Office of Ass't SecDef-Accessions. V'nam Vets Memorial-Directory of Names. Statistical Abstract of the US, Other Iraq War Casualty Resources:. Peak troop strength in Vietnam was ,, on 30 April Highest state death rate: West Virginia WIA: , - , required hospitalization, 50, who did not. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of Draftees vs. Overall, blacks suffered The average age of the G.
Elizabeth Ann Jones Lt. Drazba and Lt. Jones were assigned to the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon. They died in a helicopter crash near Saigon, February 18, Both were 22 years old. Hedwig Diane Orlowski Capt. Alexander of Westwood, NJ, and Lt. Orlowski of Detroit, MI, died November 30, Alexander, stationed at the 85th Evac. With them when their plane crashed on the return trip to Qui Nhon were two other nurses, Jerome E. Shoemaker, Jr. Alexander was 27, Orlowski Both were posthumously awarded Bronze Stars. Pamela Dorothy Donovan Lt. Donovan, from Allston, MA, became seriously ill and died on July 8, She was assigned to the 85th Evac.
She was 26 years old. Sharon Ann Lane Lt. Lane died from shrapnel wounds when the th Evac. From Canton, OH, she was a month short of her 26th birthday. Lane had been assigned before going to Viet Nam, was dedicated in her honor. The names of local servicemen killed in Vietnam are on the base of the statue. Hospital, Tuy Hoa Lt. Graham, from Efland, NC, suffered a stroke in August 14, and was evacuated to Japan where she died four days later. Mary Therese Klinker Capt. This is known as the Operation Babylift crash. From Lafayette, IN, she was Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone to be a Reconnaissance Marine, I accept all challenges involved with this profession.
Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before me. Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life. Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics -- The title of Recon Marine is my honor.
Conquering all obstacles, both large and small, I shall never quit. To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail. To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission. On the battlefield, as in all areas of life, I shall stand tall above the competition. Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork, I shall be the example for all Marines to emulate.
Never shall I forget the principles I accepted to become a Recon Marine. Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart. A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word and achieve what others can only imagine. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Marine Corps Colors. In , the 7th Marine Regiment participated in Operations Starlite and Piranha , the first major engagements for American ground troops in South Vietnam.
It was successful in beating back enemy assaults in its operation areas. The division received it 7th Presidential Unit Citation for service from 29 March to 15 September and an 8th one for the period 16 September to 31 October After six hard years of combat, 1st Marine Division returned home to Camp Pendleton in In , the division supported the evacuation of Saigon by providing food and temporary shelter at Camp Pendleton for Vietnamese refugees as they arrived in the United States.
Their scope of missions is broad and currently changing due to Force Reconnaissance units making a move to - Marine Corps Special Operations Command. Delta company which used to fall under 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, now falls under the direct command of the I MEF commander. Potential Reconnaissance Marines in the past were screened by the receiving reconnaissance battalion and were subsequently assigned to a pre-basic reconnaissance course Pre-BRC program which were known as "Recon Indoc Platoon" or "Recon Training Platoon". However, due to changes made recently, Marines who wish to join the reconnaissance community must first complete the School of Infantry's Rifleman course prior to being assigned to the "MART" Marines Awaiting Recon Training platoon.
While at this school prospective reconnaissance Marines, called "ropers" for the distinguishing sling ropes they are required to wear, receive training on mission planning, advanced patrolling, advanced radio communications, advanced land navigation, reconnaissance and surveillance techniques, calling for artillery and close air support , small boat operations, and clandestine operations. They then attend S. And a few medals in a case in a closet at home. Forty years now it seem like yesterday for me.
Each day brings back some thing new for me.
I have been looking frantically for that trunk key with no luck. And I can recall that day I arrived in Nam as a replacement for one of those brave men of Hill And now forty years to the day I stumbled across their story on the web as told by Doug Wolfe of team Blue Spruce. Today is a particularly dreary, rainy day. Lookout Mountain is socked in good. It is not unusual for it to be socked in.
Hell they fought the Battle above the Clouds there during the Civil War. However, today it put me in mind of another dreary, socked in ridge I was on for around 2 hours on 3 June, Other than that, all you could observe was a lot of triple canopied high ground that surrounded the hill for approximate of the degrees of view. HM3 Lerch They were inserted by CH46 helicopters after fixed wing had prepped the zone and basically blown the jungle off the ridge line for about meters along the spine of the ridge and about 75 meters of the sides of the finger. Only God and Phil Hampton know why a request for extraction from this position was not submitted.
Maybe one was, but the 1st Recon Unit Diary shows no such request. From the insertion thru the day of the 2nd of June, the patrol was uneventful, other than 1 sighting called in on a sampan traveling upriver. No packs or weapons were observed and no request for fire was submitted. The afternoon of 2 June marked a turn for the worse in the weather. The rain came and the accompanying fog started to sock the team in. We were debriefed, cleaned our weapons and gear, and proceeded to see who could get the drunkest on 3.
The next few days would be spent taking turns on guard duty on the battalion perimeter, going to freedom Hill PX, and getting briefed and trained up for our next mission. On the 2nd we were assigned the additional duty of acting as the Bravo Co. React team. We were briefed by our TL, Sgt. Jimmy Linn of our duties and advised that there would be no drinking.
This fell on deaf ears partly because most of us were already drunk and partly because Shakey Linn was pulling on a Budweiser when he said it. Sometime around midnight we awakened by the Co. And Sgt. Linn and advised that Cayenne was in heavy contact, had reported heavy casualties, and had lost common with Grim Reaper. The Battalion TAC calls sign We were told to grab our shit and muster at the 3 shop for deployment to their pos.
The word we were getting was that the NVA were all over the hill, Huey gunships were on station and providing cover fire, Spooky gunships were on station, but unable to work because of limited visibility due to the hill being socked in, and there was no contact with the team on the ground. We were beside ourselves and begging to be inserted immediately. We were told we would be going in as soon as a viable assessment of the situation on the ground could be made and visibility.
A CH53 pilot with a lot more balls than brains landed and picked them up. It has never been made clear to me if Doc Lerch died on the medivac or shortly after landing at Charlie Med. We were advised that Hampton was seriously wounded and reported the rest of his team were dead or missing. We would be inserting as soon after daybreak as the safety of the choppers allowed. We boarded 2 CH46s just before dawn on the morning of the 3rd.
The React team was composed of: Sgt. Jimmy Linn TL Cpl. Little, B Co. We sat down on the south end of the hill and I remember seeing Campanella and McAdams lying in their hole on that side of the hill. They had both been shot in the head. I could not get off the side to my security position soon enough. I could see to my right another fighting position with bodies, but could not tell who they were. This morning I was kneeled down in a virtual pile of AK brass. We were later told a force of approximate 30 overran the hill. Bullshit, I never saw a gook on my whole tour with over 3 mags of ammo and it was piled at least 30 to 40 yards up the whole side of the ridge.
I think they were hit by at least a Sapper Co. Most of the claymore wires were still in position and had been cut. The claymores themselves were gone and no sign was evident that they had been blown. I was told by Phil Hampton months later that every position on the hill was hit by RPGs in the initial assault after we had been there about 15 minutes I heard a lot of excited shouting from the NE side of the hill. Jim Southall came to our side of the hill and said somebody off the side of the hill was whistling the Marine Corps Hamm and we might have survivors.
They had apparently been blown off the hill by the RPGs. I believe it saved their lives. All but Ski were injured to the extent they were sent home. I will never forget them. We also recovered 1 NVA body. I have no idea why they left him.
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I went on several missions with Hampton after the Cayenne mission and found him to be a brave and competent leader. Respectfully, Doug Wolfe.
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Looking back on this that was the first time I heard the full story on Hill On what happened to Cayenne that night on Hill As a replacement the only thing I was told was a small part of the story. Like the hill was over run with NVA and the team wiped out. Thanks to this story I now know the full story. And each time the night rolled in.
What happened to team Cayenne on that night of June 3 rd , was on my mind and all my marine brothers on those missions on Hill I guess it all in the timing or luck. My time on Hill seemed somewhat normal. I can recall a couple incidents being up all night and calling in flares and artillery. And on Hill one or two other incidents we call in napalm on one as a battalion size unit of NVA along the river moving in formatting. Besides those I had two KIA off of that hill one with a sniper rifle and one with the 50 caliber machine gun. Yes you I say I can recall Hill as if it was yesterday.
I can recall the nightmares and how hard it was to forget it all and move on. You might think it does, but your just fooling you self. Knowing Doug and Phil Hampton and working with Sgt. Jimmy Linn and Cpl. James Southall, I remember him as a Sgt. Not a Cpl. Maybe a promotion I worked with him from time to time. And recalling words like, Charlie Ridge, going out on patrols Boarding CH 46 helicopters, pulling down fields of fire, setting up claymore mines, putting out concertina wire, and yes the weather oh that weather what can t say but what a nightmare that can be. Socked in for days, miserable nights in the mountain jungle, with heavy contacts of enemy moving a round you all night, gunships providing cover fire, working on react teams what a nightmare and training up for mission.
Thanks Doug your story brought it all back like a runaway freight train it back on my mind. I never had the honor of meeting them personally. NVA or VC launched frenzied attacks with A-K 47s or small arms fire or lobbing hand grenades why not one of there missions. Why not one of there missions why not one of them why this mission, it seem to be playing on my mine a lot. As I can recall the team seemed to be all in good sprits clowning around as usual as we waited for our ride that day.
It seemed to be a typical day, hot with a burning sun and to me that meant the mission would be a go. With in minutes we were all boarding CH46 helicopters and lifting off the LZ at base. I recall a Hoo-ya from this bunch of young Marines.
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I can recall being a little nervous. But this would have been normal for me. Most of our casualties come from being shot down in air by RPGs. A few that I can recall are Team Mayfly June 21 st , , team Rush Act November 18, , I Read they store on June 3 rd , , team Albrook I had the honor of meeting them personally and working with the team a time or two. My tour in Bravo Company by Dan Vanbuskirk. Was called Yellow Brick road. What eventually transpired is that. That everyone left their wedding bands or valuables behind and wrote letters to their significant others as they did not expect to return.
A few rough things happened and I was in fistfights with some of the crusty old veterans who did not take to me too well. The men solved issues out back with fists. The really touching thing is that one of the. And pretty much shared his heart with me and how he wanted to come out of this war a better person.
He had a desire to be caring and kind. With people. He said he saw this in me. It really shook me up and I felt very humble in his presence. He was really a damn good Recon Marine and somebody that I respected. Sometimes when we are being. Our selves and people seem to dislike us. It could be different than we imagine. One thing that I got clear about as a Marine and a Recon. Marine is to be who you are and be authentic.
I wasn't trying to be like everyone else. Some of the leaders or a "few Good Men" encouraged. Stay grounded and not react in the wrong way in firefights. Sometimes when as a new guy facing exhaustion they had very tough and physical things that they did to teach me. It was okay as it was always a lesson. Sometimes I go to a quiet VA graveyard and just sit quietly expressing My gratitude for them. Sometimes I ask them for advice. I have felt a lot of tears down my cheeks over the days, weeks, months and years. I fully understand how much I have to be grateful for and.
It all builds character and makes us who we are. We will never stop being Marines. Or men who care and. Fight for ones we love and what we love. Today I relate to the men on Team Albrook as an example to give what I can to the new generation. The men coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan Albrook and my.
Building a unique slide guitar for a Vietnam vet who has no use of his hands. He lost almost everything physically when he got in a firefight. He shared his story with us, one that he has kept. Secret all of these years. It was heart wrenching but what a brave and selfless man he is. He never talked about the war to me. I could see his courage in. His character. As a boy, I saw how he treated all people, fairly and with respect.
I once saw another man in a rage yelling at my father and my. Dad calmed the man down by not talking it personally and graciously responding to the man. Marines are about doing. Need I say more? Team Mayfly June 21 st , Team Rush Act November 18, As we approach the area I recall seeing a snaking river through a valley high elevation on one side of.
We were headed for the thick bush and a small clearing. With my M16 and looking for movement on the ground, box mines or booby traps. We approached by circled and hovered briefly as I stood ready to return enemy fire if necessary. As gun ships over flight the LZ survey. Before we given the enemy any idea or a thought of launched an attack on us.
The CH46 hovering and setting. Moving the. I can recall after my team was just inserted into the bush. I realized that what once was sealed away in my mind is now racing through my mind like a wild fire. John was killed in February of Joe was trying to gain information on a Walther P that was returned to him with John's personal effects.
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Patrol members were Lt. Mann, Cpl. O'Campo, Cpl. Dodge City in the Arizona Territory was probably the worst patrol area we could have drawn. The area had numerous villas and contained the famous Go Noi Island. You are aware that the patrol was comprised of Marines from both teams. The most seasoned were chosen for this patrol due to the different nature.
I recall that we were told that we were the forward elements of a regimental sized operation, operating about days in front of the op. However, I noticed in the patrol papers that we were used in support of the 1st Marines without specifically mentioning an operation name. We originally were supposed to walk in after fording a river.
We were trucked out of Camp Reasoned in covered 6X. We carried an m Molina with rounds of ammo I humped rounds for him , Cuenca carried the M as well as his M along with 40 rounds of HE. I truly remember these amounts of ammo because afterwards we were astounded that we had not 60 rounds or 79 rounds left.
We managed to fire them all up. I carried 27, 4 magazine pouches and 7 in a bandoleer. We also carried 4 frag grenades each and each a claymore mine. I do not recall the 4 laaws mentioned. When we got to the river we had to sit around most of the afternoon, as we were not supposed to kick off until nightfall. This was another change from our usual patterns, as we were going to move across the paddies at night and lager up during the days. Our mission was to find and map all bunker systems, enemy concentrations, ammo stashes, etc.
It certainly was a different snooping and pooping than we were accustomed to. Long about dusk we started out and immediately met with failure. There had been recent rain and the river was swollen. We dinked up and down the river looking for a better place to ford, but were unsuccessful. We radioed back to Bn and they came out and picked us up. The Koreans were super friendly to us and treated us well as we again waited for nightfall.
They gave us Kim Chi, which is fermented cabbage that is extremely hot, as in peppers. If I recall, it had a milky juice. We again waited until nightfall to start the patrol. I want to say that it was after 9 when we kicked of. We all froze and used good discipline until it burned out. We were scared shitless, but nothing came of it. Apparently, it was an old grunt trip flare that was never taken in.
We found numerous bunker complexes, fighting holes and bivouac areas. This was the first time any of us had seen this type of fortifications. During the day, we holed up on small hillocks unsure of spelling, but the little rises in the paddies that were usually concave inside. Many were dressed in what appeared to be new uniforms. They had web gear and their equipment well taken care of. The physical appearance suggested that they were well fed and rested.
Certainly they walked around the area without fear. On the morning when we first made contact, I was asleep when I heard the M clatter. Molina was standing up firing the 60 from the hip. When I got to the beam of the hillock, I could see 2 NVA running like the devil around 50 meters away. I recall that they were beating feet towards a tree line just to the front of our position. All 8 of us were shooting and I swear we did not kill one of them. I can only think that Lt.
Mann was doing the body count thing. But then again, memories are dangerous things. Following this initial contact, we called Bn and told them of the contact and asked for an emergency extraction. We were told that all choppers were tied up supporting the ground operation behind us and that we should just change our position. We proceeded to move approximately meters across open paddies and away from the tree line the NVA escaped into. We found another hillock to hide in which was shaped like a peanut shell. The hillock was concave and ringed with small scrub trees.
There was nothing in the center of it. I, Molina, Marinez and Mann were at the end closest to where we had come from. John and the rest of the team were at the other end. Someone called for me to get my ass over there. I crawled to their end and slid down the side of the hill into the paddy. I crawled over to where John and one of the other team members were crouched over 3 bodies.
One was already dead, I recall that his chest was totally ripped open, but two more were alive. Later we were told by John that these three just waltzed across the paddy and into our position. I immediately started to work on the two wounded, they were both officers and we were excited about taking them as prisoners. During this time Mann again was calling for an emergency extraction and was again told that it was not possible. I rolled one of the NVA officers over to look for other wounds and he was lying on the P As was our custom, the shooter gets first dibs on any captured weapons.
I recovered the pistol and handed it to John. About an hour after this we started taking fire from the tree line we had originally vacated. It was sparse at first, but soon picked up in volume and tempo. Again, I distinctly remember Mann calling for an emergency extraction and being denied. He called for a fire mission but was told that we were too far out and that there were no batteries that could reach us.
Who knows? Mann was now getting mad and screaming at the radio. We started returning fire to the tree line just to keep their heads down. About an hour after this, I now think it was late afternoon, - hrs, the amount of incoming was terrific. The tree limbs and leaves were falling down around us; some of the trees were cut down by the incoming.
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Mann was getting near to a panic and was demanding extraction. Again we were told that there were not any choppers available for use, as they were all being used to ferry 1st Marines into battle and picking up their medivac. We were told that there were no gun ships available for support either. Sometime later, we were told that they had gotten us air support, 2 OVH Broncos were available. These were neat planes used by the USMC to do spotting. They were slick aircraft with twin tails.
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One would be on station and then be replaced by the other. In this way they could rearm and refuel. The Broncos saved our bacon. They alternated on station for several hours. There were several attempts by the NVA to come across the paddy and it was the Broncos that kept them in line.
Dusk was soon upon us and would be totally dark in 20 - 30 minutes when we were told to saddle up for an extraction. The pilot landed about 50 meters from us and we took off for him. It was about this time that all hell broke loose as the gooks tried to down the chopper. The amount of fire was tremendous. This was when 4 of us were wounded with shrapnel. None of us were wounded seriously. The fire was so heavy that all of a sudden we heard the engines change pitch and the 46 pulled up and away.
We were within 20 meters of the damned thing when this happened. After we were safely out we talked about our feelings when we saw our savior take off. The general consensus was that we all accepted our death at that point. There we were standing out in the middle of a rice paddy with an estimated company of NVA shooting us up. I remember thinking that I was not going to be killed with out taking some of them with me.
The scene was total chaos. I remember Cuenca standing to my left and almost walking into my fire. He turned and looked at me with a stupid grin on his face as my rounds were inches from him. The muzzle flash lit up the area and I can still see the red and gray of his brain splattering and blowing into the air. Later I had to throw my trousers away as I was totally splattered with blood and pieces of brain. I regret today, that I wasted him, but at the time it seemed appropriate. The 46 rolled in behind them and set down close to us once more.
We ran to the bird and the crewmembers jumped off and helped pull us aboard. We started firing our weapons out the windows and I swear the gooks were trying to come across the paddy even with the fire from the gunships. They were definitely pissed and wanted our asses. As our chopper pulled up, it had to fly over the tree line. The muzzle flashes were unreal and seemed like there were thousands firing at us. I know that is not true, but sure seemed that way. We went to the Danang Naval Hospital and dropped off our last prisoner.
We then went to Camp Reasoned and were debriefed. We captured two rucks that the NVA were carrying that were full of maps of the Danang area showing all the military units and their call signs. The amount of Intel carried by those officers was extraordinary and also scary. They had overlays of all the unit positions, call signs, bunkers, machine gun towers. In February 69, the Danang area and specifically the air base were hit by sappers and numerous planes and tank farms were destroyed.
This was also the same night that Division headquarters and 11th Engineers were overrun. I was assigned to 1st Med at that time and responded to the Engineers to extract the wounded. It was our opinion that the Intel we captured was linked to this offensive. After the debriefing, us 4 wounded were taken to 1st Med for treatment of our wounds.
I and one other were kept for two days due to infections. He would make a sheet with their names, service numbers, weapon numbers, etc. If you recall, Andy was the fellow with me in Philadelphia. Vesper Bells was originally slated for this patrol and was totally made up of Vesper Bells Marines. This patrol was cancelled and the new patrol for Dodge City was put together, again as I previously mentioned with more seasoned troops. You will notice that on the cancelled sheet my name does not appear. I had already received my orders transferring me to 1st Med. When they changed the patrol to Dodge City I volunteered to go with it because no other corpsmen were available to go out with them.
These were the two KIA from the 2nd encounter. If we killed one of the dinks from the first encounter, Mann would have claimed 3 confirmed. Joe, I hope this meets your needs. I did not embellish anything intentionally this is how I remembered it. He was a good Marine I would and did trust him with my life.
I was wondering if your book is finished and if not may have a short story you could use. I don't remember all involved but it happened on I believe. Simple guard duty on the hill overlooking Reasoned that you drove to by going around the PX and then up. I believe it was the first use of mm rockets in the Da Nang area and they hit the Air Force base. At first we thought it was two jets flying over low and crashed and we called it in.
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More rockets followed right after the NVA saw it was a hit. This all took place after midnight and the camp was woke up and patrols ready to be sent out. We marked the launch site and snoopy was called in and gave them hell. At sun up the patrols found many more rockets in the lake next to where they were fired from. I believe the Air Force lost 38 men in the attack.
It just shows that in a war zone even simple base guard duty is important to the protection of our troops and not to be taken lightly. It was right after the rocket attack that they decided to build a tower up on the mountain for better observation and keep us safe from a tiger that liked to surprise us at times. The year was and as a nineteen-year-old Marine in Vietnam, I encountered many things that are still fresh in my mind.
It was as if they happened yesterday. We were ambushed continually along the way to Phu Bai, but took no casualties. The job was implanting electronic sensors to detect the enemy. These electronic devices would also broadcast information as far as fifty miles through relays. While doing this they encountered contact with the enemy on our patrols near Hue City in the era just prior to the Tet.
These reports were generally ignored and caused no excitement to the Big Brass. Then one day we convoyed to Coa beach so that the teams could conduct rubber boat training. On the way to the beach in are two-truck convoy we encountered a roadblock, and were ambushed, then radioed that we were in enemy contact. It was difficult to believe that we were right in Hue City itself, and that this was happening to us. We had regarded Hue as Libertyville.
We were all fighting for our lives then the fighting stopped. After that day in Hue City, things continued much the same. I went on recon missions with eight Marines and one helluva platoon sergeant and made contact with The VC almost every time we drove highway 1 from Phu Bai to the Lanco Bridge. During the next several months, I witnessed many numerous acts of bravery. From what I can remember, some of the honors earned were one Navy Cross, Ten Silver Stars, twenty-four Bronze Stars, and numerous other awards of valor. This also told me of the caliber of men that I served with.
In looking back at that year, there are still stories to be told or written about. But, what I will always remember is my trip from Da Nang to Phu Bai, the fighting in Hue City, and my fellow Marines and their many individual acts of bravery and aggressive fighting spirit. Is it really possible that all of these things happened in the short span of one year? Could this be only ? One would have had to be there and experience firsthand in order to understand how long one year can really be.
This was to be a short patrol, just two days. My team mostly took care of the rear, but on this day my team was put up front as point. I had one man up front running point and I was close behind him with my map and compass keeping us on course. We were going up a small hill, a heavy grass area, about 5 to 6 feet high. I was checking out our course when my pointman stopped, got down and signal me up. I stopped the rest of the patrol and worked my way up to my point man to see what was up. I moved just passed him to take a look, when I saw, what looked like a trip wire running thru the grass.
When it blew all I remember was a loud dull explosion and the smell of black power and smoke. I felt vary light and the sky was spinning. I guess that I was in the air only a few seconds, but it seemed like forever. Then I hit the ground hard and rolled down the hill towards a tree line and finally came to a stop. I just lay there on my back with most of the wind knock out of me. I tried like hell to get myself up, when I finally managed to sit up. I still remember seeing from my knees down all red with blood, my right foot just split open and a large hole in my left leg.
I finally got some kind of control of myself. What came to mind next was getting the hell out of here. I started looking around and reaching for my weapon. I pulled a frag from my belt and started to pull the pin as I held it against my chest. As I lay there, scare as hell, ready to meet my maker, I said my good-byes to my parents and my brother. Just than, like a whisper from heaven I heard my name being called out, very softly.
King and the corpsman. I could hear the radioman calling for a medivac chopper. I still remember the corpsman, telling me, as he was getting ready to give me a morphine shot that I was going to feel a small prick from the needle. King stood with me until the chopper came. Off and on with the morphine working on me someone kept asking me, what happen to my point man? I remember seeing him as they found him and brought him in with large bloody holes in both his legs.
Then I would fade off and wake back up again. If I remember right I believe that I told the Lt. Then I thought I heard the radioman talking with the choppers that they might have to bring me up on a cable. I remember asking Lt. Then I remember being picked up and put into a chopper. They gave me a spinal, then they lay me my on my back.
Believe it or not, I feared the worst; these were words that put my world back together again. When asked to write about my career as a Reconnaissance Marine, I contemplated what it was that I wanted to tell. There are so many fond memories and equally as many stories that can be told about that time in my life. I hold dear to me, not only the experience of being a Recon Marine, but with those with whom I had the pleasure to observe and to serve side by side with.
But with all stories, there must be a beginning and an end. For the purpose of this writing, I will begin where it all started. Camp Pendleton, California! I was in Infantry Training School and we were all called to the parade deck to listen to a representative from Reconnaissance School. He was there to locate volunteers for these so-called elite Marine Corps Special Force.
I say so-called because we had heard very little about Recon back then. We knew there was such a unit but had very little understanding of what their mission was and how they performed it. SSgt Robert E. Pinkard was the representative who gave us the presentation. Pinkard had a voice of sand and you had to listen carefully to hear him.
He stood impeccably dressed in his heavily starched utilities and began with a minute dissertation on what reconnaissance was and how they worked. I could not help thinking that this sounds like a tough bunch of guys with difficult missions. We learned that Reconnaissance Marines worked behind enemy lines in small teams. We also were told that they went to scuba school and even jump out of perfectly good airplanes. Pinkard told us that many of their missions were covert and that they were the eyes and the ears of the infantry.
I found all this interesting but had no desire to do anything other than be an Infantry Marine. The more he said, the less interested I became. My desire to be an Infantry Marine was fueled by the death of my childhood friend, Reavis Montrey, who was killed on November 1, Reavis was not a school buddy but a friend who I played baseball against all my life. Reavis was destined to be a Hall of Fame pitcher in the Major Leagues. His record for as long as I can recall was remarkable. He pitched more no-hitters than any kid in St.
Louis during his high school years. A fierce competitor all of his life, it made sense that he would join the toughest military organization. I kept thinking, what a waste of talent and human life. After his death, I began to research heavily on Vietnam. I became obsessed with knowing all that I could. I wanted to know all I could about how a guy with so much ability could allow himself to get into such a position to cost him his life and career. The more that I learned about Vietnam, the more I wanted to go.
I wanted very badly to walk in the footsteps of Reavis. The decision came easily as my entire family had once served in the Marines. I had no choice. I would have easily been banished to a life of exile had I enlisted into another branch. I left for boot camp in September of that same year. This was my first step to being an Infantry Marine and going to Vietnam. So here I was standing listening to so guy talking about how being something I never wanted to be in the first place.
As Staff Sergeant Pinkard gave us his pitch, my good friend, Harry Governick came unglued with envy of this Recon thing. But no, that was not good enough for Harry. He had to have more. Eventually, Pinkard was finished with his sales pitch and it was time to answer questions from the Battalion standing there listening.
It appeared that the enthusiasm was declining with every question that was being asked. This shit seemed dangerous and not many guys were willing to push the envelope. Except for Harry, that is. Harry and I had met at the Processing Station in St. Louis and signed up on the buddy program. I knew that if Harry was going to do this, he was going to drag me along!! Finally, Pinkard was at the point where he was having those interested fall in where he outlined an imaginary circle. One, then two, then five and finally he had about 20 Marines willing to take the plunge.
This was not enough and so he continued to answer questions. Harry, now in a fever pitch, said he was going with or without me. A split second prior to that, I agreed with Harry that we would go together. I made the first step and Harry was behind me to my left. When I heard the question and the answer, I was no more than a few steps from my original spot. I stopped like I had been shot and absolutely froze in stride. I wanted to retreat gracefully and so I turned to find Harry still in place.
Staff Sergeant Pinkard had seen my move towards the circle and flagged me to turn back around and go to the circle. I told him that I had changed my mind and he would not allow me the retreat I desperately wanted. Harry was locked in his position and a bulldozer would not have moved him at that moment. By the way, Harry spent 3 months in country and was wounded, medically discharged and became an actor in Hollywood. I finally arrived in Danang, Vietnam in March of after enduring the most physical challenge of my life in Recon School. By this time, I was well indoctrinated to the new direction and was ready to take up whatever missions the Marine Corps assigned me.
John Dunn, a former enlisted Marine who had won a battlefield commission. In retrospect, I could not have had any better. Taylor was from New Jersey and had that Jersey accent. His reputation was renowned as a great patrol leader. One of the first I met was a Marine named Willard Smith. Willard appeared half Chinese and half American. When I met Willard, he was sitting atop a cot crouched like a Vietnamese, smoking a cigarette and holding it in the most awkward manner I had ever seen.
He spoke methodical and had extraordinary vocabulary. I could tell he was well educated. The next guy I met was like a big teddy bear. His name David Gugich another man who seemed very well educated and more mature than most. David was always the guy who spoke ethics and talked a lot about the real life issues. The man who made perhaps the greatest impact on me was from New York. Tony Velez was my mentor! In of the first conversations with him he told me in no uncertain term, stick with him, do what he said and I would not only survive, but be as good as they get.
Over the next three month, I stuck to Tony like super glue, did what he said and I survived. This truism is now the official motto of the Marine Corps League. The origin of the statement is credited to a gung-ho Marine Corps master sergeant, Paul Woyshner. Woyshner was right. There are no ex-Marines or former-Marines. There are active duty Marines, retired Marines, reserve Marines, and Marine veterans.
Nonetheless, once one has earned the title, he remains a Marine for life. Proud to Serve Her Always a Marine 4 Sparks fly, wine pours and what follows is a total seduction of the senses as Damon prepares a birthday that Helena will never forget. Her Marine Always a Marine 5 The last thing either expected was a soul deep connection that brings them both wonder, but is the spark of lust enough to bring these two loners in from the cold?
Related Marine with Benefits (1Night Stand): Always a Marine #16 (Always a Marine series)
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