Lance Corporal Michael A. Baronowski

I joined the Marine Corps in June of 1965 and graduated from Platoon # 342, 3rd Battalion in September of that year. After Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Geiger, I was on my way home for leave, looking forward to seeing my girl and old friends. I didn’t realize that the recruiter in my hometown of Norristown Pennsylvania, had been reporting my progress to several high school classmates that had expressed interest in joining the Corps. Attending a high school dance with the girl I was dating at the time, I ran into one of them Michael Baronowski, or Mike as I had known him since the 6th grade, already knew about my prowess on the rifle range and that I had been promoted meritoriously at graduation, but he wanted to know more. We talked briefly about the Corps and I shared my experiences with him and told him what I thought. He thanked me and we shook hands and went our separate ways. Fast forward to the summer of 1966. I was walking thru Dogpatch on my way back from the Hill 327 PX outside of Danang to the Marine Base at Marble Mountain. It was a tropical hot, dusty afternoon and I was doing my best to keep out of the way of the never-ending stream of military traffic that was passing within an arm’s length as I made my way along the narrow shoulder between the gravel edge and the hooches clustered along the right of way. Suddenly, I became aware of a vehicle coming up fast behind me and sliding on the gravel as the driver braked hard, stopping a few feet from where I stood. At first, I could only make out the driver’s goggles as he sat there, the dust settling around us. Then I saw that big, wide smile and I knew it was Mike. How he ever recognized me from behind on that dusty, crowded street, thousands of miles from home, I’ll never know. But there he was. I jumped in and we pulled back into the never ending line of military traffic and headed for the gate at Marble Mountain. On the way, we talked about everything and laughed and joked. I commented on the dusty condition of his M-14 which lay bouncing between the seats. He jokingly told me he didn’t use it. Then reached under his seat and pulled out an open box of M-26 frag grenades. That was Mike, always making fun of every situation. When we arrived at the gate, I asked him to stay for chow, but he had to get back to his outfit that was out by the river south of Marble Mountain. We agreed that I would try to get out to his unit the next off duty time I had and we parted. A week later I was hitchhiking down the road past the Marble Mountain and ran into a Marine roadblock. An armor company was performing a search and destroy and I watched the tanks tearing around back and forth across the road for a half hour or so before heading back to MAG 16. The next opportunity to catch up to Mike didn’t come for a few weeks and I doubted his outfit would still be there, but I was preparing to give it a shot when I came back to my hooch and found the mail man had left several of my hometown Newspapers on my bunk. They were always out of date, but news from home was always welcome, so I began to unwrap each one. The last one had Mike’s picture on the front page. He’d been killed in action. I always wanted to go to Mike’s family and tell them about our last meeting, but I never did. I did find out that National Public Radio had done a program about Mike in their “All Things Considered” format, titled “Lost & Found Sound”. I have the disc which is titled, “National Public Radio’s Broadcast Of The Vietnam Tapes of Lance Corporal Michael A. Baronowski”.. Mike’s picture is on the cover with that same grin I saw so many years ago on a dusty road in place so far away.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below orĀ Submit your own Story !

7 thoughts on “Lance Corporal Michael A. Baronowski”

  1. I have a similar story about my last contact with a good friend in June 1967. I was with S-2 HQ CO, 1 st Marines and he was in a grunt unit with 5th Marines. Both TAOR’s were adjacent south of Danang, below marble Mountain. He was KIA shortly after we spent some time and beers together. I posted our contact under his name on the Viet Nam Wall memorial so his loved ones could see. You might want to try it. Semper Fi

  2. Reminded me of a thing that happened to me over there. No one got killed I am happy to say. I was stationed Stationed at Camp Lejeune and lived in Geiger trailer park. My best friend Ralf Palmer lived there also. We were PFC’s with out a pot to piss in. I volunteered for Vietnam went to 3rd Marine division 12th Marines. When they were pulling out I extended was sent to 2/11 An Hoa. While in Da Nang I ran into John Nutter a friend from Lejeune he told me Ralf was at An Hoa maybe I would run into him.Then unknown to me John got in touch with Ralf. Went by convoy to An Hoa got checked in. Later that night I came back to my hoch and there were 2 mattresses on my cot. The guys in the hoch said some guys came in and asked where was Cpl. Sissons cot. They took the air mattress off deflated it and put the 2 mattress on then told them where I could find them.Next time I was free I hooked up with Ralf. We stayed in touch almost every week till he rotated. Great guy just wish I could locate him. He got an early out I went to 29 palms. We stayed in contact for a while but soon stopped.

  3. Mike went from driver to 1st platoon, India Co. 3/3. I knew him by sight as I was in “guns” and he was a rifleman. Heck of a great guy, never a bad word about any other Marine. I have the “uncut” version of the tapes used on the radio. He was a funny guy, not political correct by today’s standards but funny. He was shot by a sniper as Tim Duffie stated on the radio show. Operation Prairie, Nov 66. We lost two more the next day, one FNG we called the “kid” and another friend of mine who was trying to pull the kid to safety. I still think of them everyday.

  4. It is not too late to reach out to his family. I was a 0311/radio operator for Mike 3/1 CUPP in 1970. On August 3rd our sguad leader and first fire team leader were both killed by a bouncing betty. We were very close and there deaths haunted me and still do. About 4 years ago I was on the VVMF site. I saw and email address by one of their names. I reached out and contacted them. Last October my wife and I went to Chicago and spent a weekend with them. Still haunts me but what a difference. Reach out my man you won’t regret it.

  5. It seems like yesterday but it was so long ago that at such a young age we all lost goods friends; Good Marines in a far away place. I still remember Mike. We were sitting in a coffee shop at NAS Memphis just talking. The Beatles Penny Lane was playing on a juke box. He went to choppers; Me to fixed wing. In 1968 we were both in NAM. We corresponded in country by letter. I told him to keep his ass down because he was jumping out pulling in wounded Marines. On November 3rd 1968 (my birthday) I got the Stars and Stripes and found his obituary. His chopper went into a mountain in bad weather. I never knew his family. He left a wife and daughter. He was 19; I was 20. I think of him often. Semper Fi All.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *