Dedicated to the Marines of Combined Action Company Oscar, to our brave native counterparts, and all the gallant men who served at Khe Sanh.
I would also like to remember the other Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were killed in, around or over Khe Sanh in all periods of engagement there, especially the Army Special Forces soldiers of FOB-3, who brought us into their compound, fed us, armed us, and clothed us. We fought alongside them, and friendships began, many of which have carried on to the present.
I have therefore added some of their number who were KIA and WIA, and some who died later, to this list. I will not say they are "honorary" CAP Marines, because I don't have the authority to do so (and some of the Green Berets might object to being called even honorary Marines!), but I am sure that the CAP Oscar Marines who served with them feel as I do about them - that they were among the bravest and best men I ever knew.
Likewise, I wish to remember the Marines of 3/26 who went to the aid of an ambushed patrol from O-3 in June, 1967, and who suffered heavy losses in recovering the remains of our men.
I would also like to thank all those who have provided much of the valuable and important information and other materials for this project, including Ray Stubbe, Larry Larsen of SU #5, Tim Duffie, creator and curator of the CAP Marine website (one of the earliest and best of CAP sites), and the many friends, comrades, and family members of the men memorialized, as well as a number of people whose names I don't know, and others who have chosen to remain anonymous.
Where individual medals, ribbons, badges, or other awards are known, they are illustrated or listed.
The basic three medals each individual would have earned for being in service and in theater were (in order of precedence) the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnamese Campaign Medal (plus any personal decorations or awards).
In addition to these medals, all members of CAP Oscar were entitled to at least one award of the following ribbons without accompanying medals (in order of precedence: Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation (when awarded for combat, this is the equivalent of a Navy Cross for the entire unit), Navy Unit Commendation (when awarded for combat, this is the equivalent of a Silver Star for the entire unit), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (Unit Level w/ frame and palm, likewise considered a CG for the entire unit) and the Vietnamese Civic Action Ribbon (Unit Level w/ frame and palm).
These medals and ribbons are illustrated below:
Killed in Action / Non-hostile Casualties / Died of Wounds(Arranged chronologically by date and alpha by name of casualty.)
CPL Carl Franklin Pepple, Jr., USMC, O-3
Died as result of non-hostile incident, 5/5/1967
(Photo courtesy of Carroll ["Chip"] Daly, O-3)
Carl was born March 30,1947. His home of record was Houston, Texas. At the time of his death, he had 3 years in the Marines. He served in O-3 in 1967, before the Siege of Khe Sanh. The cause of death was a hand grenade explosion while he was on watch, but the circumstances surrounding the explosion have (to my knowledge) never been definitely ascertained. His name is on Panel 19E, Row 44 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a profile and remembrances can be found on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site. (Thanks to Carroll "Chip" Daly of O-3 for bringing his name and death to my attention and providing Carl's picture.)
Assault on Hill 689 by India and Lima 3/26
(Photo by and courtesy of Ray Palmer, D 1/26)
Ambush on Hill 689, 27 June, 1967
CAP O-3 was ordered by the Marine HQ at KSCB to send a patrol to investigate suspected enemy rocket and mortar launch sites spotted earlier that day by an aerial observer. These sites were believed to be the source of a heavy attack on KSCB just after midnight that morning.
The patrol included CPL Dennis A. O'Connor, CPL James M. Shepard, Jr., LCPL Francisco A. Mazariegos, LCPL Earl B. Grissom, William Pennock, Richard Moison, Raymond Strehlow and HN Bell (the unit Hospital Corpsman), as well as the Popular Force contingent of local Bru tribesmen, all from Oscar-3. Also on this patrol as a volunteer was LCPL Charles Aaron Lynch of Oscar-1, who had been visiting some friends at O-3.
The patrol could see that 689 was under heavy attack by air assaults, but continued on, during the course of which they made contact with the arial observer, who was astounded to see them there. Nevertheless, he called off the assaults and the patrol continued up the hill.
According to the 3/26 Command Chronology, by approximately 1230, the patrol had reached the top of Hill 689 As they reached the crest, they encountered a much larger enemy force set up in ambush, and began receiving heavy enemy fire, including rockets and automatic weapons. They immediately sustained several casualties KIA and WIA.
An artillery mission was called in, but landed nearly on top of their position. After the artillery fire, two men attempted to sweep the hill for friendly WIA and KIA, but were driven back. The survivors were unable to reach the KIA and wounded, except for one WIA they had already recovered who died en route. The survivors were forced to retreat, leaving two Marines (listed as MIA, but judging from Earl Grissom's account, almost certainly dead) and one Bru PF on the hill. The survivors fell back, while elements of the other CAPs were mustering a relief force.
The relief column was dispatched, but they were unable to gain the hill, being driven off by heavy fire and hampered by the reluctance of the Bru to ascend the hill. (The Bru usually knew when things were going to be very bad - their senses were much finer tuned than those of most Americans.)
Meanwhile, India 3/26, which had been returning from an overnight patrol, had been re-routed to Hill 689 to assist the Oscar Marines.
According to LCOL (then LT) "Tony" Anthony, a participant, CPT Coulter, India's CO, quickly deployed two platoons in the attack, both executing frontal assaults. 1st platoon was on the left portion of the hill, separated by a small saddle, and 2nd platoon assaulted the right hand portion of the hill. LTC Anthony's 2nd platoon assaulted their portion of the hill with the classic "two up, one back" - i.e., two squads on line and one in reserve.
Both the leading platoons were soon engaged in heavy fire-fights, including some literal hand-to-hand fighting, and sustained heavy casualties. The remainder of India 3/26 was soon deployed to assist.
Meanwhile, elements of Lima 3/26 were air-lifted into the area by helicopter and soon deployed. They too encountered heavy fighting, and also soon began sustaining casualties.
According to the 3/26 CC, by approximately 1935, the crest of Hill 689 had been cleared of NVA and the survivors of India and Lima companies joined to form a consolidated position.
The MIAs from CAC Oscar were found dead, and 3/26 lost 14 men KIA in the engagement, for a total of 18 Americans killed in the actions on the hill. LCpl Charles M. Gattis, WIA, later died from wounds received on Hill 689, raising the toll to 19.
Judging from first-hand accounts, there is little doubt that some of the casualties were the result of "friendly fire."
There were also several men of H&S 3/26, A 1/13, and other units KIA on KSCB as a result of incoming fire.
In addition to the KIA, the men of 3/26 sustained a number of WIAs, among them Frank McCarthy, 3rd Plt. Commander of L 3/26.
For a detailed personal account of the ambush written by Earl B. Grissom and information and pictures by Richard Moison, William Pennock, other survivors I have been able to locate, and personal accounts of the subsequent assault by some of the officers and men of 3/26, see CAP Oscar history.
(For more information on this fight, see: CAC Oscar History - O-3 Loses a Patrol - Ambush on Hill 689, 27 June, 1967. For more information on 3/26, see the battalion's website. Anyone who has a complete list of WIAs, especially one with their names, please contact me for inclusion. I am also looking for more information on HN Curtis D. Jackson of 3/26, KIA that day.)
The following men were KIA on Hill 689:
LCPL CHARLES AARON LYNCH, USMC
O-1, KIA, 27 June 1967
(Photo courtesy of the late SGT Raymond Gray)
Charles Aaron Lynch was from Brooklyn, NY. He was born on 29 December 1943 to Mrs. Helen Lynch. The late SGT Raymond Gray of O-1 said that he was a pleasant, friendly, young man. SGT (later WO) Larry Bosworth, the NCOIC of O-3 at that time said Lynch was in O-2 with Bosworth originally, and then Lynch joined O-1 and became a supply driver between the KSCB and the 3 CAPs.
Charles was assigned to O-1, but was visiting a friend in O-3 on the the day he was killed, and volunteered for the patrol from O-3 that was ambushed on Hill 689. (See above.) He was buried in Long Island Cemetery in NY. He was survived by his mother, Mrs. Helen Lynch of Brooklyn. (Names and details of his father and other family members are not known at this time.) His name is on Panel 22E, Row 71 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a profile and remembrances can be found on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site.
LCPL FRANCISCO ALBERTO MAZARIEGOS, USMC
O-3, KIA, 27 June 1967
(Photo courtesy of his sister, Mary)
Francisco Alberto Mazariegos was from Tampa, FL. He was born on 29 December 1947, and named for his father. He was part of a patrol from O-3 that was ambushed on Hill 689. (See above.) His name is on Panel 22E, Row 68 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a profile and remembrances can be found on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site. (Note: Frank's middle name is almost always given on other sources as "Albe" - a typographical mistake apparently made early on. Since it was "official" it has been self-perpetuating. His full and correct name was as given above, as verified by his family.) Frank sent this poem home while in Vietnam, shortly before he was killed. I post it here and his picture with the permission of his sister, Mary, who provided them.
10 February 1967
"Look, God, I have never spoken to You
But now I want to say, "How do You do"
You see God, they told me you didn't exist
And like a fool, I believed all of this
Last night from a shell hole I saw Your sky
I figured right then they had told me a lie
Had I taken the time to see the things You made,
I'd have known they weren't calling a spade a spade
I wonder, God if you'd shake my hand
Somehow, I feel you will understand
Funny, I had to come to this hellish place
Before I had time to see Your face
Well, I guess there isn't much more to say
But I'm sure glad, God, I met You today
I guess the zero hour will soon be here
But I'm not afraid since I know You're near
The signal! Well, God, I'll have to go
I like You lots, this I want You to know
Look now - this will be a terrible fight
Who knows, I may come to Your House tonight
Though I wasn't friendly with You before
I wonder, God, if You'd wait at Your Door?
Look, I'm crying, me - shedding tears
I wish I had known You these many years
Well, I will have to go now, God, Good-bye
Strange - since I met You I'm not afraid to die"
Francisco Alberto Mazariegos
CPL DENNIS ALFRED O'CONNOR, USMC
O-3, KIA, 27 June 1967(Photo courtesy of his family)
Dennis Alfred O'Connor was born in Lynwood, California on March 3, 1946. He was described by his family as "a fun-loving guy." He enlisted in the Marines in 1964, and was trained at MCRD San Diego and Camp Pendleton, California. His first tour was spent at Phu Bai. He already had considerable experience in-country, some of which will be familiar to those who served in Vietnam. His mother related to me that while he was still on his first tour, he was chased by a water buffalo (which, for some reason, seemed not to like Americans). The beast followed him through a house (RIGHT through it - they are built like bulldozers) and gored him badly enough to be sent to a hospital ship off the coast. He was subsequently returned to duty.
Dennis extended his tour of duty voluntarily, and spent his month's extension leave at home, although, as his mother put it; "understandably, mostly with his girlfriend." Dennis told his mother that he wanted to return to help the people, and had plans to send a young man to the US for an education. Unfortunately, by the time he returned, the young man had been married. Although he was dedicated to what we were doing there, his mother told me that when they left him at the airport, he seemed to have regretted his decision to return.
After Dennis returned, he was reassigned to Phu Bai, but then was sent to Khe Sanh, where he was assigned to O-3. His niece wrote that on his first day there, he was assigned as part of the patrol from O-3 that was ambushed on Hill 689, where he was KIA. (See above.)
Dennis is buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, CA.
His name is on Panel 22E, Row 72 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a profile and remembrances can be found on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site. Dennis was survived by his mother Betty and his father Joe, and his sister, Jo Ann, nieces Anne and Suzanne, a nephew, Dennis, cousins Blair and Cynthia, and by his former fiancee. His family provided his picture.
Dennis sent this poem home shortly before he was killed. Jane Fonda was in North Vietnam at the time, and there were protests against the war near his home. It is reprinted here courtesy of his family, who provided me with a copy.
I’m Just a Fighting Boy
I’m just a fighting boy, fighting is my life
I risk my neck night after night
I don’t ask questions I just do my job
But once in awhile my heart gives a throb
Why do you people, people back home
Leave me over here all alone?
Maybe the policy is not right,
but our boys are dying every night
I fight for you every one no matter if liberal, conservative or none,
So why don’t you citizens unite into one and you can be sure we’ll get the job done?
Just think for a moment what would have occurred
if people during the other wars Had been so absurd,
If they had not united and fought as one,
We might have lived under the communist thumb.
CPL JAMES MERRILL SHEPARD, Jr., USMC
O-3, KIA 27 June 1967(Photo courtesy of his sister, Sally)
James Merrill Shepard, Jr., was born in Columbus, WI on 22 Dec. 1946, and raised in Marshall, WI. He enlisted in the Marines on February 11, 1966, and went through training at MCRD San Diego and MCB Camp Pendleton, graduating with an 0351 (Rockets and Flames) MOS . In Vietnam, he was assigned first to K 3/26, where, (according to his comrade Joe Beck of Kilo Co.), he had been in weapons plt until the spring of 1967, when he volunteered for the Combined Action Program with Bruce Abraham, another K Co Marine (Since deceased. See below for Bruce's entry). He was then assigned to Oscar Co. at Khe Sanh. On 27 June, 1967, he was part of a patrol from O-3 that was ambushed on Hill 689. (See above) His name is on Panel 22E, Row 73 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a profile and remembrances can be found on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site. He was survived by his father James Sr. (since deceased) and mother, his sister, and other family members, many of whom still live in the Marshall area. His aunt wrote a poem for him entitled "His Gift". In May 2000, there was a memorial service for Jimmy in Marshall in conjunction with an American Legion Memorial Day program, and among the presentations was the piece below entitled "A Few Good Men." Some of his fellow K Co. veterans also came to the service to honor him.
Bru Tribe Popular Force Troops
The local militia counterparts with the O-3 patrol (above) who were KIA and WIA with them. I regret that I do not have their names or pictures. If anyone can supply them, I would be grateful.
Casualties from 3rd Bn, 26th Marines on Hill 689
Casualties from H&S Co, 3rd Bn, 26th Marines
Casualties from I Co, 3rd Bn, 26th Marines
2nd LT Dale Charles Allen, USMC
KIA 27 June 1967
Dale was born on April 4, 1941, and grew up in the town of Deshler in Northwest Ohio. He played sports in school, and later graduated from Defiance College where he played varsity baseball. After college he spent 3 years in the Peace Corps and was stationed in Columbia where he became fluent in Spanish. Dale then joined the Marines and was commissioned. He was 1st Platoon Commander in I 3/26 and was KIA attempting to eject the NVA and recover the CAP Oscar Marine MIAs (later determined to be KIA) from the ambush on Hill 689. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in his hometown of Deshler. 2nd LT Allen is is honored on Panel 22E, Row 67 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Information courtesy of Mike Hemmert, who was in OCS with Dale, and LTC (then a LT and 2nd Plt. Commander, India 3/26) Anthony, who served with him.
SSGT Donald Paul Hamilton
KIA 27 June 1967
SSGT Hamilton was born on September 3rd, 1937. His Home of Record is Alicia, Lawrence Co., AR, and he was buried there at Strangers Home Cemetery. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 70 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
(If any readers have more biographical information on SSGT Hamilton, please send it to me for inclusion.)
LCPL David was born July 7th, 1947. His Home of Record was Camp Hill, PA. His MOS was 0351 (Anti-tank assault). He was survived by his father, Ivor, who died in 1999. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 69 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
CPL Anthony DiCesare
KIA 27 June 1967 (CPL DiCesare is center-right, w/o helmet. Taken near Camp Evans, 1967, by Steve Greene of I 3/26, used with his permission)
Anthony DiCesare Jr. was born on November 30, 1944, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony DiCesare of 496 Riverside Av. in Trenton, NJ. He graduated from Trenton High School in 1963, was an outstanding tackle on the football squad and was an honorable mention on the Associated Press All-State team. He declined a scholarship to Wake Forest and entered Rider College, but was injured in a sports accident in his sophomore year. After recovering, he dropped out of college and entered the Marines for two years. He only had 2 1/2 months left in Vietnam when he was killed by rocket fire. He was 22 years old. In an interview at the time, his father said he "was just counting the days until he got home." A letter received just before his death recounted how DiCesare escaped injury by diving into a foxhole during a battle that wounded a buddy. In addition to his parents, he was survived by two sisters, Mrs. Rose Smith of Arizona and Mrs. Cecilia Auletta of Trenton. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 69 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
LCPL Charles Manley Gattis, Jr.
KIA 27 June 1967(Photographer unknown)
LCPL Gattis was born on December 23, 1947. His Home of Record is Crete, IL. He was critically wounded on Hill 689, and died of his wounds on July 5th, 1967. He is honored on Panel 23E, Row 11 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
LCPL Godinez was born on March 26th, 1944. His Home of Record is Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1963 His friend Leo Flores said of him, "I'll always remember Alex's smile. He smiled on one side of his face, the right side. Sort of the way Elvis smiled. And he is one of the nicest, calmest and friendliest people I've ever met. The world has really missed out on knowing such a wonderful person as Alex."
His younger brother, Jesus said that Alex was an athletic young man, and a hard worker, whom he looked up to immensely. Jesus later entered the Marines and went to Vietnam, and saw close combat. Fortunately, he survived. He still reveres his brother. LCPL Godinez is also remembered by his comrade, Teruo ("Skosh") Yorita, who was with him when he died. "Skosh" worked with the "Doc" trying to save his life after he was mortally wounded. LCPL Godinez is honored on Panel 22E, Row 70 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
LCPL Johnson was born on February 17, 1948. His Home of Record is Sandersville, GA, and is buried at Henderson Grove Cemetery in Sandersville. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 71 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
LCPL Kenneth Arthur Millard, USMC
KIA 27 June 1967
LCPL Millard was born on August 23rd, 1946. His Home of Record was Long Beach, CA, and he is buried at the Sunnyside Mausoleum there. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 72 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
CPL Richard Lee Walker, USMC
KIA 27 June 1967
CPL Walker was born on December 9th, 1945. His Home of Record is Pikesville, MD. He was known as "Dickie" to his family.
On the Vietnam Memorial's Wall of Faces, he was described by his sister Kathryn as; "...protective, friendly, caring, loving, intelligent, talented, positive, awesome, handsome, nice, sweet and above all genuine!! He was loved by all who knew him."
CPL Walker was buried at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, MD, survived by his parents and grand-parents, and brothers Joseph and Ronald (who also joined the Marines), and sisters Kathryn and Carole. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 74 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
CPL Stephen G. Wassenich, USMC
KIA 27 June 1967
(RVN, 1967, photographer unknown. Used with permission of CPL Wassenich's sister Barbara)
CPL Stephen George Wassenich was born on October 29, 1947 in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Kiser High School in 1965. Steve loved sports, playing on the football, basketball and baseball teams. He joined the Marine Corp just after his 18th birthday. He had many friends, especially his buddies from "The North Dayton Animals"; a group of neighborhood guys who were into body building - Ron, Ed and Sam, who also joined the Marine Corp during Vietnam. Steve was in Weapons Platoon, 3rd Squad, as an 0341, 60MM mortar man. He was killed in the opening part of the assault on 689, apparently by friendly fire from supporting artillery (according to information received by his sister Barbara from his squad leader). Steve was 19 years old when he was killed. His surviving family include his sisters Annie and Barbara, and his brother Chuck, who will always miss his fun loving spirit. Steve is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio. (Special thanks to his sister Barbara, who supplied this information.) CPL Wassenich is honored on Panel 22E, Row 74 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Casualties from L Co, 3rd Bn, 26th Marines
CPT Franklin Delano Bynum, USMC(Company Commander)
KIA 27 June 1967(Photograph courtesy of Ms. Julie Bynum)
CPT Bynum was born April 4th, 1933. His home of record is Columbus GA. Prior to his final deployment, CPT Bynum served on the I & I staff at a Marine Reserve unit in New Orleans, LA, and as a coach for a youth football team at St, Francis Cabrini Playground, and several of the boys remember him as a good coach and a good role model.
His RTO, Fritz Johnson said in a Remembrance on the VVMF "Wall of Faces" website; "I can still see you wearing the white parachute you clipped from a flare as an ascot .... see it plain as day. Your leadership was strong and consistent, and I thank you for that." (See the rest of this Remembrance and others at the VVMF "Wall of Faces" website.)
According to his comrade, Joe Beck of H 3/26, CPT Bynum was CO of K Co. from the time that the unit formed at Camp Pendleton in June 1966 until he transferred to Bn HQ in Jan-Feb 1967. He was later assigned to L Co. as the CO, in which capacity he was acting at the time of his death. CPT Bynum was med-evaced, but died as a result of his wounds. He is buried at Parkhill Cemetery in Columbus, GA, and is also honored on Panel 22E, Row 78 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
PFC Fredrick Joseph Brenke
KIA 27 June 1967(Probably taken in ITR)
Fredrick Joseph Brenke was born July 26th, 1948 in St. Peter, MN to Howard and Stella Brenke. He was the second of five children. According to his family (in a remembrance on the VVMF Virtual Wall site, taken from Don Ward's "The Faces behind the Names"), he loved to watch TV into the early morning hours, and spend all Saturday afternoon watching old movies, especially those pertaining to Hercules, knights, etc. Fred enjoyed hunting, roller skating, and "cruising" in his 1959 Ford Galaxie, which was his pride and joy. He was in the Boy Scouts. He loved to cook and bake, sometimes concocting strange recipes of his own. He and his siblings enjoyed spending time at his aunt's and uncle's farm almost every summer when they were young. According to his family and friends, he was a very fun-loving person and is greatly missed by them.
As a Marine, he did his duty, and his comrade, John Ammerman, said (in his remembrance on the VVMF Virtual Wall) "He was brave to the last..."
PFC Brenke is honored on Panel 22E, Row 72 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
PFC Williams was born on January 24th, 1946. His Home of Record is Elizabethton, TN. He joined the Marines in 1965 and trained at MCRD Parris Island, SC (Plt 345). PFC Williams is buried at Happy Valley Cemetery in Elizabethtown, TN. He is honored on Panel 22E, Row 75 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Thanks are due to these and the other brave men who joined the CAP Marines in an effort to recover their lost comrades, and our condolences to the families and friends of those killed in the attempt. If anyone has a photo of or information on any of these men, I would be grateful for a good JPG copy to post here with their names. These men are also remembered at the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site.
Army Special Forces Ambush and Rescue Operations on Hill 471, 29 January, 1968
After the initial assault on Khe Sanh village, Combined Action Company Oscar and all other American units were withdrawn to the Khe Sanh Combat Base. However, the Marine command, perhaps fearing some might be enemy agents, refused entry to our Bru allies. Fortunately, the command of Special Forces Forward Operating Base 3 were glad to get our Bru soldiers, as they recruited Bru from the same tribes we did for service in their CIDG units. They were so happy to get more Bru, they were even willing to take the Marines! As a result, we fought and worked alongside them for the duration of the Siege, and occasionally ran patrols and outposts for them. In a few instances, we participated as volunteers in their operations. This describes one of those actions.
MSGT Bill Wood & team, FOB 3, Khe Sanh, Jan. 1968L-R: SSG Gary Crone, Crew Chief Christensen (?), WO David Sebright (aircraft commander), unidentified Bru CIDG striker with another striker behind him, MSG Bill Wood (R. foreground) with two unidentified Bru strikers behind him and to his left. The pilot (not in photo) was WO Larry Boise.
(Taken Dec. 30 or 31, 1967, used courtesy of WO David Sebright)
MSG Bill Wood and his team ran a mission to Hill 471, vicinity of Khe Sanh, on the morning of 29 January, 1968. The team consisted of himself, SFC Don Voorhees, SSG Gary Crone, and Bru CIDG soldiers Xon, To, Tu, and 7 other Bru whose names are not known, with SP5 Mike Mahoney as a volunteer "straphanger." All the team except MSG Wood, SSG Crone, and one of the Bru were new.
The team was ambushed shortly after reaching the saddle of Hill 471 and came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in the team being split into three parts. One element consisted of MSG Wood and SSG Gary Crone, the second consisted of SFC Voorhees, and five of the remaining Bru CIDG accompanying them, and the third consisted of SP5 Michael Mahoney and at least two Bru CIDG. (Note: Several of the Bru team members are not accounted for in any of the records I currently have access to.)
SSG Crone was KIA by enemy fire while trying to call in support, and his radio (the only one the team had) was rendered completely inoperable. MSG Wood was unable to recover SSG Crone's remains alone, so he rejoined SFC Voorhees and his segment of the team, which had already suffered two Bru casualties - their M-79 gunner was KIA and Xon was WIA.
SP5 Mahoney was not with SFC Voorhees group. According to the official record, he had attempted to cover the retreat of his comrades and was hit by enemy fire. However, the official record errs in listing him as being KIA at this time, as an American was reported alive and moving by several observers at KSCB and FOB 3, at least as late as the time our relief force launched to recover the casualties. Since SSG Crone was undoubtedly KIA at the onset, that leaves only one possible American unaccounted for - SP5 Mahoney. (See below for details.)
MSG Wood and SFC Voorhees determined to withdraw, as they had heavy casualties, no communications, and were seriously outnumbered. During the withdrawal, MSG Wood was wounded in the leg and Tu, one of the Bru CIDG, was KIA. Unable to communicate otherwise, MSG Wood wrote down a situation report and handed it to one of the remaining Bru CIDG with instructions to try to evade the enemy and get back to FOB 3.
After the Bru had left on his mission, an H-34 helicopter piloted by LT Thieu, a Vietnamese pilot, dropped in suddenly despite the danger, and picked up MSG Wood, SFC Voorhees, and the remaining Bru CIDG. The LZ was too hot to recover any of the casualties, and SP5 Mahoney and his Bru were not in view at that time.
Casualties from MSG Wood's Team, Hill 471
SSG GARY LEE CRONE
U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3
KIA 29 January 1968(Photo courtesy of his family)
Gary was born on December 3rd, 1941. His home of record was York, PA. He joined the army, and served for 8 years, being promoted to Staff Sergeant. At the time of his death, he was serving with Special Forces at FOB 3, Khe Sanh, RVN, as a member of a team under the late MSG Bill Wood. On a mission to Hill 471, vicinity of Khe San, his team was ambushed, and SSG Crone was KIA. His remains were not recovered until after the Siege, in early April 1968. (See above for details.) After recovery, his remains were interred in Zion View, PA. His parents are buried there as well. Gary is survived by several family members, one of whom, his eldest sister, provided the photograph above and some of his biographical details.
(Ed. Note: there has been a story circulating for years that SSG Crone was captured alive and decapitated by the NVA. MSG Wood's comments clearly demonstrate that this tale is incorrect, as SSG Crone was definitely KIA at the onset. The story probably started because the head became detached from the body when it was recovered, after months of exposure. Whatever else the NVA or VC may have been responsible for, this was not one of them. MSG Wood expressed indignation about this story, as he viewed it as implying that he had left SSG Crone while he was still alive.)
Gary's sister sent me this poem that was returned with his effects. She believes it was either written by Gary or was important to him. It would have been written before his last patrol, as his death was too sudden for him to have penned it at the time he was killed. It seems strangely prophetic.
We have both had some English college professors look it over (several of them poets) and they have said they cannot find it under another author, but one said that it was a good piece of minimalist poetry. The other said; "There's a kind of echo of the moment in "All Quiet on the Western Front" when the soldier in the trenches sees a butterfly, and while admiring its beauty is shot and killed. This appeared in the book, but was a major feature of the film, and might have stayed in this writer's imagination: that solitude and that quiet reflectiveness associated with the moment of death. What's interesting here is the existentialist awareness of our inability to make sense of things: one of the great legacies of the Second World War. It's notable that this writer does not make a cheap joke or a sentimental moment out of this sense of absurdity, but just quietly speaks and fades away." I agree. In any case, here it is as received.
When I was young,
I was told over and over
You know nothing..
I listened, I saw, and still,
I know nothing
Now as I lay in darkness
and my blood seeps slowly into the earth
I open my eyes and see..
A spider mending his web,
Now I know
That I still know nothing.
SP5 MICHAEL THOMAS MAHONEY
U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3
KIA 29 January 1968(Photo courtesy of Peggy Mahoney)
Tommy, (as his family called him), was born in Sayre, Pa. on October 18, 1945. He graduated from Towanda Area High School in 1963 and Lake City Forest Ranger School in Lake City, Fla., in 1964. Among his interests were football, skydiving and hunting.
He joined the army on Sept. 20, 1965, and was promoted to Specialist 5. He was serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Command and Control), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces when he was killed while serving as a volunteer member of the reconnaissance team under the late MSG Bill Wood (above). His team was ambushed and came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in the team being split. According to the official record, Tommy positioned himself in front of the team and commenced to lay a heavy volume of automatic weapon fire while his team was moving to a secure area. After the team had reached a relatively secure area, he attempted to withdraw but was hit by enemy fire.
The "official" account is incorrect at this point as it states Tommy was KIA. However, based on reports by ground observers at Khe Sanh Combat Base and aerial observers, though he was badly wounded in the leg, he fashioned a make-shift crutch and was seen alive for some time evading the enemy forces and attempting to reach US forces. He was unable to, and we were unfortunately unaware of his position and situation until after our return. At some point, he must have either died of wounds, or been hit again. He was run as MIA, and his remains were not recovered until after the Siege, in early April 1968, by Navy HN Robert "Johnny" Gaspard and Marines from Company C, 1/9, who were digging in on the hill after it was re-taken. "Doc" Gaspard noted; "He had a broken leg and what appeared to be a walking stick (crutch) besides him."
Spec 5 Mahoney was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V for Valor and Oak Leaf Cluster for Meritorious Service, the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
He was 22 years old at the time of his death, and was survived by his parents, Rita B. and Francis Joseph Mahoney and 3 sisters, Frances Jo, Marianne, and Peggy, who provided his picture. He is remembered on Panel 35E, Line 61 of the Vietnam Memorial. He is also remembered on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site.
Bru CIDG troops with MSG Woods team:
Tu - KIA
1 Bru unknown - KIA
Xon - WIA
To - Status Unknown
6 Bru - names and status unknown
I regret I don't have all their names, pictures, and information. They served well, and deserve remembrance.
Shortly after MSG Wood's med-evac, an American Special Forces team, HF Denver, plus the author as a volunteer "straphanger" augmented by Bru CIDG forces, were assembled to attempt to recover SFC Crone's remains, MIA SP5 Mahoney and the other KIA / WIAs.
Much of the following is drawn from the written account of the team leader, CPT H. E. "Rip" Van Winkle, as edited and updated by the writer. It is based on contemporary after-action reports, maps, official accounts, and personal recollections of the surviving team members.
"I was unable to speak to the wounded team leader prior to his medevac, which left a large gap in first hand information. This lack proved critical in all subsequent mission decisions. The decision was made to go in with eight Americans and sixteen Bru."
(Ed. Note: Such knowledge probably would have been of small value in any case, as MSG Wood's estimate of enemy forces was either low, or the enemy had placed more troops in the area between the ambush of Wood's team and the arrival of HF Denver.)
The American team members were:
CPT Harlan E. 'Rip' Van Winkle, XO, "A" 221
1LT Grenville Sutcliffe, FOB 3 Assistant S-3 Officer (Rip's designated replacement).
SFC Robert Scully, Medic, FOB 3
SFC Charles N. Tredinnick, Senior Combat Engineer. "A" 221
SGT Dennis C. Lansing, Junior Communications NCO, "A" 221
SGT Donald R. Rumph, Junior Medic "A" 221
SP5 John L. Frescura, Junior Combat Engineer. "A" 221
PFC Freeman J. Taylor, USMC, CAC O-2 (volunteer)
Top to Bottom: 1LT Grenville Sutcliffe, CPT H. E. "Rip" Van Winkle, SGT Dennis Craig Lansing
U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3, January 1968
SP5 John Frescura
U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3
SFC Robert Scully, Medic, FOB 3(Ranger Class 9-64 - photo provided by and used courtesy of 1SG Aaron Daub, USA, Ret.)
"We lifted off at 1135 hours and inserted on the southeastern point of the ridge-line of Hill 471. The insertion went off without problems. Cover was non-existent and concealment limited to a stand of elephant grass that averaged less than three feet in height and a few scraggly bushes.
We set up a hasty perimeter with SFC Tredinnick. SP5 Frescura and four Bru took the east, SGT Lansing, SGT Rumph and four Bru were covering the north. 1LT Sutcliffe, SFC Scully and four Bru covered west, while PFC Taylor and I, with the remaining four Bru covered the south. The saddle where the bodies were located was to the front of Tredinnick and Frescura.
Tredinnick took three Bru and moved forward, down into the saddle and up to the top of the small peak on the other side, a distance of perhaps 150-175 meters. They did not locate the bodies or make any contact. However, Tredinnick relayed that he had spotted a large force of enemy ground troops attempting to encircle us from the east. I instructed him to return to the ridgeline and reestablish the perimeter.
Upon his return, he moved to my position. We were discussing our situation when we heard and spotted movement in a small bush directly to our front, probably less than six feet away. Tredinnick asked; "What was that?" just before we were fired upon by an enemy rifleman from a well concealed fighting position. The rounds passed between us. How they missed hitting us, I'll never know. We returned fire and I dropped an M-26 fragmentation grenade into the hole.
A short time later 1LT Sutcliffe received a serious wound in the throat while using the radio to get and coordinate support. Taylor went to him, then SFC Scully, who was was already working on him when Tredinnick and I went to him. Tredinnick started back to his position on the perimeter. I turned my attention to getting fire support. We received fire from every point except the north, with the heaviest coming from the west and southeast.
A literal storm of enemy hand grenades were then thrown into our position. Some reports stated the sky turned "black" with grenades. PFC Taylor shouted a warning and gave me a "friendly" shove. For as many grenades as were thrown, there seemed to be a lot of "duds". Others did not explode with nearly the force of US grenades. One of the weaker ones went off between my legs and I received a dozen or so painful, but not disabling, fragmentation wounds.
I heard the distinctive sound of a bullet strike someone behind me. I turned and saw Tredinnick lying on the ground.
(Ed. Note: SFC Tredinnick had been heading back to his exposed position to rally his strikers.)
SGT Rumph, PFC Taylor and I converged on him. He had been wounded low down on the left side of his chest. The entrance wound was very small but the exit wound was massive. His last words to me were; "It hurts real bad, sir." Rumph and Taylor were performing immediate first aid, and I put all of my effort to moving us some place reasonably safe for a medevac.
(Ed. Note: SFC Sculley and SGT Rumph, the two medics on the ground, deserve special mention for their valiant action under fire. Both tended the wounded and dying American and Bru troops with cool and calm skill, even though they were continually subjected and exposed to a withering concentration of enemy fire.)
The volume of enemy fire was such that I felt we were in danger of being overrun at any point. Fire support was limited to our helicopter gunships, unable to do much because of the close proximity of the two forces. During one of the gunship runs, the door gunner missed Taylor and me by less than six inches and shot La, the Bru platoon leader in both legs, shattering both of them. I don't fault the gunner. He was doing his best to provide needed support under very trying circumstances. We had not received any fire from the north, and SGT Rumph, SFC Scully, and PFC Taylor were already hauling wounded down the steep north slope of the hill.
SGT Lansing had turned his attention to the threat from the south and west, focusing on a small gully that led from the south slope directly into our position. While positioning his Bru machine gunner, Pa Lang, to cover this approach, the gunner was shot dead, and the entire element was pinned down. By then, the only Americans still on the hill and carrying on the fight were SGT Lansing, SP5 Frescura and myself. The others were either wounded or assisting with the wounded. Perhaps ten or eleven of the Bru were also still firing.
We started to ease back from the south slope trying to put a little distance between us and the enemy. The width of the ridge line where we were was less than sixty meters and the enemy owned at least a third of that. By getting my force down below the crest on the north side, I was finally able to call in some air strikes. We had been on the ground over an hour and the fight itself was about forty-five minutes old.
The Forward Air Controller (FAC) on hand when we inserted had to leave us to refuel. He was replaced by a USMC FAC with the call sign of "American Beauty Delta". This gentleman deserves a lot of credit for getting the rest of us off the hill alive with little further damage. The manner in which he coordinated all of the air support into that one small area without doing us any more damage was nothing short of phenomenal. He was also dealing with two battalion size enemy units within 400-500 meters that were trying to get between us and the FOB.)
We were able to gain some fire superiority with the help of US Army and USMC gunships and some pinpoint bombing from USAF "fast-movers" in the area. One USAF pilot stated his ordnance was napalm and cluster bomb units, but that we were too close to the impact area for him to drop it. I told American Beauty Delta that without the support, we would have more serious problems. The air strike came in on target.
I can't estimate the amount of ordnance expended on our behalf that afternoon. It was all considered "Danger Close" and that even with all of the helicopter gunship rocket runs, and numerous 250 pound bombs, followed with CBU's, the enemy pressure was still very intense. Not until they dropped the napalm did the close-in enemy fire disappear.
We were finally able to get two medevac helicopters in. One was a US Army Medevac and the other was one of MACV-SOG's King Bees (H-34), one of the helicopters we had inserted on earlier. SFC Dick Sweezy, the senior medic of A-221, had offered his assistance and came in with the US Army medevac ship. Focused on his own task, he stated that he couldn't understand why we were having such difficulty loading the wounded. The ship crash-landed at the FOB, with over two hundred new bullet holes, the windscreen shot away, and the gallant pilot mortally wounded.
(Ed. Note: SFC Sweezy and the chopper crews also deserve recognition for their great valor in coming into a very hot LZ and staying long enough to take our wounded, dying, and dead out. Their valor was the more exceptional since by SOP they were in no way obligated to land in a hot LZ. They acted as volunteers, at risk of their own lives, to help their comrades.)
I estimate the unit which initiated fire on us was at least a reinforced platoon, and there were much larger units (estimated at two battalions) seen during the fight in the near vicinity.
(Ed. Note: According to reports from personnel observing the action, including the FAC and ground observers at KSCB, the number of enemy engaged was a reinforced company, with battalion-sized elements closing fast.)
SFC Tredinnick was mortally wounded. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day. We lost one Bru KIA and had two Americans WIA and six Bru WIA. Following the final medevac and seeing all survivors were off the hill, we finally moved by foot back to the FOB. We were met about 600 meters from the gate by a rescue unit lead by SFC Robert Cavanaugh. He gave me the word that Tredinnick had died. All of that and we did not accomplish what we set out to do."
The remains were eventually recovered in April 1968 by a Marine unit and a team led by CPT Hammond Salley, which included SF medic Denis Chericone. (See below.)
Casualties from Hatchet Force Denver, Hill 471
SFC CHARLES NICHOLAS TREDINNICK
U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3
KIA 29 January 1968
(Photo courtesy of his wife, the late Joy Tredinnick, and cousin, Dennis L. Tredinnick)
Charles Nicholas Tredinnick was born at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on 13 December 1934. According to his sister Jean, during his younger days, Chuck had a pet monkey, and played the guitar.
Chuck entered the United States Army from Dallas, Pennsylvania, in 1953, at the age of 19. He had originally wanted to enlist in the Marines, but had been turned down. Undeterred, he entered the Army, and eventually became a member of their elite Special Forces.
He finished basic training and was married to the late Joy Keller in their home town on 3 July 1954, while on leave before going to airborne training. They moved to Fayetteville in November, 1954.
Chuck joined the Special Forces after completing Airborne and Ranger training, and was assigned to Germany. After his return from Germany, he and Joy bought a home in Fayetteville. He had served for over 14 years, and was a Senior Combat Engineer when he was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group for a second tour in Vietnam.
Having nearly completed his second combat tour, Chuck and his team-mates were scheduled to return to Okinawa for transport to CONUS within hours.
Chuck had often written home to his wife, telling her not to worry because “only the good die young.” Two days before the action on Hill 471, he wrote: “Well darling, that’s about it for today. I don’t know when I’ll get the time to write again…. So until then know I love you very much and always will.” It was the last time he would write Joy.
Despite their being so close to leaving, he and his team-mates volunteered to recover the bodies of their comrades and an MIA who had been ambushed earlier on the morning of 29 January 1968 on Hill 471 just outside Khe Sanh Combat Base. A team of American Special Forces soldiers from ODA-221 with a Marine volunteer, and Bru CIDG forces were assembled to accomplish this task. Another man was supposed to go in Chuck's place, but he refused the mission. (This was a prerogative of SOG troops. However, he was subsequently re-assigned to Vietnam later and was killed on that tour.)
However, the attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, due to the presence of a much larger enemy force on the hill, estimated at reinforced company, with a battalion maneuvering in to cut off the American force. SFC Tredinnick was killed in action during the ensuing close combat. He died with his face to the enemy.
SFC Tredinnick was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, and the Purple Heart. He had previously received the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart, among other decorations and ribbons, as well as various commendations. He was interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Ms. Joy Keller Tredinnick, of Fayetteville, NC, his sister, the late Jean Tredinnick Donnora, who was very close to her brother and had named her son Charles after him (though he predeceased his uncle in 1960 at age 5 in an accident), by his brothers Arthur and Dennis C. Tredinnick, and his cousin, Dennis L. Tredinnick.
Joy never remarried, and remained in their home in Fayetteville until she died on 28 March 2005. She was interred with Chuck in Arlington National Cemetery on 8 April 2005. She is survived by her sister, Ms. Patsy Goodwin, and her friend, Helen Daley, who cared for her in her last days.
(Ed. Note: Due to a clerical error somewhere along the line, SFC Tredinnick' middle name was rendered "Nichol." However, his late wife and sister and other family members informed me that his given name was "Nicholas" so I have rendered it as such here.)
1LT Grenville Sutcliffe
U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3
WIA 29 Jan 1968
On the relief mission for MSGT Wood's action on Hill 471. His story is mentioned in the description of the action above.
Despite being gravely wounded, Gren survived, and is now president of Husky Corporation. One of his sons is currently on active duty as a USMC pilot, while other family members serve in the US Army.
Bru CIDG troops with HF Denver:
Pa Lang - M-60 gunner - KIA
La - Interpreter - WIA
Lao, Platoon Leader - WIA
4 other Bru, names not known - wounded.
16 Bru were with us altogether. I regret I don't have all their names. They all served well, and deserve remembrance.
Other Oscar Co. Casualties from the Siege of Khe Sanh
LCPL BILLY DALE LIVINGSTON, USMC
Killed in non-hostile "friendly" fire incident, 26 February 1968(Photo courtesy of Doc John Roberts, O-2)
Billy Dale Livingston was born on 9 April 1949. He joined the Marines in Alma, Arkansas. His MOS was 0311. He had been in in-country since 15 Aug. 1967.
Upon joining CAP, he was assigned to Oscar Co. in January 1967, and was posted to FOB-3 after the initial assaults caused the CAP Marines to be withdrawn from their villes. (See: CAP Oscar History)
I remember he was a nice kid, young and friendly. One of our Motor Transport Marines, Jimmie J. Tyson, said that Billy had a friendly smile, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.
The 26th of February was one of the rare nice days at that time of year, with little enemy action or shelling to contend with. Billy had been sharing a bunker with our late comrade, William Allen Breedlove of O-1. (See below and CAP Oscar History).
Breedlove said he was going out, Livingston said “I’m going to stay here.” Breedlove went out behind the bunker wall. Billy must have changed his mind, and started out, just when a US jet came over the base, flying close air support fire missions.
The enemy were so close at that point that the pilot was making his passes right over our positions, instead of flying across the front of our lines.
I was coming back from an errand on the combat base when I saw the jet coming in, fast and low. When he released his rockets, it was plain that the pilot had fired too soon. I could see that the rockets would hit our lines, so I began running to the bunkers. I knew they'd need help.
A number of guys were hit. Billy had just come out of his bunker, and was killed, likely almost instantly by the blast wave and shrapnel.
We helped gather his remains.
“Doc” HN John Roberts "Doc" Roberts (O-2) said in a telephone interview in August 2005;
"He was killed by "friendly" fire because at the time we were recieving close ground support from aircraft off of the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) who dropped his rockets on us by mistake. The pilot, at the time, was receiving intense machine gun fire from the NVA and they were firing tracers. Billy told me he was planning on getting married as soon as he returned to the states. I wish he had made it.”
Billy lost his life to "friendly fire" from a US aircraft, while serving on FOB 3, adjacent to the Khe Sanh Combat Base in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. He was just short of his 19th birthday. His rank at time of death was PFC, but he received a posthumous promotion to LCPL (E3).
Billy is buried at Fort Smith National Cemetery, Sebastian Co. Arkansas, Plot: 12, 0, 135. His name is on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel 41E, Row 40. He is also remembered on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial site, and on a memorial at the Crawford Co. Courthouse in Arkansas.
Departed Comrades (Non-Combat)
SGT VERNER RAY RUSSELL, USMC
Jan. 17 1949 - Mar. 1 1973(Photos by and used courtesy of Mr. Robert Stauffer, a USAF veteran - I am seeking a photo of Verner.)
Verner Ray Russell (known to his family as "Sunny") was born in Poplar Bluff, Butler Co., MO, on Jan. 17, 1949, to Gordon R. and Dorothy Lee (Alcorn) Russell. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and had risen to the rank of CPL by the time he joined Oscar Company.
(Ed. Note: death. marriage, military and obituary records all differ somewhat on some details. One source lists his birthplace as Winona, MO, another gives CO. It appears likely that SGT Russell was at some point in CO [which seems to be his Home of Record]. Both his parents and sister lived in CO at some point, and he was baptized there at age 12.)
During the ferocious fighting at the O-1 / District HQ compound at the onset of the 1968 Tet Offensive on 21 January, 1968, Russell, then a CPL, manned an M-60 machine gun in the north-east corner of the compound, one of the places the NVA concentrated their assaults. Assisted by his Bru A-gunner, Russell killed a great number of the enemy, who at times penetrated to within 30 feet of his position. Eye-witness accounts state that the enemy dead were literally piled up in front of his position. In his NCOIC's opinion, had Russell not held his position and inflicted so many casualties on the enemy, they might have over-run the position and been able to enter the compound, which might have resulted in its destruction.
SGT Russell's Silver Star citation reads in part:
"The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Verner R. Russell (2225712), Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Combined Action Platoon 0-1, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on January 21, 1968. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, Corporal Russell upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
In addition to the Silver Star, SGT Russell received the following medals, ribbons, and awards:
Navy Commendation w/ Combat V, Purple Heart w/ one star, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation w/ two stars, Navy Unit Commendation, Good Conduct w/ one star, National Defense medal, Vietnamese Service medal with five stars, Vietnamese Campaign with Scroll, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and Republic of Viet Nam Civic Action Medal.
Verner was married to Linda M. Wilde in Reno, NV on Jan. 6, 1970, and they had one son, Mathew.
Verner died on Mar. 1, 1973, at age 24 in Orange, CA. He is interred in Mount Zion Cemetery, located on Old Hwy. 60 East, in Winona, Shannon Co., MO. He was survived by his wife and child, his parents and maternal grandmother (now deceased), his sister Sandra, and other relations and friends.
SGT ALBERT JOSEPH POTTER, USMC
May 13 1945 - May 13 1978( Photo courtesy of "Doc" John Roberts, CPT USMC ( Ret. )
Joe was born May 13, 1945, in AZ. He enlisted in the Marines October 21, 1965, and completed basic at MCRD San Diego, CA, in December 1965, and ITR at MCB Camp Pendleton, CA, in February 1966. He then completed Basic Combat Engineer training with an MOS of 1316 (metal working) with a specialty in welding at MCB Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in May 1966. Joe was then assigned to H & S Co., 3rd SP Bn., 3rd MarDiv in South Vietnam from May to September 1966.
Joe was next assigned to H & S Co., 1/9, 3rd MarDiv from September 1966 to February 1967. He returned to H & S Co., 3rd SP Bn., 3rd MarDiv, and voluntarily extended his tour, later volunteering for the Combined Action Program, and was assigned to Oscar Company, 3rd Combined Action Group (originally part of SU #4, later under III MAF).
Upon my arrival in late September 1967, he was a member of O-2. Joe voluntarily extended his tour again, and was on leave during the Tet 1968 assault on Khe Sanh ville. However, he returned and rejoined us on FOB-3, where he remained throughout the Siege.
Joe and Frank Iodice (also of Oscar Company) went missing, but later reappeared, and reported that they had been captured and taken prisoner but that they managed to escape two days later, on May 30, 1968, on June 1, 1968.
Joe returned to the United States in August 1968, and was assigned to H & S Co and then Engineer Maintenance Company, Maintenance Battalion, 5th Force Service Regiment at MCB Camp Pendleton from August 1968 to March 1969, followed by service back with the 3rd Combined Action Group of III Marine Amphibious Force in South Vietnam from March 1969 until his return to the United States in September 1969.
Sgt Potter left active duty on September 7, 1969.
Joe was married on June 25th, 1971 to Ms. Nancy Jane Thayer, a graduate of the University of Kansas, Lawrence. She was substitute teaching in Long Beach, while Joe was a student at California State College, Long Beach. He later received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps Reserve on July 13, 1971.
Joe was killed in a motorcycle accident on his birthday, May 13, 1978, and was buried at the Hutchinson Eastside Cemetery in Hutchinson, Kansas.
According to Frank Iodice, prior to his death, Joe visited Frank and stayed with him for a while. Frank said he later heard Joe had been killed.
Joe was an experienced field Marine by the time I knew him. He taught me much about bush craft. He was tough as nails and a good man in a fight. We will all miss him.
There is a nice tribute to him at veterantributes.org . (I have contacted them to correct some errata.)
CPL CRAIG WILLIAM ALBERS, USMC
22 Aug 1948 - 15 April 1982
(Photo courtesy of Richard Moison, O-3)
Craig Albers was born on 22 Aug 1948. He was an aspiring track and field athlete, whose nickname was "Slats" (referring to his build). According to a former team-mate from high school;
"Craig was very friendly, and care-free. He had only friends in high school. I can not remember Craig ever saying a bad thing about anyone.
In school Craig was a so-so student, preferring to be fun and funny, but he was an excellent athlete. I met him at Freshman Football tryouts in Sept. of 1962. He played End, I played half back.
Craig excelled at basketball. He was our freshman A Squad scoring leader. He was as thin as a rail but could really jump and was an excellent shot and rebounder.
As good as Craig was in basketball, his real sport (in my opinion) was track. He was an awesome high jumper.
Craig broke his arm our Sophomore year during basketball tryouts and missed that season. He did not turn out his Jr year, and (as I recall) broke his arm again during tryouts our Sr. year. Missing that season
In our Junior year, Craig fell in with a group of guys that smoked, dressed "hard" and drank. Craig adopted their ways, hence he missed out on sports in our Jr. year.
In our Senior year, Craig dropped out of the group he was in and came back for sports. Unfortunately, as I said, he broke his arm and did not play basketball. I am absolutely certain he would have made the team and been a big contributor had he played. Our team ( I was NOT on the team) placed 2nd in state. With Craig, who knows.
Sr. track season saw Craig out working hard and getting better and better. Early in the season, however, Craig was made aware that because of his antics our Jr. year he would not graduate with our class, but would, instead, be required to go to Summer School. I can remember him in the locker room telling all of us that he would not do that, but instead was dropping out to join the Marines.
The next time I heard of Craig was my Sophomore year in college. I was at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I saw Craig's photo on the front page of the newspaper. He was in his uniform minus two legs and his arm. It was really sad.
A few years later, after college, I ran into Craig in a tavern. He was shooting pool and smoking and drinking like a mad-man. Some years after that, at St. Pius X Catholic Church (we were both Catholics), Fr. Joseph McMahon mentioned at Mass that Craig had passed away. Many of us in the church were very sad to learn the news.
In short, I remember Craig Albers as a smiling, fresh-faced kid that was fearless. He had no enemies, and was a wonderful friend and teammate. He was a spectacular natural athlete. I am a better person to have met him, the United States Marine Corps is better to have had him in their ranks."
On 14 June 1967, Craig and another CAP Marine were removing mines from the O-3 fields of fire (coordinates XD842408) under orders from the Oscar Company CO (who may in turn have had orders from the Marine command on the combat base), but they didn't have a map of the field. This was an extremely poor decision, and contrary to general practice. The fields should have been cleared by EOD and / or combat engineers with training and detection equipment. The unit NCOIC tried to protest this, but was over-ruled by the CO.
An explosion occurred which seriously wounded Craig and the other Marine. Craig lost his arm and both legs above the knee, and was med-evaced.
(From my research, I believe the other Marine injured was probably the late Brian W. Oldervik, also of O-3. See below)
After a period in the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Craig returned to his home town in the vicinity of Beaverton, OR, where the people of the town built him a wheel-chair accessible home in gratitude for his service. Craig became a good pool shooter, despite his disabilities, using a specially made bridge to steady the cue.
Craig after treatment, shortly before his discharge.(Photo courtesy of his family, from a newspaper article)
Craig died in 1982 of kidney failure and complications of diabetes. Craig was survived by his parents, James Albers and Barbara Wilson (now both deceased) and his brothers Bruce and Scott, and sisters Tammara and Erin. Any other details or pictures would be welcome.
CWO3 Robert Scully
1927 - 25 May 1985SSG Scully in Ranger Class 9-64. (Photo provided by and used courtesy of 1SG Aaron Daub, USA, Ret.)
Bob Scully (then an SFC) was the senior medic with the U. S. Army Special Forces, FOB-3, Khe Sanh. He was with ODA-221 on Hill 471. (See "Army Special Forces Ambush and Rescue Operations on Hill 471, 29 January, 1968" above.) His services proved invaluable on that and many other days, as did those of his comrades, Don Rumph (ODA-221) and Dick Sweezy, who came in on the med-evac chopper.
Bob later became one of the first US Army Physician’s Assistants, and was eventually promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) Bob was named the first Army PA Consultant to the Surgeon General in 1976. (Though one of the first to produce PAs, the Army would be the last to commission them.)
According to Bob's friend, Richard ("Lefty") Mitchell who served with him at Ft. Sam Houston's Med School for Special Forces, then in the 7th Special Forces GP at Ft. Bragg;
"We were close friends. Bob and I were stationed in the 8th SFGA In Panama. Then we linked up later at Ft Bragg where I had just become an officer, thouigh Bob was still a SGT. While I attended college in OK, Bob went to war and was a medic at Khe Sahn. I nearly quit college just to join him as he was in some 'bad Indian territory’. Later I returned to Bragg and tended to his family and son. Really the best family and guy I ever met and served with."
("Lefty" later served in VN during 1968-69 and again in 1971-72 with MACV-SOG and the VN Airborne Rangers.)
Bob unfortunately died shortly after his retirement, of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer later associated with exposure to Agent Orange. He was survived by his wife Esther and son Michael William. (Sadly, his son passed away in 2016.) Bob was interred in Calvary Cemetery, Mount Pleasant, Isabella County, MI
(If anyone has any pictures or further information on Bob, please send me a good JPEG copy for photos and any other information.)
SGT Bruce A. Brown, USMC
June 30, 1947 - Sep. 4th, 1991
Bruce A. Brown was born June 30, 1947, in Manhattan, Kansas, to Jack E. and Frances Brown. He grew up in a military family and graduated from Mountain Home High School.
He joined the Marines after graduation, and served two enlistments, which included a tour in Vietnam, part of which was served in CAP O-3, which he served in before and during the Siege of Khe Sanh. He later served in the U S. Army.
After his discharge, he worked in the oil fields in Texas for several years before coming to Pocatello, Idaho. In 1984 he moved to Nampa, where he worked for Nampa Paving. For the four years prior to his death, he was employed as an engineer technician for Intermountain Materials Testing, Inc., Boise , ID. His hobby was restoring "street rods” and he was particularly proud of his 1941 Ford Pickup.
He married Charleen Batt Eaton on Aug. 31, 1991, in Boise, ID, but was killed on Wednesday, Sept. 4. 1991, in a highway construction accident near Moose, Wyoming. Funeral services were provided by Alden-Waggoner Chapel, and memorial services were held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, 1991, at the Rookery in Kathryn Albertson Park, Boise, with Pastor Gene Crewse of Mountain View Baptist Church officiating.
Survivors included his wife and a daughter, Jennifer Brown of Nampa; his father. Jack Brown of Nampa; two brothers, Craig of Denver, Colorado and Brian of Austin, Texas; and two step- children, Lisa and Ryan Eaton of Boise.
CPT THOMAS B. STAMPER, USMC (Ret.)
26 Oct 1934 - 4 Sep 1996
CPT (then 1stLT) Stamper was the last CO of Oscar Company at Khe Sanh.
CPT Stamper enlisted in the Marine Corps and rose through the ranks. He was a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, and was commissioned in 1966. Prior to arriving at Khe Sanh, CPT Stamper had been a Platoon Commander with 3/3 at ALPHA-3. He later informed me that this unit was overrun the night before he arrived with every officer killed.
He arrived at Khe Sanh on 27 December 1967, shortly before the Tet assault, to replace CPT Ernest L. Elmore who had received his third Purple Heart and was rotated.
After the initial attack on Khe Sanh village, he was directed by COL David Lownds, commander of the Khe Sanh Combat Base, to relocate his unit via air from Khe Sanh ville to the base, where they were then deployed on the front lines of the Army Special Forces FOB-3 compound.
CPT Stamper retired from the Marines in 1975, and worked as a JROTC unit instructor at a high school, after which he became a salesman.
(Ed. Note: Tom said to me at a reunion a few years before his death that he had never sought glory or medals, and that the thing that meant the most to him in his tour was that most of the men in Oscar survived the Siege and went home alive.)
CPT Stamper died of cancer in 1996, and was interred in the National Cemetery at Salisbury, NC. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Shirley, and their three children.
MSG William Wood, USA (Ret.)
d. October, 1998
The late MSG Wood, a career soldier and veteran of Korea as well as Vietnam, led the first team that was ambushed on Hill 471, vicinity of Khe Sanh Combat Base, on 29 January 1968. (See above article on Hill 471 for details.) He later attained a doctorate in history.
(I would be grateful if anyone with more details on MSG Wood's life and career please contact me.)
LTCOL William R. Corson, USMC (Ret.)
25 Sep 1925 - 17 Jul 2000
William Raymond Corson was born in Chicago on 25th September, 1925. By his own account, He grew up "a slum kid," on the wrong side of Chicago, raised much of the time by grandparents after his parents divorced when he was 2. At 10 he was working a newsstand. At 14, he was touring the country as a migrant worker, picking fruit and learning to gamble.
He later got a job at The Chicago Daily News. The publisher, Frank Knox, (later Secretary of the Navy), believed Corson had ability, and as a board member of the University of Chicago, helped Corson get a scholarship in math and physics at the age of 15.
Corson left college in 1943 at age 17 to join the service. (Acc. to one biography, he joined the Army, another says the Marines. His theater of service [South Pacific] makes the Marines a strong possibility.) He fought on Guam and Bougainville, rising to the rank of sergeant. After World War II, he returned to school, eventually earning a Master's degree in economics at the University of Miami, and later a doctorate in economics at American University in Washington.
In 1949 he joined the Marine Corps as an officer. For much of his Marine career, Corson would be an intelligence officer on special assignment with the CIA and the Marine Corps, specializing in Asian affairs, skills which later served him well in his work with Combined Action.
He served in the Korean War and was a student at the Naval Intelligence School in Washington (1953-55). He began studying Vietnam in the early 1950s during the French attempt to retain its colony. After learning Chinese, Corson became liaison officer in Hong Kong. In 1962, after four years as liaison officer, he was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This put him in touch with decision-making at the highest level as U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia deepened. Later he taught a course on communism at the U.S. Naval Academy (1964-66).
In 1966 Corson was sent to Vietnam where he became commander of a Marine tank battalion. In 1967, he was put in charge of the Combined Action Program. The purpose of this program was to provide security from the communists and win the loyalty of the local people.
After the success of the Combined Action Program, Corson, upon his return, was appointed deputy director of the Southeast Asia Intelligence Force in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, where he worked closely with the Central Intelligence Agency. However, despite the success of the CAP, he had become convinced that U.S. policies in Vietnam were doomed.
Corson planned to retire in June 1968, and had written a book he planned to publish after retirement called "The Betrayal" in which he stated that the Saigon government was corrupt and incompetent and as such was not strongly supported by most ordinary Vietnamese. Unless the United States revised its policies and forced changes on the South vietnamese government, the war would be lost and American servicemen would have died in vain. Publication was set for July 1, 1968, a month after Corson's originally scheduled retirement.
However, news of the book had caused a furore in Washington, and in an effort to stop Corson, the Marine Corps invoked a regulation that required officers on active duty to submit statements on public policy to review before making them public. Corson claimed that this did not apply to him because the book would not go on sale until after his retirement.
The Marine Corps responded by holding up his retirement held up, and taking steps to convene a general court-martial. However, Corson stuck to his guns, and the threatened court-martial was dropped on the grounds that it would only serve to draw attention to the book. Corson's retirement went through a month later than originally scheduled, and the book was published by W. W. Norton.
His military decorations include the Silver Star Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal with combat "V".
Other books by Corson include: "Promise or Peril; the Black College Student in America" (1970), "New KGB: Engine of Soviet Power" (1985), "Consequences of Failure" and "The Armies of Ignorance: The Rise of the American Intelligence Empire" (1986).
After retirement, Corson taught history at Howard University for a year, and wrote a column on veteran's affairs for Penthouse Magazine, and was it Washington editor. He also worked as an unofficial adviser to Frank Church and the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.
In 1989 Corson co-wrote with Joseph Trento and Susan Trento, Widows: The Explosive Truth Behind 25 Years of Western Intelligence Disasters. The book included an account of the life and death of John Paisley.
I had the pleasure of meeting LCOL Corson several times, and we discussed his experience with the CAP, and his other work and views. He remained convinced that the main premise of The Betrayal was correct.
LCOL Corson died of lung cancer on 17th July, 2000, at Suburban Hospital, Virginia, and buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was survived by his second wife of 33 years, Judith Ellen Corson, a former Pentagon analyst, who had helped him with the research on The Betrayal and a number of his other books (who later died of melanoma on February 8, 2001, in Potomac, MD), and their three children, Adam, Zachary and Andrew, all of Potomac; and two children from his first marriage to Charlotte Corson, Christopher and David Corson, and five grandchildren.
HN Dale W. Faidley, USN
19 Aug 1948 - 6 Dec 2001( Photo by and used courtesy of LCDR Ray Stubbe, USN, Ret.)
Dale grew up around Monroe, IA and was a 1966 graduate of Monroe High School.
After joining the Navy, Dale became a Hospital Corpsman for CAP Oscar-3 prior to and during the Tet Offensive and Siege of Khe Sanh from 1967 - 1968/ Prior to the Siege, he often treated the local Bru tribes for the many illnesses and diseases they were subject to.
After his Navy tour he attended Lab Tech School in Minnesota and worked in hospitals in Des Moines, Arkansas, and Minnesota.
He was living in Deer River, Minnesota when he passed away on December 6, 2001, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Dale was survived by his mother, Ruth of Prairie City, and widow, Tina, and step-daughter, Danielle of Deer River, his son, Matt of St. Cloud, Minnesota and daughter, Kelly of Des Moines. He was preceded in death by his father, Darrel. A memorial has been established by Bruce Aalbers at Monroe.
CPT WILLIAM THEODORE SERMEUS, USMC
12 May 1943 - 4 Apr 2003
(Photo courtesy of S. MacPherson)
Born in Bronx, N.Y., Bill graduated from Bernards High School in Basking Ridge, N.J., and in 1961, graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University with a bachelor of arts degree in history in 1965. From 1965 to 1969, he served in the Marines, achieving the rank of captain. He received his basic training in Quantico, Va., served two tours of duty in Vietnam, the first with A 1/9 in 1966.
Bill became the first CO of Oscar Co. in Feb. 1967, and served until he was replaced by CPT Haines.
Bill returned to Quantico in 1968 as an instructor.
On Jan 11, 1969, Bill married for the first time. Among those in attendance was Anthony Zinni, later to become a general.
During his service, Bill received the Navy Commendation Medal w/V, the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Service Medal w/ stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ date bar.
He later received an MBA degree from Harvard University in 1971.
Divorcing in 1987, Bill later re-married in 1989. He lived in Raleigh, N.C., before moving to Lanesboro, MN about 1991.
He and his second wife owned Mrs. B's Historic Inn and Restaurant in Lanesboro for 11 years. He retired in 2001.
Bill was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, was active in Boy Scouts of America and was pack master of Cub Scout Troop 49 for several years. He had served on the boards of the Minnesota Bed and Breakfast Guild and Lanesboro Business Association. He enjoyed gardening, canoeing, camping and traveling.
Bill died of brain cancer on 4 April, 2003 at Seasons Hospice in Rochester, where he had been a patient three months. (His cancer may well have been the result of the heavy Agent Orange exposure we all received at Khe Sanh.)
Survivors included his wife; two daughters, his son, his mother, and brother. He was preceded in death by an infant son and his father.
There was a memorial service on April 10, 2003 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lanesboro, with the Rev. Kerry Eversole officiating. Flag presentation was by the Lanesboro American Legion. Interment was in Arlington National Cemetery on 12 May 2003.
His former brother-in-law from his first marriage wrote and delivered this eulogy, which I share with his kind permission:
Bill Sermeus was my friend. We knew each other best from when we were 25 years old until we were 43. At times we played important roles in each other’s lives. We camped together, canoed together and occasionally had a couple of beers together.
The Bill Sermeus I knew was defined by two main qualities.
First, was self-discipline. Anybody who knew Bill knows he had a great track record for making himself do what he should. Self-discipline made him a good Boy Scout; a good student; a good self-employed business man.
Perhaps the ultimate test of his self-discipline was Viet Nam. He told me he did not politicize the war, that his only aim was to keep his marines alive. At the personal level he told me, “I wanted to stare evil in the eye and see what I could do.” That took self-discipline.
The second quality that defined Bill was that he was without guile. Bill conducted himself out in the open, in a straightforward manner. There was no façade, no outer layer over the real person. It follows that he was not a slave to fashion or given to trendiness. He didn’t hide his true intentions and his stated intentions were his true intentions. In his business and his personal life he treated others with respect. One way he showed that respect was to say what he really thought, unfiltered, no matter the audience or consequences.
In my eyes, one of Bill’s most remarkable achievements was the time he got a total stranger to loan us his pickup truck. We were canoeing the St. Croix River. When Bill left our tent one misty morning he discovered that the river had risen and our canoe had floated away. In his remembering of this moment of discovery, Bill always laughed, explaining that at first he couldn’t decide whether to take a leak or dive in and swim after the canoe. In the end, we went to a nearby house and Bill asked the homeowner for his pickup to chase down the canoe. And the man agreed, agreed to loan his truck to two unshaven complete strangers who appeared on his doorstep at around 6 A.M.. I’ll always believe that he did this because Bill Sermeus was simply being Bill Sermeus.
SGT RAYMOND M. GRAY, USMC
4 Jan 1943 - 10 Mar 2005(Photo courtesy of Raymond Gray)
Ray joined the Marines in June of 1965, and served until June of 1971. His first tour in Viet Nam was from 1966 - 1967. Prior to coming to Oscar Co., he had been in the infantry with Echo Co., 2/26. He said of that period; "First we'd try to catch them and make them run. Then we'd try to catch them again." (This is a phrase that is probably familiar to infantrymen as far back as war goes.) He said Echo "wasn't as bad as some of the units" he served in.
Ray was a member of the "Plank Crew" of Oscar company, joining in February, 1967. He later served another tour from 1969-70 with Gulf 2/7, but Combined Action remained his favorite unit, and the Bru his favorite people among the Vietnamese.
He had many interesting stories of Oscar in the early days, and was very generous in contributing his time and photos. Some of his stories will be found in the Oscar Co. history section when it is completed. He always had a kind word for everyone, and was a genuinely kind and generous man. He leaves a widow, Sylvia, his wife of 27 years. Larry Larsen of SU 5 has a great memorial to Ray here. Ray is buried at Oak View Memorial Park Cemetery in Antioch, CA. He will be sorely missed.
SFC James Perry, USA (Ret.)
26 Feb 1934 - 12 Feb 2006
SFC Perry with nurse Co Cha administering medical care to Bru villagers, Khe Sahn, 1967.
(Photo courtesy of COL Bruce B. G. Clarke, USA, Ret.)
SFC James Perry was the medic of the Army Advisory Team at Khe Sanh. He passed away on February 12th, 2006 from cancer (possibly a result of his exposure to Agent Orange). During the assaults on Khe Sanh village, Jim supervised the medical personnel, and worked on the wounded, exposing himself to enemy fire in the course of the attack.
Following the initial assaults, the American forces were ordered evacuate the village by air. Jim then worked throughout the Siege on our casualties.
Following the Siege, Jim was re-assigned to the refugee camp established in the Cua Valley. The Dega (and other minorities) in these camps suffered greatly since the South Vietnamese government had no real interest in their welfare, and considered them fit only to be ignored, or assimilated at best. Food, clothing, supplies and medicine were always in short supply. Despite this, Jim worked heroically with the limited means at his disposal to relieve the suffering of the Dega. For his heroism, Jim was awarded the Bronze Star, though CPT (later COL) Bruce B. G. Clarke, the Khe Sanh AAT C.O., had recommended him for a higher award. Due to the efforts of Clarke and others, Jim was finally posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for gallantry in action.
CPL Bruce Edward Abraham, USMC
4 Feb 1946 - 8 Oct 2006
Bruce was born in Bakersfield, California, where he attended East Bakersfield HS (class of 1963). Bruce subsequently enlisted in the Marines and served in Vietnam, including several months in Oscar Co., 3rd Platoon in early 1967.
He later became a professional merchant seaman, and rose through U.S. Coast guard examinations to attain an Unlimited Masters license. Bruce was involved for many years with Greenpeace activities and served as 3rd mate on the Greenpeace vessel "Rainbow Warrior" being aboard when they were challenging Russian whaling activity in the summer of 1983 off the coast of Siberia in what was then the USSR. Bruce boldly leapt into a speeding driverless inflatable raft to retrieve a canister of film that had been shot to document the protest, breaking his leg and rupturing a spinal disk in the process.
He passed away in his sleep in Seattle.
According to an obituary by one of his friends; "He had extreme adventures all over the world and met life at full force. He held his beliefs dearly and lived a courageous life of environmental and political activism. William Blake wrote "In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors". Bruce never bothered to knock! He was plainly and simply an unforgettable character. And so, as he would say when leaving on his voyages: "TA TA".
COL James Edward Stanton, USMC (Ret.)
1 Feb 1937 - 6 Nov 2007
(Photo courtesy of the late Jim Stanton)
Jim Stanton was born in Detroit, Michigan to Edward Hamilton Stanton and Elizabeth D. Stanton. He grew up in Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge, Michigan, and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on a NROTC Scholarship. Taking the Marine Corps option upon graduation in June of 1959, Jim was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on June 8, 1959. Five days after his commission, Jim married Elaine (Rasch) Stanton of Highland Park, Michigan, and together they started his thirty year career in the Marine Corps.
Upon completion of The Basic School in Quantico, VA, Jim attended the Artillery Basic Course and the Artillery Officer's Career Course. He held various positions and attended several schools in the Marine Corps.
While serving in Vietnam, Jim was acting as an aerial observer and supporting arms coordinator on January 29th, 1968, for ODA-221 during our unsuccessful attempt to recover the dead and missing men from a team that had been ambushed earlier that day on Hill 471 (see above). Known to us at that time only by his call sign "American Beauty Delta" (a name which he later told us he did not pick and had hated), he cooly flew overhead during the fight despite enemy fire, directing and coordinating the "fast-movers" and other aircraft in laying down heavy supporting fire. In the words of the team leader, H. E. Van Winkle:
"The Forward Air Controller (FAC) on hand when we inserted had to leave us to refuel. He was replaced by a USMC FAC with the call sign of "American Beauty Delta" (Major James Stanton). This gentleman deserves a lot of credit for getting the rest of us off the hill with little further damage. The manner in which he coordinated all of the air support into that one small area without doing us any more damage was nothing short of phenomenal. He was also dealing with two battalion size enemy units that were trying to get between us and the FOB. These were enemy troops spotted moving in the open within 400-500 meters from Hill 471."
It is unlikely that any of us would have survived had it not been for his coolness and accuracy in calling fire. Every man on that hill who survived owes his life to Jim. We did not meet Jim then, but he got in touch over 20 years later after reading an account of the action by MAJ H. E. Van Winkle in an issue of Red Clay, the Khe Sanh Veteran's magazine, and attended some reunions with us.
Jim was later the Marine Corps representative to Research and Development at Fort Ord from July of 1979 until his promotion to Colonel in June of 1981, when he assumed the Command of the 23rd Marine Regiment in Alameda, CA. He later served as Chief of Staff at the United States Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty Nine Palms, CA.
Among the decorations Jim earned during his service were the following medals: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star w/Combat "V", Purple Heart, Air Medal w/Numeral 10, Humanitarian Service Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/5 Stars, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Vietnam Commendation Medal, and the Vietnamese Campaign Medal. He also earned a number of ribbons including the: Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross) Medal Color w/Palm. Jim also received a number of Letters of Commendation and Appreciation. (Not all Jim's medals and ribbons are illustrated above.)
Jim and Elaine returned to North Monterey County upon his retirement from the civilian sector in 1998. Jim was involved with numerous activities, and was a member of All Saints Episcopal Church.
Jim passed away on the 6th of November, 2007, following a long battle with a series of illnesses. His memorial service was (appropriately) held on the 10th of November, celebrated by Marines as the "Marine Corps Birthday" - the traditional date of the founding of the Continental Marine Corps in 1775 in Tun Tavern (again appropriately!), a Philadelphia pub.
Jim was survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Elaine, daughters Susan, Amie and Katie, brother Tom and his wife Marilyn, brother Dave and sister in-law Martha, grandchildren Abigail and Simon, and nieces and nephews. He is missed by his family, and those of us who are fortunate enough to still be here because of his courage and professionalism.
Jim's wife, Elaine Fredericka Rasch Stanton (b. Sept. 18, 1937) passed away peacefully in Carmel, CA on September 26th, 2017 aged 80 years. ELaine was raised in Highland Park, MI, where she met Jim in high school, where they were sweethearts. She was a fine woman, lovely, charming, and a great wife (and later care-giver) to Jim. She was also a very successful real estate agent in her own right, and went to work again after Jim contracted his first round of cancer, making a large number of sales that helped pay for his out-of-pocket treatment costs. She will be missed by all who knew her. After Jim's passing in 2007, Elaine moved to Del Mesa Carmel where she was an active member of Del Mesa community serving on the Board of Directors. Elaine is survived by her three daughters, Susan, Amie and her husband Brian, and Kathleen and her husband Steve); her grandchildren, Abigail and Simon; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Marilyn and Thomas Stanton; sister and brother-in-law Martha and Dave Kissinger, nieces and nephews and her many loving friends.
LCPL George Albert Vachlin, USMC
19 Mar 1947 - 13 April 2008
(Photo courtesy of his family)
George Albert Vachlin was born in Vancouver, WA, to Karl and Norma (Haney) Vachlin. The family relocated to Chicago, IL in 1954, and enlisted in the US Marine Corps on May 17th, 1966.
Prior to CAP, George came to Vietnam on the USS Iwo Jima with BLT 1/4. He served as a Motor Transport driver and .50 MG gunner on a "deuce and a half" truck for convoys.
George drove all through I Corps, including Gio Linh, Con Thien, Dong Ha, and Khe Sanh. (George once wrote to me; "I fell in love with Khe Sahn."), and down Highway 9 to Highway 1 to Phu Bai.
He volunteered for CAC and served in O-1 in 1967 and 1968, before and during the Siege of Khe Sanh (although he was on leave at the time of the initial assault on Khe Sanh ville). He later also served in another CAP unit in the Hue-Phu Bai area after Oscar was disbanded following the Siege. (Possibly A-4.)
George received an honorable discharge on December 31st, 1969.
After the Marines, George lived in Wisconsin and Illinois, eventually settling in Savanna, IL. He enjoyed fishing and spending time with his dog, Flash, and spending time with his friends and family. He was also a member of, and served as color guard for the Shaw-Leavens VFW Post 2223.
George contracted cancer, and although he took treatment, it recurred later. Despite the prognosis, George me in a letter that he was going to; "just keep fighting and fighting and fighting." That is what he did, right to the end. He passed away in a VA Hospital on Sunday the 13th of April, 2008. He had suffered from throat cancer and related respiratory ailments. His family had been to see him the day before, and his beloved dog was allowed in for a visit as well. The family mentioned that the care and support George received from the VA staff was incredible.
Services were conducted on Sunday, 27 April, 2008. His family members were in attendance. He is survived by his mother, Norma, a son Frank, his brother Carl J. and Carl's wife Mary, and a nephew, Carl A. Vachlin, and nieces Victoria Weiser, Rebecca Catalano, great-nephews Brendan Weiser and Karl T. Vachlin, and great-niece Erin Rose Vachlin. He had been predeceased by his father Karl and younger sister Genevieve.
(On display at the service was a reproduction of a USMC company guidon marked CAP Oscar, originally made by my wife, Lisa, for the 1993 Khe Sanh Vets Reunion in Washington, D.C. When I learned of George's demise, I decided to send it along to the family for his memorial service. "Doc" John Roberts of O-2 had been custodian of the guidon since Nov. 2006, and quickly dispatched it. I now offer a personalized USMC flag at no charge to families.)
Teruo Sukoshi ("Skosh") Torita, USMC
("Skosh" & his wife, Takako, at the 26th Marines Reunion, 2010)
"Skosh" served with H&S Company, 3/26 at Khe Sanh as a Bn. Radio Operator (2533). On June 27, 1967, he was assigned to India Company 3/26 when they went to Hill 689 to attempt to rescue the men from Oscar-3 who had been ambushed earlier that day. (See above.) "Skosh" was very helpful in putting together the story of the fight on 689.
"Skosh" passed away on 1 May, 2011 after a long illness. He was a brave and compassionate man.
"Skosh" was interred at Tahoma National Cemetary in Covington , WA.
CPL Al Terry Sullivan, USMC
27 Dec 1948 - 17 Sep 2011
(No photo available.)
Al Terry Sullivan (known to his comrades as "Sully") was a native and life-long resident of Mayo, FL.
Enlisting in the Marines, he served with Combined Action Company Oscar, 2nd Platoon, at Khe Sanh as a CAP Marine working with the Bru tribesmen who served as our native counterparts.
On January 21st, 1968, he was at the O-2 compound when they and O-1 were assaulted by elements of the 66th Regiment of the 304th Division of the PAVN (NVA). According to "Doc" John Roberts, writing in his memoir of the action, Sully "fought like a madman" with his M-16, then with a BAR commandeered from our stockpile of Korean and WW II weapons we usually used to arm the Bru.
He and the other defenders of Khe Sanh ville certainly deserved a medal for valor, and considerably more recognition than they ever received. But that is often the nature of war -- being seen at the right time by the right people. (At the time of his death, Sully was still winding through the labyrinthine VA system trying to get recognition of and treatment for his multiple service-incurred or aggravated issues.)
After the war, Sully went back to Mayo, and took a job at Lafayette County High School, rising to maintenance supervisor. According to one of the teaching staff, he often put in unpaid overtime and week-ends to get a problem corrected in time for school, and both the staff and the children at the school held him in the highest regard.
As all who knew Sully will attest, he was a good-natured, genial, unassuming and generous man, and not one to put himself forward.
Sully succumbed to cancer at Haven Hospice in Lake City, FL, after a long fight, with funeral services at the Airline Baptist Church followed with interment in their cemetery.
Sully is survived by his brother Larry who had also served (US Army Special Forces), his sister Alice, his wife Debbie, and children Travis, Jessica, Renata, and Shawn, and their families. He will be missed by us all.
(See CAC Oscar History - "Big Tet", Bruce Clarke's "Expendable Warriors" and Gregg Jones' "Last Stand at Khe Sanh" for more details on the battle for Khe Sanh ville. Unfortunately, Sully was mistakenly called "Dan" in both of these books.)
CPL Stanley Joseph Dilley
20 Jan 1947 - 19 Nov 2011
Stan was born in Ft. Wayne, IN. to Clarence Dilley and Anna Shiffi Dilley.
He enlisted in the Marines in 1966, and went to Vietnam in December 1966, serving first as a member of Shore Party, near Da Nang. He then extended his tour 6 months, and upon his return from leave, was posted to Combined Action Company Oscar, 1st Platoon, at Khe Sanh as a CAP Marine working with the Bru tribesmen who served as our native counterparts. He arrived prior to the Siege, and was one of the gallant garrison of Oscar-1 when the NVA attacked in force on 21 January, 1968. Stan and his comrades fought the greatly numerically superior enemy force, and beat them in detail.
(See CAC Oscar History - "Big Tet" and Bruce Clarke's "Expendable Warriors" for more on the battle for Khe Sanh ville.)
After Stan left Khe Sanh following the Siege, he was placed in charge of a CAP near Hue. He later served at Que Lai (sp.?) in a unit he called "Rat Hole 6."
Stan left the Marines in 1969 and went to work at Slater Steel in Fort Wayne, remaining there for 38 years, and later he went to work for Pena’s Plumbing and Heating in Ossian, IN for 5 years.
One of his steel mill co-workers, Mr. Todd Radke (who put us in contact with Stan) sent me the following statement about for Stan:
"I spent a lot of time with Stan when we worked in the rolling mill at Slater Steels in Fort Wayne, In. We were having a lot of quality issues with the mill, and Stan took it upon himself to temporarily give up a pud job in the Roughing Mill Pulpit, and he came to the set-up area to work with my crew. He organized all the components (mostly from memory), ordered the missing pieces, and began to teach me the "art" of rolling mill set-up.
Week's end saw vast improvements, within a month the mill was running as if new. Stan stayed with us until he was confident in my ability. Soon after, our shift (11-7) set a record; 28 days of production without a single billet scrapped.
Stan is a natural leader, and a team player, I enjoyed the time I spent with him. It was during a period of down-time that he told me of his Viet Nam experiences. I never imagined that one day a casual E-mail to Bob (Hall, formerly of Radio Relay at O-1) might reunite Stan and his Warrior Brethren."
(We are grateful to Todd and Bob for that E-mail, despite the reunion being all too brief.)
Stan married his wife of 34 years, Cheryl Hill on Aug. 1, 1977, in Reno, NV.
He was a member of American Legion Post 111 in Bluffton, IN, and was also an avid Harley Davidson motorcylist.
Stan had been battling cancer when he died on Saturday, at the Bluffton Regional Medical Center.
He is survived by his wife Cheryl, his two brothers and sisters-in-law, Lee & Patty Dilley of Churubusco and Tony & Patty Dilley of Whiteland, and four sisters and brothers-in-law, Roseanna & Scott Uhl of Avilla, Joellen & Ray Solga of Alabama, Kathy & Tim Wenning of Fort Wayne, and Larene & Ron Pulver of Leo.
He was preceded in death by his parents and by a daughter, Erika Smith, in 1995.
Services were held at 10 AM on Saturday November 26th, 2011 at the at the Thomas / Rich, Chaney and Lemler Funeral Home.
funeral home, with Larry Sprinkle officiating. Burial was at the Fairview Cemetery in Bluffton. Graveside military honors were conducted by members of American Legion Post 111 and a U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard.
PFC Brian Wade Oldervik
22 Apr 1947- 7 Mar 2012Pictured (on left) with CPL James Shepard in June 1967 at O-3 (Photo courtesy of Richard Moison, O-3)
Brian (nicknamed "Olds") was a member of O-3 in June 1967. Brian, formerly of Minot, ND, was a resident of Albuquerque, NM. He is survived by his loving and caring wife of 36 years, Yon. Brian received two Purple Hearts. A memorial service was held on Friday, March 16, 2012, 10:30 a.m., at French – Lomas Chapel, and Brian was interred in the Santa Fe National Cemetery.
(Note: Brian was almost certainly the unidentified "other man" injured in the minefield explosion that disabled the late Craig ("Slats") Albers [above] since he is listed only in the June 1967 MPR, and was retired as a PFC.)
John "Doc" Tinker
1946 - 25 May 2012( Photo & information courtesy of LCOL Anthony, USMC, Ret. )
John was born in New York City in 1946 and after graduation from The Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania, he joined the Navy, where he trained as Hospital Corpsman. He was subsequently attached to 3/26 Marines in Vietnam, where he served in the battles of Khe Sahn and Con Thien. Though not a CAP Marine or attached Corpsman, Doc Tinker was with the relief force from I & L 3/26 that went to the assistance of the patrol from Oscar 3 that was ambushed on June 27th, 1967. (See above and in CAP Oscar History for details.) John was a recipient of four Purple Hearts for wounds received in action.
After his service was completed, John went on to graduate from Brooks Film Institute and after periodically studying with Ansel Adams, spent 30+ years as an award-winning commercial photographer working for many of the Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies in this country.
Retired to the Oregon coast, John devoted his time to designing and creating fine wood furniture, gourmet cooking, and raising champion Welsh terriers. He was also known to cast a fly or two on some of Oregon's great trout streams.
John was very versatile and knowledgeable on most subjects which made him very interesting.
Doc died May 25, 2012 shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
He is survived by his wife, Christine; daughter, Caroline; and his sister, Mary Tinker Hatch.
COL Edward F. Danowitz, Sr. USMC (Ret.)
1921 - 24 Jan 2013
COL Edward F. Danowitz, Sr., formerly a Director of the Combined Action Program, passed away at his home in Altamonte Springs, FL on January 24, 2013, aged 92.
He was born in 1921 in Chicago, IL, to William and Malvina Danowitz, and attended school in Red Bank, NJ, going on to Holy Cross College. Following graduation in 1942, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and served in combat in WWII. He fought in the battle for Okinawa as a 2nd Lt.
Following WW II, Colonel Danowitz remained in the Marines, and during his lengthy career, served in Korea as a captain, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam, where he served as Director of the Combined Action Program. He later served as colonel commanding the 9th Marine Regiment when they left Vietnam and returned to Okinawa.
While on active duty he earned his first MA degree from George Washington University, and later earned a second MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Russian Language and Studies, and remained on active duty until 1972, retiring with the rank of colonel. He was the epitome of the warrior-scholar.
Upon retirement from the Marine Corps he joined the faculty of Rollins College where he taught Russian and Spanish and served as department chairman.
COL Danowitz is survived by Mitzi, his wife of 66 years, his daughters, Mary Ann, Joan Jones, Nancy Williamson, and Sharon Haffey, and son, Edward F. Jr., and by his 12 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by DeGusipe Funeral Home, which has established a webpage for COL Danowitz, with a guestbook.
A Mass was celebrated on Tuesday, January 29 at 11 am. at the Church of St. Mary Magdalen in Altamonte Springs, FL, where Colonel Danowitz was a communicant for 40 years.
Donations can be made to the Third Marine Division Memorial Scholarship Fund, P. O. Box 254, Chalfont, PA 18914 or a charity of your choice in lieu of flowers.
LCPL Joseph Zudor III, USMC
12 Aug 1948 - 17 May 2013
Joseph Zudor III was born on August 12, 1948 in Painesville, Ohio to the late Joseph and Betty Zudor II.
Joe served in Oscar Company, O-2 in 1967 and during the Tet Offensive and Siege of Khe Sanh in 1968. He was a brave and competent Marine, with a sunny disposition, and well-liked by all his peers.
Joe passed away on May 17, 2013, age 64, from complications of Parkinson's Disease at Carrington Park Nursing Home in Ashtabula, OH.
He was survived by his brother-in-law, Donald (Connie) Fiske, nieces Carrie (Paul) Dowling, Sandy (Shane) Novak and Stephanie Fiske. Foster siblings Sharon Fisher, Lu Ann Busch, Teresa Buckman, Rick Armstrong and Mark Armstrong. He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Betty Zudor II and his sister Ann M. Fiske.
Funeral services were held at the Johnson Funeral Home, 368 Mentor Avenue (opposite Lake Erie College), Painesville, OH. Joe was buried with military honors at Perry Cemetery.
CWO4 Lawrence E. Bosworth, USMC (Ret.)
1944 - 27 Sep 2014(Photo courtesy of Earl Grissom)
Larry (aka "Boz" and "Gunner") was assigned early in 1967 to Oscar Company at Khe Sanh as part of the "Plank Crew." He proceeded to help establish Oscar Co., and was the squad leader of two of its CAPs, serving as NCOIC of O-3 until Oct. 1967.
On 27 June, 1967, Oscar Company was ordered by the Marine command at Khe Sanh to send a patrol to investigate suspected rocket and mortar launch sites spotted earlier by an aerial observer that were believed to be the origin of an NVA rocket and mortar attack on the Khe Sanh base which had occurred just after midnight of the night before. This patrol resulted in the ambush of our patrol on Hill 689 and the deaths of most of the patrol. (See CAC Oscar History)
Larry was a good NCO who cared a great deal for his men's welfare. He told me in various Es and phone conversations that he greatly regretted sending that patrol out, as he knew it was a mistake at the time, as they all knew the area was "hot" and that the CAP unit was not big enough or well enough supported to make a combat patrol of that type, which was better suited to an infantry company. However, while LT Sermeus agreed, he was also under orders.
Larry was further troubled by the fact that if he had not injured his leg shortly before, he would have been leading the patrol himself. His feelings about this remained strong. Speaking of this event, Larry wrote to me and Frank Mazariego's sister in an E dtd. January 26, 2006:
"Ever since I departed Viet Nam, I have tremendous guilt feelings about the day Frank and three other Marines were killed. It has haunted me all of my life. Most of the events I do not remember because it is just too painful to remember. I am so sorry about Frank.
I always thought I wrote the the parents of each Marine who was killed that day but I may not have. I really cannot remember exactly. I was somewhat relieved when I made a trip to Wisconsin on a Memorial Day weekend a few years ago to visit the family of CPL James Shepard. His town held a memorial service for Jimmy and some Marines who knew him came to ths service. His mother showed me the letter I wrote when her son was killed the same day as Frank. Unfortunately, it had taken me a long time to even write that letter.
Frank was a good Marine. We all became very close to one another in those days. I could always count on Frank and he helped me become a better Marine and person. I too miss Frank and the other fine Marines who gave their all."
Larry left in October, 1967, prior to the Tet assault on the village and the Siege.
Like many of us, Larry also cared a great deal about the native population we were there to serve and protect. He often expressed a great fondness for the Bru and other native people of the region.
"Tim" & "Boz" jamming in O-3 "hootch", Oct. 1967(Courtesy of Lacey Lahren, O-3)
Larry remained in the Marine Corps, rising to the rank of CWO4 before retiring.
He later became the deputy chief for an IT organization supporting the USAR Personnel Command in St. Louis, MO, in the same building which stores and houses the National Records Center, providing all of the IT support, email, WEB sites, personnel database, data warehouses, and everything to do with Human Resources. He helped direct about 220 employees including about 22 military members (both reserve and active duty).
A few years ago, I connected Larry to Earl Grissom, and they arranged to meet on his trip across the country to see the Wall. Both had a very emotional but beneficial encounter.
Larry unfortunately developed Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) a few years ago. This is a chronic and ultimately fatal disease characterized by a progressive decline in lung function. He was a candidate for a transplant, the last I heard, but according to one source, he had other health issues as well.
I am unsure what the direct cause of death was at this time.
Larry was married to Cheryl (née Fromhold) of Saint Charles, Missouri on June 14, 1968, and greatly enjoyed football and going antiquing. He passed away on Sep. 27th, 2014, aged 70. He is survived by his wife and by his three sons, David Bosworth, Larry Bosworth, Jr., Brent Bosworth; daughter, Alicia Bosworth-Cavallaro; two sisters, Sandra Granger and Susan McCann; as well as by his grandchildren, Kirstie, Chelsea, Kylee & Larry III Bosworth; He was preceded in death by his father, Franklin Bosworth, and his mother Mary Bosworth née Tooke, and his brother, Franklin Bosworth, Jr.
Larry was interred in Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery, Augusta, MO.
CPL Steve A. Green, USMC
28 May 1948 - 20 Nov 2014
Steve A. Green joined the Marines in 1965, and was assigned to SU #5 in February 1967, thus becoming one of the “plank crew” of Combined Action Company Oscar. He was assigned to O-2 at Khe Sanh, and served under SGT Spell, leaving in August 1967, prior to the Tet assault and Siege.
Unfortunately, due to the years and his illness, Steve didn't remember a lot about his tour, though he recalled the Bru fondly, as most of us do.
He did remember some incidents, such as setting fire to the plantation by accident during a fire-fight in May 1967, when a fellow CAP Marine named Peter (he was unsure of the last name but it may have been "Pate") popped a flare that started a blaze. He also recalled a party thrown by a Bru chief to celebrate the curing of his malaria-stricken daughter by our medics.
Steve finished his tour in the Marines in 1970.
Steve enjoyed working on bikes and trikes, and could often be found in his garage tinkering with one of his "projects."
Steve contracted cancer some years ago, and took a full course of treatment for it, stemming the first assault, but was unfortunately struck again in 2014 by a much more aggressive and broader attack. Given the slender options, and with little to no chance for successful treatment, Steve decided to forego the debilitating treatment, and instead got his affairs in order. I spoke to Steve by phone on several occasions as his illness progressed (including a few days before his death) and he remained stoical, brave, and composed right up to the end. Despite his advancing illness and its severity, Steve survived for one more Marine Corps Birthday. He will be missed, but remembered, at the next Birthday, and I hope all of you will join me in raising a glass to his memory.
Steve was interred at the Village Cemetery in Wayland, NY. He is survived by his wife Carolyn.
CPL Steven Keith Biddle, USMC
5 Feb 1947 - 17 Jun 2015
Steve was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Biddle of Anderson, IN, and resided most of his life in Anderson and Pendleton, IN. He enlisted in the Marines in August, 1966, graduating after 8 weeks basic training from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, CA, and then underwent four more weeks of ICT and a further four weeks of basic specialist training at MCB Camp Pendleton, CA, becoming an 0351 specializing in the 3.5" rocket launcher (a descendant of the famed "bazooka" of WW II). Steve told his sons in 2014 that he only fired the 3.5" rocket launcher once - a smoke projectile used to mark a sniper's position. This may have been partially due to the fact that until the attack on Lang Vei during Tet 1968, the PAVN had not deployed armor against our troops, knowing that they would be out-classed and out-gunned by our tanks, our air support, and devices like the 3.5" rocket launcher and a newer device, the M-72 LAW (Light Anti-tank Weapon, aka LAAW and LAWS) a 66 MM unguided rocket system, meant to be a one-shot disposable weapon that was superseding the 3.5" rocket launcher.
Arriving in Vietnam, he was first assigned to 1st Plt., E 2/26, and was stationed near Da Nang on Hill 222. He fought in the heavy and often hellacious fighting at the DMZ during May 1967, on Operation Prairie and other hard-fought campaigns. He was later stationed at Camp Evans, which was located at Co Bi Than Tan (near Phu Bai), near the northern end of the infamous A Shau Valley (aka "The Valley of Death"). While there, he and some friends volunteered for Combined Action, arriving at CAC Oscar in July 1967, where he was assigned to O-2.
At O-2, Steve participated in patrols, ambushes, and other operations as well as helping to train our native counterparts, guard the local people, and assist in civic action work.
Steve was one of the defenders of O-2 during the heavy assaults on 21 January 1968 (See CAC Oscar History), and was later on FOB 3 during the early days of the Siege. He was supposed to fly out on his birthday (Feb 5) but according to what he told his sons, the plane that would take him out was either hit or crashed on landing (which happened several times during the Siege, until they stopped landing aircraft), so he left a little later.
In March 1968 he was sent stateside to Camp Lejeune where he embarked on the Med Cruise with 3/8 from Apr-Sept on the USS Cambria APA-36. After the cruise he remained in 3/8 until he was transferred to his last station, Marine Barracks, NSB Bangor, WA. Steve was released from active duty in Sep. 1969. After discharge, he returned to IN.
He then worked in machine repair, maintenance and upkeep at Owens Illinois Brockway Glass company in Lapel, IN from 1969 until retiring in 2008, after 38 years of service.
Steve was a member of the Pendleton Kiwanis Club and Pendleton American Legion.
He is survived by his 2 sons, Nathan K. Biddle of Pendleton, IN and Seth E. Biddle & daughter-in-law Heather Biddle of Newton, KS; his daughter, Chandra R & son-in-law Mike Seybert of McCordsville, IN; his brother, Roger Biddle of Knightstown, IN, 3 grandchildren, Natalie, Hunter, and Wyatt; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Steve was preceded in death by mother, Rachel (Jones) Biddle, father, Kenneth Biddle, brothers John and Doug Biddle; and his grandson Steven William Biddle.
Services were held Monday, June 22, 2015, 6:00 pm at Robert D. Loose Funeral Homes & Crematory, Anderson, IN, with Pastor Larry Bingham officiating.
A military ceremony will be conducted by the V.F.W. Post 266 Honor Guard and the U.S. Marine Corp at the funeral home following the service, followed by cremation and interment in the National Cemetery in Marion, IN.
Those of us who knew Steve in Vietnam remember him as a good man and a good Marine, dependable, reliable, capable and steady. He will be missed by all who knew him.
James Carpenter, USMC
21 Mar 1951 - 23 Feb 2018
(Photo used by permission of Carol Carpenter)
Jim was born in Pasedena, TX , and served in the US Marine Corps from 1968 to 1971, serving first in 3/26, then volunteering for CAP, where he was assigned to Oscar Co., 1st PLt.
Jim once told me that the main reason he had volunteered for CAP was because he was raised in Safety, AK outside Nome, among the indigenous native people, and that the Bru reminded him of them. Jim's mother passed away in Feb 1968 during the Siege and he was sent home on compassionate leave. He returned 6 months later, and was re-assigned to CAP 1-1-1 near Chu Lai.
Jim did a second tour in 1970 with A 1/26. He was discharged in 1971 and returned to AK.
Jim was preceded in death by his sister Teri, Mother Nancy, and Father Macy, and is survived by his loving wife Carol, children Franklin, and Jessica, and grandchildren, Hunter and Tyler.
Jim was known for his generosity, kindness, and infectious laughter. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and good neighbor. He will be missed and remembered by all who knew him.
1st SGT William Allen Breedlove, USMC (Ret.)
19 Sep 1948 - 2 Jul 2018
(CAP School Graduation, Oct. - Nov. 1968. Allen is on the right.)
Allen was born in South Charleston, WV on September 19, 1948.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the Marines. Following basic training at Parris Island, SC and AIT at Camp Lejeune, NC, he was assigned as an 0311 and sent to Vietnam, where he was assigned to Delta 1/26 from Sep. - Oct. 1967, when he was offered a CAP quota.
Following CAP School, he was assigned in Nov. 67 to Oscar-1, and was one of the gallant defenders of O-1 during the assaults on 21 Jan. 1968, and subsequently served on FOB-3. ( See: https://sites.google.com/site/usmccaposcar/cap-oscar )
Allen remained in the Corps, and served a 2nd. tour in Vietnam with Charlie 1/3 from Sep. 69 - Jan. 70, returning to KS, as well as the Rockpile, Camp Carroll, and Con Thien. After 3rd Marines pulled out, he was sent to the 7th Marines until Jan 70.
He then served as an MP at the Marine Corps Logistics Base at Albany, GA, and was next sent to Camp Lejeune, and later posted to sea duty for 3 years on the USS Holland, ported in Holy Loch, Scotland. (Allen once wrote that he loved that duty, and said it was the best time ihe spent in the Marines).
He was next assigned to Recruiter School, working after graduation in Beckley, WV until 1984. He next served at HQMC from 1985 - 88, and was then assigned to 3rd FSSG as a Company 1st Sgt from 1988 - 89, then to Camp Pendleton, 11th Marines acting SgtMaj until he retired as a 1st SGT in 1990.
Among his decorations and awards, Allen held the Purple Heart Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation w/ star , Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ star, Navy Battle Efficiency ribbon w/ 3 devices, Military Ribbon Good Conduct Medal w/ 1 silver & 1 bronze star, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 stars, Sea Service Ribbon w/ star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (Unit Level w/ frame and palm) and the Vietnamese Civic Action Ribbon (Unit Level w/ frame and palm), and the Vietnamese Campaign Medal w/date device, the Rifle Expert Badge (5th Award) and Pistol Expert Badge (2nd Award) as well as several letters and certificates of commendation.
Allen in Vietnam
Allen was fond of the outdoors, especially with his family, and valued greatly the time he spent with his wife, children and grandchildren.
He was also known among his family and friends for his sense of humor and jokes.
Allen passed away on 2 Jul 2018 near Knoxville, TN, and was interred on 9 Jul 2018 at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery with full military honors. Mynatt Funeral Home has his obituary and photos posted.
He is survived by Janice, his loving wife of 47 years, and their children and grand-children.
We were all deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our gallant comrade, 1st SGT Breedlove, and wish to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to his wife Janice and their family. Allen was a brave Marine who stood firm during some of the hardest fighting of the Vietnam war, and was one of a small band of men who, despite being greatly outnumbered, repulsed the 7th Bn. of the 66th Regt., one of the most elite units of the PAVN (North Vietnamese Army). Allen will be remembered by all who knew him, and sorely missed.
SGT Larry Dee Brooks, USMC
11 Dec. 1944 - 1 Aug. 2018
Larry Dee Brooks was born to C. Dale Brooks and Evelyn Louise (Mathis) Brooks in Alliance, Ohio.
After graduating from high school, Larry enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, later joining Oscar Co. at Khe Sanh, Vietnam, where he served before and during the Siege of Khe Sanh. Larry received 3 Purple Hearts medals for wounds received in action.
I remember Larry as a good Marine who could always be counted on. "Doc" John Fisher, O-3's Hospital Corpsman, knew Larry well and wrote of him;
"Larry was one of my best friends, and the kind of guy you instantly liked. He didn’t share much about his family, but loved to talk about Corpus Christi Texas. He was a guy you knew would have your back. We loved playing tricks on him as he was a good natured Marine. While several of our guys were drafted, I believe Larry [voluntarily] joined the Marines. We both believed in the cause and trusted God to watch over us."
(Note: According to his wife, Larry did enlist as a volunteer.)
Larry left the Marines after his enlistment, and married Jo Gayle Peacock on August 23, 1969 at Dallas, TX. He raised a family with Gayle, and eventually retired as a salesman with Fasteners Inc. He was also a long time member of the Church of Christ.
Larry was much loved by his family, and will be missed by them and his comrades.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and is survived by his wife, Jo Gayle Brooks of Bells; daughters, Shandra Lynne and Raye Dawn, and their husbands and families (all of Colorado); and Kimberly Dale of Texas, his grandchildren, Tyler, Nathan, Bryson, Bryner, Dailey, Aubrey, Cambrey, Keeley, Kaden, and Maegan; and brothers, Lynn D. Brooks of Oklahoma, Layne Darrell Brooks of Wylie, TX, and Lanny D. Brooks of Oklahoma; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Memorial Services were held on August 5, 2018 at Turrentine-Jackson-Morrow Chapel, Whitewright, Tx. Brother Gary Adams officiated. Larry's cremains are inurned at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Arlington, Texas.
Franklin Robert Batchman, USMC
January 31, 1947 - 20 Mar 2019
Frank was born January 31, 1947 in Wichita, KS, the son of Franklin Fredrick and Margaret Ann Lyman (Ely) Batchman. He was raised and received his education in Wichita.
Frank joined the United States Marines on April 5, 1967. He proudly served his country and was a member of Oscar Co., 1st Plt., 3rd CAG at the time of the attack on the Houng Hoa Sub-District HQ. The NCOIC of O-1 wrote of him, "Batchman was one of my best men in combat! During the siege he kept all of us laughing and our spirts high, and made us feel happy to be alive. He, McKinnis, and Still will always will be in my heart."
Frank was later relocated to the US Army Special Forces base, FOB-3, which adjoined the Khe Sanh Combat Base, where he served for the remainder of the Siege of Khe Sanh.
He was nick-named “Lurch” by his comrades both because of a fancied resemblance to a character in the original “Addams Family” TV program, and because he expressed interest in becoming a mortician. He also used a casualty “body bag” as a cover for the entrance to his bunker - which definitely kept the superstitious out! (See Oscar Co. History)
He received an honorable discharge on April 2, 1971, and went on to work in many fields, including bakeries, truck driving and welding. He also worked at Boeing Aircraft for many years.
Frank was a member of Mount Olivet Methodist Church in Wichita. He enjoyed fishing and riding motorcycles. He also enjoyed fixing anything with a motor, and working with jewelry.
He unfortunately suffered several strokes and other disabilities in the last few years, and had to go into the Hagemeister Unit of the Robert J. Dole Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield, KS.
Frank passed away Wednesday afternoon, March 20, 2019 at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center.
He is survived by his brother Duane, Shirley; his sisters Janice and Joneitha; his sons, John; Freddy; Steven Batchman; and grandchildren, Ivan, Sierra, Jaden, Mariah, and Lani.
Frank was preceded in death by his parents, and his brother, Bernard.
Funeral services were on Monday, March 25, 2019 at Miles Funeral Service. Interment and Military Committal Honors followed at the Kansas afternoon from 2 to 6 P.M. Veterans Cemetery.
A memorial has been established in Frank's name for the VA Hospice Unit in Wichita. Contributions may be made through the funeral home.
Condolences may be offered at milesfuneralservice.com.
Douglas R. Eldridge, USMC
January 18, 1948 - April 16, 2019
Douglas was born January 18, 1948, in Portsmouth, OH to Alfred and Amy (Milet) Eldridge. Douglas served his country honorably both in the Marines and in the Army. During his time in Oscar Co., he was attached to O-1.
He later worked as a truck driver and enjoyed woodworking, camping, cooking, and spending time with his dogs and cat.
He is survived by his wife, Jean; daughters, Tamela and Missy, and grandchildren, Ashley, Austin, Jonathan, and Michael; great-grandchildren, Logan, and Averie; as well as his sister, Nancy; and numerous nieces and nephews. Douglas was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Marion, and sister, Martha.
Funeral services for Douglas were held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 in South Webster, followed by interment at South Webster Cemetery, with military honors provided by James Dickey Post #23 of the American Legion.
CMT1 John William Morris, USN (Ret.)
March 5th, 1944 - Sep. 4th, 2009
Although not a CAP Marine, John played a major role as the designer and webmaster of the original CAP Oscar site, contributing his vast technical skills and expertise, and selflessly donating many hours of his time to make that site the success it was and remains. I am therefore adding him to our memorial page in recognition of his outstanding contributions.
John William Morris was born March 5th, 1944 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He enlisted in the Navy in 1965, serving in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Maine, the Azores, Japan, and San Diego during a 20 year career, a good part of it being spent in the field of cryptology.
After retiring from the Navy in 1985, he worked in the computer and information technology field, working with several prominent defense firms and as an independent consultant, contributing tremendously to the fields of internet technology and telecommunications before moving on to launch his own successful business in the 1990s. John developed a number of interesting concepts and both hardware and software along the way, some of which have become part of our everyday computing lives. He spent his last years exploring new paradigms and concepts in the ever-changing world of the Web.
He was a multi-talented gentleman with an eclectic taste and background that included a love of art, music, and writing among his many interests.
John selflessly helped anyone who needed help, volunteering his time and talents in the community, with his church and elsewhere. He enjoyed woodworking, jewelry and his other numerous hobbies, and showered his love on his beloved wife and family and friends, and assorted canine and feline family members.
He passed away suddenly on Friday, September 4th, 2009, and his memorial service was held Sunday, September 13th, 2009. He is survived by his wife, a talented artist, and his two adult children.
John was a personal friend as well as professional associate, and he contributed far more time, expertise, and energy to the original CAP Oscar site and other projects than I could ever have reimbursed him for adequately. He will be sorely missed.
(Note: This site represents the result of many years of investigative work and research. I have tried to be as accurate throughout as possible, but there is no such thing as 100% perfect. In cases where I was not present, I have relied on the accounts of those who were present and / or official records, correspondence, statements from comrades, their friends and family, and other sources. Statements, quotes, poems, or any material other than my own reflect the views of those who made them. Neither this author nor this site assumes any responsibility for any errata made in good faith, nor for any of the views expressed other than my own. All the photos, documents, text, and other materials are copyright, and they belong solely to the authors, photographers, etc., who retain all rights to the materials. All material is copyright, and may not be used without express written permission of the owners or their heirs and assigns. All material used with the express permission of the owners, who are named where known. Unattributed material will be attributed when the owner contacts me. I receive no financial or material reward or incentives of any kind for any reviews or links on this site. They are posted because I have personal experience of them and / or their products, and think they are good quality and might be of interest to our readers. Your contact information will NEVER be used for solicitation by us, nor will it be traded, hired, lent, sold or otherwise distributed. You will only be contacted if you request us to do so.)