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!


  • Bill Allen

    MOH was awarded to GYSGT Jimmy Howard for actions on Hill 488. Part of our Bn 1/5 from Hill 54 participated in the rescue. I was at Camp Pendleton with 4thMardiv Hq Co Cadre in 67-68. If my memory serves me, which it doesn’t always, one of those years we attended at MCRD the awarding of a MOH, which I believe was for Mr Howard, may he RIP. Cpl Bill Allen Comm Plt 1/5 1966

  • John Reed

    As a Navy Corpsman,my 1st tour of duty with the FMF was with D Co, 3rd Platoon, 1st Recon Bn. Arrived on 9/13/1966 and folks were still talking about Hill 488. Went on my first patrol with 2nd Platoon and then was permanently assigned to the 3rd. 1stLT Grover Murray was the PC and a Korea vet, having accepted a commission after promotion to 1stSgt. Never got the whole story. Survived the 12 month tour and transferred to NavHosp, Oakland where I learned to make and made prosthetics. Spent 12 years of my 30 total active years with the Marine Corps. Having known 3 of the Hill 488 survivors, when the book came out, I immediately bought it for my Kindle, dropped the book I was midway thru, and started reading Hill 488. Within the scope of 12 pages, I was back in the bush with my platoon. I can only imagine what the VC reaction was when Howard’s men loudly laughed at the nighttime taunts of “tomorrow you die”. Great guys and a fantastic tale to begin my string of assignments to the Marine Corps. JTR, HMCM (FMF), USN, Retired

  • Patrick M Chapman

    AS a former member of charley compAny first Recon l would like to read about hill 488!

  • R.Cassady,Field Radio Operator,USMC 1966,67,&68

    Get a copy of Hill 488 and read it. Incredible story of brave men,true heroes. I remember reading about this battle in a Readers Digest,it was titled something like “An Alamo with Survivors.”

  • Tony Woconish

    I saw and talked with Ray Hildreth the other day at the Tulsa, OK. Veterans Day Parade, Nov.11, 2016. He walked into the Downtown VFW Hall where all of us were staging, waiting to get on the floats. I immediately got up and offered him my chair. (NO WAY am I going to sit and leave him standing there). He was wearing on old starched Satine Jacket with 2 mini medals on the lapel (PH, SS medals) I have an autographed copy of his book. We all had a HIGH TIME riding the float and waving at all the school kids. SEMPER FI. SSGT. Tony Woconish, 1976-1982. VMFA-333. Veterans Chaplain Tulsa, OK.

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