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Operation Colorado

Operation Colorado

Operation Colorado, August, 1966, 1/5 and 3/5, and don't recall who all else. I had left MCRD SD with orders to Staging Bn, etc. earlier in the year… and a couple of other DI's that I knew got orders to the I-I staff with the Reserve Engineer company that was based at Fort Omaha… smallish installation, mostly brick buildings, probably has some interesting history. My pregnant wife and toddler daughter were to be well cared for, as her parents had plenty of room at their house in Omaha, basically just a mile or two up 30th from the Fort. So far, so good… then, on the 9th of August, somewhere northwest of Tam Ky, in the wee hours, we took mortar and recoilless rifle fire. Long story short, I managed to make an up close and personal connection with a few mortar fragments… not a BFD (although Joe B might have thought so), and it was what used to be recorded as "WIANE" or "Wounded In Action, Not Evacuated". (have hurt myself worse when shaving with a hangover… and a 'safety razor') However… I had neglected to check the "Do Not Notify NOK in case of… whatever… box on the old RED. (Record of Emergency Data) form… so… that meant the finely functioning bureaucratic chain would swing into action, because our Doc filled out a medical tag, generating a TWIX (Naval Message) to the Casualty Assistance folks nearest my NOK (Next Of Kin)… that being, of course, the I-I staff at Fort Omaha. These guys are Marines… and we take care of our own… goes without saying. Soooooo… when the TWX is on the message board first thing in the morning, the guys read it… and since it happens to be someone they know, they swing into action immediately!… by calling the house, identifying themselves, and asking my wife if she is going to be home later in the morning because they need to come talk to her… at about 06:30 in the morning… as she is standing there with my daughter hanging on to her nightgown, holding my by then six-day old son in her arms. They showed up in a sedan promptly at 0800. Wife has always referred to that period as the longest hour and a half in her life… had the name on the TWX been unfamiliar, I am sure that they (the CACO team) would have handled the situation in routine professional fashion… but when it's somebody you know… it's a little different. At the time, I could have gone full Gy Ermey on them… later, as an I-I, having to make injury/death notifications, gained a new understanding of one of the hardest assignments (IMHO) that the Corps can assign.

One of the Marines in these pictures was awarded the MOH for his actions on Tarawa (hint… the older one)… the younger one has proved that cameras do lie, as I would never, ever, have had my thumb sticking up like that when returning an M-1 to order arms. (General Shoup, Commandant, inspecting Marine Barracks, Naha… circa 1961.)

Can also assure you that the bore of that rifle in the other picture was clean…


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