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!


  • A. Troy Morris, Sgt. USMC 1964-68

    In reply to Jerry Huckleberry.
    Semper Fi Doc

  • Robert H Bliss

    In reply to A. Troy Morris, Sgt. USMC 1964-68.
    AMEN Brother—-AMEN Brother!!!

  • Jerry Huckleberry

    I was in 1st recon at Chu lai at this time we was saddle up in front of med station waiting for helo to land to drop us in 23 psalm was read, when they was pull off of hill 488 was very close to going in. was very proud of my time with marines. I have told this story many times over the years HM4 FMF Doc Huck

  • Jackie Hinton

    First I would like to say you guys done a hell of a job in Vietnam, and say thank you. I was in 3rd Mar Division Charlie Co motor transport Okinawa Japan in 1974 and heard drifting tells about the 3rd Mar Division was nearly taken out and I see it is for real can I get more information. And again thank you guys that went out before me,Brothers

  • SSgt Russ Mook

    I served with 1st Recon in 67 and had the honor to meet some of the men from Hill 488 then in late 68 meet Gunny Howard in Memphis. Semipermanent Fi to all.

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