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!


  • Michael McManus, D. Co 1st Recon

    Had a friend in that team. Daniel K. Mulvehill, radio guy/2531.

  • A. Troy Morris, Sgt. USMC 1964-68

    I arrived in Viet Nam a couple of weeks after the fight on Hill 488. I joined C Co. 1st Bn. 5th Marines. 1st Lt. Marshall Buckingham ” Buck ” Darling was the Company CO. Lt. Darling led C Co. up Hill 488 to pull S/Sgt Jimmy Howard and his Recon Marines off of Hill 488. I heard the stories from my fellow platoon members of what took place on Hill 488. I have read the book, and recognized the names of those Marines I served with. Lt. Darling retired a Colonel in the Marine Corps and passed away in 2004 at age 63. He was one of the best officers I served under. I will never forget him. Semper Fi Buck

  • Joe Kosoglow

    I am one of the Survivors of Hill 488. I appreciate your comments and it was one of the longest nights on my life.

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