We have made the decision to go to press with a "book." It will actually be a "First Book" about Marine Tankers and Ontos Marines and their families during the Vietnam War. Less than scholarly, most likely, but undoubtedly a lot more interesting and maybe even entertaining than our ultimate goal of the book that chronicles our combat history. Within the general structure and chronology of the Vietnam War and pinned to named operations - for the most part - we plan to salt in our personal stories of - and those of our families who were impacted by - our trips to/from "the 'Nam"
We sent out a "Blast" e-mail a couple of weeks ago as a heads-up. With this Breech Block edition we're asking that you send us your pictures, papers, letters (we'll copy and return them as you wish), your stories, recollections, and remembrances in the context of the Vietnam War. We are interested in anything you have to say. And, ask your family to participate as well. I'm certain there are wives, moms, brothers, sisters, dads who have memories of your Vietnam days. Let's capture their stories in print too.
To help you, there are Foundation personnel who will provide interviewers to get you started and who will edit your stories to your satisfaction before we go to print. Already a number of Vets have sent us their stories and we will mine our blog site, web site, and previously submitted stories and pictures to pull up those already available.
Please weigh in with your opinions and ideas how you think we might best proceed with this project.
Thank you and Semper Fi,
Board Members Update
Dick Carey has taken on the Vice Presidencey of the Historical Foundation. He will also remain as Director of Public Relations. Chuck Garrison is our new Treasurer. He is replacing Carey in that position. Guy Wolfenbarger is the Foundation's newest board member. He joins the board as a Director.
|Dick Carey, Vice President|
|Chuck Garrison, Treasurer|
|Guy Wolfenbarger, Director|
New Foundation Members & Updates
As a service to our members we call all new USMC VTA members and welcome them to the Foundation. We ask for their email addresses so those of you who might have served with them can send them an email as you first contact in forty plus years.
Rick Armstrong, H & S Co, 1st Tanks, 1966/1968, MOS 2141
Gene Hika, H &S Co, 3d Tanks, 1965/1966, MOS 2531
Frank Portello, A Co, 3d AT, 1967/1968, MOS 0353
Foundation Member - Profile
Bob Tuke is a partner in the firm and is an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he has taught Professional and Ethical Considerations in Corporate Practice.This Spring he will teach Campaign Finance and Election Law.He represents Meharry Medical College, among other clients.He is the author of articles on securities, ethics, municipal finance, health care, and adoption law. He is a member of the Nashville, Tennessee, and American Bar Associations and of the National Association of Bond Lawyers. He is a Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and the Nashville Bar Foundation. He also is a Fellow and past President of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. He served on the Tennessee Adoption Law Study Commission and was a principal draftsman of Tennessee's revised Adoption Code. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Who's Who in American Law. He also is listed among Super Lawyers of the Mid-South as a Tennessee corporate and business lawyer.
Mr. Tuke has served as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, and borrower's counsel in many tax-exempt finance transactions, and as lender's and borrower's counsel in multi-state commercial financing and letter of credit financing. He also has served as lead counsel in numerous merger and acquisition transactions, tender offers, proxy contests, corporate restructuring, registered securities offerings, and private placements. He has litigated several federal court actions challenging state anti-takeover statutes. He has served as counsel to corporate directors and special committees and has advised various enterprises regarding the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.He has also prepared many conservation easements and has participated in a number of historic preservation transactions.
Mr. Tuke received his education from the University of Virginia (B.A., with distinction, 1969) and Vanderbilt University (J.D., 1976), where he was Order of the Coif, Editor-in-Chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review, and a Patrick Wilson Merit Scholar. Mr. Tuke was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1976 and the United States Supreme Court in 1986. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Sixth and Federal Circuits, and before the United States Court of International Trade.
He is an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he has taught Professional and Ethical Considerations in Corporate Practice. He is Chairman of the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board and President of the Board of Operation Stand Down Nashville, Inc., a veterans service organization. He is past President of Historic Nashville, Inc. and past Chairman of Community Nashville. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation and Tennessee Environmental Council, and he serves on the Executive Committee of Miriam's Promise adoption agency.He serves on the Metro Nashville CATV Special Committee. He has chaired the Campaign for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee.He is a director of the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board.He also is a member of the Nashville Marine Corps Coordinating Council.He is a Leadership Nashville alumnus and Sergeant at Arms of the Downtown Nashville Rotary Club.He has served as General Counsel to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and on the Chamber's Board of Governors.He is a Lay Eucharistic Minister at St. George's Episcopal Church.
Mr. Tuke ran as the Tennessee Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and served as Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party in 2005-2006. He was an active duty Marine officer from 1969-1973 and served in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry in combat, among other decorations.
Mr. Tuke is married to Susan C. Tuke and they have two grown children.
Bronze Star Cpl Ivan Redhorn
Corporal Ivan Redhorn was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic actions while serving as an Ontos Commander with Company C, 3rd Antitank Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, in Vietnam.
"Acting as an escort for a convoy 10 miles South of Danang, Cpl Redhorn's vehicle was located at the rear of the column when the convoy was ambushed by a Viet Cong force Almost immediately the lead Ontos was disabled by enemy antitank fire, leaving Cpl Redhorn's vehicle as the only Ontos able to bring effective fire on the enemy. Despite the heavy volume of enemy small arms and antitank fire, he immediately commenced firing, completely disrupting the attacking enemy force. With his ammunition exhausted, and even though the area was still under sporadic enemy fire, he daringly left his vehicle and ran down the road to investigate the crew of the damaged Ontos. After he was assured that the crew had moved their Ontos out of the ambush site with additional ammunition. He positioned his vehicle in support of a blocking force and directed effective fire against the enemy. Through his daring initiative, heroic actions and presence of mind under fire, Cpl Redhorn undoubtedly helped save the lives of numerous Marines in the convoy. By his outstanding courage, complete disregard for his own safety and the concern for the welfare of his fellow Marines, Cpl Redhorn upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service."
Cpl Redhorn was killed on Okinawa while on R & R from Vietnam.
Congratulations and a hearty thank you goes to Chuck Garrison for his winning bid of $500.00.
Other bidders listed in alphabetical order were: Bobby Joe Blythe, Brain Carroll, Sid Ferguson, Glen Hutchins, Tiny Kilgore, John Lange, Larry Parshall, John Wear and Ken Zebal. Thanks to all of you for your participation.
Chuck is one of our first directors of the the Foundation and of the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association. He is an avid supporters of the mission of the Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation.
Donors: Thank you for your support.
Mike 'Boris' Bolenbaugh ~ (2011)
Peter Brush* ~ (2011)
Dick Carey ~ (2011/2012)
Darrell and Jeni Cox ~ (2011/12)
Kyle Decicco-Carey* ~ (2011/2012)
David 'Doc' Forsyth, ~ (2011)
Chuck Garrison, ~ (2011/2012)
LtCol Will Lochridge, USMC (ret) ~ (2011)
Jim Raasch** ~ (2011/12)
Pappy Reynolds* ~ (2011/2012)
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (ret)** ~ (2011/2012)
Guy Wolfenberger ~ (2011+)
Martha Zaragoza~ (2011)
GoldMichael ("Belmo") Belmessieri ~ (2011/12)
Sid Ferguson ~ (2011)
Gene 'Doc' Hackemack ~ (2011)
Garry Hall, ~ (2011)
LtCol Frank Slovik USMC (ret) ~ (2011/12)
Danny Farrell ~ (2011)
Louis Najfus ~ (2011)
Larry Parshall* ~ (2011)
Michael 'Doc' Pipkin* ~ (2011)
Rick Oswood ~ (2011)
Jerry Wahl ~ (2011)
**In-Kind & Monetary
Your continued support is appreciated.
Please send your 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
Significant Military Events - February
February 21, 1967 - Dr. Bernard Fall, noted historian of the French combat experience in Indochina, died in an explosion of an enemy mine. Dr. Fall was accompanying the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in Operation Chinook.
Significance: Dr. Fall was a recognized expert on Vietnam and ironically died in an area near the so called "Street Without Joy," which he had so carefully portrayed in his writing. He was one of the South Vietnamese regime.
February 27, 1967 - NVA rocket troops launched 140 mm rockets against the Da Nang Air Base. More than 50 rockets hit the base in less than one minute. The rockets had a range of 9,000 meters.
Significance: This was the first know use of large tactical rockets in South Vietnam. The use of these weapons forced III MAF to extend its protective patrolling at Da Nang out to 9,000 meters, which added to the strain on Marine infantry manpower.
February 9, 1968 - MACV Forward, under General Creighton B. Abrams, Deputy Commander USMACV, is established in I CTZ at Phu Bai. It is a forward headquarters to monitor operations in the two northern provinces. The two divisions in the sector, the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile) and the 3rd Marine Division, remain, however, under the operational control of III MAF.
Significance: There is some concern among Marine commanders that MACV plans to assume direct command of all forces in the north and reduce the role of the senior Marine command. The advent of Abrams and his staff from Saigon was considered a "slap down" by the Corps' senior leadership.
February 12, 1968 - The 27th Marines receive orders to deploy to Da Nang from the U.S. as part of the reinforcements requested by General William C. Westmoreland and the JCS. President Johnson made extensive reductions to original recommendations of MACV and the JCS.
February 13, 1968 - The headquarters and combat elements of the 101st Airborne Division arrive in I CTZ in pre-preparation for the planned for Operation Pegasus - the "relief" of the Marines at the KSFSB.
Significance: III MAF now has three U.S. Army Divisions under its operational control as well as two reinforced Marine Divisions and a reinforced Marine Aircraft Wing in I Corps - the equivalent of a U.S. Field Army.
February 22 - March 18, 1969 - The 9th Marines under the 3rd Marine Division conducted Operation Dewey Canyon, a mobile helicopter and fire base operation, in the Da Krong Valley in western Quang Tri Province. During the course of the operation, Marine units crossed the border into Laos.
Significance: Not only was this was the first acknowledged and deliberate entry into Laos by a large American unit, it resulted in the uncovering of extensive enemy supplies, arms, and ammunition.
January 28 - March 19, 1970 - Redeployment of Marine units from Vietnam, now codenamed Keystone Robin, continued to include the 26th Marines, MAG 12, and several aviation squadrons.
Significance: U.S. redeployment plans call for III MAF units to be among the first U.S. units to depart Vietnam.
January 30 - April 6, 1971 - On January 30 the South Vietnamese begin Lam Son 719. In phase 1 which lasted to February 8, the South Vietnamese supported by allied forces opened up the Khe Sanh base. In Phase II, the South Vietnamese forces which included the Vietnamese Marine Corps Division. U.S. advisors, including U.S. Marine advisors, were not permitted to accompany their units into Laos, they were allowed, however, to coordinate supporting fires (ARG)/Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) remained off the Vietnamese coast, but was not committed.
Marine Corps Named Operations - February
24 Jan-6 Mar 66
1st Cavalry Division operation in Binh Dinh Province. USMC operation Double Eagle links in cross border segment
US KIA 349
1 Feb-18 Mar 67
3 MarDiv operation in the DMZ area Quang Tri Province
VC/NVA KIA 693
US KIA 93
21 Jan-23 Nov 68
3 MarDiv search-and-clear operation
VC/NVA KIA 1,801
US KIA 352
31 Jan-25 Feb 68
1 MarDiv operation to clear Hue City during Tet Offensive
VC/NVA KIA 5,113
US KIA 142
26 Feb-12 Sep 68
1 MarDiv operation in border region of Thua Thien and Quang Nam Provinces
VC/NVA KIA 702
US KIA 117
29 Feb-12 Sep 68
1 MarDiv operation along Cua Viet River in Quang Tri Province
VC/NVA KIA 3,495
US KIA 353
6 Dec 68-7 Mar 69
1 MarDiv operation in Quang Nam Province
VC/NVA KIA 1,299
US KIA 183
22 Jan-18 Mar69
1 MarDiv operation north of the A Shau Valley in Thua Thien Province
VC/NVA KIA 1,335
US KIA 121
Significance: Militarily, this operation was much less successful than the Cambodian incursion and called into question the capability of the South Vietnamese command to coordinate division-size forces. Remaining U.S. Marine ground units played almost no role in Lam Son 719 - with the exception of artillery and helicopter support - as they redeployed or planned to redeploy from Vietnam.
Significance: President Johnson limited the number of U.S. reinforcements to Vietnam as a result of the Tet Offensive and disapproved the JCS recommendation for a call-up of major U.S. Reserve and National Guard units for the war. In effect, he placed an upper limitation upon the U.S. combat involvement in Vietnam.
"Forty-Four years of pain, frustration and night mares."
By Joe Tiscia,
Corporal of Marines
On 7 Feb 1968, during the fierce fighting at Hue, I was a part of a Convoy that resupplied Bravo 1/11 about 3 miles from Hue. On the return trip to Phu Bai we received two Ontos for security. A-11 was the lead and A-13 took up the rear security. Both Ontos were ordered to travel with empty 106 Rifles. This helped doomed our convoy. Our convoy was attacked about one mile from Highway 1 on Route 547 by two NVA Battalions.
The convoy was lost and all of us were either killed or wounded. Both Ontos were destroyed and all crew members except one were lost. SGT. Prather and PFC Thomas Beierle were killed trying to load their Ontos, A-13. I was in the hospital in Yokasuska, Japan with the surviving crewman, Cpl. Dace Smith. When questioned later about the unloaded Ontos he said that it was the standard order of the day. I would like to know the source of that order and who ordered it.
We were saved by the actions of a 2/5 reaction force led by 2LT Stewart Brown and a react force from Bravo 1/11 and the 9th Engineers at the Artillery base nearby. To this day, I cannot believe that during the time of TET that these orders were not "shit canned"....hell with 10,000 NVA in the area; two Ontos providing convoy security with empty tubes was a disaster waiting to happen. I have recurring thoughts of what happened and the blame those that felt the need to lie to the top brass.......but whom? Where did that order originate? There has to be a record somewhere of this?
Our Convoy commander was Capt Ron Brown of the 11th Marines...he too was killed when he jumped on A-11 after his jeep was destroyed. It was the corporals and below who fought for their lives and held the NVA at bay for over six hours. These Marines stood their ground knowing their fate was doomed. Some of our wounded were executed with head shots by the on rushing NVA. It was fierce and horrific; those that survived have questions that need to be answered.
We have a web site honoring these marines: www.2-7-68.com
Cardinal Dougherty HS Vietnam Memorial Philadelphia PA
By Joe Tyson,
B Co, 3rd Tanks, VN 65/66
Cardinal Dougherty High School located in Philadelphia, PA closed its doors in 2010. At one time it was the largest Catholic High School in the country. Dougherty lost 27 graduates in the Vietnam War, the highest number of any parochial high school in the nation. Cpl John Crescenz was the only Philadelphia native to receive the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. He is on the memorial at the school, a 1964 graduate. When the school closed the memorial was moved to a VFW post located in my old neighborhood, a fitting location being most of the names inscribed were from in and around that area. I was proud to be involved along with other Veteran brothers in the grounds preparation for the dedication which was held on Veterans Day 2010.
By LtCol Raymond A. Stewart, USMC (ret)
One of the most treasured books in the Foundation's Library is our signed copy of "Boys of '67" written by Charles Jones and autographed by LtGen Martin R. Steele, USMC (Ret.) the highest ranking tank officer in the history of the Marine Corps, a Foundation Director and Life Member. The book gets its title from the Marine Officer Basic School, Quantico, VA Class of 1967. The Forward is written by Gen Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret) former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command. The book features 3 now-retired Marine Generals, graduates of "TBS '67" - Retired MajGen Ray L. "E-Tool" Smith; Retired LtGen Martin R. "Marty" Steel; and Retired Gen and 32nd Commandant, James L. "Jim" Jones Jr
A few years ago, reading the "Boys of '67" for the first time, I naturally focused on that written about Foundation Board Member, LtGen Steele. I've since re-read Jone's fascinating book which binds together the colorful threads of the lives of three men who rose to the ranks of Marine Generals possessing a distinct set of unique talents and traits. And, while the author describes Jones as the "cool headed thinker"; Steele as "the passionate idealist"; and Smith as "the courageous combat leader", that is not to say that each Marine did not, in some degree, share those talents and many more. During their long and distinguished careers they served in many different parts of the world at different times and under different circumstances and with every assignment put their indelible mark on the Marine Corps as we served it in Vietnam and as we see evolving today.
I believe you will find "Boys of '67", tracing the careers of three of our General Officers, a worthwhile - if I might say, even illuminating - read.
Article Headquarters Marine Corps
|Click on this link to read an article in the Joint Force Quarterly.|
The Veterans Affairs Department has extended the deadline for Persian Gulf War veterans to develop illnesses that may make them eligible for compensation.
VA announced in December that it extended its date for qualifying to Dec. 31, 2016. Under the new regulation, those who deployed to the 1991 conflict and develop medically unexplained chronic or undiagnosed illnesses in the next five years could qualify for disability compensation. The deadline had been set to expire Dec. 31, 2011.
"Not all the wounds of war are fully understood," VA Secretary Eric Shinskei said. "When there is an uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, veterans are entitled to the benefit of doubt."
Some Gulf War veterans report unexplained illnesses and symptoms ranging from muscle and joint pain, fatigue and headache to memory problems, rashes and shortness of breath. The group also developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at rates higher than their civilian or non-deployed peers in the decade following the war.
The cause of these multi-symptom illnesses are unknown, although studies have linked them to environmental factors such as blowing dust and acrid petroleum smoke as well as exposure to toxic agents and adverse reactions to inoculations and preventive medicines.
Nearly 700,000 U.S. personnel deployed to the region in 1990 and 1991.
The extension allows vets whose symptoms develop within the next five years to apply for benefits as well as survivors of Gulf War veterans to qualify and apply for VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
The fiscal 2012 omnibus appropriations law contains $10 million for Gulf War illness research.
Bravo Company, 3rd Tanks, 1965/1970 ~ Cape Cod, MA
Tentitive dates September 20 - 23, 2012. For more information.
USMC ONTOS REUNION ~ May 2013, Details to Follow.
Lt. Col. Robert M. Croll, USMC, Ret.- West Chester, PA. He was born April 15, 1930 in New York City, N.Y. He is the youngest son of the late Faber Witman Croll, Sr. and Minnie Louise Overton Croll of White Plains, NY. He was a 1949 graduate of Hebron Academy, Maine. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in 1951. He was selected for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in April, 1953 and later reassigned as a tank officer. After 23 years of service, he retired from the USMC in 1974 as a Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.). Among his military awards are the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V (for service in Vietnam) and the Good Conduct Ribbon. While stationed at Quantico Marine Corps Base, he met his wife Kay McKee -- also a Marine - and they married in 1966. After retiring from the USMC, he and his family relocated to West Chester, PA where he worked in the security field -- first with Kuntz Detective Agency (Malvern, PA) and then with CALECO (West Chester, PA). He was a life member of the Chester County and Keystone Detachments of the Marine Corps League; 1st Marine Division Association; Marine Corps Tankers Historical Foundation; Marine Corps Association; BPOE Elks Lodge 853; B. Schlegal American Legion Post 134; and the Vietnam Veterans Association, Chapter 436. He was Commandant of the Chester County Marine Corps League in 1981 and Marine-of-the-Year in 1986. He was awarded the Chapel of the Four Chaplain's Legion of Honor Award on March 8, 1981. He is survived by his wife, Kay, and their two children: Roberta Croll Okhlopkov (and husband Sergei), of Springfield, Va. and F. Leon Croll of San Diego, Calif.; two grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. His sister, Nancy Croll Hobby, and brother, Faber W. Croll, Jr. preceded him in death.
Steven Brock Walton - Yountville, CA died of heart failure. He was a native of Santa Barbara. His family moved to Oakland where he was raised and attended school. He joined the Marine Corps after Fremont High. He served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. He served with the 3rd Marine Corps Division, 3rd Tank Battalion in I Corps. He was awarded the following medal and declarations: National Defense medal, Bronze Star, Combat Action Ribbon Republic of Vietnam campaign medal, Gallantry Cross medal. After his combat he served in the Marine Corps reserves until the mid 1980's. After the war he moved back to Oakland and worked for Taveras Tree service for 5 years. Brock moved back to Santa Barbarba and worked for the city as a tree climber. After a near fatal fall, he then returned to San Leandro to settle his family there. He then worked for Air Bourne Express and was a teamster. Brock later moved to Yountville Veterans Home where he had lived for the last 7 years. He worked and volunteered at the veterans' home for many causes and events. He loved life and cherished his family and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Milo Clyde Walton; mother, Joyce M. Walton and brother, Michael James Walton all of San Leandro He is survived by his daughters, Kira Terese Contraras of San Diego, Brianne Joyce Walton of El Sobrante, Dore' Siobhan Walton of Hayward; sister, Monica (Hansen) Childs of Modesto; aunt and uncle of Ventura, CA; several nieces and nephews; four grandchildren, Amani Kaiawna Contreras, Jorge Ruben Contreras Jr., Oliviana Margarita Contreras all of San Diego and Vitorio Daniel Richina of Hayward.
THE BREECH BLOCK
Vietnam TankersHistorical Foundation
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
Board of Directors
LtCol Raymond A. Stewart,
Richard 'Dick' Carey
Charles 'Chuck' Garrison
LtGen Martin R. Steele,
Col William 'Bill' Davis,
Dr. Ken Estes,
LtCol, USMC (ret.)
David 'Doc' Forsyth
MGySgt Donald Gagnon,
Robert Hugh Gage
1st Marine Division
1st Tank Battalion
03 July 1966
PP/ Staff Sergeant
30 September 1974
Disclaimer: "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.