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Play It Again

Christmas time is upon us again and the Christmas chorals are going strong. There is one song I still have trouble listening to, Silent Night. I the later days of December 1967, I was stationed in Viet-Nam, 2/9. I had been in sickbay for a back injury. I got carried away and filled over 100 sand bags in to short a time.

Anyway, it was a chilly night and a rather dark one. The time was about deep dark 30. Someone in another hooch had started playing a guitar. He was pretty good and soon started playing a selection of Christmas songs. When he started Silent Night I could voices from the darkness singing. It wasn’t a large group, just one or two from a hooch here and there. The place was pretty empty for most of the unit was on Hill 881.

After the song finished there came a voice from off in the distance, “Play it again”. This time it was slower and the voices seemed to crack at times. Myself, I had something in my eye and could not say the words. The silence after the song was over was unreal. Again, from off in the distance came a voice, ” God Bless Us All. May We Live Through The Night”. The song has never been the same since. I guess the meaning it had that night will never be repeated and I still have a hard time listening to it, even today. But like the voice said, ” God Bless Us All. May We Live Through The Night”

John Halpin

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JAMES OTIS - June 11, 2020


Ken “Doc” Chargin - June 11, 2020

I spent Christmas 1967 at Camp Carrol. Had been raining for a couple of days and everything was mud. Got drunk and fell in a trench with another corpsman and it took four grunts to get us out. Two days later was sent out to 3rd Plt. Echo 2/9 were I spent my whole rotation plus three and a half months. At home for Christmas 1968 was miserable, all I could think of was the Marines having to spend Christmas in that hell hole. PS. Iconcider myself more of a Marine than a sailor.

Terry Smith - June 11, 2020

I too was in country Dec. ’67. I was lucky enough to see the Bob Hope Show. They closed with Silent Night and there was not a dry eye in the crowd. My eyes still get wet when I sing Silent Night.

George A Gilles - June 11, 2020

I was with mortars at that time and somewhat remember that Christmas 11/67-11/68. Wish I could remember my fellow Marines, but my memory does not work well with names.

Richard Espejo - June 11, 2020

December 24th 1969 we were on Patrol outside of hill 55. I was with 3/1 and our company was ordered to secured the area for the Bob Hope USO show. We started the sweep at 2400 hrs and finished at 0900 Christmas day. We had 1 KIA and 1WIA. Have thought about the Marine we lost many many times. His folks will always have a different feeling on Christmas day because of the loss of there son. It changed my Christmas celebration to this day. I’m so thankful that God allowed me to come home when so many of our brothers didn’t. God Country Family Corps. Semper Fi.

Captain Jinx - June 11, 2020

I completely understand. I attended the Bob Hope USO show on Dec 25 1967 at the airbase in DaNang. Bob, Ann Margaret, Jerry Colona, Les Brown & hs band. At the close of the show we sang Silent Night together – and there was not a dry eye in the audience. Even now, 49 years later I can’t sing or listen to Silent Night without getting a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Captain Jinx, USMC 67-73.

Joe Thompson - June 11, 2020

Semper Fi brothers and sisters, MERRY CHRISTMAS. U.S.M.C. 69-75

Jeff A. Lowrance USMC Ret 1987-2010 / OIF-1 / 1st MLG – 1 MEF – FMF – Camp Pendleton CA - June 11, 2020

This is for my Brother John Halpin – 2/9 – Welcome Home – & Thank You for Your Service – My call sign in Iraq “LOWRIDER” – CJTF-7 Baghdad – Christmas of 03 was different – the day before we were sent (the Chief of Staff & MarDet) to Abu Gharib Prison by the Commander to investigate the supposed degradation, demoralization, and humiliation treatment of the raghead prisoners in that shithole by the US Army personnel – all the inmates were removed from the prison to outside in the yard in a GP tent – surrounded by barbed and concertina wire – watch towers and automatic gun emplacements at the corners – the scuttlebutt was that out guards were mistreating them – I say “what goes around comes around” in that when we arrived – we dismounted the vehicle to boot top mud as it had been raining I would say the entire day and night before – 23 December 2003 – the Skipper told me to post the Sgts at the entry and exit of the facility and for me to rove the area for threats – as he accompanied the Chief – USMC MajGen Gallinetti to the conference area of the prison to meet with the Prison Commander and the guard staff – in the meantime as I roved the area – I walked up and down the corridors of the prison checking for threats – I noticed that there had been 6″ x 4″ sheets of plywood affixed to the bars of the cells – as I looked closer there were a few inches left between pieces of the plywood over the bars – so I looked between the pieces of plywood into the cell areas – two or three areas – I saw the frames of beds – all metal – no mattresses – wired up to very large what appeared to be car/truck or heavy equipment batteries – In another area I saw chains hanging from the ceiling with large meat hooks attached to the ends of those chains – the walls and floors were stained with blood – I then realized that the Iraqis had been running the facility until Gen Mattis and 1stMarDiv rolled over Baghdad and Liberated that city earlier that year – I want to say it was later in the spring because I had arrived and was attached to the CJTF = Combined Joint Task Force with the US Army at the end of June or the beginning of July of that year – As a Marine – my attitude was “Kill’em all – and lot God sort’em out” I was knumb – my life had been changed – it was all so surreal – that was one of the more subtle subjections to war that I had during my tour there – returning to the “GREEN ZONE” afterwards on the 24th of December – Christmas – it was back to visually scanning the area and listening intensively for anything out of the ordinary in an urban area – it was back to survival mode to make it to the end of my tour and to get back home to my family. Christmas has never been that same since then – attributed to all my experiences in the Corps – and over time – in addition to seeing all the people who never served back here at home taking for granted even the most precious things we learned were important; Beans-Bullets-Band Aids – and more importantly one split second of time – the difference between being here and being gone. Semper Fidelis! And God Bless America! “ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” / “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”

James Petit - June 11, 2020

Maddog, did you know “Stoney” Burke? Jim Petit “E” 2/9 Rockets

Sgt Angelo J Manos - June 11, 2020

Hi John and Iam glad you came home.A story my Drill Instructor,Sgt J.I.Justice told us about the ninth Marines and I later boiled it down to 2/9 echo company,was that Hill 881 was a FUBAR.That a couple regiments from the ARMY tried to take that hill and after 3 weeks of fighting they gave up.Laid down their rifles and told their superiors that they were not going back up that hill.Echo company,2/9th Marines were called up and after 3 days of crazy fighting,pushed the NVA off the hill.I met a Marine in the Class of 47 bar,Newport Bch,Ca., and while we were sharing experiances,I told him that story and further said it was unbelievable.He had already told me he was with the 9th Marines in Nam.He then said that he was in that fight and proceeded to say how bad it was.Of coarse I never let him buy a drink when ever I saw him.He had been awarded the Navy Cross for that action.

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