Three Days

The C-130 flight from Okinawa to DaNang took seven hours. I had been in Okinawa at Camp Hanson for three days, getting shots for exotic sounding diseases. The plague, diphtheria, yellow fever, and a host of others, they were all strange to me, a 19-year-old kid from New Jersey. Frenchie, Ron, and I had drinks at the EM club the first night at Camp Hanson, since we weren’t allowed to go on Liberty into Kim Village, which was right outside the camp gates. We assumed it was because we were in transit and they didn’t want to lose track of us, or they were afraid we wouldn’t come back. So the second night at the club we met a guy who knew where there was a hole in the fence. He took me, and my friend, Frenchie, to find it and go into Kim Village from the back. On Liberty you were supposed to be in UDs (uniform of the day).

Getting a Liberty pass wouldn’t work either, because we did not have the uniform. We never did find that hole in the fence so we went over the top of it. The three of us walked through a couple of gardens and around some houses until we found a road that looked like it was going in the right direction. I remember dogs barking, but no one came out to investigate. I guess they were used to guys jumping the fence to go into town. I’m sure we weren’t the first to think of it. We wanted to have some fun before they shipped us south to Vietnam. As we approached the town from the rear we were forced to hide in alleys and doorways whenever we saw an MP vehicle turn up the street towards us. One of these times we jumped into a recessed doorway and just knew we were going to get caught. We tried the door and it was open. We all spilled inside and turned to see Mama-san and 2 Nay-sans sitting cross-legged at their dinner table, eating what I assumed was their supper. I felt like a burglar who had just been caught red-handed, standing in the foyer of their modest home. Apparently, I was the only one who felt that way. The Corporal who brought us there had told us to stay put while he went outside and reconnoitered the area to see where the MPs had gone. I never did see him again, but we found out later that he went down the street and got caught from behind, while looking the other way.

The next day we boarded the same C-130. They gave us a box lunch when we got onboard for our 7-hour flight. A very noisy flight I might add. I woke up as the plane descended toward the airfield at Da Nang, my new home.

It was November 12, 1967 and it was hot!
Strange smells assaulted my senses as they lowered the ramp in the rear of the C-130. The smells were a cross between a garden greenhouse and a ripe garbage dump; nice mixture of accelerated life and death. Not actually a conscience thought, just a deep feeling you got inside. It was a sense of something totally foreign, outside any past experience.
We were herded to a low building on the edge of the field where we were assigned to different units and told to wait (that made me feel at home) for the deuce and a half to take us to our new units. I only had to wait about 45 minutes for my truck. Which I thought was real efficient for the Marine Corps I was used to. There were 12 of us in the back of the truck heading out for the 1st regiment rear area that I estimated to be about 12 miles west of Da Nang.

The ride out was pretty quiet. Eight FNGs (f****ng new guys) not wanting to show how dumb they were by opening their mouths, and four guys who were coming back from R&R or emergency leave. The four of them talked quietly amongst themselves and looked at the rest of us with eyes that knew too much to match the age of their bodies. Two of the guys back from R&R opened their sea bags and pulled out handguns, one was a military .45 and the other a nickel-plated .32 caliber pistol. There was also a guy, riding shotgun, with an M-16 stuck out the window. I started to get the impression that it wasn’t as peaceful in the villages as it looked on the surface. My rubbernecking activities took on a slightly lower profile. At first I couldn’t figure out why the bed of the truck had a layer of sandbags in it. But then it dawned on me that it was to protect us from shrapnel if the truck hit a land mine. Reality was starting to knock on the door of my consciousness.

We reached the regimental rear without incident, and from there I was assigned to a battalion, which was about 100 yards away from Regional Headquarters. In turn, they sent me to Charlie Co, 3rd platoon. It was late afternoon when I finally met my new team leader, Jack. He took me aside and we had about a fifteen minute conversation on where I was from, where I went to boot camp, how well I knew the M-60 machine gun and generally a ‘getting to know you.’ Quickly sizing up one another was important, a requirement in any war. He also gave his own shortened life history. He said I would have a ten-day orientation at battalion rear before I would be allowed to go on patrols into “The Bush”. I was relieved to hear this, because I figured I could learn enough in ten days to at least feel semi-comfortable when I finally got sent out in to the jungle. After our conversation, I went to get issued my 782 gear: military camping equipment. I was also issued my M-16 rifle. The rest of the day was spent getting my gear straightened out, while sitting on my rack, listening to conversations in the 20 man tent and meeting other guys coming off perimeter watch or back from daylight patrols. It had been a long day so I went to sleep early.

The next day I went to the captain’s hooch to meet him, and to make sure my orders checked out, and I was who I said I was. Mostly routine office stuff: shot card check and settling in to my new unit. That afternoon I had indoctrination on the Vietnamese people, and what our mission goals were. It all sounded real good. After chow that night I heard that they were showing a movie. I headed over there shortly after dark where the movie had just started. There was about an 8’ X 10’ screen with about a dozen benches about 30’ long with an aisle down the center. There were three or four guys sitting at the ends of almost every bench. At first I thought that nobody sat in the center because the projector would be blocked, but when I looked, I saw that that was not the case. Not able to figure out why, I just decided to sit in the middle and not worry about it. About half to three quarters of the way through the movie we started taking incoming mortar rounds about 200 yards away. As we ran for the bunkers I realized why no one sat in the middle, It was the furthest from Half to three quarters of the way through the movie we started taking incoming mortar rounds about 200 yds. Away. As we ran for the bunkers I realized the bunkers and the benches slow you down. I didn’t make that mistake again, and I always smiled when I saw a new guy sit in the middle, another way to pick out a FNG. I didn’t go back to the movie that first night I just went to my cot and started thinking about what the hell I was doing over there. There was still no sense of any immediate threat to me personally. I wondered if those earlier mortars had hit anybody. There had been no yelling or mass confusion afterwards like I expected, just a silent wait, then back to whatever it was you were doing when it started. It was a very nonchalant attitude, no big deal, just a routine day. I finally fell asleep.

On the third day Jack told me my ten-day orientation period was over, I should get my gear together for a five-day platoon size patrol. I would be carrying the M-60, and I should turn in my M-16 and get the .45 caliber pistol from the gunner. Butterflies were starting to dance in my stomach. The platoon started out through the maze in the barbed/concertina wire surrounding the base around noon and headed northwest from the base. We walked until about 5:00 in the afternoon without incident. My stomach had settled down to just a small knot of excitement at this point. We started to take some sniper fire off to our right and Jack told me to set up the gun and cover the tree line where the sniper fire was coming from. Meanwhile a 4-man fire team would try to flush them out. They came back about 30 minutes. Later saying the sniper had “Dedee maud” (took off, grabbed his hat, split, gone) we then started to set up our perimeter for the night. Just around the time I had finished digging my foxhole Jack came over and told me our squad would be going on a patrol that night at 10:00pm so I should get some sack time as quick as I could. I made sure all my shit was secure then ate some c-rats. Not bad I said to myself. I rolled up in my poncho liner and got some ZZs. Jack woke me about a quarter to ten and told me to get my gear together for the patrol, he also asked me if I thought I could handle the gun this soon after coming in country, I told him I didn’t think I would have any problems (I was a “Marine” after all). I was positioned behind Jack and we were about three quarters of the way back in the squad line. Two fire teams, the squad leader, and the radioman ahead of us, the two of us, and then another fire team behind us. I was feeling really good about carrying the M-60 my first time into the bush, I felt it gave me a certain status, and I was determined to do a good job, and not let anyone down. We walked for about two hours, through a couple of small villages stopping periodically while the point man checked out the trail ahead of us. The third village we came in to word was sent back to hold up, and the team leaders were called forward to the squad leader. I set the gun down covering the right side of the trail that was more open then the left, with a rice paddy about thirty yards wide with a tree line on the far side. Fifteen minutes later Jack came back and told me that they had found a gook preaching Viet-Cong propaganda to the villagers. Jack said the gook was wearing civilian clothes and claimed to be a cousin of one of the villagers. His papers said he was from a village several miles away. The squad leader, and team leaders came to the conclusion that he was a Viet-Cong agent and we were going to take him back with us. They told the gook to put on the black silk pajamas they gave him (where they came from I don’t know). He was then made to walk point, the reasoning for that being if he was a VC he would know where all the booby traps were located and not lead us through them (I know there are some holes in that logic, but that was the story, at the time it seemed to make sense, I was just a FNG on my first patrol after three days in country). We walked for about another two hours before again getting the word to halt, and for the team leaders to join the squad leader, again. When jack came back he said they were going to turn the VC loose and for me to set the gun up to cover the rice paddy to the right of the trail. I asked him why we were turning the VC loose. Jack said we weren’t really going to let him go we were just telling him that and when he got about thirty feet into the rice paddy we would “waste” him. Jack said if we brought him back to the rear he would just be questioned and then turned loose. He would probably be setting booby traps, and preaching more propaganda to the villagers. He said they had seen it happen before and figured they could save a few Marine lives if we took him out ourselves. I figured he and the squad leader knew what they were doing, right? I had a feeling this was not the way it was supposed to be handled, but I wasn’t about to question my team, and squad leader my first time in the bush. Jack then told me the M-60 would be the signal for everyone else in the squad to open up on the VC, he asked me if I thought I was able to open up on the VC first or did I want him to do it. I didn’t answer right away as my brain kicked into an adrenaline high gear I wasn’t aware I had. Was this a test? I had a strong suspicion it was. Jack said if I didn’t think I could handle it, he would do it, and said he knew he was putting a lot on me but if I didn’t want to do it he would understand. At any rate he continued, I would have about fifteen or twenty minutes to think about it while everything was set up and ready to go. He walked away and my mind was still racing. If it was a test would anybody trust me if I didn’t come through? I had twelve months and twenty-seven days till the end of my tour, if I made it at all. Was this a common practice amongst the Marine patrols? I didn’t think (or hope) so. I did a lot of thinking in that short fifteen minutes. I felt sorry for the “VC” cause he was going to die no matter what I did. I didn’t know for sure but I thought he might just have been grabbed out of a hooch because he was about the right age to be a VC. I never saw him up close but he looked to be about forty if I had to guess. If it was a test they wanted to see if I could pull the trigger, if I did, I would be trusted, one of the guys they could rely on if the shit hit the rotary impeller, a member of the club. If I didn’t, well, nobody would trust me. They’re would always be a doubt in their minds as to weather I could hold up my end or not. Besides, the gook was as good as dead anyway. These are the thoughts that kept chasing through my brain as the seconds ticked away. I did think that this whole thing seemed kind of elaborate just to see if the FNG would be reliable if things got hot. It would also keep me from saying anything about it later if I was the one to fire first. All in all it seemed like the best thing to do to insure my future with these guys. War is hell, more so for some then others. When Jack came back I told him that I would be the one firing the M-60, I also didn’t like the thought idea of him firing the gun after I had been humping it all night. If anyone were going to fire it, it would be me, for a lot of reasons. He smiled and said he was glad I had made that decision. I gave him a half smile back, as I thought, you bastard. He told me to get set because they would be sending him out pretty soon. I got set and waited. Jack would be my A-gunner feeding the ammo. I saw them untie his hands and tell him to start walking across the paddy, he hesitated and took a few steps, and he turned and said something in a pleading tone. They told him to walk; the poor bastard knew what was coming. He took a few more steps, turned again, looked like he was going to say something, changed his mind, turned back and slowly walked into the paddy. I pulled the trigger when he got about thirty feet out. The gun bucked into my shoulder as I followed him in the sight. I guess I gave him about a twenty round burst as I followed him down to the ground. I heard a few rifle shots as I stopped firing so I knew they had fired too, after I did. I hope he died quick, I thought, feeling an adrenaline rush in my body, and numbness in my brain. I had just killed somebody. I didn’t have a choice I told myself, not really believing it. Jack jumped up and ran out to where the body along with a few others. I sat back on my helmet and lit a cigarette trying not to think too much. I had just killed a guy they pulled out of a village to prove to them that I was reliable. I hardly knew these guys, other then that they were US Marines. That peer approval must have been pretty important to me, or that the survival instinct works on many levels. Jack came back a couple of minutes later and said everybody was impressed with my expertise with the gun, I caught him in the head first and went right down the middle of his body. He died real quick. Jack asked if I wanted to go look at the body, I declined, and he didn’t push it. I think he suspected I wasn’t feeling real proud at the moment and would rather be left alone for a while, he obliged. The LT called up on the radio to find out what all the shooting was about and was told about the suspected VC that we were bringing back who had tried to escape, so we had to shoot him. The LT told the squad leader to bring the body back with him. A bamboo pole about seven feet long was cut and the body was put on a poncho and tied to the pole. Two guys carried it; we looked like the natives coming back from a successful hunting trip, carrying our trophy, slung under the pole. Somebody else died on that patrol, a nineteen-year-old kid from New Jersey. I had just gotten my first lesson on survival in Viet Nam. It was a lesson I never forgot.

-Brian Emerson

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41 thoughts on “Three Days”

  1. I find this story hard to believe, having served in the Marine Corps (64-74) completed two tours in country myself 65-66 A co (wpns plt) 1st Bn 4th Mar and 69-70 FLC (trk co). Sounds like a “Sea Story” to me…

  2. We all remember incidents of our arrival in Camp Hansen, our flight to Nam, Transit at Danang, but why do we leave the assignment of Div, Regt, Bn, out, yet we note the Co and Plt., as most of us Career Marines know that there are websites for any unit serving in Nam with Chronlogical reporting of events. Not pointing fingers nor calling Marines liars but please state complete unit thus maybe we can make contact with those we lost touchwith cause our minds are not as sharp anymore but we can remember our unit and maybe the name of our fellow Marine warrior from the bush, I sure did back in August 2010. IndiaCo, 3/26 3rd MarDiv. Semper Fi

  3. Why can’t it be factual ? As an 0311 grunt, having about a week in country, I had a similar experence while being taught to be a point. Grunts have unrealistic stories to tell of horrible happenings. It’s what we were taught to do. We get over it.

  4. I flew in and out of Okinawa going to and from” The Nam” between Nov of 66 and July of 68. never flew C-130. Always commercial . Just saying. Semper Fi. Ammo tech 3/7

    1. I flew from Okinawa to Nam in November 1966 on board a C-130. In April I went back to Okinawa by ship with a BLT (Battalion Landing Team). We had our gear surveyed and our weapons inspected and repairs were made if needed. We were told that after Okinawa we would go on a float and be used to hit “hot spots” when needed. All that planning went sour when about 30 days later things broke loose along the DMZ and the entire BLT was flown back to Nam aboard C-130s. Semper Fi, “A” Co., 3rd Shore Party Bn, 3rd Marine Division.

  5. I too was at Camp Hansen before shipping out to VN Nov. 66. I spent 10 days there in August 67 after VN waiting for a flight out, and out of the Corps. I was, for one month, Cpl. of the Guard, Base MP’s at Hansen-Oct/Nov 1966, best duty I ever had. I never did meet the OIC, there was a Sgt. that was around but in reality nearly everything fell upon me. I was also the only one with Marine Corps DL. Every MP at Hansen knew where the “hole in the fence” was and didn’t care. Kim Village was great, loved it and the ladies. I never saw a Marine in Kim Village in uniform, never and I was there in Aug. 67. We never wore uniforms off duty. Never saw Island SP/MP’s patrolling but a couple of times, they were low key but I’m sure were around.

  6. Sgt. Grit has EVERYTHING! Now a confession to murder. Sorry Mr. Emerson, but you should be ashamed and you damned sure should be prosecuted if the story is true. Disgusting.

  7. I was at. DaNang air base from Dec 67 to Jan 69 and I only remember commmerical flights for incoming and leaving for going home. Story hard to belive and if true I would sure not be proud of it or be talking about it.

  8. I flew into Dana MG on A C130 in Aug.66, when I left in 67 it was on a commercial aircraft straight to Frisco. I can not imagine an young adults admitting to cold blooded murder. I was combat camera, went to where ever there was action expected or going on, went on lots of patrols, saw a lot of “suspected” VCC interrogated, and taken back as prisoners. Never saw nor heard of anyone executed.

  9. When I was at Hansen in 65 all enlisted E3 and below had to wear UOD. Only E4s and above could wear civilian clothes and no one wore utilities on liberty.

  10. I thank God that I never had to go there. When I was getting out of the Corps, in 1958 We had three Sgt’s tell us they had volunteered for duty in Vietnan, as insructors but only that, They said it was promotion and a chance to see new things. I told them I was not that anxious to try new things, after what I got in Japan. Monsoons ,Snow cold, sleeping in the damn volcaniac ash, and bugs. I will finish out my term in Calif. little did I know how my term would end. nother story. dapperdan.

  11. I was with 1/3 at Camp Schwab and we wore civilian cloths when we pulled liberty in Henoko Village. Don’t believe we could wear uniforms.

  12. I flew into Da Nang from Oki knok knok in a C-130 [ VMF 252 ] on Dec 7 1966 and flew out on a Pan AM jet on Dec 31 1967. We were allowed liberty in Kozo [? ] in civies only. The rest of the story is a bit suspect to me. I never heard of anything like it while in country.

  13. I’m calling bullshit on this “story”. It’s K-I-N village. Served in ThirdMarDiv (Okinawa, Japan, Philippines) ’63-’64; and RVN ’66-’67; ’68-’69. Yeah, liberty was in civvies. If you pulled this stunt (and I don’t think it happened) you brought shame to us who served honorably.

  14. Flew commercial from San Francisco to Seattle on Western Airlines and commercial from Settle to Tokyo on Northwest Orient. Don’t remember how we got from Tokyo to Okinawa. Three days there and flew from Okinawa to Da Nang in a C-130. I remember sitting in those sling seats down the side of the plane, thinking “Hey! We’re going to land in a war zone and no-one has a weapon much less a round of ammunition”. Landed in Da Nang on 31 August 1965 and received hazardous duty pay for the entire month of August. Flew commercial out of Da Nang to Okinawa on 22 August 1966 (it was a Monday) on the most beautiful baby shit gold Branniff Airlines plane I had ever seen. Upon landing on Okinawa, we stood on a basketball court behind a barracks until around midnight while our gear was inspected for contraband (weapons, ammunition, porno, etc). Stayed on Okinawa until Friday. We took off at noon (don’t remember the airline) and landed on Hawaii (Honolulu Oahu I think) to refuel. Everyone piled off the plane and headed for the airports snack bar. My target was a glass of real milk. Umm umm good. We reboarded and took off about an hour later. Landed at 1000, at MCAS El Toro two hours before we left Okinawa. Isn’t that International Date Line something? Two weeks to the day for out processing, along with a couple other guys we rode out the gate in a taxi, headed for LAX. All of us permanent PFCs.

  15. Flying Tigers from SF to Oki, with a short (30 min.?) layover in Tokyo at night: refueled and changed Stewardesses– never deplaned. To this day, if someone asks me what Tokyo was like, I tell ’em, “Dark!” Coming home it was Continental Airlines from Danang to Oki…then three days later, Oki to SF– don’t remember via what carrier. (Danang: 02May66 – 26May67; arrived SF 29May67.)

  16. Aug. 1966——Train to P.I.——–Bus to Stone Bay———–Train back to Philly———–Plane to Calf.———–C-130 to Hawaii than to Oki. than to Da nang————Coming out———— Commercial all the way back to Philly with a stop in Calf. El Toro a bus to La. airport —————–Then home sweet home———–I was a 4.2 mortar man with W 1/11 67-68

    1. Sorry, Charlie!! Distance from Honolulu to Okinawa is about 4,700 miles; C-130 range is about 2000-2300 miles. I think you must have flown a different type plane, or had a good swim. Once on leave I hopped a C-130 from El Toro CA via Anchorage AK, Yokota AFB Japan to MCAF Futema Okinawa. It was somewhere around 20 hours flight time, and I was still shaking a week later back on “The Rock.” After that I always respected C-130 air crew and wondered why they didn’t shake all the time.

  17. Newark NJ to PI by train. Bus to Camp Geiger.Leave to NJ. Plane to San Diego to Camp Pendleton. El Toro to Hawaii for refuel and on to Camp Hansen. Plane onto Da Nang. C130 to Quang Tri. 2/9 by six by to LZ Stud. Medivaced by C141 to Yokosuka Japan. Rehab at Camp Courtney and then Camp Schwab to rejoin company. Echo 2/9. Liberty at Heneco, Kin Ville or Koza civilian clothes. SPs in uniform. There was a place called 5 points where the Brothers went on Liberty. I once asked one of my Black Brothers to take me there? No way he told me. A Chuck as he called us white guys was too dangerous. I can’t protect you there. I liked Koza the most. Wild as it was! I was quite lucky. Disabled as I am P&T. Still alive and always proud to have been a Marine. Semper Fi.

  18. Now that’s more like it, guess my 10.23.16 1421 comment struck the aging brain housing group. Sgt. Grit”s newsletter brings us all together whether by stories we remember or things we don’t want to repeat or just want to forget, yet we share with our Marine Brothers. One thing for sure we all looked out the “Freedom Bird” and remembered that many of our fellow Marine Warriors came home on the “Angel Flight”, we all knew one of them, I sure do eighteen of them on one day. We all are here today and proud of being Marines Brother! Keep writing its good for you. Semper Fi!

  19. I believe each and every word of this article for you see I am very proud of my brother who served with pride and until now we are just learning what Brian has kept inside all these years. For those of you that find this fishy or made up, for Gods sake why would anyone make up a monster of this magnitude??? My brother is an educated man, family man, many friends and family who all know he can be trusted with our lives if needed so before you speak ill of Brian maybe try reading the article again and pretend you are 19 years old and in THAT situation yourself. 19 y e a r s o l d ……. enough said.

  20. To Ram Two: Maybe it was a typo, but you were a stickler for inaccuracies in completing Div, Regt, and Bn, yet you identified your unit as India Co, 3/26, 3rd Mardiv. 3/26 was 5th MarDiv, not 3rd.

    1. During WWII 26th Marines was part of the 5th MarDiv because the entire division was active. After WWII 26th Marines, along with 5th MarDiv were deactivated. In 1966 26th Marines was once again activated and made part of 3d MarDiv/III MAF in Vietnam. In Jun ’66 26th Marines relieved 3d Marines in providing security for the air field at DaNang and other duties. I was with H&S 2/26 at that time. Semper Fi!

  21. Well, Ms. Smyth, I understand your love for your brother. That doesn’t excuse his alleged conduct for a second. After a long career in law enforcement I can assure you that I have arrested a few young men for homicide and seen them and many others off to long prison sentences. There is no statute of limitations for murder, or for war crimes for that matter. Yeah, his judgment may have been faulty at age 19, but that doesn’t excuse a horrific criminal act. Don’t be surprised if federal agents show up at his door. This is a very sad situation in many respects.

  22. I also find this story hard to believe. As a Marine in 1/9 in January of 67 we made a landing in the delta on an operation called ‘Dechkhouse’. I forget which one. I heard later that there 5 or 6 of them. It was just two days after a typhoon had gone through the area so the paddy waters were high. There was also a lot of sick Marine’s on the U.S Iwo Jima (2). On the second day it was very hot and muggy and I was miserable. I was thirsty as hell but my squad leader kept telling us to go easy on our water. On the 2nd day we started getting sniped at. Every time we would mover, another shot. No one was hit but I was hot, thirst and miserable. Finally, out of a tree line comes an old Vietnamese as old as God with a rifle over his head surrendering. I decided I was going to shoot the asshole for contributing to my misery. We were all laying down aiming at him and I said out loud,’ I’m gonna kill that sob’. I heard a voice cal my name and say, ‘if you shoot that man I will blow your head off’. I looked into a m_14 barrel as big as a 105..He said words that changed my life. He said,’ Marines don’t do that’. He stopped me from being a murderer. Semper Fi…

  23. Boarded USS Okanogan and in Jun’65, we landed in RVN. Returned to RVN in 1968-69 as a dog handler and again 1969-70 as NVOIC with 1st MarDiv G-2. This story comes across as a writing exercise from a wannabe. The detail of meeting with chain of command, thr details, drama of the murdered Dink; all stuff taught in writing courses. His story suggests that all the Marines on the patrol were accomplices to his crime…I don’t think so. Seems like BS. Semper Fi

  24. I guess it’s just not me . More than one thing set off my BS alarm.Just me but I never heard a Marine call a 6×6 a “deuce and half” I was not a “grunt” and did not see a lot of action but, I have met and talked with a lot that did.Something does not smell right. I do agree everyone has there own version of an event ,and we should all give a little benefit of the doubt.Sometimes people get a little carried away with their story and even forget what the story was actually to be about.TMI is usually a red flag for me.Can anyone tell me what year that photo might have been taken? The aircraft look early ’60,s. Am I right or wrong?

  25. I’m so happy to see such skepticism from so many people about this recollection. I was alerted by the first sentence which indicated a seven hour C-130 flight from Okinawa to DaNang. During 2 1/2 tours in the Nam between ’66 and ’70 I made that C-130 flight several times and it never took more than 5 hours, except once when we had to drop off some stuff at Clark AFB Philippines. Then the holes in the story just got bigger and bigger. I almost quit reading it because my BS alarm was screaming so loud. That patrol had to be made up of between 10-20 Marines, all trying to survive, and lead by either a Sergeant or “damn good Corporal.” Does anyone really believe that that many people could be culpable in the act of murder without speaking up. I know there were a lot of incidents that did not follow the Geneva Convention rules, such as My Lai, but they were certainly not the norm and always prosecuted if and when found out. I’ll never understand why stolen-valor perpetrators, or even true veterans, feel that they have to embellish their participation in combat. I worked the VA when I first retired from the Corps, part of the time as an intake interviewer. I was always amazed by how many veterans were involved in classified, undocumented, special operations in Laos and Cambodia. We must have had a whole damn Army across the border, and I’ll bet Brian Emerson was with them if you asked him about it. Anyone who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and did his duty to 100% of his ability, regardless where stationed, in war and in peace is a hero and nothing more need be said. Marge (Emerson) Smyth you are an enabler who needs to practice some tough love with your brother.

  26. Whether this story is true or not, we all know bad things happen during wartime. Hopefully, this is some relief for his wrong doing but as we all know you will be tested sooner or later. One thing is true if they feel you can’t be trusted that leads to a long tour if you make it out.Sgt. Isaac Thomas, Field radio operator 1st Bn 1st Mar 1969- 1970.

  27. I am a Marine, but not of your era. I served in our beloved Reserve. 8 Feb 1989 to 28 April 1989 I enjoyed all the pleasantries of MCRD San Diego. Mid May 89 to Mid July 89, radio school, 2531, at 29 PALMS, CA. Reported August 89 to 3rd Bat 24th Marines St Louis, MO EAS Sept 96. Activated for Desert Storm/Desert Shield, 30 Nov 1990 to 15 April 1991. The only way to sort this out is to have a proper investigation of facts. HQMC needs to open, and complete, a full investigation into these “facts”. My “bs” meter was pegged. I cannot believe this Marine just confessed to murder in the newsletter.

  28. I was posted ready to make a report for myself in San Francisco this month for fleet week because I was with the 1st platoon there. It was the weekend and I was still by my self after the drill with the General and Secretary of State and Rear Admirals. From 10 in the morning to about 7 in the evening it was all work but in San Fran I was done for the day. I later took that Bo Staff from Silver Dragon’s martial arts.

  29. Mr. Emerson’s story has been forwarded to the NCIS Headquarters for review. They may well open an investigation. If they do and the story proves to be true, Mr. Emerson will have to face the consequences. On the other hand, if the story is, in fact, a fabrication, he can learn to live with that as well.

  30. This story has been bothering me since publication. FYI I remember flying on an Air Force 707 (seats all faced the rear) in early Jan 1966 from Okinawa to the Da Nang airbase. Later I had the pleasure of flying in a C-130 from Guam to San Diego with a refueling stop in Hawaii. Without a doubt the most uncomfortable long flight ever.
    Have a difficult time accepting the details of the homicide. Very unlike any group of Marines I have ever experienced.
    Sgt Easy, Active duty 1961-71
    5th Communications Battalion, III MAF 1966-67, MWCS1, 1st MAW DaNang 1968-69

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