3rd Battalion, 26th Marines Fight With the NVA 324B Division in September 1967 During the Vietnam War | HistoryNet

3rd Battalion, 26th Marines Fight With the NVA 324B Division in September 1967 During the Vietnam War

7/18/2006 • Vietnam

Captain Matt Caulfield’s understrength company labored through the brush and scrub growth of an abandoned rice paddy toward its objective, a low ridgeline 200 to 300 meters away. Corporal Mike Norcross’ squad had the point and followed an old tank trail across a dry watercourse and up a slope. Thick foliage 7 to 8 feet high lined both sides of the track, severely limiting observation. The trail unexpectedly opened into a clearing. As the squad started across, a burst of fire hit the second man in the column, mortally wounding him. ‘As the point was moving through the open area,’ recalled Second Lieutenant Bill Cowan, ‘there was a burst of AK-47 fire, followed by several more little bursts. I immediately rushed forward and saw that one of the Marines in the point squad was down.’

Norcross reacted quickly and got his squad on line to push forward. Before the Marines could advance, heavy fire wounded the 1st Fire Team leader and stopped the squad in its tracks.

As Caulfield evaluated the contact, he heard a Marine scream, ‘God, the whole mountain is coming.’

Caulfield looked up. ‘Two columns of the enemy — between 200 and 400 of them — started on a direct diagonal toward us,’ he recalled.

First Lieutenant Ron Zappardino, India Company’s FAC, was behind Cowan. ‘The next thing I knew,’ Zappardino recalled, ‘Cowan and the three or four other India Company Marines slammed into me and I was backing down the way I had come, firing my M-16 with one hand and my .45-caliber pistol with the other. Every hand was needed, every bullet counted. We were toe-to-toe, punching it out!’

It was September 1967. The 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines (3/26), would fight two major engagements with elements of the NVA 324B Division early that month, suffering almost 350 casualties — four out of 10 Marines killed or wounded. The actions took place just south of the Demilitarized Zone in an area that became known as the ‘Leatherneck Square,’ a quadrangle just below the Ben Hai River, which marked the boundary between North and South Vietnam. The ‘Square,’ bounded in the south by Cam Lo and Dong Ha and in the north by Gio Linh and Con Thien, was one of the most hotly contested areas in South Vietnam.

The first deadly encounter began on the afternoon of September 7, when volleys of rockets and artillery slammed into the Marine positions. Waves of NVA infantry closely followed, threatening to overrun the embattled leathernecks. Three understrength companies, India, Kilo and Mike, battled elements of the NVA 812th Regiment throughout the long night. Finally, toward morning, the fighting tapered off and the NVA withdrew to lick their wounds. The haggard Marine survivors emerged from their fighting positions to find a battlefield littered with more than 100 NVA bodies. The struggle had not been without cost; 20 Marines had been killed in action, while another 70 were wounded.

The next day, Lima Company was detached from escorting convoys and ordered to reinforce the battalion. The company moved by truck from Dong Ha to a location north of artillery position C-2 on Highway 9. The men disembarked and waited for guides to lead them into the battalion position. A short time later, a long column of infantry and tanks appeared out of the scrub growth. As it approached, Lima’s Marines could see that the tanks carried a gruesome load. ‘A casualty on one of the tanks had his hand out from under the poncho, and I could see a wedding ring on it,’ 2nd Lt. John Prince observed. ‘I thought about the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Somebody back home was going to be mourning.’

Captain Tom Early, the battalion communications officer who had accompanied the column, shouted: ‘Spread out, spread out! The NVA are going to shell us.’

Staff Sergeant Russ Armstrong heard the telltale boom-boom-boom of artillery being fired. ‘Oh no,’ he thought, ‘it’s incoming!’

Corporal Charles R. Whitkamp was helping to unload casualties onto a truck. ‘The first round blew me off the top of the tank and I ended up under it. The incoming was heavy stuff, and lots of it.’

The NVA had the road registered. They fired 35 rounds of artillery without having to adjust. Prince remembered, ‘Everybody was running for cover, but there was no cover because the entire area had been bladed flat and clean.’

First Lieutenant Harry ‘Zero Fingers’ Dolan saw ‘rockets and artillery rounds impacting at the front of the convoy. They were just busting everything up. Some troops were hit and trucks were destroyed.’

Whitkamp crawled around the back of his tank and froze as he noticed a nearby truck. ‘Between the tailgate and truck bed, there was a gushing stream of blood about 24 inches wide,’ he remembered. ‘Marines were screaming in agony.’

More incoming snapped him out of it and he climbed back aboard his tank. ‘This poor corpsman had one arm blown off and he was just about ready to fall off the back,’ said Whitkamp, who had been trying to assist him as the tank sped toward help. ‘We got to C-2, but I’m lost as to what happened to the corpsman. I just pray that he made it.’

Mercifully the shelling stopped, allowing the casualties to be evacuated. Most were simply piled aboard any passing vehicle — anything to get them off the exposed roadway and into the artillery firebase, which had a medical bunker. Altogether, 28 Marines and corpsmen had been wounded and one Marine killed. Lance Corporal Mike Hefflin summed it up: ‘I was aware of the trucks running down the highway…but I didn’t pay much attention. We were scared to death.’

Lima Company joined the battalion without further incident and dug in on the perimeter. Zappardino recalled that while he was on a patrol, his ‘radiomen dug my hole 5 feet down and 3 feet in. They were scared after what had hit us….The whole perimeter was like that. Everyone who could dig dug for hours.’

‘It was a relatively quiet night,’ 1st Lt. Bob Stimson remembered. ‘I had finally fallen asleep…when a large-caliber round detonated right over our position. The rifleman right next to me cried out. By the time I got back to my CP position, he was dead.’

Captain Andy DeBona, the Mike Company commander, sensed it was friendly fire and became ‘a little hostile.’ He threatened to do bodily harm if it wasn’t stopped: ‘I waited until the next bang and had battalion get hold of Camp Carroll to see if they had just fired. I was told they had, just as the next shhhhm-boom sounded. Artillery fire then was stopped.’

The remainder of the night passed uneventfully. The battalion relocated to Hill 48 the next day and conducted local patrols. Most of the time was used to reorganize, resupply and integrate new replacements. India received a new captain. Matt Caulfield came in on the back of a tank. ‘It was raining,’ he remembered. ‘I was a replacement for a company commander who had been killed the night before. The tank lurched to a halt, I jumped off, walked over to a hole and asked, ‘Where’s the CP?’ A filthy, soaking-wet Marine continued bailing out his hole with a C-ration can and answered, ‘You’re in it.’ I asked for the battalion commander. He answered, ‘You’re looking at him.”

Another personnel change occurred on the 10th, when Major Carl Mundy replaced Captain Bill Wilprett as the operations officer. ‘At that particular time, India Company was on the move,’ Mundy remembered. ‘Lima Company had moved out, but on a little different course. Kilo Company was in the perimeter, around the battalion CP, and Mike Company was just in front of Hill 48.’

‘Our mission was to sweep a ridge 2,200 meters due north,’ Caulfield recalled. ‘I distinctly remember thinking…that the avenue of approach was not the place to be if the enemy was on the objective.’

Corporal Steve Greene was with the India CP group. ‘I clearly recall a deep feeling of apprehension as we left our night position,’ he said. ‘It was understood by everyone that after the events of 7 September, we were operating in an area that contained numerous NVA forces that were more than willing to engage large numbers of Marines. What turned out to be a mistaken hope was that we had bled them…to a point where they might not be willing to seek further combat.’

As Cowan and Zappardino were punching it out with the NVA, Lima Company hurried forward to help. Prince’s men were on the right flank. ‘As we moved off our hill into the rice paddy, we got rocketed,’ said Prince.

Hefflin took cover in a Vietnamese graveyard. ‘The first volley of rockets fell in on the 3rd Squad,’ he recalled. ‘I looked down and saw a steel sliver 10 to 12 inches long struck through my right foot.’

Prince hoisted Hefflin onto his shoulders and carried him up the slope. ‘We made contact with India Company up there and started taking small-arms fire.’

Corporal Frank Garcia, who was the last Marine up the hill, remembered: ‘By the time I was moving up to the company position on top of the hill, there was a line being set up. The men were spread out, dispersed over a lot of ground.’

Caulfield struggled to form a defense: ‘I yelled to my XO to establish a perimeter with the rear platoon and extract everyone back to that position.’

Cowan’s 3rd Platoon pulled back under heavy pressure. ‘The move almost got out of control,’ Greene recalled. ‘Many of the men ran right through the area where the new perimeter was being formed. If Lieutenant Stimson and Captain Caulfield hadn’t taken forceful action, I don’t think the company could have survived subsequent attacks.’

Stimson was afraid the men would pull back too far: ‘I started grabbing men, turning them around, facing them toward the enemy.’

As Caulfield moved around the perimeter, ‘a round came whizzing over my head, actually creating a vacuum as it sped by,’ he said. ‘Enemy mortars began to crash around us. By this time I was screaming for air and artillery.’

Zappardino got on the radio and requested air support, reporting ‘enemy troops in the open.’ His call went out to Landshark Bravo, call sign for the Dong Ha Direct Air Support Center (DASC), which diverted several flights of fighter-bombers. ‘I had air coming on station in just 90 seconds. Air in 90 seconds! I couldn’t believe it!’

Caulfield was jubilant: ‘Air was magnificent. The ground between us and the enemy simply disintegrated again and again and again.’

Army pilot Captain Charles Larry Deibert, radio call sign Cat Killer-46, with his observer, Marine 1st Lt. John Haalaud, arrived on station to direct the air support. The airborne controllers braved intense groundfire to pinpoint enemy positions. One of Deibert’s marking rockets hit dead on, in the center of three .51-caliber positions. It disabled the guns and killed most of the crews.

‘I was glad to have that AA knocked off,’ he remembered,

‘it looked as big as grapefruit sailing just off my wingtips.’

As Zappardino later wrote in an award recommendation for the Army pilot: ‘In less than 15 minutes, [Deibert] had [the] fixed wing on target. As the fixed wing rolled in on the enemy, at least seven .50-caliber automatic weapons opened up and attempted to destroy the [Cessna] O-1C and the strike aircraft. Through this hail of enemy fire, Cat Killer-46 continued to direct strike aircraft on the target. At approximately the same time, a human wave attack took place. Cat Killer-46, in the midst of heavy fire, directed strike aircraft against several hundred NVA assaulting our position.’

Greene looked out into the rice paddy. ‘I saw hundreds of NVA troops in the open,’ he recalled, ‘advancing in formation toward the area where the remainder of the battalion was located. I had never seen NVA troops in these numbers.’

Corporal Bill Hayes saw rows and rows of NVA advancing toward him in formation. He remembered thinking, ‘What is this, the American Civil War?’

Caulfield was astonished: ‘They were in an open field headed straight for my flank. The enemy paused, then made a precise left oblique and headed toward the battalion and Mike Company.’

Mundy saw them coming: ‘I was struck by the almost theatrical fact that coming across from the high ground to the west of us…was an almost perfect formation of NVA…firing their weapons as they came.’

‘It was almost too good to be true,’ remembered Caulfield. ‘The enemy was offering me his flank. I had perfect fields of fire; it reminded me of bears in a shooting gallery. The only problem was that as soon as we shot one, two more seemed to take his place.’

Prince took up a kneeling position with his rifle: ‘I saw a group of men jogging 30 yards in front of my platoon’s lines. The leader…moved across my front. I fired one round into his chest….Then I did the same to the second man. I fired at four men and then my M-16 jammed.’

Unknown to Prince, a tank moved up close to him and took the NVA under fire. ‘I was lying on the ground and I felt an explosion. I looked up and realized that a tank had moved up to my left, had swung its gun right over me, and fired a round.’

Lieutenant Stimson remembered seeing ‘two tanks behind me, to my right rear, moving toward me, the flame tank in the lead. The tank commander, in the turret, was firing his .50-caliber machine gun out at the NVA in the paddy.’

Caulfield watched it fire: ‘The tank got off a burst of .50-caliber fire, and 20 to 40 enemy soldiers were knocked into the air.’

Just then, an NVA assault squad came out of the scrub growth, right in front of Stimson, who later recalled ‘a man with an RPG on his shoulder and, behind him, his ammunition humper. As I was reaching for my pistol, he let go. The RPG went flying over me and hit the tank.’

Zappardino was looking at the first tank when it was hit. ‘As soon as the tank turned down the hill — boom, boom — it was history,’ he said. ‘One guy jumped out of the turret on fire and started rolling around on the ground. Meantime, everything around me stopped as it dawned on us — this was for real; we were in real trouble.’

First Lieutenant Paul Drnec, the tank platoon commander, reported: ‘B-25 [a gun tank] and F-23 [the flame tank] took RPG penetrations, which started fires in both vehicles. B-25’s fires were the result of ammunition in the ready rack exploding, which killed the loader and seriously wounded the gunner and the tank commander. F-23 was abandoned when the fire spread to the main napalm tank [which contained 450 gallons of gasoline and napalm mix]. In half a minute it erupted in a 25-meter-high mushroom cloud.’

Zappardino summed up the loss of the armor: ‘That heavy steel weapon had represented the heart and strength of the organization to me, and it had just disappeared. The loss of that tank was demoralizing to whoever saw it.’

The battalion was being assailed on all sides and was in danger of being overrun. The NVA had succeeded in splitting it into two separate perimeters, which could not provide mutual support. Major Mundy summarized the precarious situation: ‘What we had at that time was what I would characterize as a pretty good, well-planned and pretty well-coordinated attack by the NVA engaging all of our elements, which were strung out. They were keeping India and Lima companies engaged over on the high ground to our southwest and keeping Mike Company pinned down between the battalion and an attempt to move onto that ground behind Lima Company.’

NVA reinforcements swarmed toward the battlefield. Captain Deibert recalled that ‘thousands of North Vietnamese were headed for the fight.’ Rocket, artillery and mortar fire pounded the two perimeters. Marine casualties were mounting and ammunition was running short. Survival was at stake.

Zappardino described the situation in more pithy language: ‘They were coming right at us. They had us by the short hairs!’

Rifleman Dean Cosby lay on his side firing his M-16. In between shots, he scraped desperately at the ground with his entrenching tool ‘trying to get some kind of cover,’ as he later recalled. Bushes and shrubs around him disappeared under a hail of enemy bullets. The roar of gunfire was deafening. Suddenly, a line of NVA soldiers emerged from a treeline, firing their AK-47s as they advanced across the rice paddy. He watched in astonishment as hundreds more poured into the open field, until rows of NVA stretched from one side of the field to the other.

Lance Corporal Chuck Bennett could not believe it. There were hundreds and hundreds of NVA coming toward him. ‘They were kind of jogging, firing from the hip, and yelling, all at the same time,’ he remembered. ‘Some hit the deck and fired from the prone position, while others kept coming at us.’

Stimson observed a ‘hell of a lot of North Vietnamese in the open rice paddy to our immediate north. I could see them all over,’ he said, ‘in front of us and off our right front. We were being engaged by this huge force.’

India Company’s 60mm mortars and machine guns opened up on the enemy soldiers, killing and wounding scores of NVA. Cosby exclaimed, ‘We wore them out!’

Bennett was spraying them with his M-16. ‘The NVA were attacking right at us in human waves. There were too many to aim at. There was just one big target out there.’

Lima Company’s Corporal Garcia recalled seeing ‘the NVA — just a lot of green uniforms — charging right at me.’ Then, said Garcia, ‘My rifle jammed.’

He was not the only one whose weapon malfunctioned. Lance Corporal Anthony Zawicki, one of 2nd Lt. Prince’s squad leaders, was down on one knee trying to clear a jam with his cleaning rod. Prince yelled over to him. ‘As I was speaking to Zawicki, he got shot in the forehead,’ remembered Prince. ‘He fell down on his back and just lay there.’

Zawicki’s buddy Garcia covered the wound with a bandage but really didn’t know what to do. Zawicki was beyond help. Zappardino described ‘firing my M-16 with my right hand at the same time I was scraping a fighting hole with my left.’ He was also on the radio calling in air support: ‘The first flights were F-4s with 250-pound bombs. As the first F-4 pulled out, he drew fire from NVA .51-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns. His wingman started his run when the world opened up on him. I never saw a pilot pull back on the stick so hard. He must have popped every rivet in the aircraft.’

Zappardino worked the planes closer and closer to the peri-meter. Cosby remembered, ‘The FAC brought the air in so close I could feel the heat of the napalm.’

One aircraft was not so lucky. ‘Two Marine F-4s worked over the opposite ridgeline,’ recalled 2nd Lt. Chan Crangle. ‘The second pilot flew into a solid curtain of .51-caliber. At least three positions poured green tracers into the aircraft. The plane seemed to stop in midair, with pieces flying off in all directions. Smoke and flame immediately erupted, and he began to lose altitude.’

Cosby thought he could hear the rounds hit the aircraft.

Crangle watched as the plane cleared the area. Someone shouted, ‘He’s out,’ as the pilot hit the silk.

Bennett suddenly heard someone ‘on the radio yelling to tell the pilots they were dropping short.’

One of the planes lined up the wrong target. Cowan’s platoon was right in the ‘V’ ring. ‘I looked up and saw an F-4 going through a little cloud, coming right at us. It dropped four 500-pound bombs right smack on top of our hill.’

Cosby heard someone yell, ‘Get down, get down!’ Then there was a deafening explosion.

Zappardino screamed at the pilot, ‘You dropped those bombs on Marines!’

Cowan didn’t blame the flier. ‘It was an honest error, and by some miracle, no one was hurt,’ he said — and, more important, ‘the airstrike stopped the NVA who were after us.’

Prince ‘saw a group of men jogging or double-timing probably about 30 yards in front of my platoon’s line. They were dressed in green uniforms, so I thought they were Marines. I wondered, ‘What in the hell are Marines doing out there?’ Then I noticed that they had clean clothes on, so I figured they couldn’t be Marines.’

Cowan thought ‘they looked exactly like Marines, except they were short and taking choppy steps…they were in fact NVA wearing our helmets and flak jackets.’

Prince called up an M-60 machine gun team. ‘As soon as the gunners got up there, a hand grenade hit them.’ He moved forward to see what happened, when ‘something hit the ground about 10 feet from me, and exploded. My mind was going a million miles an hour. I could see the piece of shrapnel heading directly toward my right eye.’ Prince hit the deck and saw ‘blood streaming down the barrel of [my] rifle, boiling away as it hit the hot metal.’ The side of his head was numb. He turned to a Marine and worriedly asked, ‘Do I still have an ear?’

The bemused man answered, ‘Yes, Lieutenant,’ staring at Prince’s nicely pierced ear lobe.

Cosby traded grenades with several NVA. Many of their ChiCom missiles were duds; his were not, to the enemy’s everlasting regret. As the duel continued, a badly wounded Marine crawled up to his position. The lower half of his jaw had been shot away. He mumbled piteously, ‘I need help.’

Cosby did what he could and started back to the fight. The man took him by the arm and said, ‘If we get overrun, don’t leave me behind; shoot me.’

Bill Hayes found a Marine lying in the open. ‘I didn’t see any physical injuries but he couldn’t talk or move. I think he had a broken neck. I felt so helpless and told him I’d get help.’ Hayes found a corpsman amid a mass of dead and wounded. ‘I’ll never forget the look he gave me as he struggled to cope with the severely injured Marines.’

A badly wounded Lance Cpl. Hefflin lay in a bomb crater with several other wounded. ‘I was completely naked except for my pistol belt, but I still had my .45. When I saw all those NVA, I thought, Aw shit, what am I going to do with only a .45?’

A wounded buddy stood over him with a rifle. ‘I’ll take care of you, Hef,’ he said resolutely.

A badly burned tanker staggered up to Prince. ‘His entire back was blistered — one huge blister,’ Prince recalled. ‘He knelt down on the ground beside me and sat down on his heels. He couldn’t touch anything. I told him to stick with me….I protected him.’

The two tanks that accompanied Lima Company were knocked out within minutes. Both took multiple RPG hits, which set them afire. One rolled down the slope. Corporal Norcross and one of his men went out with an M-72 light antitank weapon to make sure the NVA couldn’t use it against them. Norcross warned his man ‘to make sure he came back through the perimeter at the same place. Instead, he came in one foxhole down and walked unannounced into one of Lima’s positions. A Marine shot him with a .45. The big slug hit him in the upper part of the flak jacket, knocked him to the ground and broke his collarbone. It didn’t penetrate the vest but it did leave a heck of a big bruise.’

A heavy volley of rockets slammed into Hill 48. Major Mundy ‘ran to the edge of the brush that surrounded the battalion CP and looked out. It looked somewhat like what Andrew Jackson might have encountered in New Orleans…here was an almost perfectly aligned NVA battalion, moving across the low ground toward us.’

Lance Corporal Ron Burke’s squad was moving toward the paddies. ‘I saw what looked to me like hundreds of NVA coming at us in waves,’ he said. ‘One wave would fall down and another wave would move in front of it. That’s when I began thinking we were doing something stupid!’

Captain DeBona’s Mike Company was outside the perimeter when it started taking fire. ‘After hitting India and Lima head-on, the bad guys made a left-oblique turn so they were pointed straight down the rice paddy at Hill 48. They were headed right for us…India and Lima had clear fields of fire into the right flank…and we [Mike Company] were shooting into their front.’

DeBona was ordered back to the perimeter. Lieutenant Dolan’s 3rd Platoon covered the company’s withdrawal. ‘My radio operator and I began moving in a low squat along each side of the tank trail. We expected the NVA to jump out of the underbrush at any moment. Suddenly I heard someone call my name, and when I looked behind me, Andy DeBona was calmly strolling down the trail, saying, ‘Come on Zero Fingers, we don’t have all day.”

Corporal Whitkamp’s tank threw a tread and was immobilized. ‘As I was examining the track, we got shelled,’ he said. ‘The first rounds hit right on us. The concussion knocked me flat.’ He picked himself up and scrambled back into the tank. ‘From the driver’s compartment, I watched the entire battle as it unfolded, totally helpless to do anything. The gunner was shooting into the hordes of NVA. I’d never seen so many in my life.’

Two lightly armored M-50 Ontos antitank vehicles took the enemy under fire. Staff Sergeant Charles Owens was 30 yards away. ‘The sergeant in the Ontos started firing his .50-cal at them,’ he recalled, ‘mowing those rows of NVA down like they were corn, like he was chopping corn.’

The Ontos took a hit and the sergeant was killed. The driver continued to fire, although painfully wounded.

DeBona made it back to the perimeter. ‘Nearby was the shell of an Ontos. It looked like it had been RPGed. The battalion CP itself was a shambles, except for Master Gunnery Sgt. McHugh and Captain Tom Early. They were on the radios. I saw Carl Mundy walking very calmly and nonchanlantly around the area.’

Early remembered: ‘A wounded Pfc who was shooting NVA point-blank with his M-60 only 5 meters in front of the battalion CP suddenly crawled back to us and asked, ‘Where is Master Gunnery Sgt. McHugh?’ ‘Here,’ McHugh replied and the Marine said, ‘Thanks. I just never saw one.’ Then he crawled back to his M-60. Some Marines were actually shaking hands to say farewell.’

Mundy heard the NVA in the brush around the battalion CP. ‘At one quiet point,’ he said, ‘when I heard a crashing in the thicket, I drew my .45 and pulled the slide back to chamber a round. As the crashing got closer, I got ready to repel boarders. A very beleagured-looking young Marine suddenly emerged [and said], ‘We’re out of .45 ammo; can we get a resupply?’ I had three magazines — 21 rounds. I pulled out two and handed them to him. He thanked me and walked back down the hill. Here was kid who had been down there fighting all afternoon. There was no question whatsoever in his mind about going back down there, even though he only had 14 rounds.’

One squad of Crangle’s platoon tangled with 10 NVA in a hand-to-hand brawl. ‘The platoon had been on a knife kick,’ he recalled. ‘The evenings were full of the sounds of sharpening and bragging about using them in hand-to-hand. My 1st Squad leader had an especially deadly looking kris, wavy blade and all. He and his crew waded in. I saw him bash one NVA with his M-16, which promptly broke in two. I found him later swearing a blue streak. He was absolutely fit to be tied because, in his one chance to use the kris, he had completely forgotten about it!’

Whitkamp’s tank ran out of ammunition and they decided to abandon it. ‘The grunts pulled out, and it was time to bail out,’ he said. ‘We disabled the guns and ran for the perimeter shouting, ‘Marines, don’t shoot!’ I was bare from the waist up, no helmet and carrying a big bad .45 with two extra magazines. Artillery, mortars and small arms pouring all around — how we got back into the line is a miracle.’

Whitkamp pitched in to help with the wounded. ‘One poor guy I helped move back to the LZ was so blown apart I thought the only thing keeping him together was the poncho we were carrying him in.’ Whitkamp equipped himself with a weapon and gear from the wounded and took his place on the line.

By late afternoon, the two perimeters had stabilized. India and Lima companies had consolidated on the high ground southwest of the battalion perimeter. Mike Company had completed its withdrawal and was tying in with Kilo. Staff Sergeant Owens noted: ‘The NVA were still mingled with us but the fight had tapered off. They were still pushing, trying to get through. They still had a lot of people out there.’

The beleaguered Marines poured a torrent of small-arms fire into the enemy ranks. Thousands of rounds of artillery and flight after flight of fighter-bombers boxed the two perimeters with a veritable wall of steel. The enemy attack slackened. Suddenly, a roar filled the night sky and a solid red stream lit the darkness. ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ was on station.

The AC-47 gunship pounded the NVA unmercifully. Lance Corporal Bennett thought it was awesome. ‘Puff firing his mini-gun at night was a hell of a sight. It looked like a straight, solid orange line from the sky to the ground. It was hard to believe there were four to five rounds between each tracer round. Puff had to be the baddest thing over there.’

Zappardino loved it. ‘There is nothing like Puff,’ he said, ‘nothing in the world — not artillery, not fast movers, nothing!’

‘By about 0300, all was quiet,’ Mundy noted. ‘The NVA had disengaged. The troops at the front reported hearing the sound of what they described as bodies being dragged back.

DeBona inspected a bomb crater. ‘I found three lines of enemy dead; each line was formed of bodies stitched together by a meat hook.’

Hefflin survived to see the sun come up. ‘The hill was a horror scene,’ he said. ‘We could see all the guys laying around dead.’

Prince picked up a Marine helmet. ‘There were bullet holes in it. I started retching.’

Caulfield stared at a row of dead. ‘Nothing is as final as a Marine’s boots sticking out of a poncho.’

As the battalion got the word that it would be relieved, Tom Early heard an enemy voice over the battalion radio: ‘Goodbye, 3/26!’ H

This article was written by Colonel Dick Camp (ret.) and originally published in the August 2006 issue of Vietnam Magazine.

For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Vietnam Magazine today

131 Responses to 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines Fight With the NVA 324B Division in September 1967 During the Vietnam War

  1. Louis P Roath, III says:

    I was the ALO during this battle.

    • Gregory J. Topliff says:

      Dear Louis,
      I posted a letter on this site looking for my skipper. In April 2011, I finally tracked his address down. He contacted me via email on Saturday the 23rd. First time we communicated since I was wounded twice at his feet on September 10, 1967. Having said that, I don’t know If you are from Connecticut and were shot in the chest but if you were I was with you through the night and the next morning. You were giving orders to coordinate getting the wounded out. I put many guys on the birds before you and I left. I also put you on a chopper and met up with you in the hospital. You stopped by and showed me photos of the battle site. I was from Hartford Ct. If anyone knows the above, tell him I’m looking for him.
      Email top62@att.net

      Greg Topliff
      395 Glenwood Dr.
      Warrenville, SC 29851

  2. Bill Ward says:

    I was Lt Manzi’s radioman (Mike Co.). He was killed in the early part of the fighting. He was a good man, he saved a lot of lives.

  3. Patrick D'Ambrosi says:

    I ordered the book “LIMA – 6 ” by Colonel R D CAMP WITH ERIC

    On page 79 in this book, my cousins (1st cousin)name was
    mentioned. His name was Lance Corp. Patrick McBride, LIMA
    CO. and he was killed in the battle on September 11,1967
    I’m pretty sure he was in VietNam for less than 2 months before
    he was killed.
    I know there must be a few people that went there with him from
    the states, and that knew him from his company. I would like to
    know how to contact anyone that may have known him. I’m sure
    he was well known because he had a good personality.
    If you can help me out with this, please contact me at
    Thank you very much,
    Patrick D’Ambrosi

  4. Alysha Deibert says:

    Charles Larry Deibert is my great-uncle, he just goes by Larry, well Uncle Larry, he hates talking about this stuff. My brother told him he wanted to join the military and he just looked at him and said no you don’t. He lives in Oregon so we don’t get to see him though…

  5. John Claymon says:

    I was in Mike Co. and after we pulled back inside the perimeter and carried our wounded to the LZ, I was trying to find my platoon when I heard a Capt. hollering. He was trying to find someone who knew where the bomb crater out in front of the perimeter was. When I told him we had just come past it, he told me “Good, I’m putting together a patrol to out and get the ALO. He’s trapped out there and we need him to call in air support. You’re walking point.”
    When we got to the crater, I asked if the ALO was there. There was a guy on the edge of the crater firing a .45. He stopped firing and came down the the bottom of the crater and said he was the ALO and what did I want. I told him he needed to get his gear because they wanted him back at the Battalion HQ to call in air support. He said “OK, but I’m going to finish this magazine first.” He then went back up to the edge of the crater and finished off the magazine. I just learned about a year ago that he was Lt. Roath, who also has posted a comment to this article.

  6. Nick Ramus says:

    A Marine Battalion against an entire NVA division? I served as a Navy Petty Officer with Marines aboard the USS Tripoli LPH 10 70/71. I was really impressed with them then, I am more so now. You really are a special breed.

    Blessings to you all!

  7. Philip Pantoja says:

    My best and childhood friend, and fellow Marine, Gunnery Sergeant Juan Almanza was KIA on September 9, 1967 while serving as Platoon Commander of the 3rd Plt, Lima Co. 3/26 Marines.Gunny Almanza and I grew up together, got in trouble together, were in a gang together and decided to join the Corps together. I was with the India and Hotel Companies in 3/9 3rd MarDiv. Gunny Alamnza was with the 12th Marines and he also served in the U.S. Embassy in Iran, and Santo Domingo.

    His Co in Lima Company, Cpt Camp described Gunny Almanza to a “T” in Eric Hammel’s book “Ambush Valley”. Gunny Alamanza was truly a Marine’s Marine. I am grateful to all our brothers in 3/26th for there unparalleled courage and sacrifice during the battle against the NVA 324B Division in September 1967. God Bless you and “Welcome Home”

    • tinker perkins says:

      I Hi There, I remember Gunny Almanza to be really gungo-ho. He was transfered into our weapons platoon prior to his death. Gunny was checking the lines with his cigar in his mouth, armed with his 45 with the shoulder strap. You never saw him without his cigar. Lit or not. After the night attack and in the moring, we were doing the casulaty and ammo reports. We came across Gunny who was a casuality.. That really hurt us because he was different from other NCO’s. He was as you say, a “Gangster” in the Marine Corps Green. i talked with him in jive talk. he was from Texas and I was from East L.A. we hit it good. I have never forgot him to this day. I just came across this site. In the book LIMA ^, there’s a group flick with 13 of us. I am the one kneeling down with the tear in my trousers. Semper Fi…Sgt. Tinker Perkins Lima Co.3Btn 26th Marines. (Original 26th from Camp Las Pulgas)

    • gina Almanza says:

      My dad was the brother to GSGT Juan Almanza he too served in the Marine Corps and became a GSGT taking after his big brother anyhow I’m looking to find anyone who knew Juan so that they could talk to my Dad he said he knew Phillip Pantoja so if you see this please email back or anyone that knew GSGT Almanza. Thank you so much and May God bless each and everyone of you.

  8. stephen s mcguirk says:

    i was in india 3/26 1967/68..I was a grunt 0311
    phu bai dong ha ,khe sahn camp evans and some cac units on highway one love to have some pictures of me as i have almost none nicknames were killer and the colonel
    love to all and welcome home remember to pray for all envolved in actual combat 203 464 0303

  9. John Baranowski says:

    I was Corporal Baranowski of Kilo 3/26 holding down the North side of the perimeter on Hill 48 with the Machine Gun and Rocket Team … I’ll never forget the experience of that day … and the loss of a lot of brave Marines. I was a part of the original Battalion that organized in San Diego in August of 1966 … was also one of the few originals that survived.

    • Jake Mahoney says:

      Are you the Baranowski from Alabamba?

    • David Sage says:

      I was there…Kilo Co. 3rd platoon, Platoon radio man. Our corpman got hit so I ditched the radio and stuck him with Lt in a bomb crater. I took off for the front lines doing the corpmans duties. I was patching and sending wounded Marines back to the LZ. Someone was watching that day as the citation stated I saved several Marines lives. Bronze Star with Combat V.
      Thats the day…..September 10th, 1967………….The Devil showed up…..
      Semper Fi………………..

      • John Baranowski says:

        David, I was there, I brought the rocket team that got buried by the 250 pounder that phantom dropped on our heads … that same Lt was suppose to award me the bronze but I guess he forgot about me or couldn’t spell my last name since everyone knew as Cpl Ski … do you remember the name of that Lt? Write me!

    • Julian Garza says:

      I am Julian Garza .I was in kilo co 0331.from 1966 to1967.

      • John Baranowski says:

        Julian, were you in my Weapons Platoon Squad with me and Jake Mahoney?

    • Julian Garza says:

      I am Julian garza, I was there too.I was a machine gunner for 3bn 26th kilo co.

  10. Chris Quesinberry says:

    My father Ted Quesinberry was walking point during the initial contact with this NVA Regiment. He described this very story to me in detail before I left for Marine Corps. bootcamp in 1989. It was almost a right of passage for me. Many years later I read the book Ambush Valley and so did my father. During this engagement my dad was wounded when a tank was hit by an RPG but continued to fight. He often talks of a Marine named Cpl. Kasperian “Casper”. Later I would discover that I served in Operation desert Storm with “Casper”‘s nephew. Very small world you could say. I also was sent off to Desert Storm by a Master Sgt. Fantagrosi , “FANGO” which served with my dad during the same time frame. I salute ALL who have placed themselves in harms way to protect their fellow Marine. I believe that the bravery that was displayed during this small, but very important battle should NOT be forgotten. Semper FI

  11. Jo-Anne Crosswell says:

    I too am searching for anyone who may have served in Quang Tri with my Uncle Alexander Chisholm. He enlisted in the USMC He was KIA a week before returning home on September 10, 1967. He may have been nick-named “Scotty” or “Chissy” for his Scottish accent. He was 26, a Sgt. and took a mortar to the head. I remember him bringing buddies home while on leaves, but the only one I really remember was a Joe Lemus..not sure of spelling but spelled how it sounds. Another was a Polynesian looking young man, I forget his name. I was only 9,but this war impacted me so much I still work with and support Viet Nam vets to this day. I would LOVE to hear from anyone who served with or knew him.Thank you and God Bless You ALL!! XOXOX Jo-Anne


    • Teruo "Skosh" Yorita says:

      Sgt. :Scotty” Chisholm, was he a Scottish with accent, joined USMC to fast track on obtaining the US Citizenship??
      I knew “Scotty”, as I was the Bn. Radio Operator, assigned to India Company from H&S. I was aware that he was a “short timer” and I was devastated when I found out he was KIA. I did not know him well, but my recollection was that he was well respected and liked by the India Company Marines.
      I aften wonder and reflect on his family’s loss.

      Jo-Anne, Scotty remains in my heart as my HERO, forever.

      Teruo “Skosh” Yorita

      • Jo-Anne Bowyer Crosswell says:

        Thank You Teruo for your kind comments:) Yes! That is my beloved Uncle Alex (Alexander “Scotty” Chisholm) born in Scotland and sponsored into the US by my parents. He was on a green card and could have went back to Scotland, but he was hell-bound and determined to become a Marine and serve the country he had hoped to be a proud citizen of. He was the most wonderful person our family has ever produced and losing him devastated the families on both sides of the pond. He was the only son,only brother,only uncle.He was loved by ALL! My only baby brother, his namesake, would follow in his foot-steps 11 years later and also become a Marine, he would serve 4 years til his death at age 21:( Those 2 tragedies shattered our family beyond repair. My only child, both their namesakes, is 32 and has been a deputy sheriff since he graduated college and academy at 19. I am trying to compile a biography for him of the 2 special men in my life, one he would never know and one he vaguely remembers. God has blessed me with this fine young man who has so many of my Uncle and Brother’s characteristics,skills, compassion,quirks, humor and a definite hatred for onions!:):) If you happen upon this message Teruo, please feel free to email me or find me on FaceBook. I would love to know you. God Bless XOXO Jo-Anne

    • Michael L. "Mick" Fisher says:

      Dear Jo-Anne,
      My name is Mick Fisher and I was in boot camp at Parris Island with your Uncle Alexander. We called him “Scotty”. He was a “Marine’s” Marine and I was very proud to have served with him. I’m not quite sure why his picture was not in our Platoon book wearing his dress blues, however I did find three pictures of him in the book – one as we sat in class and one with him and Sgt. Lusk with a pretty blonde haired woman beside him and another where he was being congratulated by Lt. Col Lillich, our battalion commander. Please email me at mickfisher03@yahoo.com and I will be glad to attach some scanned pictures for you and your family.

      • Jo-Anne Bowyer Crosswell says:

        Update! Mick and I have connected!:)Ooo-Rah! I have wall-papered so much of the Net in a desparate search to connect with ANY of my beloved Uncle’s buddies, and had lost links for follow up..I had no idea there were replies on here!:) Been searching since 1999 and Mick pretty much hunted me down himself:) What a wonderful man! I can’t thank him enough for all his help, kindness and friendship. It really helps the families of those who lost their loved-ones to connect with their buddies..I’m “adopting” Mick…. whether he likes it or not, and know I have found a friend for life.:) I’m still searching for any of his buddies that may have survived that horrific battle.
        Does anyone if William (Bill) Myzk ever published the book he was working on back in 1993? It was to be called “Hill 48”. I believe it would be similar in nature to Eric Hammel’s “Ambush Valley” which detailed this actual battle at Quang Tri with the contributions of the surviving Marines who served so heroically in this bloodbath.
        Thank you for the kind comments about My Uncle Alex! In civvie life he was an amazing person and losing him was totally devastating and destroyed our family.Even though I was just a kid then, the impact changed me forever.I have spent my adult life piecing back together his short 26 years. I’m sure I’m not alone.God Bless ALL Our Nam Vets!! Much Love To All! XOXO Jo-Anne
        Email:bulletsbikesandbacon@centurylink.net I’m on FaceBook,too.

    • Wayne Gordon says:

      I served with Scotty. He was a great friend. I was wounded on the 7th and didn’t see him after that. I still remember him trying to get me to talk scottish but I’m from Texas and he would burst out laughing at me. Thing is he couldn’t talk like a Texan either. Anyway I was in India Company with him from day 1 until Sept, 7th.

  12. Mike Knight says:

    one of my best friends from Portage Northern HS was Richard “Dick” Thornell, i found him on the Virtual Wall. There’s not much mentioned about him from any family or other friends and i want everyone to know something about him as a person.He was new to our school i think he had just moved to Portage from Grand Rapids, that aside, we played on the Huskie football team together in ’66, he a great guy very outgoing and just fun to be with and around, he had a dune buggy VW thing yellow and i miss him to this day it’s hard to find get guys like him and lose them. i want him to be remembered for what he was and what we all loss in these damn wars, i served in the 173RD ABN in 70-71 in II CORPS, it was safer in those days but make no mistake about that war you could get killed in Qui Nhon as easy as Ben Het, and people don’t seem to still realize that Iraq or Afganistan are no different,as was made apparent to eveyone even here in to states on (/11. This is going to be holy hell until the evil people are put away, they will kill until the world is empty of the truth and good, DRIVE ON DRIVE ON

  13. National Guard Sergeant says:

    Major Charles L. Deibert (Retired) was honored today in a ceremony dedicating a new Operations Building in his name. There were a bunch of 3/26 Marines there, it was very touching to hear LtCol Debona’s side of the story from September 10th, describing the “dumb pilot that was flying a Bird dog so low and slow over the enemy”.

    Courageous group of guys, both on the ground and in the air.

    • lillian madison says:

      do you have any pictures or stories of Ronald Black he was killed one of the five september 11, 1967. 3rd inf. 26 div. he was 21 years old from jacksonsville, illinois friend of family. marine. thank you.

  14. ed page says:

    Did anybody know a tom thurman in the 26th, marines 67-68 he was from detroit, mich.

  15. RAC says:

    I was on that mission, green as grass and scared shitless. My job was actually a wireman, but everybody there those nights was 0311. I was busy doing my best to keep the field phones operational, as they were the only secure communication in the field. The wires were blown to hell every few seconds, I couldn’t keep up and I couldn’t see what I was doing when a gunnery sgt., I don’t even know who it was, came running up and said we were being overrun and we needed men on the line. Well, “the line” was only about 50 yards from my position and the NVA were on us. Bullets and tracers were flying all directions, mortars, rockets and rpg’s were exploding everywhere – men were screaming, flares were falling through the trees creating shadows that raced everywhere at once. It was weird and surreal, exactly as described above. So I grabbed my weapon and moved forward. Honestly I don’t remember much, but I emptied my magazines and survived as Puff finally drove them off.

    That was my first combat mission. Khe Sanh came after that.

    I once read that soldiers must do their jobs when politicians fail to do theirs. There is wisdom in that statement. Vietnam was a political lie, but it was real and it was a nightmare for the soldiers who fought there. Evidently we learned nothing.

  16. danny allen says:

    Would like to know if Ted Quesinberry was an S-2 Scout in Vietnam? I think I served with him!

    • Chris Quesinberry says:

      Yes…..Ted Quesinberry was an S-2 scout with 3/26 at Khe Sanh.
      He now lives in Cocoa Beach, FL.

  17. Frank Emerson says:

    I was with Mke C. 3/26 during this time. Came to 3/26 after serving with 2/9 as they departed back to the world. Don’t remember last names only what we called each other. Sgt. Wetzel was our platoon leader, him and Souder were good friends. Wetzel reminded me of my brother ( and he was there ) Souder and I went to Tokoyo together on R&R and only had enough money left to catch a cab back to the airport to return to VN. I received 2 PH”s and came home a month early. Would love to hear from these guys.

  18. Jo-Anne Crosswell says:

    My Uncle, USMC Sgt. Alexander “Scotty” Chisholm, India Co.,326, was KIA 9/10/1967 in this battle. I,too, am looking for any of his buddies. Especially the man that is in his Platoon picture standing to my Uncle’s right..this man is in other candid pictures, so must have been a close buddy. Other names…Bruce A. Gray, Greg Reed, Joe Lemus. God Bless Our Nam Vets! Ooo-Rah! S/F! Love To All! Jo-Anne

  19. Gregory J. Topliff says:

    Searching for my old skipper.
    Dear Comrade,
    I found Lt. Col. DeBona’s citation for the Navy Cross on the Military Times website and Brothers in Arms website. I was at his feet as a gunner in 60 mortars when I was wounded twice on September 10, 1967. My squad leader Frank Antaya pulled a chunk of shrapnel out of my right forearm while the skipper laid back on his pack calling in arty. I was hit again in the left upper back through my flack jacket with a piece that stuck in my back 3/4 of an inch. I was also hit three times the day before during our first contact with minor wounds to my left hand and both legs. When the skipper commanded us to regroup back at our LZ, I stopped to pick up Gunny Pineapple, that’s the name I new him buy. When I went to pull him out of the brush his arms and legs were barely attached to his torso. He yelled telling me to stop. I waited with him until he was gone. When I moved out, I saw Pvt Baker from Ohio laying on the ground with his leg and arm barely attached to his body. I picked up his leg and put it into a poncho and another marine put in his arm. It was at that time a Second Lieutenant from M co. came up to us and said he would lead us back to the LZ. He looked me right in the eyes and said he was putting me and the other guys up for Bronze Stars. At the time, medals were the last thing on our minds. On the way back we were burned by a napalm drop when the enemy over ran our position. I was wounded 5 times in two days and burned by napalm on the left side of my face and left arm as I carried Baker heading for the LZ.
    Here’s where my story gets interesting, I kept complaining of back pain before Vietnam and while in country but after numerous x-rays and sick call visits nothing was found. When I went to the hospital in Phu Bai after being wounded I was told the doctors in Cam Ranh Bay would treat me. When I got there I was told that I had phantom pains from the trauma of being wounded.
    I was sent back to my unit a month later and became squad leader in 60 mortars. At that point, I was all but paralyzed in pain unable to take baby steps so, I wrote home and pleaded for my parents to get me help. It took a couple of weeks of fighting the doctors in Phu Bai A-Med who said it was all in my head before they sent me to Guam. There I had a myelogram done where they found two-ruptured disc in my lower back. I was sent stateside to St. Alban’s Hospital where they removed one disc. I was 19 years old. The doctors stated to my parents and myself that I was to young for a fusion so, the other disc was left alone. While there I received a Purple Heart when I told the liaison officer that I hadn’t gotten my medals yet. He threw the box across his desk and said, “how’s that”?
    After a long battle trying to get out of the military because I couldn’t walk without pain, I was given a 10% disability and told to fight the VA, along with that, a boot lieutenant tore up my sergeant promotion in front of me calling me a lousy civilian piece of crap (putting it politely) adding more insult to injury.
    To shorten the story, I ended up unable to work in my law enforcement career due to back pain and was told by them to go after the VA. When I went after the VA they said they had no record of all of my hospital treatment in country or medical files of treatment before I went there. I was denied my honors and all of my medals because my files were removed. There was one page that was overlooked where I went to sick call complaining of back pain before we went up to the DMZ where I was wounded.
    With the help of the VFW, I spent five long years trying to convince the VA that they were responsible and got my 100% rating back in 1983. I never got my Bronze Star nor the Purple Hearts I was due. I contacted the awards branch of the corps and was told there was no record but on my two different attempts I was sent a Purple Heart, however, they refused to put them on my DD214. I also tried through the Records Branch to have my records corrected but they blew me off. I have copies of my parents Western Union telegram sent after I was wounded, my log sheets stating where I was hit in country and physically and pictures of myself in the hospital in Cam Ranh Bay but, I was told that I would need someone to corroborate my story. I would like you to send this letter to my skipper. Maybe he can help me find that second lieutenant and give me the honors I am owed. Semper Fi.
    Respectfully yours,
    Cpl. USMC 66-69
    Gregory J. Topliff
    395 Glenwood Dr.
    Warrenville, SC 29851
    803 232-1171


    Dear Lt. Colonel DeBona,

    This is a follow-up letter to the first one I wrote telling you about what happened to me after I was wounded at your feet in my right forearm and back when we first contacted the enemy on September 10, 1967.
    I was sent up to the front lines as part of a reactionary squad to fill in where others were wounded or killed the day before on the 9th.
    My squad leader Frank Antaya and I were in a bomb crater when he got his watch blown off his wrist. We had just finished firing off all of our mortar rounds when the word came that we needed men to fill in the lines. I don’t know if you remember the barrage of gunfire but I had to leave the safety of the crater and run through thousands of rounds out in the open that turned the trees into kindling wood. I was lucky to say the least that I didn’t get shot; however upon my run to the front, I got hit in both legs and my left hand by shrapnel. The wounds were superficial and didn’t impede my attempt so I kept running. When I got up to a small hill, one of the squad leaders we called, “ Tiny” was there. I am not sure if you remember him but he was the one standing on a quad-fifty when he was almost killed by a sniper when we were on the Laotian boarder on a convoy run one day.
    He was running low on ammo so, he told me to go back to a bomb crater where we had a small cache of ammo. I just ran all the way up there and had to run back through a hell of a lot of gunfire. I am sure you remember there was lead flying all over the place.
    When I got to the crater where the ammo was supposed to be, it was empty so, I crater hopped until I found the right one and ran back up to the front.
    After the firing stopped, I helped Tom our corpsman give first aide to the wounded in another crater. For reference, Tom was from Massachusetts, he got the Navy Cross for heroism. I was at the ceremony when he got it, while some of the other guys got Purple Hearts. I’m not sure if you gave out the medals.
    At any rate, I remember the first guy dying; I was holding the back of his head up while Tom was doing mouth to mouth, it was dark by then so, I held my lighter up as he tried to save the guy. I felt a sticky wetness in my hand thinking the guy was soaked from sweat but when we caught a glimpse of his forehead from my lighter, we saw that he was shot in the head at the hairline. When I removed my hand from the back of his head, I saw that it was covered in blood and brain matter.
    Tom gave orders to remove the dead to another spot behind some bushes. This was the first body I moved. During the night there were more than a dozen bodies that I carried there.
    I don’t know if you remember this but when daylight broke, we did a body count and found a dead Russian advisor in a dark green uniform. I’m sure he had something to do with those SAM rockets we captured the day before with USSR painted on the sides when we first entered the defoliated abandoned NVA encampment outside of Outpost C-2. We also captured a wounded 15-year-old NVA soldier shot in the foot. He was given first aide and choppered out. I saw him in the hospital ward where they kept POW’s when I got to Phu Bai after leaving the battlefield.
    The next day I mentioned in my first letter so, I’ll let you know what transpired after I came back from Cam Ranh Bay and became squad leader.
    When I get back to our unit, we were sent up to Camp Evens where we were given orders by our new company commander to set up night ambushes outside a village where the VC had ties. I just came back from the hospital so, the squad leader used me as an extra man not making me hump anything because I still had the stitches in my arm and pain in my lower back.
    While setting up the 60 mortar we had a misfire, which blew off the squad leaders thumbs when he dropped an illumination round down the tube for lever fire. It reared up and broke both the gunners arms. The round went off in the distance hitting a tree and hanging there; the enemy didn’t see it. Our new skipper later on that night dropped three hundred arty rounds on the village when the VC walked into the village to collect their supplies.
    I was made the new squad leader the next day. There was an investigation but nothing came of it. The gun was on lever fire even though it fired anyway so; it was deemed a faulty round.
    My back pain continued to grow worse with pain running down my right leg to my ankle. It was at that time that I was sent to Hill 674 with my new squad to support a radio relay station run by a Recon squad. My friend Larry Turner and laws rocket man was assigned to me so we set up our bunker together on the hill. It was the only thing that saved me because I was unable to walk. After 19 days on the hill I wrote home pleading for help.
    As much as I didn’t want to leave my squad, I was no good to them crippled, so I got on a chopper when word came down to report to the hospital in Phu Bai.
    Upon my arrival, I was blindsided by a Chaplain who confronted me in a manner that caught me off guard, he snidely remarked, “ Did you write home to your mommy and daddy to get you out of Vietnam”? I didn’t expect that response so, I told him that I was in pain and could only take baby steps. His response to me was, “ I think you are a yellow-goldbricking- son-of-a-bitch”. He added, “ If I ever see you again, I’m going to lock you in a rubber room and throw away the key”. FYI, I’ve written about this response many times over the years. It was not made up or exaggerated, being 19 years old and naive I thought that the men of the cloth were holy and sympathetic and not supposed to cuss.
    I ended up at A-Med Hospital in Phu Bai where I was treated when I first got wounded before going to Cam Ranh Bay. I spent a couple of weeks there, fighting with doctors who kept telling me it was all in my head. It was also at this time that I would be subjected to more insults that dishonored my good deeds.
    It was the Marine Corps Birthday, November 10,1967 a date that marines do not forget. There was a medals ceremony with a Vietnamese girls school handing out gifts and a Vietnamese General and a bunch of our officers presenting medals. With the exception of myself, everyone in the hospital ward got their Silver and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts with the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. When they walked up to my rack, one of the officers asked the doctors who I was and the doctor disdainfully stated that I was there complaining of back pain. I spoke up and said that I was wounded previously and didn’t get my medals. I was told that no one was there from my company to give me anything but I would get them when I returned to my unit.
    After two weeks of not caving in because I couldn’t walk, I was sent to Guam where I was finally exonerated when they found the ruptured discs; I was then sent stateside to the Brooklyn Navy Yard hospital for my operation.
    Still adding insult in injury, we made a stop in Hawaii where I was told to get off the plane to get my medals. I hobbled down to the tarmac and stood last in line of a dozen or so wounded. When the General passing out the medals walked up to me found that my name wasn’t on the list to receive medals, he said, “ who are you and what the hell are you doing standing with the wounded marines”? I spoke up stating that I was one of the wounded. His face turned deep red as he apologized and turned to one of the officers giving him a look of disbelief because of the screw up. I was told that I would get my medals at my next duty station, which of course with the exception of the one Purple Heart I previously mentioned, didn’t happen.
    When I got out of the service with a 10% disability rating as stated previously, I was told to go to the VA to collect. When I first went there a friend of mine working for the VA told me that my records were incomplete from 1968. I never put two and two together until 1996 when I tried to get the Purple Hearts and Bronze Star. The records would have shown that I was unfit for combat and had a paper trail of over ten months of complaining about back pain before and during my duty in Vietnam and that I was sent back into combat from the hospital in Cam Ranh Bay.
    One of the last insults came when I tried to get my records corrected in the late 1990’s. The VA said that they had no record of me being wounded in combat. I made the request again and got back another letter stating that there was no record of me being wounded in Vietnam. When I checked my records, reference was made to my back injury but there was no reference made as to how I ended up with two ruptured discs. According to them it happened somewhere else. I also learned that doctors in one of the hospitals that I stayed at when I was trying to get out of the service wrote up a scenario stating that I said the I had back problems before I entered the service. Considering that I joined the military in top physical condition and went through the most vigorous training programs on earth a year before going to Vietnam, there would have been no way that I could have put up with the pain I was suffering after I was wounded. At least I have my DD214, which states that I was in Vietnam and that I earned several medals with the exception of the medals mentioned.
    To put it into perspective, I was able to run under gunfire on the 9th before I was hit and knocked down on September 10,1967. It wasn’t until after that, that I progressively got worse. My back was problematic for months before and during my duty in Vietnam because the discs kept sliding in and out of position. If by chance anyone had any common sense they would have figured out that I only wrote home after I was all but paralyzed. Another fact of the matter was, I like being a squad leader and had no desire to leave Vietnam.
    If it’s not apparent to you by now, the military covered their ass trying hide the truth that they were negligent in their duties. I spent five long years fighting the VA because someone removed the documentation that showed I consistently reported to sick call. It also cost me monetarily. I lost four years of compensation because of the missing records. I also came to the conclusion that the boot lieutenant who tore up my sergeant promotion had no idea of my good deeds ergo his nasty response to me.
    Skipper, I acted with honor, and received a beating for many years due to no fault of my own fighting people who had no honor. I earned my medals the hard way and deserve the medals I was told I would get. I hope that you can see that it is long over due.
    I still have my documentation and letters I sent to my parents that my mother kept. I also have a kind response letter to my parents from the Chaplain, which was totally unexpected after the tongue-lashing he gave me. He too was another person trying to cover up his maltreatment of me. I wish I carried around a tape recorder back then so I could prove my case. All I have now is my word that what I stated is the truth. I hope you will take an interest in my request. Please respond.

    Respectfully yours,

    Former Cpl. USMC 66-69
    Gregory J. Topliff
    395 Glenwood Dr
    Warrenville, SC 29851
    Ph. 803 232-1171
    Email, top62@att.net

  20. jeff smith says:

    as a corpsman with 3/26-Mike co on Sept 7.. I was wounded with incoming while treating marines on the LZ…thanks to fellow marines I was loaded into a copter and was one of the last to get out alive that night…to the survivors of 3/26 Mike wherever you are.Thank You .I will always be grateful to you for saving me bacon !

    • Johnny Martinez says:

      Jeff, I served with Mike Co. 26th Marines. I was a replacement for the seven marines that were killed by friendly fire on June 2, 1968. Were you there then?

  21. Frederick Emerson says:

    I am very happy to get the information on this 10th day of sept. 1967
    because it is exactly what I have been describing to my wife for years.
    I landed in Viet Nam in July of 1967. I was assigned to 3/26 India co.
    at that time we were at Khe Sahn. All during the time of August we did
    a lot of sand bag filling, going on patrol and unloading supplies. Then came the words, pack it up we are moving out. We were to take the place of the 9th marines out side of contien. After moving in we sat up a perimeter and headed out on patrol that same day sept. 7th 1967. After crossing about 5 acres of rice patties we found an under ground hospital in the tall elephant grass. Warren my squad leader was pointing in the direction of telling us to check out the area when small arms rang out. Warren was shot in the back the round came out of his chest. He was the 1st casualty that I seen killed. We pulled back to regroup helicopters flew in to pick up the dead and wounded. When they came in they brought in a few replacement marines. One int which
    ran directly into the tall elephant grass an hit a bouncing betty mine that took off his head. After pulling back the small rounds from the NVA started up again. Na pom strike was called in. This did not stop the NVA. They came in on us with artillery. Marines were falling everywhere puff work through the night. This was just a sample of what
    was to come. On September the 10th 1967 it was like the end of the world. It was just as you explained. After the point ran into booby trap
    It all began incoming showered us and I thought I heard someone yell pull back. I got out of my fox hole ran up the hill and hit the deck when
    we got shelled. I had a mortar round land right next to me. I stood up
    bleeding from my head and yelling corpsman. I had a corpsman patch me up and crawled into a fox hole with a marine that I did not know.
    I kept loading his magazine while he kept firing the rounds. It was the next day before we could be lifted out by chopper. I spent until Nov. in the hospital. I am going a bit to far on my comments but I had to explain what led up to the 10 of sept. 1967. Thank you for confirming what I have been saying all these years.

    semper fi……

  22. Frederick Emerson says:

    It’s been 44 years ago today !

    Semper Fi To all who was there. ( God Bless America )

  23. Cpl Wayne Williams says:

    I was with India, 3/26 from April ’67 until Dec. ’67. During the early days of Sept. Lt. Bill Cowan was my platoon commander.
    Does anyone have any info about a Marine named Michael Viera. He was from California. He took over my squad when I rotated back to the world in December ’67. Also, John French, Gary Tingle, Dean Darwin, Matt. Guillfoyle, black guy named Crenshaw.

    • steve mcguirk says:

      Me too…remember all except Darwin…I stay in touch w/ Matt Caulfield and Chuck Bennett

  24. Cpl Wayne Williams says:

    A great book “AMBUSH VALLEY” by Eric Hammel really provides a blow-by-blow account from the time 3/26 arrived at Con Thien until we left. He wrote several books about 26h Marines in Vietnam. This is the best on I have found

    Look at http://www.erichammelbooks.com

  25. Bob Corsa says:

    I have just returned fron a reunion with members of Kilo 326,
    all of which are the oringinals of kilo.
    I have wounded and medievaced out on the 4 of March 67 and did not have the honor of serving during the hill fights.
    It is always a honor to be with members of mighty KILO 326 , in particular my brothers of the first platoon and of course Weapons.

    • Craig Rome says:

      Hi Bob. My father, Jimmy Rome, served with you in Kilo 3/26 81mm morters. He says hello and hope you are doing well. He was a freind Phil, Tony, and ‘Mouse’ from the 2nd platoon of 3/26. It would be great to hear more from you and others who knew my father. I can be reached directly at cromeman@verizon.net.
      Craig Rome

    • John Baranowski says:

      Hi Bob, I’m one of the originals and still kicking … even though I was wounded on 9/8 and 9/10, I stayed and fought the bastards off the hill. I was also one that boarded the John Pope that brought us home.

  26. Jo-Anne Crosswell says:

    Still would love to hear from the men who served with my Uncle Alexander “Scotty” Chisholm India Co. 326 KIA 9/10/1967.Any Info or Pics A Plus. Please email me @ bulletsbikesandbacon@centurylink.net

  27. Johnny Martinez says:

    Jeff, I served in 3rd platoon, Mike Co. 26th Marines. I was one of the replacements for the seven guy that were killed by friendly fire on June 2, 1968. Just wondering if you were there then. My squad leader was Wayne Hillin and my Platoon Commander was Lt Andrews.

    Johnny Martinez
    tour of duty in country
    May 1968 to June 1969.

  28. Bill Ward says:

    I was with Mike Company, 3rd Platoon during the Sept 7-10 battle. This is a very well written account and I would encourage anyone to also get a copy of Eric Hammel’s book, “Ambush Valley”.

    For the Marines of 3/26, there is a new website at http://www.326marines.com for sharing photos and memories of your experiences in Vietnam. You can also listen to the song “Battle of Hill 48” written by Walter Hammond that is about the final battle on September 10th.

  29. Gregory J. Topliff says:

    After searching for some 44 years for my skipper, Capt. Andy DeBona I found him living out west. I sent him the above outline of what happened but he didn’t remember me.
    Any way, I was also looking for my squad leader Frank Antaya who I mention in the above. He would have been able to verify what I said in my letters.
    On the Marine Corps Birthday Nov. 10, 2011, Frank’s son Tim called me after reading a post I left looking for his father. I was told Frank died of cancer last year. My friend and squad leader will be missed. Semper Fi.
    Greg Topliff

  30. James Egan says:

    Hello to all: My Name is Jim Egan, I was with 3/26 India- 881S, with Lt Fromey, SST Taylor, Sgt Jones, Cpt Dabney, Cpl Provenzona, Waters, Butcher, Porter, Toppings, Darling, Place, Scarburough, Moses, Humphrey, Cosby and a lot more I just cant remember thier names, it would be nice if anyone remembered me or had photos I could show my grandson thanks to all , welcome home and Godd Bless.

  31. Bill Ward says:

    Hi James

    Check in on our website at http://www.326marines.com . We haven’t had anyone from India Co submit photos yet but the site is still new and eventually we will. I’ve had 4 people submit photos from Mike Company and that has let us create a list of almost 50 names of vets who are contained in those pictures.

    In fact, I had no pictures of myself for 43 years and then found 4 that I was in from the first 2 people that submitted pictures from my old platoon. Keep checking the site or drop me a note sometime at heathkit@bellsouth.net
    Semper Fi
    Bill Ward

    • Amy Esselborn says:

      Looking for any information about Jimmie Keith Williams. I think he was a mortarman. 3rd/26th marines india….. KIA on Dec.8th (my birthday) 1968…He was my mother’s cousin….from Indiana…THANKYOU!!!!!!!!

  32. Butch Brown says:

    You guys who haven’t checked out WARRIORS OF HILL 881 SOUTH should sure do it, there’s a lot of pictures by Dave Powell that are very good. And a lot of other pictures from other “Hill People” Semper Fi, Butch Brown , 81’s Hill 881 South 67-68

  33. David Thompson says:

    Looking for info on SGT. Larry Vincent Flora, kia 7 September 1967.
    attached is info from the virtual wall..
    On 07 and 10 Sep 1967 the men of the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines, fought two bitter battles along the main supply route between Cam Lo and Con Thien, just below the Demilitarized Zone. At least 56 Marines and sailors died in the fighting.
    The fight on 07/08 Sep 1967 took place in and around a churchyard and cost the lives of 20 Americans: If anyone has info on Larry please let me know, went to school with him.

    • Bill Ward says:

      Hi David,
      In the book, ‘Ambush Valley’, Sgt Flora is mentioned on page 57 and then again briefly on pages 107-108. It talks about the circumstances under which he was killed. The Exec Officer also speaks highly of him in the book saying that he was ‘absolutely fearless’ (everyone called him Mad Dog) and was highly thought of by everyone in his unit.

      If you don’t have the book, send me an email so I can see your address and I will type out the several paragrahs from the book for you. My email is: heathkit@bellsouth.net

  34. Larry Hamm says:

    My brother L/Cpl Eddie D. Hamm was lost at this battle. Anyone know or remember him. Cpl. Larry G. Hamm I had gotten out of the marines in May of 1967.

  35. Cpl Don Newsom says:

    I was a radio operator for india co 3rd platoon under LT DUGGAR i was wounded by a mortor evac on the 11th like to see if the Lt made it out how are you doing Mike norcross,Bill Hayes or any others Semper Fi to all my comrads.THANK YOU

    • Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny) says:

      Hi Don

      Been trying to find you since I was discharged. I hope you still remember me we went on R & R together in Japan. I’ve talked with Claire, Cobb, Sgt. Hamilton and Gunny Pete asking about you. Let me know what happen to you.

    • Wayne Williams says:

      I served in 3rd Platoon “I” company from April 67 until Dec. 67
      I knew Lt. Duggar during days in Khe Sanh in summer ’67.

      I was in Cpl. Norcross squad.

      Wayne Williams

    • Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny) says:

      Do you remember Japan and R&R ?

  36. Greg Topliff says:

    May 31, 2012
    For all of those who were there for the above battle. The June/July 2012 edition of the VFW magazine has a four page article with my old Skipper, then Captain Andy DeBona, including pictures starting on page 38. Hill 49 A Battle for Con Thien.
    Cpl. USMC 66-69
    Greg Topliff
    3/26 Mike Co. 3rd. Mar. Div.

    • tinker perkins says:

      i saw my flick in the book Lima ^6″. I am the one kneeling down with the torn knees on my trousers. I was one of 3 Native Americans with Lima co. They were transferred out to Mike co and Indian Company. I was with Lima from the start at Las Pulgas, Camp Pendleton, Calif. I made it to the 26th Marines Re-Union that was held iat Lake Tahoe, Calif.
      I was with weapons platoon. i remember getting off the trucks when rocket, motars showered us. Watching Marines being ordwered to run towards to firing of the rockets and motars, not away. Marines were falling and I help carry a corpsman to a jeep. his arm was baring hanging on then onto Leatherneck Square for some in-fighting.

      • Bill Ward says:

        Hi Tinker, Thank you for your service and glad you made it back. Just wanted to point you to a couple of 3/26 sites you might be interested in. 1st) Nik Dunbar’s excellent site http://www.326marinesinvietnam.com which let’s you look through the Command Chronologies in a searchable format. Nik spent 100’s of hours painstakingly re-typing the sometimes illegible Command Chronologies. You can even write in and submit your own comments. And also, my site http://www.326marines.com which is more of a photo sharing site for 326 veterans. Both of us would be glad to hear from you or just have you look around the sites (you may see someone you know).

        Semper Fi

        Bill Ward
        Mike Company, 3rd Platoon (radioman) Jan, 24 ’67-Sept 15, ’67.

      • Tony Benedetto says:

        i dont know if you remenber me but I;m the guy standing next to Sgt Mullins frank garcia is kneeling next to you with the M60 I remenber b eing hit withrockets on the road if call we ran towardan the tree line open field I was in Cpl Pat Cochran sq with garica, sliva hefflin,smith,morgan they call me Benny I to remenber Sept 10 hell of a day SEMPER FI Benny

  37. Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny) says:

    Hi Don

    Let me know how you have been. I’m still in Texas. So drop me a line and we can talk about old times. I was the mule driver and we did hang out together back then.

    Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny )

    • Wayne Williams says:

      Were you in 3rd Plt “I” company ??

      Wayne Williams

      • Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny) says:

        I was with machine guns in 3rd PLT

      • Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny) says:

        I was the mule drive for a long time and was put back in machine guns

        before we moved to the Khe Sanh. I was with India Company just about from day 1

      • Wayne Gordon ( Little Gunny) says:

        Do you remember me

    • jeff smith says:

      yes I remember parts of my R&R in Japan-when I was young and foolish..
      glad to get out of khe sanh ..and mule driving..


    • Wayne Williams says:

      Wayne (little Gunny)
      I don’t remember you. I came to “I” 3/26 from “A” 1/9 in April ’67 and was with them until Dec. 67. My first squad leader with Cpl Thomas, a big, black guy. I was later put into Cpl Norcross squad. Lt. Duggar (Douger ??) was platoon commander and Sgt. Steele was platoon Sgt.

      Do you remember Matt Guilfoyle. We also called him Gunny even though he was a LCpl. That nickname was given him when he was with 1/9. How about Mike Viera, Gary Tingle, Dean Darwin??

      Contact me at:

      I’ve got a couple photos I would like to send you to see if you remember any of the guys in them.

      Semper Fi
      Wayne Williams (Willie)

  38. jeff smith says:

    so many years ago-and so many memories.
    I was a corpsman with 3/26 Mike and was one of the 70 wounded on the fateful noc of Sept 7 (apparently we lost several corpsmen during that engagement) when we were ambushed ..since I was working one of the evac strips I was fortunate to be loaded on the last chopper out the that night by some nameless marine..if it weren’t for him I would not be here today ..as I spent several months on the Repose with a collapsed lung etc before I was shipped back to headquarters duty at Khe Sanh after Tet….bottom line Semper Fi and thank you who ever you are!

  39. Irish Corsa says:

    I just want to pass on to members of the 3rd Batt
    26th Reg my feeling that what was accomplished on those days in Sept 1967 will always be remembered and recalled as a part of the History
    of the 26th Marines regiment history.

    I didn’t have the honor of participating in the hill fights. I salute all members that did.
    Please have a good Labor Day

    Semper Fidelis

    Robert “Irish” Corsa
    oringinal kilo 3 26
    med evaced 4 March 1967

  40. Tammy Naquin says:

    I’m looking for information or anyone who knew Cpl Simon Naquin from
    M CO, 3RD BN, 26TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV, III MAF. He died on September 10, 1967 in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.

  41. Monty Nelson says:

    Howdy, my uncle was William (Billy) Pelton and he was KIA on 9/10/67 during the battle described in “Ambush Valley”. I am pretty sure he was in Kilo Company from what I was able to find in my research. I was 11 when he was killed and have always wondered about his life in the Marines and the events that lead up to his death. By pure accident, I came across his obituary this past weekend which had that he was in the 3/26 and from that i started to research. This lead me here and other sites related to the 3/26 as well as the book Ambush Valley I just completed.

    I am humbled by what you had to do and to your service to our country. I thank all of you. I also thank all of those who helped get the book written recognizing how difficult it had to be to revisit that battle.

    I would be interested in hearing from anyone who served with my uncle and cares to share any stories of your times with him. I can be reached at mjn42inAz@gmail.com

    • Bill Ward says:

      I am sorry for your loss. I was not a member of Kilo CVo, but was with Mike Co. that day on 9/10/67.
      Don’t know if you had a chance to hear the song written about that battle on 9/10, it was “The Battle of Hill 48” and was written by Walter Hammond, a member of Kilo Co.
      You can find his profile here on the http://www.326marines.com website. Once on that page there is a ‘Play Button’ where you can hear that song.

  42. Charles Lee Owsens says:

    Do any of you remember my dad SSgt Charles Owens during this ordeal, he talked about it many times, only after about 10 years being home. Just didn’t want to relive it for such a long time. Agent Orange took him 1/3/2011. Now there is another Marine guarding the gates of glory and finally resting…

  43. Jesse L Sanchez says:

    I was their Kilo co 0311 infantry along with the old man,Jim Rinkema, Moe Millier,from Zanesville Ohio Jake Mahoney, skeet so thankful for the f-4 and puff the majic giants

    • John Baranowski says:

      Well Jesse, if you know Jake Mahoney and Moe Miller then you’ve got to know me, the crazy Pollack from Alabama – Cpl Ski …

  44. Jesse L Sanchez says:

    How about a Mitch Potenski out of Motown called him skeet or Mad Dog Morris I believe his first name was Naithon from the south somewhere they called me youngblood

  45. John Ortiz says:

    Does anyone remember L/Cpl. Robert Richard Rogers 0311. He was with India Co 3/26 and was KIA on 9/7/1967. I had just arrived in country with him on 9/1/67 after attending the Dept. of Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, CA. during the Summer of 1967. I was not at Con Thien myself. I was a 2511 Wireman with H&S co. and once arriving at Khe Sanh I was told I would be staying there while others were going into the field. I know I was fortunate to not go through what the others did but I find myself wishing I would have or at least I feel that I should have instead of just setting there at Khe Sanh those days. Later I was attached to the 81’s mm mortars and served under Capt. Bill Dabney on Hill 881 South throughout the Siege and 68 Tet Offensive.

  46. Wayne Williams says:

    I was with India Co 3/26 during the time you are asking about.
    Unfortunately I did not know LCpl Rogers. I well remember
    the events of that day and the days that followed and knew
    several of the Marines killed but no Lcpl Rogers.
    Wayne Williams
    3rd Plt I Co. 3/26
    April 67 – Dec 67

  47. Chris Quesinberry says:

    My father , Ted Quesinberry went to language school at the same time and was with India Co. 3/26 during the events in September in and around Con Thien in September of 1967. He later served as an S-2 scout at Khe Sahn with H&S co. And finally with Kilo on Hill 861.
    You may have known my dad.

  48. John Ortiz says:

    Rogers and I got to Khe Sanh literally the day before or possibly the same day 3/26 went to Con Thien. His family had just visited him in Monterrey, Ca prior to us leaving. I’ll never forget seeing their car pull up beside the bus we were in on our way to Travis AFB. The memory of seeing them waving and saying goodbye to their brother has stayed with me ever since. Thanks again,

  49. John Ortiz says:

    I don’t recall your father’s name from either Monterrey nor India Co. 3/26. Although I was with 3/26 throughout my tour I wasn’t attached to India until about the first of Dec. 1967. While going through the school there were quite a few us along with members of every branch of the services. Of all the guys I went through school with there I can only remember a handful of names, Rogers, Rutcowski sp?, Dearing sp? and I believe Huff. Thanks for your reply.

  50. John Ortiz says:

    Hello Amy,
    I don’t remember Jimmie Williams but I was attached to 81mm mortars, India Co 3/26 until mid Sept., 68. Good chance I could have served with him depending on if he was with 81 mortars and when he entered country, but sorry I don’t remember his name. I am very sorry for your family’s loss.

  51. Wayne Williams says:

    If you arrived at Khe Sanh same day 3/26 left for Con Thien
    we may have been only feet apart upon arrival. I was returning
    from R&R that day and several new guys were on the chopper
    I flew on back to Khe Sanh. One was LCPL Howard Chamberlain
    who was hit on 9/10 and died on 9/12.

    • John Ortiz says:

      Yes, it could have been possible. We flew out of Dong Ha to Khe Sanh that day. Had been stuck at Dong Ha for several days because of heavy shelling there but finally caught a chopper out. What I remember most about arriving at Khe Sanh that day was that there were I don’t know how many Marines saddled up and waiting for choppers to be lifted out. I had no idea at that time what they were doing or where they were going. I just saw a lot of marines sitting and standing with their gear and ready to go somewhere. I didn’t know if that was normal or not to see so many like that. I was still one very new guy with no idea what was going to happen next. Somehow we made it over to the 3/26 H&S Co. area and that’s when I was told I would be staying there at Khe Sanh while some of the other guys I had traveled there with were told they’d be going out in the field. Two of the guys that I had gone through language school with that summer and had flown to Okinawa then Vietnam with died on Sept 7th which was either that same day or the next. L/Cpl Rogers was one of them but I can’t remember the name of the other. The only thing I remember about the other marine was that he had been told by a judge to either join the service or he’d be going to jail. Always felt that the judge had given him a death sentence for whatever he had done. I’ll do some research and see if L/Cpl Chamberlain might have been that marine. Thanks for your reply. Semper Fi

      • Wayne Williams says:

        Definitely sounds like we were on same chopper arriving in Khe Sanh. I was met at chopper by Lt. Cowan with my gear and we loaded back up and went to Camp Carroll and then on to Con Thie

  52. Philip Pantoja says:

    Hi tinker,
    Thanks for your comments about my Marine Brother Gunny Almanza.
    One night during a gang fight in San Antonio (Where we are from), Juan got knifed on the right shoulder leaving him with a big scar. I never forgto that brawl becuase I got shot on my right knee. While we were in the Corps he went to the main area in Pendleton and I got assigned to Marine Corps Test Unit 1 which was just a few miles just before you got to Camp Pulgas coming from San Onofre. Your are right, Juan would take squack from anybody. We got into several scraps in Pendleton and had fun. We were dammed good Marines. Tinker I would really like to shoot the breeze with you. Drop me an email. Hope to hear from you.


  53. David Antrican says:

    I am trying to locate anyone with information on M Co, 3RD BN, 26TH Marines. June 1968 Quang Nam, South Vietnam I am searching for anyone that may remember June 18, 1968. or that may remember a PFC. David Wayne Jorgensen. he was wounded in a 60mm mortar attack and died the next day from his wounds.

  54. David Antrican says:

    Anyone with information on M CO, 3RD BN, 26TH marines, june 1968 please contact me at dantrican9@comcast.net. thank you.

  55. Wayne Williams says:

    Definitely sounds like we were on same chopper arriving in Khe Sanh. I was met at chopper by Lt. Cowan with my gear and we loaded back up and went to Camp Carroll and then on to Con Thien.

  56. Chris Quesinberry says:

    My dad Ted Quesinberry was walking point along with a couple other Marines in Chamberlains squad when he was hit during the initial contact with the NVA during that engagement. My father was eventually wounded during those few days in Sept. 67 when a tank that was there in support was hit by a rocket and shrapnel from the blast hit him in the hip. He was evacuated when the fight was over. He spent a couple days in the rear and returned to Khe Sanh to H&S co. S2 where he patrolled with Kit Carson scouts outside the perimeter. In January of 68 he was flown out to hill 861 with Kilo Co.

    • Wayne Williams says:


      I remember your dad. My fireteam was on the right flank and
      had to come back to main column due to thickness of brush.
      we had just got back to them when it all broke loose. We were
      up front providing covering fire while your dad and Chamberlain
      was being pulled back. We were both in Lt. Cowan’s platoon
      which was 3rd Platoon, “I” company. I was a fireteam leader
      in Corporal Norcross squad.

  57. Wayne Williams says:

    Contact me via e-mail at


  58. Chris Quesinberry says:

    My dad was also on that chopper with you. He was also met by Lt. Cowan when he got off and was told he was gonna be his his platoon. He was one of the FNGs on that bird. All in all without a doubt in my mind you were with my dad.

  59. John Ortiz says:

    Wayne, does look like we were on the very same chopper that day. Glad you survived Con Thien and everything after. At that time I had no idea where all you guys were headed or anything about where or what Con Thien was but once getting to Camp Evans of course I began to learn what happened there and what you guys went through. As I mention before, two marines I had just spent the last several months with in CA. were KIA at Con Thien and I somehow was spared. Sometimes that’s very difficult for me to accept. Well, Semper Fi and Welcome Home!

  60. Brian Roberts says:

    My father was in 3/26 India Co 67/68. His name was Fred Roberts he was wounded in his left arm from what I was told a mortar attack. Looking for information if anybody knew him. He passed away in 1998. He was from Sebring or Lake Placid,FL

  61. Chris Quesinberry says:

    Do you live in Sebring or Lake Placid, FL.?
    I currently live in Okeechobee, FL. which is very close by. My father was in India 3/26 in 1967 as well. My dad may have known yours. Small world indeed.

    • Brian Roberts says:

      I’m from lake placid I leave in Atlanta now. My father was wounded Sept 7. 1967. Small world

  62. Garion Hines says:

    I had a friend who served with 3-26, in 81 mm during 67/68.His name was Irving Robinson from Louisville,Ky. Irving passed on in 2010,to the next stage of his journey. I to served in Nam,with 3/27,3/5 & Cap. 68/69.

  63. Dominic Monteleone says:

    Searching for anyone who was in K company 3-26 who knew George Meister, KIA 10 Sept 1967 on hill 48.

  64. Lisa Morgan says:

    Wondering if you remember fellow marine William (Billy) Pelton 3rdbattalion,26th marines KIA.
    I’m his cousin and just looking to make connection. Thanks

  65. Craig Rome says:

    Hi Garion – my father, Jimmy Rome, served with 2 ‘Robinsons’ during that time but he can’t recall their first names. Do you know if Irving served as a radio operator and the other was in headquarters? Sorry for your loss.

  66. john johnson says:

    senior corpsman of India. Anyone left out there from the fights of Sept 7-10 of 67? corpsman or grunts?

    • Bill Ward says:

      Hi John,

      I’m sure there are still a number of us. That was such a significant event in all our lives it would be interesting if someone was to arrange a reunion for all the survivors from the battles at the Churchyard and Hill 48 on Sept 7-10th of 1967.

      Glad you made it back.

      Semper Fi

      Bill Ward
      Mike Company, 3rd Platoon Radioman

  67. jeff smith says:

    yes I expect there are a few of us still around.I was a rookie corpsman with m 3/26. I was medievacted out on sept 10 .spent 2 1/2 mos on USS Repose and then back to Khe Sanh ..I

    • john johnson says:

      good way to get in uh! at least you made it. kHE SANH was my last also. I had 26 mos. in before they let me finally quit and go home.

  68. john johnson says:

    Glad you made it back also. it would be an awesome time.

    • jeff smith says:

      wondering if you and some others plan to make the 3/26 reunion next month in MT.My memory is fuzzy but I plan to go and connect for the first time.

  69. john johnson says:

    i’m planning on it

  70. Wayne Williams says:

    I was with 3rd Plt. \I\ Co. during the Sept. Ambush Valley days.
    I have made contact with quite a few survivors from that time
    frame. Glad you made it back.

  71. john johnson says:

    lost all the corpsmen in that fight but me if my memory serves me correctly. That was a long four days. Hope you will be at the reunion.

  72. jeff smith says:

    yes I will be there…..till then.. .

  73. Wayne Williams says:

    Matthew Guilfoyle is trying to identify a corpsman from India Co.
    who was with us during the Sept. 67 fights. I have a picture of
    this corpsman and would love to send it to you if you will send me
    e-mail information on how to send to you. My e-mail is:

  74. john johnson says:

    send picture to my iphone. 918-671-7653. i will see if i can remember.

  75. john johnson says:

    Wayne my email address is: eagle1@transit-services.com

  76. john johnson says:

    Sorry Wayne. I could not identify the corpsman. To many years, to many corpsman.

  77. […] Hill 88. It was surprised to encounter an entire NVA regiment, which counterattacked causing a bloody fight in which 3/26 suffered 300 casualties (40% including 37 KIA) and lost several tanks. It withdrew […]

  78. steve mcguirk says:

    What happened corpsman Sam Golden w/ India co?

  79. […] Hill 88. It was surprised to encounter an entire NVA regiment, which counterattacked causing a bloody fight in which 3/26 suffered 300 casualties (40% including 37 KIA) and lost several tanks. It withdrew […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

, , , ,

Sponsored Content: