~ Dedicated to All Vietnam-Era Marine Corps Tankers, Ontos Crewmen & Support ~



OntosMCVTHF LogoOntos



We are the voice of  history  


CARPUCNat. Def. Ribbon



 September 2013    



Vietnam Ontos crewman, Tankers and support  have made history and we are making it known. 


Dear Marine,  


Your get well cards and prays I received for my successful surgery to remove a stage two cancerous tumor on my pancreas are much appreciated. A special thank you goes to Bob Mila who took the time to visit me at the Boston VA Hospital and to hang a 5'X7' Marine Corps Flag in my room, much to the chagrin of some of the non-veteran VA hospital staff.

I did some research to see if my pancreatic cancer was related to my other Agent Orange related service-connected issues. What I found was this cancer is not among those the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes. The VA doesn't recognize this cancer even through Pancreatic Cancer is seven times (7x) more common in Vietnam Veterans than in the general populous. However, in my research I did find a case where the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office in Boise, Idaho granted service-connection to a widow for payment of Dependent Income Compensation (DIC) for pancreatic cancer that took the life of her husband. She introduced as evidence two articles from medical journals that stated that pancreatic cancer is related to exposure to Agent Orange. The VA only uses one source of medical information to deny service-connection. The award for DIC was granted to the widow based on the following; "When the evidence for and against the claim is in relative equipoise, by law, the Board must resolve all reasonable doubt in favor of the appellant. See 38 U.S.C.A. � 5107 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. � 3.102 (2009). Accordingly, with resolution of doubt in the appellant's favor, the Board concludes that a grant of service connection for the cause of the Veteran's death is warranted."

I am rated at 100% total and permanent with the VA. I will be filing a claim to service-connect for this cancer. I have nothing to personally gain by doing this. My wife Dona and I are already receiving the maximum entitlements from the VA including DIC for Dona at the time of my death. The reason I am doing this is to pave the way for other veterans and their families to be protected and to receive the benefits entitled to them.
Have a great time at the reunion next month.  I will not be able to attend.


Semper Fidelis,

Richard 'Dick' Carey, V.P./Editor

Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation 

Founder/President Emeritus

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association

 Operation Piranha
THE BATTLE 1965 - USMC in Vietnam , Operation Piranha
THE BATTLE 1965 - USMC in Vietnam , Operation Piranha
The Book SitRep


     A regular feature in the Breech Block will be "The Book SitRep" where I will report the progress we are making in getting our Foundation's book "Marine Corps Tankers and Ontos Crewmen in the Vietnam War" on the wire. You are encouraged to send us your stories, your comments, questions, and your suggestions. Ours will be an E-Book. This method of publishing is the most cost effective while reaching the largest audience. Some of our favorite authors - Eric Hammel, Dick Camp, Otto Lehrack - and most others, offer their publications in an "E" format. Most magazines and newspapers have determined that paper copy - slow, expensive, reaching fewer readers, must be supplemented - and increasingly supplanted - by electronic delivery.

     The Book is not just about Marine Tankers and Ontos Crewmen but by them. We have nearly 300 articles and personal interviews from which to draw for The Book which will be in a chronological format starting with the first gun tracks (Tanks and Ontos) across the beach in March of 1965 to the last to depart in mid-1970. The personal stories and interviews will be "salted" along this chronology. Every major named operation - as well as the day-to-day activity - with Tank/Ontos participation will be covered. Every personal story will be featured within the context of the larger picture. Everyone who submits an article will be cited as an author with a brief biography in a separate annex. Every Marine Tanker and Ontos crewman killed will be identified and his place and circumstance of death located on a map. An attempt is being made to find every medal recipient, "place" him on the chronology, publish his citation, and locate the place where he was cited for bravery on a map. We have the Navy Cross and Silver Star recipients' roster about completed and are asking all who have received the Bronze Star, Navy Commendation, and/or the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat "V" to send us their citations.

     There will be an annex/appendix of acronyms, a glossary of terms, Tank and Ontos TO/E, a bibliography, and links to other sources of information to name a few.

     This project has not been - nor will it be - without the expenditure of hard cash (obtained from our Foundation members exclusively and not from any other organization) and a lot of every day "sweat equity" from each of the four members of the "Book Committee."

     I want to especially thank Lou Najfus for ramrodding the effort to garner stories from the Ontos Community. I know from personal experience that Ontos Crewmen did one heckuva lot more to support the infantry units they were attached to than for which we have their stories. If our stories don't get told, who will ever know all the blood, sweat, heart ache, and tears that was shed in the Vietnam War? Not only by the warriors themselves but by their family and loved ones back home. Again from personal experience, today there are Marine SNCO's and Officer's training and leading our young warriors who have never even heard of "an Ontos"(?).


Semper Fidelis,


Ray Stewart

President, VTHF

Charter and Life Member of the VTA
Blog Site Update
    We have created a new interactive section entitled, Looking For.  All you need to do is post who you are looking for and leave your email address.  Those who are looking for can respond directly to you.  Good luck with your searches!
    Also, be sure to visit the site, and add you comments, thoughts and suggestions.  To avoid SPAMMERS I have instituted a need to approve all postings and have added one of those aggravating word passwords to ensure that spamming robots are not able to flood our Blog Site.


Hint: When leaving a message post it under Name/Url. You do not need a "Url" only your name.

Semper Fidelis,
Mail Call!

Looking For:


    Hi everyone, I am looking to reconnect with anyone who remembers me. We landed in Chu Lia in  March or April 1965 so Sea Bees could build the air strip and later moved to DaNang and on to hill 55 where I stayed until it was time to rotate back. I was assigned to Quantico. 

    Getting older and the memory isn't as good as it used to be.  

     I remember Cpl William c. Laidlaw, KIA in operation Starlight. (He) was my first tank commander in tank training school Camp Lejeune 1964.
     Anyone remember being with me please reconnect.


John Reese



    An old tanker buddy of mine ,by this name, Nicodemus, last seen coming by in heat of battle somewhere in Nam on stretcher with serious wound .Wondering if this is my old friend from long ago?  Over?


Wally Young, 3d Tanks, B Co., 1967-1968 



    Former L/Cpl John Daniel (went by "Mac" or "Guy") McCauley is looking for former SSgtPrater and former LtCol McCloud with whom he served on Okinawa in the 3rd Antitank (Ontos) Bn. 1960-65. He was also embarked on the USS Thomaston (LSD-28) with Lt. J.T. Fisher (sic). While embarked on the USS Thomaston he recalls an incident when the ships ballast mal-functioned and all the Tanks and Ontos were under water. He can be reached at 414-788-1632 and




    Thank you for the email and glad to hear you received my donation to help with your worthy efforts.


Best regards to all,


Fred (Mills)

New Reader:

    Thanks much, but since my Dad was a "China Marine" (Eco; 2-29th Marines, 6th Marine Division, Okinawa) and my son John is a Sergeant Major of Marines, presently a Sergenat Major at your Infantry School at Camp Pendleton, CA at some point I will contribute.  I feel privilaged to be a part of your organization and to read your stuff.  Have a special place in my heart for the Marine Corps, gee I wonder where that comes from?  ALLONS!!! (3-11th Armored Cavalry Regiment)  


Tanker's Daughter


Dear LtCol Stewart:


    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply regarding information about Cpl Charles L. Denton.  Yes, I had found the information on your site about his citation, Operation Starlite and the map of same.  However the recounting of Operation Starlite that I found was the one written by yourself and does not mention Cpl Denton nor his Silver Star.

    I am very unfamiliar with the military nomenclature and abbreviations for the Marine Corp, so perhaps I'm mistaken about Capt. Sanders being Cpl Denton's commander.    

     Thank you so much for your help with this and the Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation.


Zoe Smith


Heroes Corner 
Silver Star 
Corporal Charles L. Denton, Jr.  

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Corporal Charles L. Denton, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company C, 3d Tank Battalion, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, during Operation STARLITE in the Republic of Vietnam, on 18 August 1965. While engaged in an attack against determined, well entrenched insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces, Corporal Denton's tank was hit by an enemy anti-tank rocket. As a result of the hit, Corporal Denton, his platoon commander and the tank's gunner were wounded and the tank was set afire. With complete disregard for his own wound and the intense enemy fire, he climbed out of the turret and assisted his seriously injured Platoon Commander to a position of relative safety. Realizing that the burning tank was a hazard to the wounded Marines in close proximity to it, Corporal Denton returned through the heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire to the tank. Boldly utilizing hand and arm signals while in a completely exposed area, he successfully guided the tank to a protected position where the fire could be extinguished. Once again returning to the open area, Corporal Denton assisted in evacuating the numerous wounded. Having completed this task, he selflessly refused to be evacuated and returned to his tank. By his heroic actions and inspiring devotion to duty throughout, Corporal Denton was instrumental in saving the lives and reducing the suffering of several wounded Marines, and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Mounting Out



    It was 48 years ago on this date that 3rd platoon, Alpha company embarked, over the beach at Chu Lai, aboard amphibious shipping, as part of the 7th Marines Regimental Landing Team for Operation Starlite.  Starlite was the first regimental size, all U.S., combat operation in Vietnam.

    It's hard to believe that it was that many years ago, but to this day, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we performed well.  It did not come without cost; one KIA (Bill Laidlaw) and a number of WIAs.


    I remember:

  • sitting on the beach, waiting to load aboard an LCU.  Pfc Yoder was making coffee and accidentally dropped a hot dog into the pot . . . strange coffee.
  • the morning we landed.  There was a big explosion on the beach and I realized that this would be a far more serious business than we had previously been exposed to.
  • losing contact with the 3/3 company we were to support as the terrain precluded our keeping up with their advance.
  • bushwhacking through the foliage with a squad of Marines from 3/3 until we caught up to a unit of the 4th Marines in a fire fight.  They were in one wood line, in the opposite wood line was charlie.  We started across the open field and mortar rounds began to drop.
  • a tank crewman from another tank coming out of the turret to help carry a wounded Marine off the back deck of the tank.
  • hearing that Milo had popped his driver's hatch and downed several VC with his 45 pistol, resting it on the ring.
  • being in a near panic when I heard that Sgt McQuerry had been wounded under truly weird circumstances - tried to get a medivac chopper but none available.
  • learning that Sgt. Ed Siepel's tank had been hit and he had been badly wounded.
  • watching an RPG (the burn from the rocket motor was clearly visible) come out of charlie's wood line and hit A31, taking part of my right instep and showering LCpl Denton with fragments. 

    Knowing that I would be medivacked, it became important to turn over command of the platoon.  The Plt. Sgt, SSgt Wilder, was still making his way from the beach and Sgts Siepel and McQuery were both WIA and would be medivacked as well.  We still had three operational tanks (although two had been holed).  I called Cpl James Thompson and told him he was in charge until properly relieved.   I briefed Jim, turned over my maps to him, and told him I was confident that he would do the job.  48 years later I remain certain that I made the right choice.  We were a good platoon.   

    I hopped over to where Sgt. Siepel lay when the fire fight slackened; it was obvious his condition (leg) was serious.  We went out on the same medivac chopper.

    Although my time with the platoon was short . . . and my time in combat shorter still, these events will remain with me till the end of my days.


Semper fi,


Ky Thompson

Command Chronologies

September's 1965 to 1970 - Marine Tanks & Ontos Action


     Pages 1 - 26   ~ Pages 27 -52


 FYI: Donations and Donors

    Each year we wipe the slate clean as to who has donated for that calendar year. All donations received after October 1, 2013 will appear in the Breech Block beginning with the January 2014 issue. Donations received before October 1, 2013 will not appear in the eNewletters beginning the first of the year.

Thank you for your support without you the foundation cannot achieve its goals of researching, recording, archiving and publishing your individual stories.


Semper Fidelis

Secure Credit Card Donations       
IRS Tax EIN 91-2111544 ] 
2013 Donors: Thank you for your support!
    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:

Certificate Donations

Platinum Plus ~ $1,000 Plus

Platinum ~ $250 - $999
Gold ~ $100 - $249
Silver ~ $50 - $99
Bronze $1 - $49
Platinum Plus
Dick Carey*
Jeni and Darrell Clock  
Kevin Flynn
Jackie Hunter*
Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds*
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (Ret)+**
Guy Wolfenbarger
Bobby Joe Blythe
Peter Brush*
Brian Carroll
Kyle Decicco-Carey*
Sid Ferguson, DVM
Glen Hutchins
GySgt Wes 'Tiny' Kilgore, USMC (Ret)
LtCol William Lochridge, USMC (Ret)+
Dr John D  Price
Jim Raasch
Adolph Sgambelluri
LtCol Ev Tunget, USMC (Ret)
Jerry Wahl
LtCol Phil Weigand, USMC (Ret)   
Stephen Arnone
Maj Frank Box, USMC (Ret)
David 'Doc' Forsyth
William Franker
Michael Giovinazzo
Alonzo Jacobs
Thomas Kelly
Carl Lemon
Frederick (Fred) Mills
David Ralston

Robert F. (Bob) Singer 
LtCol Frank Slovik, UISMC (Ret)
Maj Ed Stith, USMC (Ret)
Jerry White
Bill Bohlen
Meyrat Francis-Michael
"Doc" Hackemack
Thomas Kelly  
Brian JefferiesJohn Lange
Garry Mefford
Robert PeaveyBronze
Bobby Joe Blythe
Chris DeSpain
Robert Fornwalt
+Additional Donation 

*In-Kind Services

**In-Kind & Monetary


    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.
Your continued support is appreciated.
Please send your Tax Deductible Donation to:

MCVTHF, 707 S.W. 350th Ct., Ste. #1 

Federal Way, WA 98023

                                                                                 Thank you!


IRS Approved Tax EIN 91-2111544 

A 501(c)(19) Non-profit Historical Foundation
Established 2001
Foundation Member's Open House

We invite you to our Annual Open House at the

Hot Rod Shop!

3060 Knightsen Avenue, Knightsen CA 94548 

Jerry Sezar: Phone ~  925-625-1073

Saturday September 7th 10am-4pm

Bring yours and we'll show you ours

Car show * Shop tours * Live band * BBQ

*featuring Steve Cloyes '39 Ford Hard top Race car, on display this winter at the California Auto museum, and Mark Cameron's 49' Cad & much more!!

Come and check out full car builds and modifications...

This is not a bolt on boy affair

*Note: This event is a free event open to all automotive enthusiasts, including all car & motorcycle club


VTA Logo   USMC Vietnam Tankers Association



      October 31 to November 5, 2013

 San Antonio, Texas


  We have contracted with the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the River Walk for a $99 per night room rate.


Free daily self-parking.


  We will also get a 20% discount on food and drinks (not alcoholic drinks) in the hotel restaurants and bars.

   This same room rate for three days prior and three days after the reunion if you want to spend more time in the city.

   Call the hotel at 1-888-623-2800 after 10/1/12 but before 10/1/13 to make room reservations.

   Our hospitality room (that we call "The Slop Shute") will be the same size as the one that we had in San Diego in 2011.

   There will be lots to do while we are visiting this San Antonio. We are formulating activity plans that will be announce as they are completed.

  Please mark your calendars and start saving your money to meet and  greet with your brothers in arms.

  You are encouraged you to bring your wives or your girl friends and as many of your family members as you want to attend.




Mustang LogoMuster 2013 

Branson, MO

September 4 - 8, 2013

Clarion Branson Hotel

2820 W 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616

Call for room reservations: (800) 725-2236 

Mention you are w/the Marine Corps Mustang Reunion


Marine Corps Mustang web site
If you have any questions or concerns please contact Joe Mouton, Roger Speeg, or Dwayne Dupeire. 


We Really Need Your Assistance

    One of the toughest job in any organization is keeping membership information up-to-date.  

     You might believe we have all your information since you are already receiving the Breech Block newsletter but, the simple facts are we do not. Even though your membership in the Historical Foundation is free when you join the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association that information is not automatically shared with the Foundation.

    From time to time we send out pertinent information to those that served in the various Tank Battalions, i.e. 1st Tanks, 3rd Tanks, Ontos, etc. 

    Please take the time to go to the bottom of this newsletter and click on "Update Profile/Email Address."

     You guys are terrific; we appreciate your support.


Semper Fidelis,

MC Flag Big Wave 

Dick Carey, V.P.


Director Public Relations


Can't Access Links

    We have had a few emails stating that it was not possible to click on a link or the wording, photos, etc. were not as they should be on the page.  

    With each issue of the Breech Block and other important emails sent to you there is a wording at the top of each email that states: "Having trouble viewing this email? Click here." If you are having an issue such as this be sure to click on the aforementioned link. This should resolve any problem,  if not let us know.

In This Issue
Operation Piranha
The Book SitRep
Blog Site Update
Mail Call
Heroes Corner
Mounting Out
Command Chronologies: September 1965 to 1970
FYI: Donations and Donors
Credit Card Donations
Donors 2013
Donate Address
Foundation Member's Open House
We Need Your Assistance






Marine Corps
Vietnam Tankers
Historical Foundation



Vice Pres., Editor,

Marketing & Production 

Richard "Dick" Carey

Contact: Email Me    


LtCol Raymond A. Stewart USMC (Ret)



Jackie Hunter



Archivist in Residence

Kyle Decicco-Carey

Harvard University

BA in History, MLIS


Author in Residence

Dr. Oscar "Ed" Gilbert


Historian in Residence

Peter Brush

Vanderbilt University

BA and MA in History


Web Master

Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds


Board of Directors


LtCol Raymond A. Stewart, USMC (Ret)


Charter Director, 

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association 


Richard 'Dick' Carey
Vice President 

Public Relations 

Founder, USMC Vietnam Tankers Association

President Emeritus


James Raasch


Oral Historian  


Charles 'Chuck' Garrison, Treasurer 

Charter Director, 

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association


Richard Tilden



LtGen Martin R. 

Steele, USMC (Ret)


Charter Director,

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association  


Col William  'Bill' Davis, USMC(Ret)



Robert 'Mike' Flick



David 'Doc' Forsyth



Dr. Ken Estes,

LtCol, USMC (Ret)



Rick Walters



Guy Wolfenberger



MGySgt Donald Gagnon, USMC (Ret)

Director Emeritus

Quick Links


Ontos Web Site 


Khe Sanh Veterans


Mustang Officers Assn.


Marine Corps Hertiage Foundation


The Marine Shop


Defense Department 


Our Members' Books:


Beyond My Horizon

By Claude Vargo


Con Thein:  

Hill of Angels

By Jim Coan


Praying for Slack

By Bob Peavey 



By Clyde Hoch



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In Memory
Lance Corporal
Robert Hugh Gage
1st Marine Division
1st Tank Battalion
1st Anti-Tank
Alpha Company
03 July 196PP/ Staff Sergeant
 30ptember 1



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