising as we made enough noise to wake up a Marine sentry. it was "very, successful" since we managed to kill a few probably innocent civilians, found a few caves -and burned a few houses, all in a driving rainstorm. There's nothing much more, I'm afraid.

Love,
Sandy

2nd Lt. Marion Lee ("Sandy") Kempner, born in Galveston, Texas, in 1942, was a platoon leader with Company M, 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1St Marine Division, operating in I Corps. He arrived in country in July 1966. He was killed by shrapnel from a mine explosion on 11 November 1966.


February 21, 2008

The following letter from Sandy to his great-aunt was found on the following website:
http://www.stfrancis.edu/en/student/thingsnotes.html

Dear Aunt Fannie,

This morning my platoon and I were finishing up a three-day patrol. Struggling over steep hills covered with hedgerows, trees, and generally impenetrable jungle, one of my men turned to me and pointed a hand, filled with cuts and scratches, at a rather distinguished-looking plant with soft red flowers waving gaily in the downpour (which had been going on ever since the patrol began) and said, "That is the first plant I have seen today which didn't have thorns on it."I immediately thought of you.

The plant, and the hill upon which it grew, was also representative of Vietnam. It is a country of thorns and cuts, of guns and marauding, of little hope and of great failure. Yet, in the midst of it all, a beautiful thought, gesture, and even person can arise among it waving bravely at the death that pours down upon it. Some day this hill will be burned by napalm, and the red flower will crackle up and die among the thorns. So what was the use of it living and being a beauty among the beasts, if it must, in the end, die because of them, and with them? This is a question which is answered by Gertrude Stein's "A rose is a rose is a rose." You are what you are what you are. Whether you believe in God, fate, or the crumbling cookie, elements are so mixed in a being that make him what he is; his salvation from the thorns around him lies in the fact that he existed at all, in his very own personality. There once was a time when the Jewish idea of heaven and hell was the thoughts and opinions people had of you after you died. But what if the plant was on an isolated hill and was never seen by anyone? That is like the question of whether the falling tree makes a sound in the forest primeval when no one is there to hear it. It makes a sound, and the plant was beautiful and the thought was kind, and the person was humane, and distinguished and brave, not merely because other people recognized it as such, but because it is, and it is.

The flower will always live in the memory of a tired wet marine, and has thus achieved a sort of immortality. But even if we had never gone on that hill, it would still be a distinguished, soft, red, thorn-less flower growing among the cutting, scratching plants, and that in itself is its own reward.

Love,
Sandy

(On 11 November 1966, less than three weeks after he wrote this letter to his great-aunt Mrs. Louis Adoue, Marine 2Lt. Marion Lee Kempner, from Galveston, Texas, was killed by a mine explosion near Tien Dao (1), south of Chu Lai. After he disarmed one mine, another was tripped by one of his men. Although wounded by shrapnel, Lt. Kempner ordered the corpsman to take care of the other wounded man first . He died aboard a medevac en route to the hospital. He was 24 years old)

Kent, Robert

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Robert Duane Kent
  • Date of Birth: December 6, 1940
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Dallas, TX
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: D-3
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7521
  • Serial Number: 434588412
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: December 20, 1968 - Missing over Laos
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: Declared KIA - June 24, 1974
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died While Missing
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash - Land
  • Air or Ground: Fixed Wing - Pilot
  • Country: Laos
  • Province: Savannakhet
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Not Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 36W - Row 052
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Robert D. Kent – Bob completed OCS with the 3rd Platoon of Delta Company. As he was an Air Option, after commissioning, he proceeded directly to Pensacola reporting on January 4, 1966. He competed very well at flight school and was rewarded by getting tracked to fixed wing. Bob was Naval Aviator qualified in the F4B "Phantom" (MOS 7521). He was married and got to spend some time in a US-based squadron, sharpening his skills, before deploying to Vietnam. Upon arriving in Vietnam, Bob was assigned to VMFA 314 - "The Black Knights" flying out of the air facility at Chu Lai. Although the date that he reported to Vietnam is not known, by the end of November 1968, Bob had completed his 100th Combat Mission. In the early morning hours of December 20, 1968, Bob and his RIO, 1st Lt Richard G. Morin launched as lead in a flight tasked with a bombing run over the Ho Chi Minh Trail network approximately 20 miles inside of Laos. 1st Lt Manfred Rietsch launched as his wingman. The night was clear but hazy. There were numerous small campfires on the ground which at altitude looked much like the stars, so it was difficult remain oriented and differentiate between the ground and the sky. The flight arrived on station at approximately 02:00. An airborne FAC was controlling the strike in an area that had been targeted numerous times in the past. The airborne FAC marked the target with a burning flare and Bob rolled in to drop his 12 MK-82 500 pound bombs. The FAC was excited when he observed what he thought was a huge secondary explosion and Bob's wingman was instructed to drop his load 12 Mark 82 - 500 pound bombs on the site of what appeared to be the secondary explosion. Only in retrospect has it been concluded that what was presumed to be a secondary explosion at the time must have been the crash of the lead aircraft. Although there had been some ground fire in the target area during the early morning strike, it was not concentrated and therefore it probably was not the cause of the crash. During daylight hours on December 24th, Bob's wingman on the December 20th strike and the squadron CO made two flights to search the target area. As the area was well protected by anti-aircraft guns, the search was conducted at an altitude of 3000 feet, but there was no visual sighting of the wreckage of Bob’s aircraft or parachutes. There were further extensive search and rescue efforts, but they were inconclusive. Bob and his RIO were originally listed as MIA. Later their status was changed to KIA, Body Not Recovered. There is no record of attempts by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) to undertaking efforts to recover the remains of Bob or his RIO, 1st Lt Morin. Bob died in Savannakhet Province in Laos approximately 30 miles southwest of Khe Sanh.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

May 25, 1999

You don't know me, we never met, just a fellow Marine, who served in Viet-Nam, many years ago, the POW/MIA Bracelets were popular, I requested one of a Marine. And I was sent one silver in color, with your Name, Rank and date of listed as missing 12-20-68

I want you to know that all these years and even now 5-25-99, I still wear this bracelet and will till you come home and are listed home.

My thoughts are always with you and forever will be.....

Sempter Fi

Posted by: John Gordoski
e-Mail: bear@arkansas.net
Relationship: Fellow Marine


August 21, 2000

My mother always wore a copper MIA bracelet with the name "Capt. Robert Kent 12-20-68" on it. She always hoped that one day; she would learn that he came home. When she died in 1993 the bracelet was left to me. To this day, the bracelet is on my dresser, and I keep Capt. Kent and his family in my thoughts and prayers, even though we never met. America has not forgotten her MIAs.

Posted by: Carol E. Zanetti
Relationship: I wore his/her MIA bracelet


September 24, 2001

Robert is my cousin and we know him as (Bobby). He is still missed very much. We hope one day we will know all we can about what really happened to Him.

Posted by: Gloria A. Bristow
Relationship: My Cousin


May 26, 2003

I have had a copper bracelet in my possession since 1968 for Capt Robert Kent. I have wondered many times if he ever came home. I am so saddened to find out today that he did not. My prayers have been with him all these 35 years.

Posted by: Linda Borgman
Relationship: I wore his/her MIA bracelet


July 29, 2003

It was an honor serving with you. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

Semper Fi

Posted by: Carl Turner
Relationship: We served together


July 3, 2005

I started wearing Capt Kent's MIA bracelet when I was 12 years old - I have continued all these years to think and pray for him and his family - I will continue to do so until they bring him home. Many thanks to all our veterans for the incredible sacrifices you have made and continue to make to secure my freedom. May God Continue To Bless America.

Posted by: Susan Fisher
e-Mail: suzokie@sbcglobal.net
Relationship: I wore Capt Kents bracelet


February 20, 2008

The following information was found on the website: www.captainrobertdkent.gunnysite.com

Captain Kent was flying F-4B Phantoms with VMFA-314 "The Black Knights", MAG-13, 1st MAW out of Chu Lai, when his aircraft was lost during a bombing run over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. Captain Kent was listed as Missing In Action (MIA) from December 20, 1968, until he was declared dead (KIA) on July 24, 1974. Detailed information is recorded below:



SYNOPSIS

The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.

On 20 December 1968 Capt. Robert D. Kent, pilot, and 1st Lt. Richard G. Morin, bombardier/navigator, comprised the crew of an F-4B s/n 149411, modex 12/VW that departed their base on a night bombing mission to interdict enemy movement through the jungle covered mountains approximately 11 miles southwest of Muang Xepon, 7 miles northeast of Muang Phin and 25 miles west of the Lao/South Vietnamese border, Savannakhet Province, Laos. This area of Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before.

This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle covered mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.

At 0340 hours, while conducting its bombing mission, the F-4B s/n 149411, modex 12/VW disappeared without a trace. Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts were initiated at first light, but heard no emergency radio beacons, saw no parachutes and found no trace of the aircraft or its crew. Both Bob Kent and Richard Morin were listed as Missing in Action. On July 24, 1974 the United States Govt. had declared Captain Robert D Kent status as:

HOSTILE, DIED WHILE MISSING
FIXED WING - PILOT
AIR LOSS, CRASH ON LAND
BODY NOT RECOVERED

Sources:
Compiled from one or more of the following:
Raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
Correspondence with POW/MIA families,
Published Sources, Interviews.
Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.

Lama, Ivars

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Ivars Lama
  • Date of Birth: October 31, 1937
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Bamberg, SC
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-2
  • TBS Platoon: D-3
  • TBS Class Standing: 36
  • MOS: 0301
  • Serial Number: 093247
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: Declared KIA - September 11, 1966
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 10E - Row 087
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Ivars Lama – Ivars was born in Daugavpils, Latvia and migrated to the US. He enlisted in the Army and served as an enlisted Army Regular, before signing up for Marine OCS. Ivars was commissioned after successfully completing OCS with 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company. At Basic School, he was studied with the 3rd Platoon of Delta Company. Assigned to the infantry, Ivars took 30 days leave after Basic School and then reported for transportation to Vietnam. Ivars was serving as a platoon commander (0301) with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, when he died on September 11, 1966. He was riding in a Mighty Mite Jeep with his driver, radio operator, a Marine providing security, when the vehicle hit a hostile explosive device approximately 3 kilometers northeast of Hoi An on Route 638 (BT 176583) in Quang Nam Province. Ivars suffered fragmentation wounds to his entire body. All four Marines in the Mighty Mite were killed. Ivars was 28, when he died. He was married with no children.

Prepared by Dave Mellon

McCarty, Glenn

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Died

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Glenn Murray McCarty
  • Date of Birth: June 6, 1943
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: Mary Electra
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Fredonia, NY
  • College: Fredonia State College
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: A-2
  • TBS Platoon: D-3
  • TBS Class Standing: 286
  • MOS: 1301
  • Serial Number: 093281
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: Died - March 28, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Non-Hostile, Died Other
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 17E - Row 063
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Glenn M. McCarty – Glenn was a member of the 2nd Platoon of Alpha Company at OCS. He was assigned to 3rd Platoon of Delta Company for Basic School. Glenn was a platoon commander (MOS 1301) with Alpha Company, 7th Engineer Battalion at the time of his unfortunate death. He was sitting in on a training class being conducted for 12 members of his platoon by their Platoon Sergeant, S/Sgt Jackie Kinslow The subject of the class was "How disarm the M-16 "Bouncing Betty" Anti-Personnel Mine". This squad from Glenn's platoon were being trained in their company area to properly orient them for a new mission they were about to be assigned. The squad was about to relieve another combat engineer squad, who had been clearing a minefield. The minefield had originally been installed by U.S. forces around the Danang Airfield early in the war. lt had to be removed to allow for expansion of the airbase infrastructure to accommodate additional aviation units arriving shortly. The minefield consisted of M-16 "Bouncing Betty" mines. The mines had been rigged so when the three pronged firing device was activated the mine would be projected upward 8 to 10 feet before exploding and sending shrapnel out in all directions. The platoon sergeant had removed a portion of the firing device of the mine he was using for demonstration purposes, but this had not fully inactivate the mine. At 08:20 on the morning of March 28, 1967, the live mine exploded, blowing off the platoon sergeant's right arm and killing the other 13 Marines in the class, including Glenn. Glenn suffered mortal fragmentation wounds to the head and chest. The classroom where he died was in the Alpha Company's Command Post (AT 948707) on the Tuy Loan River in Quang Nam Province about 5 kilometers southwest of the Danang Airfield. A granite monument surrounded by 13 trees was erected on the grounds of Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, PA to honor the memory of those who died in this incident. The "Marines Circle of Trees" is just north of the Martha Washington Building and the Gold Star Mothers Plaza on the site. Glenn was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

June 11, 2013

Massapequa Post April 1967 – Some portions of this article are erroneous. The story was written before the official investigation was concluded. Some portions of the article are illegible and indicated by .... The article reads:

Tragedy struck another Massapequa home recently when 2nd Lt Glenn M. McCarty was killed in Vietnam while learning how to deactivate mines.

Lt McCarty, 23, was the husband of the former Mary Lee, a native of Massapequa. According to Mrs. McCarty's mother, Mrs. Charles Lee, 168 HamQuog Avenue, the Marine was killed on March 28th during a routine instruction session. She told the Post that McCarty was in the process of deactivating a mine when it prematurely exploded killing both him and the 12 students. Mrs. McCarty had been teaching at Camp Lejeune, NC at the Army's dependents school, awaiting her husbands return to the states. Mrs. McCarty, whose brother Charles, an Army PFC is also stationed in Vietnam said her husband felt he should be in Vietnam. "He felt it his duty to help and felt no resentment because he was stationed in the wartorn country."

The Marine expressed his sentiments on anti-war feelings in the US in a letter to his wife "For some reason Americans... this country. When your fighting against an enemy who wants only to destroy you completely, and by whatever means available, every bit of dissention at home, every call for "peace at any price", or "stop the bombing of North Vietnam only adds to our enemy."

"They like us are affected by the feelings displayed in America. The VC (Viet Cong) receive encouragement, their propaganda tell them that we are not fully backed by at home, that we lack the support of our own countrymen, so "kill more Americans" that way the "folks" back home will take their "boys" back home... Oh Heck with it! Won't do any good. We'll just have to wait until they wipe us out over here and then America might wake up and decide it is time to fight, Semper Fi Mac!"

The Marine was laid to rest with full military honors at Long Island National Cemetery last Friday morning at Pinelawn after funeral services at Law Funeral Home in Massapequa.

He is survived by his mother, Mrs. May McCarty, a brother, James 22 and a sister, Suzanne 20 and ...


May 14, 2013

Last Known Activity
A Co, 7th Eng Bn, 1st Mar Div

Member of the 38th Occ/ BC 3-66 class at the basic school.

Lt McCarty was sitting in on a class on how to find and disarm the M-16 bounding "bouncing betty" mines on the morning of 28 march 1967. The 13 men in the platoon were gathered around a Sgt in a circle who had a live M-18 that he was showing them what to look for when disarming them when it went off blowing the Sgt arm off and killing the others. The Sgt lived due to not being in the killing area"cone" of the mine.

Later someone unknown erected a memorial to the marines killed. It has 13 trees in a circle with a large pink marble stone that is inscribed-U S Marine Circle of Trees -In Memorial, Vietnam March 28, 1967; It contains the names of the men killed that morning on it:

Cpl Daniel R. Laird, Cpl Ronald W. Porter, Cpl Glenn W. Shafer, Cpl Howard S. Stevens, Cpl Verrell D. Stiles, LCpl Thomas C. Bekiempis, LCpl Stanley Davidheiser, Jr., LCpl Larry C. Dye, LCpl Anthony Hawkins, LCpl Eugene J. Payne lll, LCpl Don L. Schockley, PFC Otis R. Ellis, Jr.

Comments/Citation

Panel 17 E-04

Lt McCarty was 24 years old when he was killed

Dave Mellon
(949)489-8378
dave.mellon@att.net


March 28, 2005

Glenn is buried at Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY.

Posted by: Robert Sage
e-Mail: rsage@austin.rr.com

Potter, Raymond

Rank: Corporal
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Raymond George Potter
  • Date of Birth: May 19, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Home of Record: Campbell, OH
  • College: Youngstown State University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: C-4
  • TBS Platoon: -
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 0311
  • Serial Number: 2115569
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Corporal
  • Start of Tour: September 7, 1966
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - September 10, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died Outright
  • Reason: Ground Casualty
  • Detail: Artillery, Rocket or Mortar
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 26E - Row 050
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Cpl Raymond G. Potter – Ray started the 38th Officer Candidate Course with 4th Platoon of Charlie Company, but for reasons unknown, was dropped just before graduation. With his college education, Ray virtually had access to any Marine MOS he desired, but he elected to be a Rifleman (MOS 0311). Ray left Quantico and joined Lima Company 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines at Camp Pendleton in May of 1966. The Battalion deployed on September 7, 1966. Exactly one year later, Ray was at the Battalion rear in Dong Ha beginning his out-processing for a flight out on September 18th. His company, Lima, had been on a "Rough Rider" mission that day to Camp Evans, while the balance of the Battalion had engaged the 812th NVA Regiment north of Cam Lo. Lima was to rejoin the Battalion in the field north of Cam Lo at 11:50 on September 8th. Knowing that the Battalion had been involved in ferocious fighting on the 7th, the Lima Company CO requested that all those who were out-processing, rejoin the Company for this operation. Ray volunteered and resumed command of his fireteam with Lima's third platoon. On September 10th, when India Company ran in to heavy resistance moving toward the 812th's regimental headquarters, India pulled back to the east and formed a semi-circle on a hill forward of Lima Company. Realizing that India was up against a superior force, Lima Company volunteered to move forward to seal the India rear and complete the circular perimeter. Ray's squad was on the Lima point as they swept up the east side of the hill and then moved to the south to tie in with India-2. Lima-3 overshot the India-2 lines and ran headlong into an NVA unit attempting to flank the India-2 line. It is believed that Cpl Potter was struck in the chest by an RPG at this point in the battle. While the casualty report indicates he died "severe multiple fragmentation wounds to the chest and head from a hostile mortar", anecdotal information from Marines who were there, suggest that it was an RPG round that hit Cpl Potter at approximately 16:30 on September 10, 1967. He died instantaneously in Quang Tri Province, approximately 4 kilometers north northwest of Cam Lo (YD 102644). Ray made two courageous decisions, first to serve in the infantry rather than another MOS and second, although pulled from the field to prepare for his flight out, he agreed to rejoin Lima Company for one more operation. The second decision cost him his life. He died in a toughly contested area near Cam Lo within a kilometer of the locations were 2nd Lt Bobo and 1st Lt Goodwin fell. Ray was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

January 1, 2011


I didn't know Raymond personally, although he was a member of my Officer Candidate Course (38th OCC) Company, Charlie, which was one of four companies of Candidates. He was in Charlie 4 and I was in Charlie 2. I have done some research in an attempt to reconstruct his service in the Marine Corps including his service in Vietnam. Colonel Richard D. Camp's book "Lima-6", written with military historian Eric Hamel tells the story of Raymond's last three months of life from July 1, 1967 through September 10, 1967 in great detail, from the perspective of the Commanding Officer of his Company, Lima, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines. Eric Hamel's book "Ambush Valley" tells the story of the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines four day fight for survival during the period September 7 - 10, 1967 in a valley about 1 Kilometer North of the artillery fire base know as "C-2" and approximately two Kilometers West of the Main Supply Route (MSR) connecting Cam Lo and Con Thien, the western boundary of "Leatherneck Square".

Much earlier, Raymond's Marine service began in Officer Candidate School. He reported in October of 1965 and spent the next 10 weeks working toward becoming commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Corps. For reasons known only to the OCS Staff, Raymond and 42 other Candidates were dropped on December 16, 1965 and reassigned to Schools Demonstration Troops (SDT) for a period of approximately 60 days for further infantry training and future assignment by the Commandant as appropriate. While it is entirely possible that Raymond could have avoided service in Vietnam, it was specifically to lead Marines that he had joined the Marine Corps and committed himself to the officer training of OCS. As the officer route was unavailable to him, I believe he volunteered to serve with the infantry, so he could get to the fight. Raymond stayed on at Quantico until May of 1966. He visited with a Marine friend, Paul Ross in Newton, MA before returning to his home in Campbell, OH for the balance of his leave. At the conclusion of his leave, Raymond made his way across the US and reported to the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines for duty.



L/Cpl Raymond G. Potter
Pictured Soon After Reporting to 3/26 at Camp Pendleton, CA
June 1966

Raymond was assigned to 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Lima Company. He trained with the Company from late June through early September, 1966. On September 7, 1966, 3/26 embarked on shipping for Okinawa with an intermediate stop in Hawaii.



Pictured Left to Right are Cpl Potter's Fire Team at Camp Hansen
Lima Company, 2nd Platoon, 1st Squad, 3rd Fire Team
PFC Al Drotar, Cpl Potter, PFC Jim Cooper and PFC Tom Willey

Raymond was assigned to 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Lima Company. He trained with the Company from late June through early September, 1966. On September 7, 1966, 3/26 embarked on shipping for Okinawa with an intermediate stop in Hawaii.

The Battalion spent approximately one month on Okinawa training for their service in Vietnam and preparing for assignment to the Special Landing Force (SLF). It was during this training period on Okinawa that Raymond was promoted to Corporal. Next, the Battalion was assigned to the SLF. The Battalion was scheduled to make a planned operation as part of its time on the SLF; but, while practicing vertical assault and amphibious doctrine in the Philippines, a copy of the operation plan (378-66) was lost on Mindaro Island in November of 1966, and the operation having been compromised was scuttled. The Battalion did deploy as Battalion Landing Team 3/26 (BLT 3/26) to the waters of the South China Sea off South Vietnam and remained on the SLF, as a ready reaction force for another month, but was never committed in country. They returned to Subic Bay in the Philippines in early December to change shipping and were inserted at Dong Ha on December 11, 1966.

The original members of 3/26 were broken up in April of 1967. Cpl Potter remained with L-2, while the other members of his fire team were either transferred to other Lima platoons or other battalions. The Corps didn't want all of the personnel in 3/26 to rotate at the same time, so personnel were swapped among other battalions of the 26th and 9th Marine Regiments. Later, the events of June 27, 1967 were to result in Raymond being transferred from Lima-2 to Lima-3. A patrol from Combined Action Company - Oscar (CAC-O) located in the village of Khe Sanh was searching for an NVA mortar site in the vicinity of Hill 689 which was approximately 4 kilometers west of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. When CAC-O made contact, India Company was dispatched to exploit the contact. Next, Lima Company was heli-lifted to an unnamed hill approximately 500 meters south of Hill 689. Lima Company moved toward Hill 689 with L-3 and L-2 on line, with L-3 on the left flank. L-1 remained in place and provided security for the LZ. As Lima Company moved to link up with India Company, they encountered small arms fire and booby-traps. During the fighting and consolidation, 4 of Lima's personnel were KIA including the Company Commander, Captain Bynum, the Company Gunnery Sergeant and the 3rd Platoon Commander. Of the Company's 15 WIAs, several were from the 1st Squad of Lima-3. Only 4 of those assigned to the 1st Squad were still effective. As a result of the decimation of 1st Squad, Lima-3, Raymond was transferred to that Squad. It was the death of Captain Bynum on June 27th that necessitated the assignment of Captain Camp to lead the Company. Again, the book "Lima-6" provides a narrative of the Lima Company's operations from June 30, 1967 through the date that Raymond died - September 10, 1967.

By September 7, 1967, Raymond had been out of the Continental United States (CONUS) for nearly 12 months. He had been pulled out of the field because he had less than 11 days to serve in Vietnam. He was with the Battalion rear in Dong Ha getting ready to depart for Da Nang and assignment to a "Freedom Bird" heading back to the States. He had orders in hand that directed him to depart RVN on September 18, 1967.

On September 7th, when 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines were first engaged by the 812th NVA Regiment, part of the battle hardened 324B NVA Division in "Ambush Valley", Lima Company, Raymond's unit, was running a "Rough Rider" operation as security for a logistics convoy. The Company returned to Dong Ha the evening of September 7. The heavily engage Battalion Commander, LtCol Alderman requested that his detached Company, Lima, be returned to his operational control and delivered to his CP, just west of the Cam Lo - Con Thien MSR, approximately 1 kilometer north of the firebase C-2. Captain Dick Camp, realizing that he was going to be inserted into an area where the Battalion was heavily engaged and needing every Marine possible, personally approached all 30 of the short timers, who had been pulled out of the field and asked them to redraw their equipment and weapons and join the Company the next morning when they were trucked out to join the Battalion. Captain Camp stated in his book, "they didn't have to go, but they did". Raymond was one of those, who put the threat to men of his Company, "his Marines", over his personal safety. Raymond volunteered to "get back in the fight". Raymond would rejoin Lima-3 and move with them for the next three days.

The events of the next three days for Lima Company are well documented. On September 8th, Lima Company was trucked to a site approximately one kilometer North of the Marine firebase know as C-2, which stood astride the MSR. While they were debarking the trucks and getting organized for the march to Hill 48, where the Battalion CP was located, the NVA fired rockets at them. Lima and the two platoons from Kilo Company, who were moving the Battalion's dead and wounded from the September 7th action to the trucks for evacuation, received 35 rounds of accurate 140mm rocket fire that the NVA directed at the massed troops and trucks. After evacuating the new casualties from the rocket fire which included 1 KIA and 28 WIA, Lima Company hoisted the ammunition replenishment and humped in following their guides from Kilo Company to join the Battalion. September 9th was uneventful. Lima Company did send out a near-in patrol, but it turned up nothing. At approximately 1600, the Battalion displaced approximately 700 meters to the South and set in on a hill identified as Hill 48 to avoid mortar and rocket barrages on their daytime position.

It was the intent of the Battalion Commander to move India Company approximately two kilometers to the Southwest and have them occupy a hill that subsequently developed intelligence indicated was the Regimental CP for the 812th NVA Regiment. The Battalion would then displace forward approximately 1 kilometer to a hill that India Company would march over as it established its outpost to the West. The scheme of maneuver had Lima Company moving out to approximately 1/2 of the distance to the objective. Next, India Company would move past the right flank of Lima Company and over the Battalion's objective to secure a hilltop approximately 1 kilometer West of the Battalion's objective. Once India Company was in place, Lima Company would lead the balance of the Battalion to it's objective and establish a new Battalion perimeter. The plan called for the Battalion to receive a re-supply early on the morning of September 10th to facilitate the move. Unfortunately, the re-supply was delayed and subsequent NVA actions thwarted the plan.

The actual events of September 10th found Lima Company moving off Hill 48 at approximately 0730 to the Southwest along a ridgeline and setting in to a Company perimeter approximately 700 meters from the Battalion CP. They were unopposed during their movement and once set in, awaited further direction. At 1330, India Company initiated their movement and passed to the North of Lima Company and up the slope of the hill selected for the Battalion CP that evening. They continued in a Westerly direction and were ascending the hill that would be their outpost, when they came under intense small arms fire and grenade attack at very close range. India Company withdrew and under continuing contact, consolidated a semi-circular perimeter on the hill behind their furthest point of advance that was the Battalion's objective for the day. With India Company engaged, Lima Company requested approval to go to their aid, supplemented with two gun tanks and a flame tank. Lima Company moved in column with L-3 (Raymond's platoon led by GySgt Almanza, platoon commander) on point, followed by L-1 and L-2. Just as L-2 moved off hill they had been holding, it erupted in 140mm rocket explosions. It is speculated that Raymond was moving with the point elements of L-3 when it crested the hill upon which India Company was dug in. In the confusion of trying to escape the rockets falling to their rear, part of the platoon swept forward momentarily beyond the fighting holes occupied by I-2.

Captain Camp described the situation as, "a terrific volume of fire erupted. It was fairly peaceful one second and then there was this solid CRACK- like the Crack of Doom." As they reached the top of the hill most of Lima Company dropped into prepared positions, where other Marines had been encamped earlier. It is speculated that the NVA were trying to flank I-2's positions when the surge from L-3 ran headlong into them. The NVA took the lead elements of L-3 under fire and prematurely initiate their assault with all of their organic weapons, including RPGs. L-3's surge past the I-2 perimeter threatened the lead elements of the NVA flanking unit and precipitated the huge volume of fire that was directed at Lima Company. It is believed that Cpl Potter was struck in the chest by an RPG at this point in the battle. While the casualty report indicates he died from an indirect fire weapon, anecdotal information from Marines who were there, suggest that it was an RPG round that hit Cpl Potter at approximately 16:30 on September 10, 1967. Captain Camp relates that at dawn, Lima Company fired a 10 second "Mad Moment" and then went out to search the immediate front of their positions to a depth of approximately 10 meters. It was at his time that Lima Company recovered the bodies of two Marines, who had been reported as MIA the previous evening. Raymond's body was one of those recovered.

The Battalion Commander in his Command Chronology reported "In two battles against the 812th NVA Regiment on 7 and 10 September, this Battalion was engaged in the hardest fighting it had encountered since arriving in Vietnam". The Marine casualties for 3/26 during September 1967 were reported as 434 WIA and 55 KIA, including Raymond. The majority of these casualties were were sustained during the intense actions on the 7th and the 10th. NVA losses were reported as 191 KIA (confirmed by body count), 376 KIA (probable) and 1 Prisoner of War, again with virtually all inflicted during the fighting on the 7th and the 10th.

What is known with certainty is that Raymond not only volunteered to go to Vietnam, a fate he could have avoided; but, when his Company Commander asked him to go back into the field, after he was pulled to prepare for his return to the US, he agreed to go back into harm's way to support the Marines of his Company, Platoon and Squad. Raymond's actions on both counts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the Naval Service. He was respected and loved by the Marines he served with in Lima-2 and Lima-3, who knew of his disappointment in not being commissioned. He earned the respect and admiration of his fellow Marines and his Platoon Commanders for his competent performance and maturity. He gave his life in a last affirmation of concern for "his Marines". While his performance was "above and beyond the call of duty", it was not recognized with a medal as it should have been.

Semper Fidelis, Raymond, you kept the "faith"!

Posted by: Dave Mellon
Officer Candidate Course Classmate

Romero, Robert

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Robert William Romero
  • Date of Birth: March 12, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: San Diego, CA
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: C-2
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola/CH46
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7562
  • Serial Number: 093402
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: September 19, 1967
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - April 28, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash - Land
  • Air or Ground: Helicopter - Pilot
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 52E - Row 042
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Robert W. Romero – Bob completed OCS as a member of 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company. He was Air Option, so he proceeded directly to Pensacola for flight training. He was assigned to the rotary wing track and became a qualified CH-46 Pilot (MOS 7562). When he arrived in Vietnam on September 19, 1967, he was assigned to HMM-165 flying out of the Phu Bai Air Facility. In mid-April of 1968, BLT 3/1 of Special Landing Force - Bravo was posted to the Ca Lu Combat Base and tasked with keeping Route 9 open through its Tactical Area of Responsibility. On April 28th, the Battalion Commander decided to insert India Company into an area of known enemy activity in an attempt to deny the NVA units an area of sanctuary. On April 28, Bob was piloting the 2nd aircraft in a flight of CH-46s that was shuttling between the Ca Lu Combat Base and a landing zone approximately 5 Kilometers to the west inserting India Company. The two aircraft made 5 trips into the LZ in order to move the entire 155 Marines of India Company. The four previous trips into the LZ were unopposed, but by the time the final lift reached the LZ, the NVA had moved personnel into position to take the helicopters under fire. As Bob hovered prior to landing, shots rang out and a single round entered his aircraft through the co-pilot’s wing window, struck Bob in the head and exited through his wing window. Bob died outright and his body was evacuated to Delta Med in Dong Ha by the crew of the lead aircraft. Bob died in Quang Tri Province approximately 5 kilometers west of Ca Lu (XD 962448). A month before his death, Bob had inserted reinforcement into the midst of a battle east of the Ashau Valley. He was shot down and competently assumed an infantry role. He manned the perimeter, carried casualties, coordinated medevacs, called in airstrikes and expedited the extraction of the entire friendly force. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his courageous performance of duty during that period, March 29th and 30th, 1967. Bob had also been awarded two previous Purple Hearts for wounds received during his tour. Bob was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

May 27, 2013

Silver Star Citation

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Captain Robert William Romero (MCSN: 0-93402), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE (HMM-165), Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 29 March 1968, Captain Romero launched as Aircraft Commander aboard the second aircraft in a flight of four CH-46 transport helicopters assigned the mission of inserting a United States Army Special Forces unit and Vietnamese Rangers deep in hostile territory, east of the Ashau Valley. Arriving over the designated area, he commenced his approach to the zone but was forced to abort the landing and return to Phu Bai when one of his passengers was seriously wounded by enemy ground fire. Subsequently informed that the friendly unit was surrounded and in danger of being overrun by a large hostile force, Captain Romero embarked additional reinforcements and unhesitatingly returned to the hazardous area. As he approached the landing zone, heavy enemy fire severely damaged his aircraft, forcing him to crash-land in the zone. Immediately exiting the helicopter, Captain Romero joined the ground unit and assisted in manning a portion of the defensive perimeter until the following morning when the unit moved to a possible extraction site. During the eight-hour movement, he directed air strikes against the hostile positions and assisted in carrying a Marine who had been killed during the night. Arriving at a relatively secure landing zone, he coordinated the medical evacuation of casualties and expedited the extraction of all personnel. His heroic actions and presence of mind under fire contributed significantly to the accomplishment of the mission and the rescue of his crew from the hazardous area. By his courage, superb aeronautical ability and unwavering devotion to duty despite extreme personal danger, Captain Romero upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: March 29, 1968

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Captain

Company: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (HMM-165)

Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing


October 16, 2010

Information from popasmoke.org

HMM-165 Command Chronology - April 1968:

28 April 1968. Major J E Prather launched from Phu Bai with Capt R W Romero as his wingman, assigned the mission of conducting a troop lift in the CaLu area. Five sorties were made into the drop zone lifting 155 troops and 4 MedEvacs. However, on the last sortie Capt Romero's A/C received fire, one round of which struck and killed Capt Romero. He had received two other wounds earlier in his tour but continued to serve with distinction until his death. Capt Romero's courage and devotion to duty will be forever an inspiration to all who knew him.

HMM-165 Command Chronology - April 1968:

Casualties. Captain Robert W. ROMERO 093402/7562 was killed in action on 28 April 1968 as a result of wounds when he was struck by enemy fire.

First Hand Witness:
As I remember we were finishing this mission and received a distress call from Lt. Klahn that Captain Romero had been wounded. Lt. Klahn landed YW-14 in the original LZ, and YW-13 landed to the rear of YW-14 in the same LZ. I exited YW-13 to help the crew of YW-14. We shut down the aircraft, removed the emergency door and transported Captain Romero to YW-13, for medevac to I believe Quang Tri. We later learned he had died. I beleive the round entered through Lt. Klahn's open wing window, struck Captain Romero, and exited through Captain Romero's open wing window.

Posted by: Gary Brown, YW-13 Crew Chief

After Action Report - HMM-165 - 28 Apr 68:
After Action Report - 85/153 - 3rdMARDIV - 28 Apr 68
Total Time 9.7 - Mission Flight Code 1R5 - Total Sorties 32 - 155 Passengers
A/C HITS: Received - 1, Time - 11:45, Coord - XD 962448, Type of Fire - Small Arms

NARRATIVE:
ATD - 07:45
ATR - 14:50

Route - Phu Bai - Quang Tri - Dong Ha - CaLu - XD 962448 (5 trips) - Capt ROMERO killed on last trip - YW-14 left at CaLu. Capt Romero medevaced to "D" Med - Quang Tri - Maj Prather and Capt Weaver receovered a/c and flew YW-14 at CaLu leaving YW-13 at Quang Tri - Eagle LZ - Dong Ha - Quang Tri - Phu Bai

CREW:
YW-13 Maj Prather (pilot), Weaver (co-pilot), Brewnige? (crew chief), Thompson (gunner)
YW-14 Capt Romero (pilot), Klahn (co-pilot), Williams (crew chief), Baird (gunner)
YW-14A [after Capt Romero KIA] Maj Prather (pilot), Weaver (co-pilot), Williams (crew chief), Baird (gunner)

Personal Narrative:
I have always wondered that day of April 28, 1968, when India Company was helo lifted from Ca Lu west to a Mountain top called Hill 512, North of the Quang Tri River; I was in the 4th helicopter, already out and on the ground, crouched in grass when the NVA opened up on us from both sides of the mountain. I remember watching and looking up at the 5th, next helo either coming or leaving (I can't remember) and watching the pilot fall away from the window. Is this the same pilot I saw fall away from the window? How would I find out the circumstances of this mans death?

In May '68 Ca Lu combat base was under the operational control of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, which included 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (SLF Bravo). I had heard from a corpsman friend that he had died. Shot once in the head and an old letter to my parents said, "In the chest as well as the head."

Any information on where this man was killed would be especially appreciated. HILL 512 [XD 954451 - 12 km ENE of Khe Sanh Combat Base] was located 3 or 4 miles west of Ca Lu Combat Base, north of highway 9 a couple of miles.

Posted by: Larry "Doc" Peeples, FMF Corpsman, 2/I/3/1 [BLT 3/1 - SLF (B)]

Personal Narrative:
Captain Romero was flying with copilot 1st Lt Frank Klahn when a single round entered the cockpit striking Captain Romero. The wound was fatal. This is the report the squadron received from 1stLt Klahn.

Submitted by Terry M. Curtis, Squadron Pilot, HMM-165

HMM-165 Command Chronology - April 1968:
28 April 1968. Major J E Prather launched from Phu Bai with Capt R W Romero as his wingman, assigned the mission of conducting a troop lift in the CaLu area. Five sorties were made into the drop zone lifting 155 troops and 4 MedEvacs. However, on the last sortie Capt Romero's A/C received fire, one round of which struck and killed Capt Romero. He had received two other wounds earlier in his tour but continued to serve with distinction until his death. Capt Romero's courage and devotion to duty will be forever an inspiration to all who knew him.

HMM-165 Command Chronology - April 1968:
Casualties. Captain Robert W. ROMERO 093402/7562 was killed in action on 28 April 1968 as a result of wounds when he was struck by enemy fire.

First Hand Witness:
As I remember we were finishing this mission and received a distress call from Lt. Klahn that Captain Romero had been wounded. Lt. Klahn landed YW-14 in the original LZ, and YW-13 landed to the rear of YW-14 in the same LZ.

I exited YW-13 to help the crew of YW-14. We shut down the aircraft, removed the emergency door and transported Captain Romero to YW-13, for medevac to I believe Quang Tri. We later learned he had died. I beleive the round entered through Lt. Klahn's open wing window, struck Captain Romero, and exited through Captain Romero's open wing window.

Posted by: Gary Brown, YW-13 Crew Chief

After Action Report - HMM-165 - 28 Apr 68:
After Action Report - 85/153 - 3rdMARDIV - 28 Apr 68
Total Time 9.7 - Mission Flight Code 1R5 - Total Sorties 32 - 155 Passengers
A/C HITS: Received - 1, Time - 11:45, Coord - XD 962448, Type of Fire - Small Arms

NARRATIVE:
ATD - 07:45
ATR - 14:50
Route - Phu Bai - Quang Tri - Dong Ha - CaLu - XD 962448 (5 trips) - Capt ROMERO killed on last trip - YW-14 left at CaLu. Capt Romero medevaced to "D" Med - Quang Tri - Maj Prather and Capt Weaver receovered a/c and flew YW-14 at CaLu leaving YW-13 at Quang Tri - Eagle LZ - Dong Ha - Quang Tri - Phu Bai

CREW:
YW-13 Maj Prather (pilot), Weaver (co-pilot), Brewnige? (crew chief), Thompson (gunner)
YW-14 Capt Romero (pilot), Klahn (co-pilot), Williams (crew chief), Baird (gunner)
YW-14A [after Capt Romero KIA] Maj Prather (pilot), Weaver (co-pilot), Williams (crew chief), Baird (gunner)

Personal Narrative:
I have always wondered that day of April 28, 1968, when India Company was helo lifted from Ca Lu west to a Mountain top called Hill 512, North of the Quang Tri River; I was in the 4th helicopter, already out and on the ground, crouched in grass when the NVA opened up on us from both sides of the mountain. I remember watching and looking up at the 5th, next helo either coming or leaving (I can't remember) and watching the pilot fall away from the window. Is this the same pilot I saw fall away from the window? How would I find out the circumstances of this mans death?

In May '68 Ca Lu combat base was under the operational control of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, which included 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (SLF Bravo). I had heard from a corpsman friend that he had died. Shot once in the head and an old letter to my parents said, "In the chest as well as the head."

Any information on where this man was killed would be especially appreciated. HILL 512 [XD 954451 - 12 km ENE of Khe Sanh Combat Base] was located 3 or 4 miles west of Ca Lu Combat Base, north of highway 9 a couple of miles.

Posted by: Larry "Doc" Peeples, FMF Corpsman, 2/I/3/1 [BLT 3/1 - SLF (B)]

Personal Narrative:
Captain Romero was flying with co-pilot 1st Lt Frank Klahn when a single round entered the cockpit striking Captain Romero. The wound was fatal. This is the report the squadron received from 1st Lt Klahn.

Submitted by

Posted by: Terry M. Curtis, Squadron Pilot, HMM-165


September 24, 2003

I remember the last of many heroic events in your life, as though it were a brief moment ago. On the ground looking up, watching you -- hovering in the air -- with no protection; I am an eye witness to your bravery, few men can match. I never knew you, but like others in life, you will forever be a part of me. I will always remember you on that day.

Posted by: Larry
e-Mail: Lpeeples100@cs.com
Relationship: Corpsman, India 3/1

Rumley, Robert Jr.

Rank: Captain
Died of Wounds

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Robert Patrick Rumley Jr.
  • Date of Birth: August 5, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Boston, MA
  • College: Boston College
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: A-2
  • TBS Platoon: E-4
  • TBS Class Standing: 261
  • MOS: 0301
  • Serial Number: 093411
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain, at time of death
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: DOW - May 18, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Died of wounds incurred on September 2, 1966
  • Air or Ground: Air
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: -
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: Distinguished Flying Cross & Purple Heart
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 14E - Row 095
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Robert P. Rumley, Jr. – Red completed OCS with 2nd Platoon of Alpha Company. He was with 4th Platoon Echo Company at Basic School. Red was serving as platoon commander (0301) for 1st Platoon, Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines at the time of the incident that eventually led to his death. On September 2, 1966, Foxtrot-1 was designated the "Sparrow Hawk" platoon for the Battalion. This was a platoon quick reaction force standing by to be deployed when needed by Battalion or other higher commands. As it had been reported that two 500 pound bombs had been dropped 6 kilometers southeast of Hill 55 (AT 991588) and had not exploded, the "Sparrow Hawk" was activated to secure a perimeter, so EOD personnel attached to the platoon for this mission could blow the bombs in place. Red's platoon boarded two CH-46As for the flight to the site of the earlier bombing. When they attempted to land, they received small arms fire from three sides of the LZ. So, the helicopters cleared the area and artillery fire was called on the Landing Zone. When they attempted landing a second time, the lead helicopter in which Red was riding was hit in mid-air by either a mortar or a 57mm recoilless rifle round in the aft transmission. The helicopter crashed in a dry rice paddy and burst into flame. An aerial observer came on station and controlled fixed wing aircraft with 20mm cannon and napalm to keep the Viet Cong at bay during the rescue effort. Red sustained fractures of his pelvis, scapula and shoulder in the crash. Despite agonizing pain, he crawled across the deck of the helicopter to a gash in the skin of the chopper opened by the crash. When his Marines saw their Lieutenant in the breech, two of them pulled Red from the downed helicopter and clear of the flames. The second helicopter in the flight put down in the LZ next to the crash and the balance of the platoon debarked. Those on the first helicopter, who had sustained injuries from the crash were loaded on board the second helicopter and evacuated to 3rd Medical Battalion for initial treatment. Red continued to work his way through the evacuation chain and ended up at Chelsea Naval Hospital, close to his home of record in Medford, MA. The helicopter crash in Quang Nam Province was the beginning of Red’s prolonged fight for survival . He was treated at the Chelsea until early 1968, but he never recovered. His quality of life had by then deteriorated into series of seizures and a progressive paralysis of his limbs. In the last months of his life he lay comatose unable to respond to any stimulus. An airway was inserted to assist his breathing as his condition progressively declined. The proximate cause of death was ruled an inoperable brain tumor. Red died at the Faulkner Hospital in Boston on May 18, 1968. The brain tumor had its genesis in the injuries he sustained during the helicopter crash in Vietnam 20 months earlier (September 2, 1966. During his period of hospitalization, Red had been promoted to1st Lieutenant and then Captain before being discharged from the Marine Corps.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

May 19, 2006

The following article appeared in the 19 May 2006 online edition of The Washington Post:
After a 38-Year Wait, An Etching on the Wall, 4 Names Join Vietnam Veterans Memorial
By Sue Anne Pressley Montes
Washington Post Staff Writer/p>

Everyone else knew him as "Red," because of his flaming hair. But at home, he was always "Bobby," his family said. And he was a good, big brother.

Robert Patrick Rumley Jr. died at age 25 on May 18, 1968, from wounds he suffered as a Marine captain in Vietnam. But it took exactly 38 years -- and the determined efforts of his siblings -- to get his name etched on the black granite expanse of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. "Obviously, this means a great sense of closure -- it's like having a wound heal properly," said his brother, Mark Rumley, 53, of Boston as he stood next to the Wall yesterday. "But more than that, I think its best described as an affirmation of the truth about our brother's sacrifice. And he's finally taking his place with his comrades."

Four names, including Rumley's, were added this week to the monument in what has become nearly an annual ritual. Almost every year at this time, just before Memorial Day, a few more names are inscribed after approval by the Department of Defense, said Lisa Gough, spokeswoman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The names are usually etched in whatever empty spaces are available, she said, and placed as close as possible to others with the same casualty dates. In most instances, these names were not included when the Wall was erected in 1982 because of lost medical records, other missing documents or some other oversight. Often, as in Rumley's case, it is the relatives who end up making the appeal. For years, his family was troubled that the name of their beloved son and brother was not on the Wall. They were never sure why not. Rumley died 20 months after the helicopter he was riding in was shot down by enemy fire, and he never recovered from his wounds. His parents, who have since died, were so devastated by his death that they did not have the heart to pursue the matter, Mark Rumley said.

But a few years ago, Bobby Rumley's siblings decided to take up the cause. "It was certainly a cumbersome process," said Mark Rumley, a lawyer. "There's no real road map. We had to file three different petitions dealing with medical records and military records." But all that was behind them yesterday as he and two brothers, Michael, 62, and Jon, 45, also of Boston, leaned forward to watch as stonecutter Jim Lee carefully etched "Robert P. Rumley Jr." into the granite.

Others included this week were Army Specialist Bobby Gene Barbre of Carmi, Illinois; Marine Lance Corporal George Bryant Givens Jr. of Robards, Kentucky.; and Marine Pfc. Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz of Midland, Ontario, Canada. The additions, which will become official when they are read at a Memorial Day ceremony May 29, bring the number of names on the Wall to 58,253.

"Every name is special," said Lee, of Great Panes Glassworks Inc. in Denver, which has etched several hundred names on the Wall since 1986. "Every name added further completes the memorial."

The years seemed to fade away as the Rumley brothers remembered Bobby, the oldest son. "There was no back step in his personality. If he began something, he'd see it through," said Mark Rumley, who was 15 when his brother died. "It's a bittersweet thing. It seems like I'm 15 again today, and I'm not."

After graduating from Boston College in 1965 with a business degree, Bobby Rumley joined the Marines and went to Vietnam in the spring of 1966. He was platoon commander on Sept. 2, 1966, when the Viet Cong began firing mortar rounds at the Chinook helicopter he was in. In a tribute recently written for the family, one of the men in his platoon, Ernest "Doc" Ellis, described Rumley as "an intense fighter" who "never surrendered to his injuries," even as guerrilla fighters got within 10 meters of him. "He remained calm, cool, collected, and always in command," Ellis wrote. ". . . He answered his country's call to arms and forged his answer with honor, courage, and patriotism."

As tourists milled about them yesterday, the Rumley brothers watched Lee do his work, a painstaking technique that takes only about 10 minutes but requires careful attention to stroke and depth to match the other names.

They will be back soon, the brothers say, for the Memorial Day program, along with about 30 relatives. But before they left yesterday, they stepped forward to do what so many visitors to the memorial do. With tears in their eyes, they each took pencil and paper and made a rubbing of their brother's name.

Posted by: Kelly Malloy
e-Mail: kellyamalloy@comcast.net
Relationship: Niece


September 11, 2006

Lt. Robert "Red" Rumley USMC
A Tribute By Ernest "Doc" Ellis (U.S. Navy, Corpsman, who served with Foxtrot Company, 2/1)

Contributors: Maj. General Gene Deegan, USMC;
The Family of Captain Robert P. "Red" Rumley, USMC

It was the first week of August, 1966. The 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division had just completed its participation in the bloody operation called "Hastings." I joined them that same month. My assignment: Senior Corpsman, Fox Company. Fox Company had been depleted. Many had been killed, including its Commanding Officer and Senior Corpsman, before North Vietnamese General Gap decided to withdraw his decimated North Vietnamese troops to a point north the Demilitarized Zone.

Then Captain Gene Deegan had assumed command of Fox Company during late August 1966. Under his command things changed quickly for the beleaguered Company. Morale improved and the casualty rate declined. He kept us in the field on many frequent excursions. Each evening just short of full dusk, Fox's platoons would set a defensive perimeter. After dark, we would move to another location. Using this method, Vietnamese guerillas the Viet Cong were less able to pin point our position. Morning casualties from sniper fire nearly stopped as Marines no longer gave in to that Herding Syndrome or behaving overly relaxed.

Marine 2nd Lt. Robert P. "Red" Rumley Jr. joined the company just prior to Captain Deegan's arrival. Having just completed embarkation school in Okinawa, Red was excited to be a platoon commander and anxious to test himself in battle. A graduate of Boston College and Marine Officer Training School at Quantico Virginia, Red had earned a reputation as an intense fighter. Captain Deegan has described him as "exactly the kind of enthusiastic professional that you looked for in a platoon commander."

September 2, 1966 was a warm, humid, rainless day, different from other days in only one respect. Foxtrot had been selected by Division to be ready for any "Sparrow Hawk" mission assigned during a twenty-four period. This meant we had to have a platoon sized reaction force ready to deploy on very short notice to respond to a contingency in the DaNang Area of Operations. Then the call came in. We were to provide security to Marine Engineers while they detonated two unexploded bombs. They had been dropped earlier in the day and each weighed two hundred fifty pounds. I was assigned to Lt. Red's platoon.

Late in the afternoon we were activated. Lt. Red's platoon reported to the landing zone to load helicopters and deploy to the contingency area. His platoon saddled-up quickly. Each Marine double checked his weapon. Backpacks were filled with provisions enough for the duration of the anticipated operation. At 1800H two Chinook helicopters lifted off with Lt. Red and his marines. I boarded one with the Lt., Cpl McDonald and other marines. The second chopper was piloted by Major Reap. In flight engine noise made conversations impossible. Some Marines setting next to each other shouted into each other's ears. But, for the most part we were all silent. I remember the Lt. taking a map from a pocket of his trousers. He spent a good deal of time during that flight studying the map; making sure he could identify landmarks, tree lines, etc. once we were on the ground.

It was 30 minutes, give or take, from lift off until we made the first landing attempt. As both choppers began their decent into a Landing Zone, muzzle flashes from Viet Cong guerilla fighters shot up at the choppers. They did not indicate a large enemy force. As the Chinooks began their fast, ass-end down, landing they came under intense automatic rifle fire while mortar rounds exploded nearby. Both chopper pilots aborted their landing, climbed to a safe altitude and began circling the Landing Zone. They continued circling the Landing Zone for thirty minutes. By 1900H dusk began setting in. Muzzle flashes became more prominent. At 1915H Red's choppers began their descent.

At 1928 hours on September 2, 1966 the Chinook carrying Lt. Red, myself and the others crashed. A Viet Cong's lucky mortar shot had blown apart the chopper's rear transmission as its pilot attempted to abort his second landing. Lt. Red and his men were in a hot landing zone. The flash of a bright orange-red fireball filled the chopper's aft section just milliseconds before it slammed ass-end first into a dry rice paddy field. Lt. Red was seated just inside the chopper's ramp, just aft of the last porthole near the ramp and almost directly under the rotor blade driveshaft. The mortar shot had hit the chopper directly above him. The fireball engulfed the section where Red, the radio operator, Cpl McDonald and I sat. I don't know if the others felt heat -- I did not. We were all tossed with a relentless and unforgiving force in all directions as the thirty-two ton chopper's ramp hit ground and began its belly flop to a stop.

I must have been knocked-out for a few moments because my next memory is of lying on my back, unable to sit up due to something being caught on the back of my flack jacket. I don?t know how but I broke free. The chopper's interior was still flame bright. I couldn?t detect anyone inside. Just as I broke my way through an opening, I saw Lt. Red. He was quite near to me. Flames began consuming the chopper's remains as he started a slow and steady crawl toward a section that had been ripped away from the side of the Chinook. The agonizing pain of what we would later know to be a fractured pelvis, scapula and shoulder, showed in his face as he silently pulled himself along with one arm. It was the feat of an iron-man.

As Lt. Red was able to lift his head through the opening in the torn section, ragged sheet metal blocked his escape. Two marines then grabbed his shirt at its shoulders. With a not so gentle tug they pulled their leader through the jagged opening and onto the ground. They then quickly dragged him, face down, a few meters away from the burning chopper. Lt. Red never cried out or whimpered. He simply asked his rescuers to roll him onto his back. Every marine aboard that chopper sustained injuries; pilot and co-pilot had severe back injuries, the chopper's gunner had a crushed chest, a rifleman had a severe head injury, and a fire team leader had a severed leg artery.

After the chopper crashed, those Marines who were able had hastily set up a 360 defensive perimeter and directed the evacuation of the chopper's pilots and crew. Viet Cong guerilla fighters got within ten meters of Lt. Red before Marines cut them down. Red never surrendered to his injuries. He remained calm, cool, collected and always in command.

The second chopper, piloted by Major Reap was still airborne. He had aborted his second landing attempt due to intense enemy fire. Not knowing if any of us had survived the crash, he landed within a few meters of our burning chopper. Lt. Red?s Marines climbed up and over the chopper's ramp and immediately began loading the wounded, including Lt. Red, aboard. Maj. Reap then lifted off and flew us to 3rd Medical Battalion located near DaNang. He then returned twice to the Landing Zone to pick up the remaining Marines.

Thirty-five years later I learned that Lt. Red never recovered from his injuries. In the months after the chopper crash he found it difficult to walk because of pain he experienced in his left hip. The early symptoms of limping continued to worsen and gradually, as the months went by, he weakened progressively as paralysis took away his ability to move - one limb at a time.

He was treated at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Massachusetts until early 1968. His life by then comprised of a series of seizures and continued paralysis. Again he fought valiantly. In the last months of his life he lay comatose - not responding to any stimulus. An airway inserted to assist his breathing as his condition progressively declined. He died as a result of a brain tumor at the Faulkner Hospital in Boston on May 18, 1968 a brain tumor that had its genesis in the injuries he suffered during the helicopter crash in Vietnam 20 months earlier.

This spring, Lt. Red's name will be added to the Vietnam Wall in Washington. It is recognition long merited and long overdue. Red Rumley was a Marine. He should be remembered for how he lived and for how he died- with character. His is a story that is repeated often - as often as a young man or woman enlists to serve our country. His is the story of a young man from a working class American family who answered his country's call to arms and forged his answer with honor, courage, and patriotism. A good man, a fine Marine, a heroic figure, an American - who died of wounds sustained at 1928H, 2 September 1966.

Semper Fi

Posted by: Mark E. Rumley
e-Mail: mrumley@medford.org
Relationship: He is my brother

Sauer, Philip

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in action
PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Philip Howard Sauer
  • Date of Birth: July 6, 1942
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Coronado, CA
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: -
  • TBS Platoon: E-5
  • TBS Class Standing: 101
  • MOS: 1801
  • Serial Number: 093419
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - April 24, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 18E - Row 081
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

1st Lt Philip H. Sauer – Phil earned his commission by successfully completing OCS. At Basic School he was assigned to 5th Platoon of Echo Company. Phil was the platoon commander (MOS 0302) for 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 3rd Anti- Tank Battalion. His Ontos platoon had been moved to the Khe Sanh Combat Base as contacts with NVA forces increased in early 1967. On the morning of April 24, 1967, Phil decided to join up with the 2nd platoon of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines which moved out from the Combat Base to Hill 750 in order to be in position to support with a section of 81mm mortars Bravo's other two platoons which were approximately 1200 meters to the northwest investigating a cave complex on the northwest slope of Hill 861. Phil was apparently attempting to determine if the Ontos could be advanced to a position where they too might be employed in a direct fire role in support of the maneuvering Bravo platoons. When Bravo 1 and Bravo 3 became engaged on the morning of April 24th, the Bravo 2 platoon commander, unaware that Hill 861 was occupied by NVA elements, decided to send an FO Team to the top of Hill 861 to adjust the fire of his attached mortars. Phil volunteered to accompany them and the 5 Marines (Forward Observer, Radioman, two riflemen for security and Phil) started toward the summit. By 11:00, the group of Marines emerged from a bamboo thicket, approximately 200 meters from the summit(XD 803441). There, they were ambushed by entrenched NVA. The Marine on point was killed immediately, while Phil and the Forward Observer made it into a foxhole and the Radioman and other rifleman found cover approximately 5 meters to the rear. The FO's new M-16 was caked with mud and would not fire. Phil armed only with his .45 directed the other three survivors to return to the Bravo 2 position, while he provided covering fire. Only the FO survived. Phil's bravery cost him his life. It is not know exactly how he died. When his remains were recovered, his wounds were described as "traumatic amputation of both arms and the lower half of body from an unknown hostile explosive device". The description of Phil's wounds and those of the FO team radio operator suggest that the NVA occupying the entrenched positions on the summit of Hill 861 had emplaced some type of anti-personnel mine or mines along the trail they anticipated the Marines would use as they approached the summit. It appears that as Phil and the FO Team radio operator attempted their escape from the kill zone, they activated one or more anti-personnel mines". Phil died in Quang Tri Province during one of the initial encounters with the NVA of what would become known as "The Hill Fights" for Hills 861, 881 North and 881 South. He was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

September 1, 2004

Philip is buried at Ft Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, CA .

Posted by: Robert Sage
e-Mail: rsage@austin.rr.com

November 19, 2004

Early on the morning of the April 24, 1967, 2Lt Thomas G. King had led 30 men from B-2 plus an 81mm mortar section (two tubes) with approximately 120 rounds of mortar ammo and Ist Lt Phillip H. Sauer, commander of the ONTOS section at Khe Sanh, to Hill 700, about a click south of 861, to provide security for the sweeping B-I and B-3.

Upon reaching XD 805435, Lt King set up his 81 and at about 0930H, began to fire into the cave area on the northwest slope of Hill 861. About an hour later, he dispatched a 5-man OP to proceed up the trail to the top of Hill 861 for a better advantage so they could call fire missions and possibly air support for the two platoons. The OP advanced until it reached a bamboo thicket about 300 meters from the top of the hill, at 1100H, and was ambushed by dug-in 20-30 NVA. The point man went down yelling, "I'm hit!" and just lay on the trail. Lt Sauer and PFC William Marks made it to a foxhole; the radioman and security took cover about 15 feet behind them. The NVA soldiers began plastering them with fire. Lt Sauer was armed with only a pistol.

Posted by: Lionel Raymond

Sevell, Robert

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Robert Lee Sevell
  • Date of Birth: April 23, 1943
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Clark, NJ
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: D-4
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola CH46
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7562
  • Serial Number: 093427
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: January 1, 1968
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - February 28, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash Land
  • Air or Ground: Helicopter Crew
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 41E - Row 072
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Robert L. Sevell – Bob completed OCS with 4th Platoon Delta Company. As he was an Air Option, he was sent directly to Pensacola for flight training. Bob followed the rotary wing track and became a qualified CH-46 pilot (MOS 7562). Upon arrival in Vietnam, on January 1, 1968, Bob was assigned to HMM – 262 at the Quang Tri Air Facility. At 06:00 on February 28, 1968 Flight 20-1 of Mission 53-KS (Khe Sanh) briefed. Bob was to fly as the co-pilot that fateful day to Major Meixner. The mission was to fly to Khe Sanh and recover a squadron aircraft, which had been battle damaged in the revetments at Khe Sanh Combat Base. The aircraft lifted off at approximately 07:00 with a total of 23 military personnel on board. Eleven of those onboard were Marines assigned to HMM-262. The crew of 7 was supplemented by 4 additional aircraft technicians who would be tasked with repairing the damaged aircraft and readying it for flight. The remaining 12 Marines onboard were just passengers under orders to report to the Khe Sanh Combat Base. As the aircraft crossed over a ridgeline approximately 10 Kilometers southwest of the Rockpile, it was struck by automatic weapons fire from 12.7mm anti-aircraft guns. The aircraft banked to the right and decended toward the valley below at a high rate of speed. The aft cabin was on fire and the fire spread forward to the entire cabin during the decent. The aircraft became uncontrollable and crashed at full speed (XD 916522). The fire extinguished on impact. An infantry reaction force reached the crash site quickly, but there was only one Marine who survived the initial crash. Unfortunately, he died of his wounds later that evening. Bob died in Quang Tri Province at the crash site approximately 7 kilometers south west of the Rockpile, one of 23 victims of NVA anti-aircraft gunners. Bob was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

October 16, 2010

Information from popasmoke.org

Incident Date 680228 HMM-262 CH-46D 153360+ Hostile Fire, Crash The aircraft piloted by Major Meixner and co-piloted by Captain Sevell took ground fire as it approached Khe Sanh Combat Base on February 28, 1968. The NVA rounds started a fire in the aft portion of the cabin. The aircraft became uncontrollable and crashed. The entire crew and passengers were KIA, except Corporal Danny Gard of Ballinger, TX who was badly burned and later died of wounds on May 28, 1968.

[CREW]
Benigni, Alfredo Cpl Crew Chief HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:059)
Gard, Danny D Cpl Crew HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:065)
McCabe, Marc Wayne Sgt Crew HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:070)
Meixner, Edwin George Maj Pilot HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:069)
Sevell, Robert Lee Capt Co-Pilot HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:072)
Thotland, John Alfred LCpl Crew HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 42E:001)
Toth, John Paul Sgt Crew HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 42E:002)

[PASSENGERS]
Balades, David Zavala PFC Passenger H&SCo/3rdShorePtyBn 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:058)
Bradley, Kenneth Robert Cpl Passenger HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:059)
Caldwell, Robert Edward Cpl Passenger H&SCo/3/26 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:060)
Christman, Ronald S H LCpl Passenger HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:060)
Coles, Kyle J LCpl Passenger H&MS-36 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:061)
Cooper, Donald Nathaniel Cpl Passenger HMM-262 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:062)
Dempsey, Ronald Lee Cpl Passenger BttyB/1/13 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:063)
Dwyer Jr., Matthew Murice LCpl Passenger A/3rdEngBn 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:063)
Ellis, John Patrick Capt (PP) Passenger MABS-36 MAG-36 680228 (vvm 41E:064)
Labonte, Donald Arthur HN Passenger H&SCo/2/26 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:068)
Mikels Jr., James Herbert Sgt Passenger H&SCo/1/26 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:069)
Parsons, Charles Edward Sgt Passenger HQCo/5thCOMMBn ForceLogCom 680228 (vvm 41E:070)
Spillman, Charles Otto BU1 Passenger NMCB-301, 31st NCR 680228 (vvm 41E:074)
Stanton, Emmett Charles PFC Passenger A/3rdEngBn 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:074)
Stull, Jay Webster Capt Passenger HQCo/HQBn 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 41E:069)
Turner, William Oliver Cpl Passenger H&SCo/3rdShorePtyBn 3rdMarDiv 680228 (vvm 42E:001)

HMM-262 Command Chronology:
Flight Schedule Wednesday, 28 February 1968:
OPS DUTY OFFICER: 1stLt Cole
SQUADRON DUTY OFFICER: Lt Klahn

EVENT#, A/C CMDR, CO-PILOT, MISSION

20-1, Maj Meixner, Sevell, 53 KS
20-2, Barba, Otto, 53 KS
20-3, Maj Therriault, Bratton, 53 KS
20-4, Richards, Morrison, 53 KS

Personal Narrative - from HMM-262 website:
"...The pilots of that ill fated aircraft were Major Ed Meixner and Capt Robert Sevell. There were other personnel on board who were not members of HMM-262. They were getting a ride to Khe Sanh. The mission that day was to bring a repair crew to Khe Sanh to recover a battle damaged CH-46 from HMM-262. It was our practice to take a direct route to Khe Sanh but the VC and NVA spotted this route and set up automatic weapons in strategic locations to direct large volumes of fire on our aircraft. To counteract the VC, we altered our flight path to approach Khe Sanh from another direction. The VC spotted this and again set up automatic weapons to shoot at our aircraft. Our aircraft took numerous hits and crashed in flames with one survivor who died later that evening at the Dong Ha medical facility. There was a magnificent effort to recover the crew with 3rd Division Marines helicoptered in to set up a perimeter defense around the crash site and VMO-6 providing air cover. If necessary, fixed wing aircraft were standing by. We were not going to leave any one behind. Dave Althoff flew the medevac aircraft picking up the entire crew. Our Flight Surgeon, Drew Morris was with the rescue force to provide immediate medical care...."

Posted by: Mel Steinberg, Commanding Officer

Personal Narrative - from HMM-262 website:
The narrative which follows was provided by Corporal Kellan "K-Bar" Kyllo, 1966-1968, crewchief of the lead aircraft of a mission involved two HMM-262 aircraft that launched from Quang Tri with the destination of Khe Sanh for the purpose of taking a recovery crew to repair an A/C at the Khe Sanh Combat Base.

"... Fred Benigni was the crewchief (of the chase aircraft) but I don't remember which men were the two gunners, the extra crewmembers were members of the recovery team. I was in the lead plane. The HAC (helicopter commander of the lead aircraft) was Capt. Conroy. Major Meixner commanded the chase plane. My aircraft had just crossed over a ridge at tree top level that was thick blanket of fog. When the chase plane crossed the ridge at almost that same spot, the aircraft radioed that they had taken automatic weapons fire. There were no further communications. The aircraft then banked to the right and started to descend towards the valley at a high rate of speed. There was a yellow-white fire in the aft of the cabin that could be seen through the cabin portholes. The fire moved towards the front of cabin and consumed the entire cabin. The aircraft hit the valley floor at full speed. The crash extinguished the fire. We circled around the crash site and considered landing with the Marines we had aboard and looking for survivors. The pilot requested fixed wing support and was told that it wouldn't be available until that afternoon, so we returned to Quang Tri. When a team from another squadron returned to the crash site they said Danny Gard was still alive, we were told he died that next day."

Posted by Kellan Kyllo, crewchief of the lead aircraft

Personal Narrative:

At the time I was a L/CPL stationed at the Rockpile with 3rd Platoon Lima Co 3rd Battalion 9th Marines 3rd Marine Division. I remember there was some confusion when we boarded a CH-46 at the Rockpile LZ which resulted in only half the platoon being airlifted to the crash site, the other half boarded another helicopter and were flown somewhere else. Led by our Platoon Commander, LT. Hickman, a Navy Doctor, and our squad (The Green Ghosts) we went about our recovery effort without setting up a defensive perimeter because half the platoon went missing. All I can say was the site was surreal. It was some time before we came across the lone survior, a crewmember who could only say he was from Texas. (CPL Danny Gard). Out of respect for the families I will give details of what I still take to bed with me 46 years later. On a need to know basis, please call me : 212-989-3461 or 917-363-7039. Somebody had to hold the Line for THE UNITED STATES OFAMERICA in 1968, and it was US!

Posted by Christopher Buonanno, assisted in recovery of our fellow Marines

Personal Narrative:
I was the Crew Chief on the CH-46 that David Althoff piloted on the medevac to pick up Maj. Meixner and the rest of our guys that went down that day. By the time we got there,there was somewhat of a perimeter set up and our guys were ready to be brought out. To this day this incident as well as many others are still extremely difficult for me to think about as they are for so many of us. If someone would like to talk about this in more detail I can be reached at 360-754-2160 or 360-701-6743.

Posted by David H Wills LCpl.USMC 65/69, Crew Chief for Major Dave Althoff


May 17, 2001

Uncle Bobby, was how I thought of you. You were in my husband's fraternity. We were opposites: you tall, me short, you senior, me a sophomore, you quiet, me outgoing... yet we became friends. I remember sitting on your lap as a little sister might do. You shared the wisdom of a big brother that I never had. I looked forward to reunions and seeing you again, but that was never to be. My world will always be brighter because of our friendship, but it will always be missing those opportunities to deepen our friendship. Thanks for giving your life; that I might have what I have today. Sharon Rogers WVWC 1966 (Richard W. Rogers).

Posted by: Sharon Rogers
Relationship: We were college classmates

Snyder, Stephen

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Stephen Francis Snyder
  • Date of Birth: March 3, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Sunbury, PA
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: -
  • TBS Platoon: E-5
  • TBS Class Standing: 146
  • MOS: 0301
  • Serial Number: 093446
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - August 24, 1966
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Gun, Small Arms Fire
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 10E - Row 034
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Stephen F. Snyder – Steve was commissioned after completing OCS with 4th Platoon of Alpha Company. He completed Basic School with the 5th Platoon of Echo Company. In Vietnam, Steve was the platoon commander (0301) of 3rd Platoon, Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. He died as a result of NVA small arms fire on the morning of August 24, 1966 after leading his platoon in a night movement to relieve pressure on a platoon from Echo 2/4 Company, which was ambushed and pinned down near a cave complex on the "Razorback Ridge" in Quang Tri Province, during Operation Prairie I. Upon arrival at the Echo position, he led a small group forward to recover casualties. Despite heavy enemy fire, Steve was successful in recovering two of the wounded Echo Company Marines. Steve's skillful direction of his Marines fire delayed an imminent enemy assault. When the NVA finally massed for an assault at daybreak, Steve led his Marines forward to protect the Echo Company casualties. He was mortally wounded by a gunshot wound to the left side of his chest during the assault, but his courageous action broke the enemy attack and the Echo Company Marines were recovered and evacuated. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his valor during this action. Steve was 24 and single at the time of his death. 15 other Marines died during this action. Steve died in Quang Tri Province (XD 969564) participating in Operation Prairie.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


Navy Cross Citation

SNYDER, STEPHEN FRANCIS
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps
Company F, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Reinforces) FMF
Date of Action: August 23 - 24, 1966

The Navy Cross is presented to Stephen Francis Snyder, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Platoon Commander, Third Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in the Thon Son Lam area, Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 23 and 24 August 1966.

Volunteering to attempt to relieve a trapped platoon, Second Lieutenant Snyder unhesitatingly led his platoon in a daring night march through unfamiliar, dense, enemy-infested jungle terrain. Upon arrival at the besieged platoon's position, he fearlessly took a small group into the trap to assist in evacuating wounded from the enemy-dominated location. Though met with a deadly hail of enemy grenades and small-arms fire, he managed to direct the evacuation of two wounded under the cover of darkness. For the next two hours, with complete disregard for his own safety, he selflessly exposed himself to intense fire while he directed suppressive fires which delayed the enemy assault. When the North Vietnamese finally attacked at dawn, Second Lieutenant Snyder heroically led his platoon in a determined counterattack in an effort to protect the trapped men.

Undeterred by the murderous enemy grenade barrages and automatic weapons and sniper fire, he courageously led his men forward until he was mortally wounded. Second Lieutenant Snyder's stirring example, exceptional leadership, and marked courage were the determining factor in breaking the enemy assault and saved the lives of the trapped Marines. His great personal valor reflected great credit upon himself and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


REMEMBERANCE

January 7, 2001

I knew Steve in OCS. We had the same name, so had to meet often to exchange mail, etc. He was good friend --even though we knew each other only briefly-- who I miss to this day. The ultimate irony was that when Steve was killed the Marine Corps Gazette printed my name instead of his. Stephen M. Snyder, 093447.

Posted by: Stephen M. Snyder
Relationship: We served together

February 17, 2005

Stephen is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

Posted by: Robert Sage
Email: rsage@austin.rr.com

Temple, Thomas

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Thomas Richard Temple
  • Date of Birth: January 21, 1944
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Devon, PA
  • College: Brown University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: -
  • TBS Platoon: E-5
  • TBS Class Standing: 86
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 093475
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: -
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - October 19, 1966
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 11E - Row 091
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

2nd Lt Thomas R. Temple – Tom was commissioned with the 38th Officer Candidate Course. At Basic School, he was assigned to the 5th Platoon of Echo Company. Tom was serving as a platoon commander (MOS 0302) of the 2nd Platoon of Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines at the time of his death. Mike Company was dug in on a Hill described as Phu Lac (6) just above the southern terminus of the Liberty Road ferry crossing. One of the missions assigned to 3/9 was to keep the Main Supply Route (Liberty Road) open from the ferry crossing on the north through the rest of their TAOR to An Hoa Combat Base. An LCM was being used at the time to shuttle Marines and materiel across the Song Thu Bon. On October 19, 1966, Tom decided to accompany his squad day-patrol. The squad patrol was approximately 2000 meters east of the Company position when they encountered a bobby-trap. Although the SOP was to blow all bobby-traps in place, Tom was successful in disabling it. As the squad continued on, a second bobby-trap was encountered (AT 947524). As Tom knelt down to attempt to deactivate the second bobby-trap, it exploded. He suffered fragmentation wounds to the head and both legs and died outright. Two of his Marines were also seriously wounded by the blast. One of which was PFC Joseph M. Alstott. Both were evacuated to the Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan for treatment. Tom was participating in Operation Macon in Quang Nam Province when he died. Tom was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

July 22, 2001

Tom Temple was a graduate of Brown University, Class of 1965. At Brown, he was well-liked; Tom was chosen by his teammates to be co-captain of the swimming team. I cherished his friendship at college. It was an honor to have been his friend.

Posted by: Doug Schneider
Relationship: We were college classmates

Thuet, Stephen

Rank: Captain
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Stephen Paul Thuet
  • Date of Birth: June 1, 1942
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: St Paul, MN
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: D-2
  • TBS Platoon: D-5
  • TBS Class Standing: 329
  • MOS: 2502
  • Serial Number: 093482
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Regular
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: September 10, 1967
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA - February 20, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Device
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Nam
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 40E - Row 048
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Stephen P. Thuet - Steve was in the 2nd Platoon of Delta Company at OCS. He was in the 5th Platoon Delta Company at Basic School. Steve went on to Communications School and was then assigned as the Communications Officer (MOS 2502) for the H&S Battery, 1st LAAM Battalion, MACG -18, the unit that controlled the HAWK Surface-To-Air Missiles protecting the Danang Airfield from potential air attack by the North Vietnamese Air Force. On February 20, 1968, Steve was traveling in a Jeep with his driver, L/Cpl Krauss down the main supply route from the Battalion Headquarters on the west side of the Danang Airfield to Hill 55. The Battalion had a small installation on Hill 55 which was designated Auxiliary Firing Unit "Echo". The "Mighty Mite" hit a mine and Steve was killed instantaneously. His driver, L/Cpl Krauss was severely injured sustaining shrapnel wounds to the right cheek and both legs. During the month of February, the Battalion's vehicles drove 35,000 miles and were the target of three mine incidents, the most serious of which killed Steve. He died in Quang Nam Province enroute from Danang Airfield to Hill 55 on the main supply route. Steve was married. To honor Steve's memory, 1st LAAM Battalion committed to educating Do Hoang Khoi, a 7 year old orphan at the China Beach Orphanage through high school.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

September 23, 2000

I have thought of you and your family often for many years.
Mary Rosier (The Fox Family, So. St. Paul, MN).

Posted by: Mary H. Rosier
Relationship: We were high school classmates

Uplinger, Barton

Rank: Captain
Died

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: Barton John Uplinger
  • Date of Birth: September 2, 1942
  • Single/Married: Married
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: Camarillo, CA
  • College: -
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-2
  • TBS Platoon: Pensacola
  • TBS Class Standing: -
  • MOS: 7563
  • Serial Number: 093496
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: Captain
  • Start of Tour: February 19, 1968
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: Died - February 19, 1968
  • Casualty Type: Non-Hostile, Died Other
  • Reason: Air Loss, Crash - Sea
  • Air or Ground: Helicopter - Noncrew
  • Country: North Vietnam
  • Province: -
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 40E - Row 033
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

Captain Barton J. Uplinger – Bart complete OCS with the 4th Platoon of Bravo Company. Next, he reported directly to Pensacola for training under an Air Option. He followed the Rotary Wing track and became a qualified UH-1 (Huey) pilot (MOS 7563). Upon reporting to Vietnam, Bart was assigned to VMO-6 working out of the Air Facility at Quang Tri. On the morning of February 19, 1967, with the NVA Tet Offensive still in progress, Bart launched at 08:43 on a two aircraft mission. They flew up to the mouth of the Cua Viet River and expended their rockets and 7.62mm ammo on a known enemy ville. They returned to Quang Tri and refueled and went out on a second mission, which was aborted because higher headquarters didn't provide the information they needed to complete the mission. The two aircraft returned to Quang Tri at 11:45 and debriefed. For reasons unknown, later that day, Bart was a passenger on a flight of two CH-53 Sea Stallions from HMH-463. The routine medevac mission was scheduled to fly from their home station at Marble Mountain Air Facility and flew to Phu Bai, then on to the LCM Ramp in Hue and back to Phu Bai before returning to the hospital at NSA, Danang returning finally to Marble Mountain. As the medevac load was light, the flight picked up some passenger, who were merely working their way south. The flight would get the passengers to Danang. The aircraft left at 12:15 and the lead aircraft logged 2.2 hours of flight time. At 17:30, the flight was 5 kilometers north of Phu Bai, when the lead aircraft received a .30 cal hit. The flight was probably on its return from Hue at that point. The flight put down in Phu Bai for second time at approximately 17:45. It is probably at this juncture that Bart boarded. The after action report indicates that the 2nd aircraft in the flight had 5 crew and 9 passengers. Although, contemporary reports indicate there were only 13 onboard. The passengers included 4 US military personnel: a wounded Army soldier and an attending corpsman and two other passengers, including Bart. Additionally, there were two wounded NVA POWs, and an elderly Vietnamese civilian taking his granddaughter to the dentist in Danang for a total of 13. It is assumed Bart’s destination was Danang, but the reason for his journey is unknown. The 2nd aircraft crashed into a mountain 15 kilometers west north-west of the summit of the Hai Van Pass in Instrument Flight Reference conditions. It was reported overdue and missing at 19:15 on February 19, 1967. There were no survivors. Due to faulty information, the aircraft was originally thought to have been lost at sea, but eventually the aircraft was located and the remains were recovered on June 21, 1968. The mixed remains were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO in a common grave with a single headstone for the nine lost servicemen. Bart died in Thua Thien Province in a non-hostile accident. Bart was married.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

August 30, 2004

Information from popasmoke.org

Incident Date 680219 HMH-463 CH-53A 153278+ [YH-17] Non-Hostile Crash In Mountains, Instrument Meterological Conditions: In the midst of the Tet Offensive, a flight of CH53 helicopters were dispatched from Marble Mountain to pick up routine medevacs. The flight itinerary for the two helicopter mission took them from Marble Moutain Air Facility to Phu Bai to the Citadel in Hue, then back to Phu Bai and Da Nang with the casualties before returning to Marble Mountain Air Facility. The Flight Leader completed the mission; however his wingman crashed in IFR conditions near the Hai Van Pass on the flight segment between Phu Bai and Danang. The tread below is very confusing as to the exact site of the crash, but it would appear that the work done by Ken Davis, Researcher for The Virtual Wall is the likely proper explanation. It is most probable that the Force Recon team knew exactly where they were as they would have had to call in artillery support and request evacuation had they been hit. Most of the other explanations including a crash on Monkey Mountain make no sense. The operational tempo that surrounded the loss during Tet undoubtedly resulted in the loss of valuable information on this crash. Barton Uplinger undoubtedly went along as a passenger on this flight to see what was going on in the Battle for Hue during the Tet Offensive.

[CREW]
Deetz, Bill Wayne Capt Pilot HMH-463 MAG-16 680219 (vvm 40E:019)
Ehnis, Kenneth Paul Sgt Crew Chief HMH-463 MAG-16 680219 (vvm 40E:019)
Johnson III, Benjamin F LCpl Gunner HMH-463 MAG-16 680219 (vvm 40E:023)
Tessier, Lucien Charles Capt Co-Pilot HMH-463 MAG-16 680219 (vvm 40E:032)
Torre, Francis San Nicholas Sgt Gunner HMH-463 MAG-16 680219 (vvm 40E:033)

[PASSENGERS]
Bridges Jr., Robert Jan HM2 Corpsman-Pass HMH-463 3rdMedBn 3rdMarDiv 680219 (vvm 40E:018)
McCullough, Sylvester TSgt Corpsman-Pass HMH-463 903rd AeroEvacSqdrn, MACV 680219 (vvm 40E:026)
Tyner, Robert Emmett PFC Medevac HMH-463 A/1stBn/12thCAV/1stCAVDiv 680219 (vvm 40E:033)
Uplinger, Barton John Capt Passenger HMH-463 VMO-6/MAG-36/1stMAW 680219 (vvm 40E:033)
Vietnamese - POW, NVA Prisoner of War Medevac HMH-463 NVA Prisoner of War 680219 (vvm 40E:033)
Vietnamese - POW, NVA Prisoner of War Medevac HMH-463 NVA Prisoner of War 680219 (vvm 40E:033)
Vietnamese - Unknown, Civilian Medevac HMH-463 Vietnamese Civilian 680219 (vvm 40E:033)
Vietnamese - Unknown, Civilian Medevac HMH-463 Vietnamese Civilian 680219 (vvm 40E:033)

MAG-16 Command Chronology - Feb 1968:
"At 1915H [19 Feb 68] this aircraft was declared overdue and missing after being last reported at 092 degrees/20 nautical miles from TACAN Channel #69 enroute to MMAF on an IFR clearance. Search and rescue operations were instigated and continued on a daily basis through the end of the month."

HMH-463 Squadron After Action Report of 19 Feb 1968:
AAR of 19 FEB 1968:

HMH-463 Mission #22
4.2 hours in support of III MAF
2 CH-53 aircraft

Lead A/C YH-12
Pilot: Scott
Copilot: Curley
CrewChief: Lewis
Gunner: Gonzales
Gunner: Machinnon

Second A/C YH-17
Pilot: Deetz
Copilot: Tessier
CrewChief: Ehnis
Gunner: Johnson
Gunner: Torre

Flight Leader Capt H. R. Scott
#1 received one hit - carried 10 passengers and 11 medevac
#2 missing enroute MMAF - 9 passengers /medevacs unknown

Routing for #1 A/C: MMAF -> Phu Bai -> Hue Citadel -> Phu Bai -> Danang -> MMAF
Routing for #2 A/C: MMAF -> Phu Bai -> Hue Citadel -> Phu Bai -> [Crash Site]

Posted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association

MAG-36 Command Chronology - June 1968:
"On 16 June (four months later) the wreckage of an aircraft believed to be a UH-34 was found by the APD aircraft from HML-367. On 19 June a zone was blown using 2,000 lb. bombs to allow a recon team to reach the crash site. On 20 June a recon Team ?Fudge Cake? was inserted into the crash site at ZC 201946 and the aircraft was identified as CH-53A, BuNo 153270 [153278]. Two M-60 machine guns, one .38 Cal. pistol, one engine starter, and the dog tags of TESSIER, L. C. 092299 were recovered by the team. The team was extracted at 1700. On 21 June the recon team ?Fudge Cake? with two Graves Registration men and an aviator member of this command were inserted into the crash site. A thorough search for the remains was conducted. All remains that could be found were brought out and turned over to Graves Registration for further disposition. A report was submitted to MAG-16 concerning the investigation."

Posted by: John Lane, HMM-364, USMC researcher

Comment on Incident:
According to the HMH-463 Squadron Command Chronologies for Feb and Apr 1968, the crew was reported as MIA on 19 Feb 1968. The crew was reclassified as DAI/BNR on 13 Mar 1968.

Comment on Incident - The Virtual Wall Website:
In the Spring of 2003, The Virtual Wall obtained a current copy of the Defense Department's official casualty records, which lists 130,573 peacetime and wartime deaths from the first casualty of the Korean War on 28 June 1950 through an Air Force lieutenant who died in an automobile accident on 31 Dec 2002. The Department of Defense database lists nine men who died in a Marine Corps helicopter crash on 19 Feb 1968 ... the seven men listed above and two other passengers:

TSgt Sylvester McCullough, USAF, New York NY, USAF Medic
PFC Robert E Tyner, US Army, Jacksonville FL, A/1/12 Cav

The casualty database was obtained from Mr. Tom Campbell, WHS/DIOR, in late April 2003. While it does not indicate the vehicle type, it (sometimes) indicates the branch of service that was operating an aircraft involved in an accident. The database identifies the reason for and location of loss as follows:

Capt Tessier: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) NVN
Capt Deetz: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) NVN
Sgt Ehnis: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) NVN
LCpl Johnson: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) NVN
Sgt Torre: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) NVN
Capt Uplinger: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- PASSENGER (MC) NVN
HM2 Bridges: HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) NVN
TSgt McCullough HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- CREW (MC) OFFSHORE SVN
PFC Tyner HELICOPTER ACCIDENT -- PASSENGER (MC) SVN

CH-53A BuNo 153278 was the only USMC non-hostile helo loss on 19 Feb 68. It thus appears that Tyner and McCullough were aboard BuNo 153278.

Posted by Ken Davis, The Virtual Wall

Comment on Incident:
The crash site was located on Monkey Mountain on the north side of DaNang Harbor in a position very near a previous H-53 crash (8 Jan 68). The suggestion of an errant instrument vector (possibly errant land elevation information) is reasonable, as two aircraft impacted in the same general region at different times under instrument conditions. The possibility of inadvertent flight into terrain is also a reasonable explanation. "Meaconing" (A system of receiving radio beacon signals and rebroadcasting them on the same frequency to confuse navigation) by the enemy was always a possibility. The meaconing stations cause inaccurate bearings to be obtained by aircraft or ground stations, but there is no firm evidence either way with respect to the two crashes.

Posted by Alan H. Barbour, Historian, USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association

From ""The Virtual Wall",:
Comment on Incident:

The initial report from MAG-16 indicated that 9 men perished. "The aircraft crashed and burned in the valley below. Nine medevacs within the aircraft were killed. The entire crew and six of the medevacs survived the crash with injuries."

Another report from Tyner Family sources indicates that they were told that there were 13 men aboard the helicopter and that several were Vietnamese soldiers. The following is what R.E. [Tyner]'s family told us that the military told them concerning R.E. the day that the helicopter crashed: "R.E. was wounded in the neck/shoulder area while fighting in Hue. He was placed on a helicopter and was to be sent to a medical facility in Da Nang for treatment of his wounds."

"There were 13 men onboard the helicopter and several were Vietnamese soldiers. The flight time was supposed to take about 20 minutes from where they took off to where they were supposed to land. The helicopter had been in the air about 10 minutes when all contact with it was lost. All were declared MIA. Sometime later the Tyner family was contacted and told that the helicopter had been found and the men declared dead. They were told that of the 13 men on board that only enough remains of bodies were found to put in 3 coffins." Mrs. Johnson, friend of R E Tyner.

From the above, it appears that BuNo 153278 was on a medevac mission to/from Hue when it went down. Given the "last position" data of 092/20NM Channel 16 the CH-53 was nowhere near NVN waters - and the wreckage certainly wasn't. It appears that an error was made in the initial coding of the casualty reports or at some point thereafter ... and that no corrections were made after the wreckage was located in June 1968. The medevac mission itself is indicated by the presence of a Corpsman (HM2 Bridges from the 3rd Med Bn, Danang); Mrs. Johnson's information; and the presence of a USAF medic, TSgt McCullough.

Posted by Ken Davis

Comment on Incident:
TSGT Sylvester Mc Cullough was assigned to the relatively small 903rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. He was based in Phu Cat, Vietnam, located just west of Highway 1 in II Corps Area. The United States Air Force operated the Phu Cat facility for F-100 SuperSabre and F-4 Phantom aircraft of the Tactical Air Command (TAC). They provided the close air support for units in the II Corps area. It is not know why he was on the flight in the CH-53A in I Corps, but there is some speculation that he may have had a mission at Khe Sanh and was returning. He had only been in-country for two weeks when he was KIA. His MOS was Aeromedical Evacuation Technician.

Posted by: Alan H. Barbour, Historian, USMC/VHA

Personal Narrative:
We were told maybe three months after the incident, that our roommate, Benjamin F. Johnson, was found along with the rest of the crew from HMH-463 on this bird which crashed on the same hillside as the CH-53 from HMH-463 which was found on 680108 with my roommate Phillip Stanley Strand. Both were found one half mile from each other. We were told that both had been following a bogus TACAN signal in the fog, and both crashed on the same hillside.

Submitted by Michael Burnett, Cpl, HMH-463, Aircrew, 1968

Personal Narrative:
When this incident occurred our family was told things that are not listed in this web site.

Regarding the passengers of this ill-fated flight, the total was thirteen human beings: the five members of the flight crew, two individuals being medevaced, Marine Captain Barton J. Uplinger and Army Private First Class Robert E. Tyner, one Navy Corpsman attending these two, HM2 Corpsman Robert J. Bridges, Jr., one Air Force Corpsman hitching a ride back to Saigon, TSgt Corpsman Sylvester McCullough, two Viet Cong POWs and one elderly South Vietnamese gentleman taking his grandaughter to Danang to see the dentist.

We were also told the name of the mountain that the chopper crashed into was Marble Mountain.

Posted by: Michael J. Ehnis, Brother of Sgt. Kenneth P. Ehnis and fellow Marine

Personal Narrative:
I was a friend of TSgt. Sylvester McCullough; both of us trained at Pope AFB, NC and were sent to Phu Cat AB, VN as a unit of the 903rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. This unit consisted of 70 personnel. TSgt. McCullough and I drove from Pope AFB, NC to Kansas City in December of 1967. He was to report to Phu Cat approximately 1 week before I was to arrive.

I conducted a personal inventory of his belongings on March 11, 1968. I was told that he was on a mission from Khe Sanh Combat Base and the aircraft was lost in the fog and crashed into Monkey Mountain. I understand there were several personnel aboard and that TSgt. McCullough was aboard due to a med evac situation. Also, I was advised by our commander, Major Dale D. Grismore, that TSgt. McCullough apparently volunteered for this flight.

He was a good person and I was saddened by this loss. On our trip from North Carolina, all he talked about was his children and could not wait to get back to Salina, Kansas to visit them before leaving for Vietnam.

Posted by Jon Lecure, SSgt., 903rd Aeromedical Evac Sq., located at Phu Cat AB, VN

The Virtual Wall - Addendum:
While we did get the "who was on board" question resolved - 6xUSMC, 1xUSN, 1xArmy, and 1xUSAF, total 9 US - we had three different UTM locations:

* VHPA UTM grid: ZD050295
* MAG-16 UTM grid: ZC197247 (MAG-16 Jun68 CC TT 1201077235.pdf p46)
* MAG-36 UTM grid: ZC201946 (MAG-36 Jun68 CC TT 1201078294.pdf p5)

Robert Tyner, Army, is now positively identified as aboard the helo; his DA2496 dated 30 Jun 68 is attached and notes the crash site was located and "some remains" recovered.

The MAG-16 and MAG-36 June 1968 reports address locating and recovery from the wreckage. Recon Team FUDGE CAKE (2nd Plt, 1st Force Recon Co) visited the wreck site twice, an initial recon on 20 June and again on 21 June with a MAG-36 officer and 2 Graves Registration people. I decided to see where they thought they were and tracked down the post-patrol reports.

The two reports are attached, as are two 1:50K map graphics showing the Thua Thien/Quang Nam border and the crash site as reported by FUDGE CAKE: ZC205941. One is "shrunk" and shows the general area, and the second is a full-size image for detail. It turns out the helo hit the southern face of a secondary peak, apparently just south of the border and probably only a hundred or so feet below the crest.

Submitted by Ken Davis, Researcher, The Virtual Wall

Personal Narrative:
Comment on Incident:
Bart Uplinger had been one of my transition flight students [UH-1E] at Camp Pendleton (VMO-5). He was a fine gentleman and a fine pilot. He was assigned to VMO-6 upon arrival in-country. It is my understanding that he possibly had another role on this mission, either simply as a passenger using the flight for transportation or with INTELL.

Submitted by Alan H Barbour, former flight instructor, VMO-5

Comment on Incident:
HM2 Robert Bridges is listed on the casualty record as died while missing -crashed at sea. The other helo members are all listed as body recovered but I am not sure that is right. The family of this missing Doc knows very little. I was in hopes you have some further info on this loss incident such as what squadron and what they were doing off the coast of NVN etc. Bridges served in 3rd Recon but from what I gather was sent to another unit.

Posted by George Neville, 3rd ReconBn

Woodall, John

Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Killed in action

PERSONAL
  • Full Name: John Braxton Woodall
  • Date of Birth: June 26, 1943
  • Single/Married: Single
  • Spouse: -
  • Children's Names: -
  • Home of Record: East Alton, IL
  • College: Washington University
MILITARY
  • OCS Platoon: B-4
  • TBS Platoon: D-5
  • TBS Class Standing: 287
  • MOS: 0302
  • Serial Number: 093518
  • Component (Reserve or Regular): Reserve
  • Rank: 1st Lieutenant
  • Start of Tour: July 1966
CASUALTY
  • Casualty Date: KIA April 30, 1967
  • Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
  • Reason: Other Explosive Devise
  • Air or Ground: Ground
  • Country: South Vietnam
  • Province: Quang Tri / Hill 881 South
  • Postumous Promotion or Award: No Change
  • Body Recovered: Recovered
  • Location on Wall: Panel 19E - Row 002
This entry was prepared in anticipation of the Memorial Service at Mt. Soledad Cross, San Diego Reunion, October 17, 2013

1st Lt John B. Woodall – John was assigned to the 4th Platoon of Bravo Company during OCS. At Basic School he was assigned to the 5th Platoon of Delta Company. John was the platoon commander (MOS 0302) for 3rd platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines. His company, along with the rest of the battalion, was conducting security operations for Camp Carroll until late April of 1967. However, on April 25, 1967, Kilo Company was detached and heli-lifted into the Khe Sanh Combat Base and attached to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, which was commanding the units involved in the "Hill Fights". On the morning of April 30, 1967, Kilo Company moved to a northeastern approach to Hill 881 South and prepared for the assault. Just after noon, Kilo Company moved out in platoon columns to assault Hill 881 South with John's K-3 on the left flank, K-2 in the center and K-1 on the right . John's K-3 was moving well through a wooded ravine and making faster progress than K-2 and K-1. As John's platoon emerged from the cover of the ravine, the NVA engaged them from entrenched positions with interlocking field of fire. John saw his two point Marines gunned down. Reacting immediately, with total disregard for his safety, John grabbed a rifle, placed accurate fire on the nearest bunker's aperture, then swept past the casualties and killed the two NVA soldiers in the bunker. He, then, delivered covering fire, so his Marines could recover the casualties. It is reported in his Silver Star Citation that he was then mortally wounded by a round from an NVA sniper. The official report of casualty, however, states that he died from multiple fragmentation wounds. As Hill 881 South was pulverized with artillery fire and John's body was not recovered until May 3rd, it is quite possible that the artillery bombardments on May 1st and 2nd inflicted damage to his remains and obscured the earlier gunshot wound. Regardless, John demonstrated great courage in personally assaulting the NVA bunker and thereby allowing his wounded Marines to be evacuated. He died a hero, while saving the lives of two of his Marines, in Quang Tri Province as part of Operation Prairie IV. He died on the same day and on the same battlefield as his Classmate, 1st Lt David S. Hackett. John was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his valor. He was single.

Prepared by Dave Mellon


REMEMBERANCE

1st Lt. Woodall was the Platoon Commander for 1st Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He died leading his platoon in the assault on Hill 881 (South), approximately 7 kilometers west of the Combat Base at Khe Sanh.


July 16, 2011
Silver Star Citation
1st Lt. John B. Woodall 093518 USMC (KIA)

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant John B. Woodall (MCSN: 0-93518), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Platoon Commander with Company K, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam, on 30 April 1967. As First Lieutenant Woodall led his men in an assault on Hill 881, north of Khe Sanh, the Platoon was taken under devastating fire from machine guns and automatic rifles. The initial burst of enemy fire felled the two point men, who were closest to the hidden bunker. Several attempts to reach the two critically wounded Marines were thwarted by a hail of deadly fire from the enemy position. Immediate medical attention was necessary to save their lives. With a total disregard for his own safety, First Lieutenant Woodall grabbed a rifle and placed accurate fire into the bunker. He then charged the bunker and killed both of its enemy occupants. From this position he laid down covering fire enabling the two Marines to be carried to safety. As he covered their withdrawal, First Lieutenant Woodall was mortally wounded by an enemy sniper. His heroic actions and unselfish devotion to the welfare of his men were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: 30-Apr-67

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: Company K

Battalion: 3d Battalion

Regiment: 9th Marines

Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF


May 18, 2011

Circumstance of 1st Lt Woodall's Death

It was a Sunday, April 30, 1967. I was sitting in elephant grass next to two North Vietnamese enemy soldiers who had been charcoaled by napalm. Around 11 AM I was gazing up Hill 881 South not knowing that in an hour or so we would be assaulting the hill. Hill 881 South was really a mountain whose peak was 881 meters above sea level. From around a half mile away, I could see the enemy NVA (North Vietnamese Army) moving like rats from one hole to another near the crest.

I was part of 1st Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines. As we started moving up the mountain around 12 noon I said a prayer to God, "Lord have mercy on my soul." There was a three prong movement of Kilo Marines going up the hill. Our platoon was on the left flank. There may have been two or three other companies in the attack. Mike Company got so shot up so badly they couldn't even operate as a company that day. Some of the platoons were going up the ravines, but we were going up a ridge.

I was the point man (scout) for the platoon. We were in single file. I got almost three-fourths to the top of the hill, when we stopped. First Lieutenant John Braxton Woodall sent two other men, Eddie Aponte, from New Jersey, and Freddie Pitts, my fire team leader from Walton Beach, Florida on to scout out the area above us. They went up another 20 to 30 yards. I heard a machine gun cut loose on them. Evidently, they had walked over a machine gun nest which was well camouflaged with brush and bamboo and tree limbs.

Aponte came back down the hill unhurt. The Lieutenant told me to come with him and we crawled on our bellies to try to get Freddie Pitts. On the way up I heard Pitts in a faint voice saying, "Help me, help me." When we got to him, the Lieutenant took my rifle to cover our exit back down the hill, while I got Pitts out. The Lieutenant cut loose on the enemy. It looked like Pitts had six to eight bullet holes in his chest. I was trying to drag Pitts' body down the hill, while I was crawling on my knees.

There was a lot of confusion. I was scared - fear was everywhere. The Lieutenant was shooting into a bunker. Then I saw the Lieutenant bent over with blood running out of his neck.

Posted by: PFC Kenneth Wayne Flowers, USMC
1st Platoon
Kilo Company
3rd Battalion, 9th Marines

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The members of our Class, who died as a result of service in Vietnam are listed. Most died as a result of hostile action, while a few were the unfortunate victims of accidents. War is a dangerous undertaking and the Vietnam War claimed thirty-three (33) of our best and brightest.

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