Hill 488

Hill 488

Hill 488 was just another landmark in the jungles of Vietnam. For the 18 men of Charlie Company, it was a last stand. This is the stirring combat memoir written by Ray Hildreth, one of the unit’s survivors.

On June 13, 1966, men of the 1st Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division were stationed on Hill 488. Before the week was over, they would fight the battle that would make them the most highly decorated small unit in the entire history of the U.S. military, winning a Congressional Medal of Honor, four Navy Crosses, thirteen Silver Stars, and eighteen Purple Hearts – some of them posthumously.

At the time, this was happening I was at HQMC Communication Center. By the time they received the mentioned medals, I was out of the Marines and unaware other then the purple hearts, the body count, and what happened afterwards. I do remember reading traffic about the Marines calling in artillery down on themselves. Then the messages say from Vietnam all the way to HQMC no, no way, impossible etc. Then later something like – You can kill hundreds of VC or let them kill us, your choice.

This true life experience should be known by every Marine. Every famous place the Marines have served this should be right in there.

Mac McDonaugh

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • C. D, Bernard

    I was transferred to the 7th Marines right before my outfit C 1/5 was sent up the HILL 488 !! I visited the buddies that where not killed or med evac out of Nam !! Lt Myer or “stump” as he was lovingly called was very close to me !! Also Reddick who was another great Marine !! Before I got off face book Ray Hildreth was a friend !! I later wound up in 1st Recon which was my last duty in Vietnam !! I proudly remain C. D. Bernard C 1/5 7th Marines 1st Recon 65-66 Vietnam !! p.s. I met Sgt Howard in Memphis the year he was grand marshal of the Liberty Bowl !! Semper Fi and God Bless !!

  • Preston Sparks

    Spent my last patrol on Hill 488 Dec. 67. Probed one night and one incoming sniper round, think we extracted a day early, otherwise unevenfull. Hats off to Sgt Howard and his men. Bravo Co. 3rd plt. DATELINE. Things get a little blurred after 50 years, I was in Okinawa 4 days later on my way home.

  • Loring Triplett

    We left Vietnam but never really got to come home know matter where we are or what we are doing there will always be something to take us right back.

  • Doc ‘chopper john’ Patrick

    WTF is an HM4??

  • Jerry Huckleberry

    I was in b co 1st recon chu lai and when they couldn’t get them out we saddle up and was on the lz in front of med stration waiting for the helo to drop is in to help when they got them out, we were told to go back to the tent never new them, him and the navy corpsman was talked about a lot, very proud to have work with the marine. Doc HM4 FMF

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