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A story of how a Marine always stays in the fight!

Story behind my photos and photos from an investigator at “Ground Zero”

I’ll be brief. Approx. 2 months prior to 9-11, my wife and I relocated to Ft. Worth after she was offered a position with Tarrant Co. IT. On 9-11-2001 at the time the first plane hit I was drinking a cup of coffee watching Good Morning America as the broadcast cut to street level showing smoke coming from one of the towers.

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Guard Duty at Iwakuni

This is me on guard duty while I was at Iwakuni, Japan. (78-79) My MOS was 1371 Combat Engineer.You can see the Quonset hut in the background that we lived in back then. I was told that both MAG 15 and MWSG 17 have since been retired. That is sad but the memories that I have of my fellow Marines that served with me are always with me. Semper Fi, L/CPL Kenneth McCauley

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My Friend and a Marine Corps Hero

My very best friend and Marine Corps Hero passed on March 27, 2015. He was my friend before the Corps, he then joined the Corps in October 1966, after boot camp and ITR he became a Force Reconnaissance Marine. He served in Vietnam while I was serving there in an aviation unit in Danang South Vietnam. He arrived there just before Tet 1968 and the battle for Hue. He visited several times and when leaving he always borrowed my Navy issue military (known then as birth control) sunglasses which he seem to lose almost as soon as he went back into the field! I will always remember and miss him until I rejoin him when I pass.

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M1 Thumb

It was Mid October 1961. I was a member of Recruit Platoon 341 at Parris Island. On this day we where in formation for our Final Field inspection. The next day we would graduate as Marines. My SDI was Staff Sgt E6 Sal Vigliotti.( about 1967 or 68 there was an article in Leather Neck Magazine that he had become the Senior Chief Drill Instructor of P.I.). I added this to show the type of Marine that I was honored to have served with. My 2 JDI’s where Staff Sgt J.E Schroeder and Sgt. W.M Hemlepp. (some years later Hemlepp would be my Plt. leader as a Ist Grade Warrant Officer). Here was another cool head. Anyway, in the formation, I was about center in the first squad. The first Officer to inspect was a 1st Lt. who was our Series Commander. As he stepped to my front I raised my M1 rifle to inspection arms while jacking open the rifles bolt to lock open position. The Lt. smartly lifted the rifle from my hands, did the usual show of flipping the rifle around looking at the butt and down the barrel then pressed down on the follower. As the back of his hand slipped off the operating rod handle the bolt flew forward and chambered his thumb with a muffled thump. His face turned an ash grey color as the pain reached his brain. I winched as he began to remove his mangled thumb from the rifles chamber and face of the bolts extractor. I believed that I must have had an amused look on my face as he said, “Do you think there is something funny about this?’ I answered NO SIR!! but I did feel his pain, after all no Marine ever escaped (at least once), the rath of the M1 thumb. The poor dude was both embarrass and pissed. He then quickly removed the trigger housing group and the stock from the barrel group and dropped it near my feet then verbally excusing himself saying he was off for medical attention at sick bay. As he walked off there was a dead silence. Before me lay my issue, U.S. Cal. 30 M1, Winchester ser.#1631101 in pieces. The silence was then broken by a very calm voice of Uncle Sal Vigliotte. “well Roessler, do you realize the magnitude of what has just happened here?” I answered “YES SIR, What ever it is, is not going to be good”.” Oh you think so? Well do you realize that you just bagged an officer. You are my hero of the day, well done. Beside that, I was never to fond of that cocky little Son of a so an so anyway”. The next day we became Marines. I would never see Staff Sgt S. Vigliotte again. Hardly a day passes where I don’t think about the Staff Sgt. who must have trained a few thousand Marines in his day. All 3 of those D.I,s became a part of me for the rest of my life. And So it was. Over a half of a Century ago.

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19-Mar-69 : Phu-Loc (6)

Most,if not all of you,have dates that you remember while in” The Corps”.I have a few. 10-Oct-67.first day at P.I. 9-Aug-70,the day I left “The Corps”,4-Apr-68,the day I arrived in Vietnam.22-Apr-69,the day I left Vietnam. 1-June-68, the day I was WIA while helping to repair a bridge near Hill-10. 22-Sept-68,the day I lost my best friend in a vehicle accident on the way to Hoi-An to fix another blown bridge.Then there is this one.The anniversary is soon approaching.19-Mar-69 During most of my tour I was assigned to help operate and maintain the ferry at the Liberty Bridge crossing the Song-tu-Bon.When I first arrived at “The Bridge” we slept in tent covered bridge trailers under the bridge like trolls.Later we make a hooch on top of the “Old Bridge” We made it out of the boxes that the arty or mortor rounds came. Our next move was to the compound a couple hundred yards back towards Dai-loc.Just after midnight on the 19th we got hit with rocket,mortor and some small arm fire We were to stay on alert all night Around 0200 the c0mpound on the other side of the river at Phu-Loc(6) was attacked by VC and NVA zappers that used the attack on our base as a diversion so they could position themselves for the attack on the arty battery,that is the theory anyway.The attack lasted about 3 or 4 hours and though we were only less than a clik away there was no way to cross the river without becoming open targets. The grunts at our compound wanted to go really bad but,we were all ordered to stand down and stay in position 11 Marines and 1 Corpsman were KIA (Navy Corpsman David Ray received a postumous Medal Of Honor for actions during the fight.) Nearly 30 other Marines were wounded.There were 70 some confirmed enemy dead,probably more.One of the dead vc was a kid from Dai-Loc that picked up our laundry and had it cleaned at his village.We were told that he had diagrams on him of our compound and that of Phu-Loc (6) We had no clue, he had everyone fooled.He had all the proper papers! go figure! We ferried him across the river many times.I lost a buddy that night Gunny “Smiley” Keefe.the mess sgt at Liberty Bridge and Phu-Loc (6) Before he set up the mess at Phu-Loc(6) he would make at least 2 trips across the river everyday with his “Mule” and take hot chow to the Marines on the hill.The last I saw or spoke to him was a day or two before the attack.He said he was having a problem with one of the new stoves and ask to borrow some tools.It is said that he died defending his men and the mess tent ( He received a postumous Silver Star) I will never forget that smiling face.If anyone else knew the Gunny please post a comment. Harry

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Marrie and Scott

Back in 79 I went to fort lost in the woods MO. I fell off n love with Marie Kirkland. After my training I was to give to cailf so was Marie.But my orders where change at the last minute,and I was headed to camp Lejune. I flew back to see her before she left to Cailf.It was a crazy weekend we had even to this day it was the happiest I’ve ever been. If never got to see her again. A day doesn’t go by that point don’t think about her. I heard she married. As for me I have a son my wife passed away in 2001 I took up bull riding l know at my age. Yet i was a marine And still to this day I ride. My last ride will be in vagas 2019 That one day is for you Marie Kirkland. blueford. Be@gmail.com

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In the wrong place!

> It must of been in the late spring because it was “TOO HOT” by morning. The Platoon Lt. called a squad and myself to accompanied him to investigate an incident between two Marine Companies. Apparently, a squad had been sent out to set up an ambush on a village for the first part of their mission and then move down to and across the river in order to set up another ambush next to the river. The second squad from a different company was ordered to set up outside the village and attack the VC/NVA as they left the area next the day. Intelligence had assured them that the village was a “hot bed” (you might say) of VC/NVA activity.
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> Well, everything went according to plan with the squad on the ambush setting up after dark and in the right place. However, unknown to them, the squad that was sent to attack the village at sunrise was to be in place by midnight. Honestly, no one understood why this squad was required to be there that long before the attack. The Intelligence Unit was not forthcoming with their thoughts on the matter (go figure–right?). Now comes the part where this well thought out plan takes a turn, the ambush squad moves out like they were told to; however, when they got to the river the Squad Leader in charge of these men decided that the river was running too fast and deep (it rains in VietNam—a lot!). So in accordance with S.O.P., they connect the Radio Operator on watch at Bn. back in An Hoa to let him know of their situation and the necessary change that was going to be made to their orders. They let it be known that this squad would be returning to the village where they had set up their first ambush and settled in for the rest of the night. It’s now midnight, the attack squad leaves their lines and process to their jump off point for their mission. Wait! Why didn’t the Bn. Radio Operator tell them of the presents of the other squad of Marines? Well, apparently he was a sleep on his watch! Actually, he did fell to sleep on his watch.
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> The next morning comes and the ambush squad is gathering their things to make ready to move out for their company position. The attack squad sees this action and getting excited about their luck at catching so many VC/NVA off guard. Some would think that maybe Intelligence got it right this time. We were never able to clearly find out about who fired the first shot but it was fired and “all hell breaks lose” between these two squads of Marines. It was a very intense firefight for a few minutes. When the Squad Leader called-up the 3.5 rocket—I was never sure why this unit would have brought a long something like that. My guess was that it was sent to them for this attack and the squad was reinforced with exera men—so why not fire it off and get rid of those rounds as fast as possible (you might have guess—I’m grunt). The rounds are too heavy to hump back to the company. Anyways, the ambush squad heard this order and figured that the only people who would use this fire power in a firefight would be other Marines. This is what saved this squad from some serious injuries. They were able to identify themselves to the other squad and put a stop to this fight.
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> The finding of this investigation was that the Bn Radio Operator failed to make note of the changes during his watch and neither of the squads were found at fault for what had happen. The problem is that this was not the only incident that occurred to my company. It has always amazed me how just one person in the chain not doing their job can put so many at risk. I have from time to time stop to think about how many situations or incidents Marines find themselves dealing with without other Americans knowing anything about it. The Navy Seals must have a pretty good P.R. person working for them—I guess.
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> As always, this is a true story—“Sh– you not”!
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> May peace be with you. Semper Fi

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3rd battalion 9th marines Okinawa 63-64

I was a battalion surgeon with H&S Co. 3rd Battalion 9th Marines stationed in Okinawa at Camp Hansen, 1963-64. We were the first marines to go to Vietnam. Shortly after the Tonkin Gulf episode we were put aboard troop ships and sailed to DaNang Harbor, in July 1964. We were there for one month before our tour ended and our replacements arrived. Then we rotated back to the states. I have searched in vain for any military site which acknowledges the existence of the 3rd marine division’s 3/9 . No logos, no patches, no pins, no mention except on wikipedia. I purchased a 1963-64 “year book” of 3/9 on Ebay several years ago, so I have proof we existed. So, why can’t I find any memorabilia of my old unit ???

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Marine Corps Mustang Association 2018 Reunion and Muster

Reunion Notice

Marine Corps Mustang Association (MCMA), 32nd Reunion and Muster, August 08-12, 2018. Menger Hotel, San Antonio, TX. Contact: Lt Col Richard J. Sullivan, USMC (Ret.) (508) 954-2262, sul824@verizon.net. Detailed reunion event information can be found at the MCMA Website, marinecorpsmustang.org.

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Amazing sights and sounds of war

March 28, 1970, Golf Co., 2/5 was on a difficult hump through the rice paddies back to An Hoa Base for three days of rest and showers. This time of year in Viet Nam the heat is “awful damn hot” and grunts were starting to feel the stress from the heat and mud and smell of the water in the rice paddies. We had been moving for a couple of hours when Cpt. Darling stop the company. In front of us was this large green mountain and word started being pass along to watch that beast. We stood there in that water for few minutes when suddenly the side of that mountain blew up. My friends, have you ever witness a B-52 air strike? The mountain was a deep green one second and then a massive cloud of dirt thrown into the air and when everything settled back down—nothing! Just one very large spot of rock was all that was left. We hear the explosion what seem like five minutes later. The word was pass through the radio that the air strike had been called on a VC/NVA rest and relaxation camp. Man! Their rest and relaxation was going to be long time. There was no need for a burial detail for anyone. I tell ya, that sight gave us something else to think about for the rest of that hump.

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