"Every Marine an Historian"
"Chances are, the opportunity to improve official history will come your way during your career, make the most of it!"
Col Frank C. Caldwell
It has been more than 40 years since the publication of Col Caldwell's "Every Marine an Historian" in the March 1966 Marine Corps Gazette. The Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation's mission is to collect, research, write, and perpetuate the history of Marine Tanks and Ontos in the Vietnam War. However, just as Col Caldwell explained forty-four years ago, "the official histories are only as good as the material that forms their basis. Marines provide that material." It is the responsibility of every Marine Ontos Crewman, Tanker, and support and supported Marine to ensure that the Foundation has personal stories to more accurately document our participation in the Vietnam War and, finally, to do our job acceptably.
Marine Corps Order 57501H (Manual for the Marine Corps Historical Program) outlines the roles and responsibilities for command historical programs and staff historians at the command level. MCO 5750.2 officially established the Command Chronology Program in 1965. Today, the Command Chronology (CC) is THE document used by historians as our primary source of information. The CCs are "the garden from which numerous products grow, such as official histories, monographs, and battle studies." For example, when the Foundation receives requests for assistance in seeking a Vietnam War Purple Heart, Silver Star, or some other a personal award, the unit command chronologies are mined for documentation of events to support those requests.
To know when the CC Program was officially launched - 1965, as the first Marine Corps units were just landing in Vietnam - and the conditions under which the CC was subsequently often written - in a tent, on a field desk, with a manual typewriter, on mimeograph paper, under poor light - is to understand the product occasionally suffered errors of omission. To realize that Tanks and Ontos units were most often fractured into sections, and sometimes employed singly, in direct support or attached to an infantry unit, is to understand that credit for personal acts of bravery were sometimes not reported by the supported unit, possibly reported but not acted upon, acted upon but held up somewhere in the chain, or lost in the confusion of war. For any number of reasons the Marine may have never received his due. And, if events were "missed" in the unit's monthly CCs, unless proper documentation can be provided, that CC will "stand" as written and archived. However, the door is not closed to amendment to correct or supplement omissions and add to the facts. But to do that we - you, who are the "Every Marine an Historian" - must act.
The Foundation is committed by our mission statement to the writing of "Marine Corps Tanks and Ontos in the Vietnam War: A Definitive History". And, while that is our ultimate goal, several intermediate steps are being taken to get there. On our VP's, (Dick Carey), suggestion, with the Map History Program Manager's (Pappy Reynolds) encouragement, and the dedication of the new "Book Committee" members, collecting material for (lack of a better name) "Book One" has commenced. The Foundation will reward the submitter of the chosen title of the book with a gift certificate. Each individual who submits a personal story - Marine, family member, or friend - will be cited in the book and also receive an award certificate.
Please help us fill in the gaps of the official history of tanks and Ontos in the Vietnam War by sending us your stories. And, please, recall our motto "You made history. The Foundation is writing it." Ray Stewart
"Book One" SitRep
For example, Pappy, our Foundation's Web Master, has already stepped up with two personal articles. The first, titled "Rabbit Hunting" tells us a lot about Pappy's formative years in the Corps, before he was "Pappy", while the second story details his re-enlistment, trip to Vietnam, and alludes to spending his entire tour with Tanks. He leaves us with a lot of questions.Believe me, Pappy's got the answers, so stay tuned for more of "Pappy's Pranks" And, we have several more in the queue as well. Peter Ritch has a few and some Grunts can "tell it like it was" to be in the fight with Tanks to call on.
With this issue of in the monthly Breech Block we're including a section designed to keep our readers up-to-date on the progress the Foundation is making towards the newest project - the publishing of our book. For the time being we're calling it "Book One". The reasons are twofold - one, it is planned that this book will be but the first of, what we're planning to be, more than one. Second, for lack of a better title at this time. In previous "E" correspondence we've asked for your ideas for a title. The response has been under-whelming. Besides the bragging rights for naming the book, we are offering a reward (actually, more a bribe) for the winning selection. There has been a few weigh in, and the entries are great, but we would sure like to hear from more readers before we make the final decision.
Here is the Book One Leadership Team:
Rick Walters, Dick Carey, Ray Stewart, Ken Estes, Don Gagnon (Consultant Emeritus), Jackie Hunter (Admin), Peter Brush (Vanderbilt U.), Millicent Carroll, and Pappy Reynolds. Each brings unique and considerable talent to the project. With this team of leaders, we'll develop the several steps in the process matched to the book's construction and intended content. From that exercise we'll slot each team member to the identified steps in the book's research, write, edit, and publish process. The success of each of us, and the project itself, will depend upon our many historians. I refer you to my opening letter. If you have the time and desire to help in any way, please call or write.
Rest assured that every contributor - money, articles, stories, books, advice, sweat equity, etc. - will be cited in the book. And, every cent netted in the sale of the book will be returned to the Foundation for the next book or a re-print of this one.
As the five-year timeline of Tanks and Ontos participation in the Vietnam War is developed, stories such as Pappy's, will be salted into the chronology which is intended to provide the context. So the request: Please let us know where you were, when, with whom, and what you did. Send your recollections to us and we'll take it from there. And, recognizing that our lives continued - probably for- ever altered because of the "Vietnam Experience" - after returning to CONUS, our book will look at the post-Vietnam years both for the Marine and his family.
Louis Ryle Sole Survivor
Ryle visits the Moving Wall
On September 10, 1967, 19 year old PFC Louis Ryle pictured above of Locklock, Nevada was the tank driver of 3d Tanks' Bravo 25. Gunny Harold Tatum of Sandy Springs, Georgia was the recently arrived tank commander, PFC James Wilson, Choctaw, Oklahoma was the tanks gunner and Cpl Gary Young, Waynesburg, Kentucky was the tank's loader. The crew's tank took an RPG though the turret instantly killing Wilson. The RPG then hit a Willy Peter 90mm round and mortally wounding Tatum and Young. Young would died on the 20th and Tatum the following day.
Note: Gary Young is the brother of Historical Foundation member Len Young. Len also served with 3d Tanks, Bravo Co after the death of his brother during 1967 and 1968.
2012 Donors: Thank you for your support!
Darrell and Jeni Cox
Wes 'Tiny' Kilgore
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (Ret)**
LtCol Ev Tunget, USMC (Ret)
Michael ("Belmo") Belmessieri
David 'Doc' Forsyth
LtCol Frank & Ruth Slovik USMC (Ret)
Gene 'Doc' Hackemack
The Foundation is proud to announce that there has been quite a positive response to our e-mail asking for your help; financial assistance, submission of your personal stories, and recollections of your "Vietnam Days", adding to the Foundation Library, and volunteering to carry some of the day-to-day work load. The level of financial contributions are recognized with an Award Certificate as follows:
Platinum Plus ~ $1,000 +
Platinum ~ $250 - $999
Gold ~ $100 - $249
Silver ~ $50 - $99
Bronze ~ $1 - $49
There is a parallel process for rewarding your in kind, non-monetary (books, documents, articles for the Breech Block, etc.), and volunteer effort (assisting with Command Chronology research, Oral History summary report writing, etc) as well. Just contact me and we'll agree on where your work would be most meaningful for you in the context of our day-to-day goals attainment effort, the type of non-monetary donation you would like to make, and/or your planned article. Each Breech Block will cite donors and the VTHF web site will periodically post the up-to-date cumulatives.
If you desire to make your gift specific to our Book Project, please so indicate. Unless you specify otherwise, we will apply your donation where most appropriate. Of course, should you desire to remain anonymous, we'll honor that wish as well.
Thank you for your assistance.
**In-Kind & Monetary
Your continued support is appreciated.
Please send your Tax Deductible Donation to:
MCVTHF, 707 S.W. 350th Ct, Ste. #1
Federal Way, WA 98023
IRS Tax EIN 91-2111544
A 501(c)(19) Non-profit Historical Foundation
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR MARINE CORPS EVENTS
VIETNAM WAR, APRIL 1962 - 1975
April 9, 1962 - The leading elements of Marine Task Unit 79.3.5, a helicopter task unit code name Shufly commanded by Col John F. Carey arrived at Soc Trang, Republic of Vietnam. Significance: This was the first Marine squadron-sized unit together with a small security force to deploy to Vietnam as a result of the establishment of the U.S. Military Assistance Command on February 8, 1962. They were to provide helicopter support to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVIN) in its campaign against Communist Vietnamese forces called Viet Cong (VC).
April 20, 1967 - U.S. Army Task Force Oregon under Major General William B. Rosson (USA) established its headquarters at Chu Lai and came under the operational control of III MAF to reinforce the Marines in I Corps. Eventually on September 20, Task Force Oregon became the U.S. Army Americal Division under Major General Samuel W. Koster (USA).
Significance: III MAF became truly a U.S. joint command with a sizable Army contingent under its operational control
April 24 - May 11, 1967 - The "First Battle of Khe Sanh" or "Hill Fights" took place. In extremely bitter fighting with North Vietnamese (NVA) troops, units of the 3rd Marine Division cleared Hills 8881S, 881N, and 861 overlooking the Khe Sanh Combat base (KSCB). Significance: Khe Sanh began to take on more importance as a Marine outpost The American command (COMUSMACV) insisted that it be held and the North Vietnamese continued to probe and try to isolate the garrison. The actual "significance" of this decision by Gen Westmoreland led to the "Siege of Khe Sanh".
April 30 - May 2, 1968 - Marine BLT 2/4 engaged and defeated elements of two enemy regiments from the 320th NVA Division in the small hamlet of Dai Do in the 3rd Marine Division Cua Viet sector near Dong Ha. Both the Marine battalion and the enemy sustained heavy casualties in the intensive three-day battle. Two of the Marine company commanders were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the battle. Significance: The battle of Dai Do forestalled a larger NVA offensive aimed at taking the large Marine headquarters and logistic base at Dong Ha. This was part of the renewed Communist offensive labeled "Mini-Tet" that occurred throughout much of South Vietnam at this time.
April 30 - June 29, 1970 - U.S. and South Vietnamese units entered the Cambodian fishhook area to attack the Viet Cong command headquarters and logistics base maintained across the border. Two Vietnamese Marine Brigades together with their U.S Marine advisors participated in the action. Marine advisors were restricted to 25 miles inside Cambodia. No U.S. Marine ground units participated in this incursion.
Significance: While the operation was successful militarily, it led to wide-spread student and anti-war demonstrations and unrest in the United States. For the Marine Corps, it was indicative that Marine advisors to South Vietnamese units were beginning to have a more active role than the Marine units in Vietnam.
April 14, 1971 - The III MAF headquarters, the 1st Marine Division headquarters, and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing headquarters departed Vietnam. The 3rd Marine Amphibious Brigade replaced III MAF at Da Nang and totaled 1,322 Marine and 124 Navy officers and 13,359 and 711 Navy enlisted men. It consisted of the 1st Marines, MAG-11 and MAG-16, and the 2nd Combined Action Group Headquarters.
Significance: This was to be the last command adjustment before the final departure of Marine units in Vietnam.
12 April 1975 - Marines on the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade (9th MAB) executed Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of American and other foreign nationals from Phnom Penh, Cambodia just before the fall of the city to the Communist Cambodian Khymer Rouge.
Significance: This ended U.S. involvement and support of the Cambodian regime of Lon No 1, the general who had overthrown Prince Nordom Sihanouk in 1970. The Khymer Rouge assumed control of the Cambodia and its government.
29 April 1975 - Marines on the 9th MAB executed Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Americans, foreign nationals, and various Vietnamese official and citizens associated with Americans from Saigon to ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.
Significance: This ended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The 9th MAB, in effect, conducted the last U.S. troop operation of the Vietnam War. The following day, Saigon fell to North Vietnamese troops and organized South Vietnamese resistance to the Communist forces of North Vietnam ended. The Communists unified Vietnam under their regime.
Named Marine Corps April Operations - Vietnam War
|Union||21 Apr -17 May 67|
1st MarDiv operation in Quang Nam and Quang Tin Provinces
|VC/NVA KIA 965|
US KIA 110
|Lancaster II||21 Jan-23 Nov 68|
3d MarDiv search-and-clear operation
|VC/NVA KIA 1,801|
US KIA 352
|Houston||26 Feb -12 Sep 68|
1st MarDiv operation in border region of Thua Thien and Quang Nam Provinces
|VC/NVA KIA 702|
US KIA 117
|Napolean/Saline||29 Feb-12 Sep 68|
1st MarDiv operation along Cua Viet River in Quang Tri Province
|VC/NVA KIA 3,495|
US KIA 353
Lam Son 207
|1-15 Apr 68|
1st Cavalry, 1st MarDiv operation along Route 9 to Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province
|VC/NVA KIA 1,044|
US KIA 92
|Scotland II||15 Apr 68-28 Feb 69|
1st MarDiv operation centered on the Khe Sanh area of Quang Tri Province
|VC/NVA KIA 3,311|
US KIA 435
|Montana Mauler*||23 Mar-3 Apr 69|
5th Infantry Division Mech and 1st MarDiv operation vicinity of Con Thien in Quang Tri Province
|VC/NVA KIA 571|
US KIA 35
|Prairie IV||20 Apr - 31 May 67|
1st MarDiv operation in Quang Tri Province
|VC/NVA KIA 489|
US KIA 164
Beacon Star Phase II
|26 Apr - 12 May 67|
3d MarDiv operation in Quang Tri Province, TOAR vicinity of Khe Sanh
|VC/NVA KIA 469|
US KIA 78
|DeSoto||26 Jan - 7 Apr 67|
1st MarDiv operation in Quang Ngai Province
|VC/NVA KIA 383|
US KIA 76
|Beacon Hill||20 Mar - 3 Apr 67|
3d MarDiv operation in Quang Tri Province
|VC/NVA KIA 334|
By LtCol Raymond A. Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Ms. Jackie Hunter, the Foundation's Administrative Assistant, has thrown her shoulder behind the long-overdue project of cataloging our considerable library - now more than 200 books. While sorting through the shelves in an attempt to help, I ran across a book, published in 1968, by the now-deceased LtCol William Raymond Corson, USMC (Ret.), "The BETRAYAL", that I first read several years ago. I recalled vaguely that Col Corson was the Commanding Officer of 3rd Tanks during the Vietnam War. As a thumbed through the book, looking for some stories about tanks, and finding little, I thought the book would be of only passing (if any) interest to our Foundation's Breech Block readership. But, curiosity got the best of me and I dug a bit deeper. This Marine Officer was "different" than the commonly accepted criteria. His fate reflected the consequences he suffered as a result of his unique career pattern and his candid appraisal of the direction the Vietnam War had taken..
In his book Col Corson only briefly and rather obtusely alludes to his short 5 months with 3rd Tanks (6 Sep '66 to 15 Feb '67) as the C.O. Foundation members then-2nd Lts Will Lochridge and Bob Mattingly, both "LtCols, USMC (Ret.)" served under Col Corson as the 3rd Tanks' newly created position of Combined Action Officers (CAO) during Corson's stint as C.O. Recognized as the premier expert in the "Hearts and Minds" philosophy, dubbed - erroneously - as the "Other War", Corson left 3rd Tanks as the battalion was preparing to move north to Dong Ha, to become the Corps' highly successful Director of the Combined Action Program at Hq III MAF.
Upon the completion of his Vietnam tour, Col Corson returned to CONUS and then into some "non" Marine Corps positions during which time he wrote "The Betrayal", to be published just after his planned retirement. However, due to bad timing, an unpublished manuscript of "The Betrayal" found its way to the public and Corson ran afoul of Marine Corps regulations. His retirement was held up with the threat of court-martial because of his book's content - suspected of disclosing classified information. Ultimately, the charges were dropped and LtCol Corson was "allowed" to retire. After his retirement he taught, lectured, and wrote a number of books and articles. He died of lung cancer at the age of 74.
What I found uniquely interesting in Col Corson's book was a tribute on page 10 to another of our Foundation members - LtCol Ev Tunget, USMC (Ret.). Col Tunget and is wife reside in the Seattle, WA area. Also, Ev and I correspond on a regular basis via e-mail. I asked him if he would expand on his relationship with Col Corson to find out that Ev served under Bill as his Operations Officer (S-3) during the Corson's tenure as the C.O. of 3rd Tanks in Vietnam. Ev has provided the Foundation copies and documents about Col Corson which we can make available upon request.
Knowing that "The Betrayal" was written and published in the midst of the growing controversy around the Vietnam War (1968) and considering its content, the book is a riveting prediction of how the continued prosecution of the war - measured in "body count" - was going to win the war - NOT!
To learn more about the actions of 3rd Tanks (and for real-war reading) during Col Corson's (and Col Tunget's S-3) tenure as its Commanding Officer, I invite you to visit the Foundation's web site at www.mcvthf.org and follow the prompts to the Third Tanks' posted April '66 to '67 Command Chronologies.
Veterans Between the Ages of 35 & 60
A new program known as Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), will offer up to 12 months of Montgomery GI Bill benefits for older unemployed veterans. The program is part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act which also includes tax breaks for companies that hire veterans.
That means that pre-9/11 veterans who often feel left out, may soon qualify for as much as $17,600 ($1473 a month) for education and training. Here's what you should know about the new VRAP:
- This benefit can be used to earn an associate degree, non-college degree, or certification, and training for a high demand occupation.
- According to the VA, the program will begin July 1, 2012.
- This new benefit will be limited to 45,000 vets in FY2012 and 54,000 for FY 2013 through March 31, 2014.
- Once participating veterans have completed the VRAP education program, the Dept. of Labor will provide employment assistance.
- To be eligible for the VRAP GI Bill Veterans must:
- Be at least 35 but no more than 60 years old.
- Be unemployed (as determined by DoL).
- Not have a dishonorable discharge
- Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program.
- Not be drawing VA compensation due to unemployability.
- Not be enrolled in a federal or state job training program.
Bravo Company, 3rd Tanks, 1965/1970 ~ Cape Cod, MA
Tentitive dates September or October 2012.
For more information.
USMC ONTOS REUNION ~ May 2013, Details to Follow.
THE BREECH BLOCK
President & Editor
LtCol Raymond A. Stewart USMC (Ret.)
Archivist in Residence
BA in History, MLIS
Author in Residence
Dr. Oscar "Ed" Gilbert
Historian in Residence
BA and MA in History
Marketing & Production
Richard 'Dick' Carey
Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds
Dr. Ken Estes,
LtCol, USMC (Ret.)
Board of Directors
LtCol Raymond A. Stewart,
Richard 'Dick' Carey
Charles 'Chuck' Garrison
LtGen Martin R. Steele,
Col William 'Bill' Davis,
Robert 'Mike' Flick
David 'Doc' Forsyth
MGySgt Donald Gagnon,
Robert Hugh Gage
1st Marine Division
1st Tank Battalion
03 July 1966
PP/ Staff Sergeant
30 September 1974
"Marines" and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor are trademarks of the U.S. Marine Corps, used with permission. Neither the U.S. Marine Corps nor any other component of the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed or authorized this newsletter.