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



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January 2013    



Wishing you and yours a ...




The New Year is just around the corner. And, as they say "OMG!"

Besides the day-to-day running of the Foundation, my focus in 2013 will be on getting our first book on the street. And to review for a moment what the book is all about: In short, it is all about - and by - our Vietnam Marine Ontos crewmen and Tankers with significant attention paid to those who supported us and to whom we support. But more important than "about" Tanks and Ontos is the "by."  Let me explain briefly: the plan is to lay the 200+ articles and interviews the Foundation will spread chronologically over the 5 years we were in Vietnam starting with the first landing over the beach in Danang in March of 1965 to the back loading of the last tank in June of 1970 and all our action in between. The Foundation will provide the names and units of the operations that involved the support of Ontos and tanks and then pin the submitted articles to those actions. Where there are operations that included tanks and Ontos but there are no articles submitted, the Foundation will take extracts from the documented archival material to highlight their action.


Please note: To be cited in the credits of the book you must provide the Foundation some bare minimum information - not necessarily an article or an interview - just your name, unit(s) you served with, and approximate dates and the places that you can remember. Of course, any events that come to mind that we can cite in the book will be most appreciated as well. Captioned pictures are particularly sought.


The book will have - as a minimum - appendices of "Glossary of Terms, Abbreviations, and Acronyms," "Medal Recipients," "Tank & Ontos Organizational" charts, "Bibliography," "Names of Contributors," and others that you may like to see.


At this time all the research on the topic of publishing format points to an E-Book. The "how" of this decision is a work-in-progress. Friend of the Corps and author of more books than we have room to cite, Eric Hammel has offered us a hand, as has Col Dick Camp, USMC (Ret) author of "Lima Six" and others, and of course Col Walt Ford, USMC (Ret) of the Leatherneck. The Marine Corps History Division also has opened its Archives and the Oral History section for our research.


And, before I close, I'd like to draw your attention to the new wrinkle we've added to our fund raising program. You may now use your credit card to donate to the Foundation using PayPal - details provided below. As a 501(c)(19) Veteran Nonprofit your donations to the Foundation are tax deductible.


And finally and most importantly, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best health and happiness in the New Year. May 2013 be the best year ever for you and your family.


Warm Regards and Semper Fidelis,




In Coming!
"Col - Whatever you need the $ for. Semper Fi, Sid Ferguson. PS Really enjoy your book Reviews."



"Ray - Here's a little donation toward the Historical Foundation. The work you do for it is invaluable! Thanks for all of it." Bonnie Raasch.

Marines at Con Thien 
Vietnam War: Battle of Con Thien - Documentary Film
Vietnam War: Battle of Con Thien
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2013 Donors: Thank you for your support!

Platinum PlusPlat. Plus Award

Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds*

LtCol Phil Weigand, USMC (Ret)



Peter Brush*
Dick Carey*    

Kyle Decicco-Carey*
Jim Raasch**
Pappy Reynolds*
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (Ret)**
LtCol Ev Tunget, USMC (Ret)+
Maj Frank Box, USMC (Ret)
Sid Ferguson
David 'Doc' Forsyth 
Robert F. (Bob) Singer 
Your Name
Bobby Joe Blythe
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.

+Additional Donation 

*In-Kind Services

**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

                                                                                 Thank you!


IRS Approved Tax EIN 91-2111544 

A 501(c)(19) Non-profit Historical Foundation
Established 2001
Heroes Corner
Silver Star



       The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Second Lieutenant Stuart Charles Berman (MCSN: 0-94544), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company C, First Anti-Tank Battalion, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam on 21 March 1967. During a search and clear operation by the First Battalion, Fifth Marines near Tam Ky, Second Lieutenant Berman was leading a heavy section of Ontos into blocking positions when one of the Ontos, maneuvering into firing position, struck an enemy mine, immediately setting the vehicle ablaze and trapping the crew inside. Reacting instantly and with complete disregard for his own safety, Second Lieutenant Berman ran to the Ontos, braved the intense heat and exploding small arms ammunition and pulled one of the crewmen from the flaming vehicle. Realizing that the 106-mm. ammunition and fuel could explode at any moment, he unhesitatingly returned to the vehicle and assisted in the removal of another Marine. He supervised immediate first aid to the casualties and called or an evacuation helicopter. Simultaneously, the Ontos section came under heavy enemy small arms fire from an estimated Viet Cong company. Displaying uncommon courage and aggressive fighting spirit, Second Lieutenant Berman fearlessly mounted an Ontos and despite the intense hostile fire, directed the fire of his two remaining vehicles. The Viet Cong position was destroyed by his section's effective fire, however, heavy fire was received from another enemy position. Skillfully, Second Lieutenant Berman directed accurate fire on the Viet Cong positions and silenced the hostile fire. During a subsequent enemy assault, he personally killed two Viet Cong and his unit was credited with nine enemy probable killed and two wounded. His daring and heroic actions undoubtedly saved the lives of two Ontos crewmen and prevented the enemy from inflicting additional casualties on his unit or damage to his vehicles. By his inspiring leadership, bold initiative and uncommon devotion to duty at great personal risk, Second Lieutenant Berman contributed immeasurably to the successful accomplishment of his unit's mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
Information Update

Foundation's New Phone Number 



SgtMaj Bill "JJ" Carroll

2725 Saddle Court, Unit 4
Stillwater, MN 55082

Home Phone: 651-342-0913


Have you moved, changed your phone number or have a new email address? Do you know someone who should be receiving this eNewsletter?  Send us their information and we will add them to the mailing list.


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Thanks, you guys are great!

Hill 34 Incident


I don't know what month it was but I was serving with Flames in '66, with R.R. Rice, "Coffee Cup" Carlson, GySgt Wertz (Plt Sgt.) and myself "Tiny." SSgt Rice had just come back from an operation with "A" Company. They were unloading their gear and clearing their weapons. When Rice cleared the .50 cal. a round went off down range. In about an hour two jeeps and a 6x6 came rolling in to the area. They came right over to where our flame tanks were. They set up an aiming stake near Rice's tank and determined the round that hit General Westmoreland's Aide in the ankle came from Rice's tank. We didn't see SSgt Rice for 6 months. Do any of the Flamers out there remember this? We were on Hill 43 behind RMK.


"Tiny" Kilgore



Legend of the Ho Chi Minh Trail Web Site
"The Worst Day in My Life"


By SSgt Charles V. Thompson USMC
Fox Company, 2nd. BN. 1st. Marines
Vietnam 1968
Served 1962 - 1972

Operation Pegasus


Oper Pag. Tank   SSgt Thomas

On April 1st 1968,  I was platoon sergeant and acting platoon leader for the 3rd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment..  
My Platoon had the honor of leading the attack down Hwy 9 when Operation Pegasus opened. I had a tank attached to my Platoon and would use it's cannon fire on likely ambush sites. 
Most of the time it was the 3rd platoon that would lead our company.Capt. Oliver would put my platoon in the lead on moves.  I was excellent at reading maps and can proudly say we were never ambushed while the 3rd led, and never got lost or off track, where the Captain wanted us to go.. 
We had to guard a bridge on route 9 that we captured. We were to guard it overnight till our attack could be resumed.  Well into the night we kept hearing noises from under the bridge. So we fired M-79 rounds and threw grenades under it to deter the enemy demo teams. Than in daylight I crawled under the bridge to investigate and came face to face with a 15 foot Python Snake which I promptly shot 3 times in the head. A picture was taken of the dead snake being held by LEEATUMO VIAEO [sic] from my platoon (a Samoan) standing by a Route 9 milepost. 
We are now at the Khe Sahn base and my platoon has the lines at the wreckage of the C-130 plane. The Company was living on the perimeters edge, looking out into the killing fields. Some NVA bodies were still  visible because we could not get a party out to bury them without NVA artillery hitting us.A no-mans land, tangle foot barbed wire crisscrossed the ground, with tripwire flares to warn of enemy movement at night and c-ration cans hung also along the wire. Buried in the ground were 55 gallon drums full of C-4 plastic explosives, diesel fuel, old dirty ammo, which we connected to detonating devices in our fighting positions. Mines were buried and claymores were in position in front of us.  
The bunkers were both home and fighting areas. They were stockpiled with ammo and hand grenades. The trenches had emplacements built with sandbags and timber; you could almost walk around the whole base in that trench unexposed and was it muddy when it rained. The base was heavily damaged, blown up bunkers left gapping holes, both ammo dumps had blown in the past, casting explosive rounds about. Most of the sandbags around the bunkers were torn and tattered fluttering in the breeze, making it look shabby. The Marines were pretty rough looking with ripped, dirty clothes, unshaven, smelly, but friendly.. 
We needed our morale boosted so I called for volunteers on different occasions and about five of us would sneak thru our defenses loaded with 4 to 6 grenades each. We would get on line and heave them all at once than rush back into our lines. It was quite exhilarating and a hell of a rush..  
We now rotated platoons from the main supply route (MSR) minesweeping Route 9.Than did convoy and bridge security plus I would take out a  4 man killer team every so often and  squad patrols within sight of the base.  
On the morning of May 19th I was ordered to prepare to engage an enemy ambush on the main supply route (MSR) within sight of the combat base. 3rd platoon led out with Company CP (Command Post) following and 1st Platoon bringing up rear. As we approached the ambush site, I went with 1st squad up the middle with 2nd squad on the right and 3rd squad on the left (on line and in echelon), and began assaulting the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) line of trenches.       
By this time one tank was smoking and immobile and the second tank had been hit but still moving. My assault had reached a point that had passed all friendlies including a tank and truck that were hit by RPGs (rocket propelled grenades). 2nd squad 3rd platoon got pinned down by a volume of heavy fire. Now, 1st squad was getting hit with the same heavy fire. We took cover in a crater near the center of the road and up higher than most of the NVA trenches that dug the night before with interlocking trenches, covered by machine guns, plus RPG crews, and B-40 Rockets.  
My 3RD squad, commanded by CPL Terry Molyneux from Utah was instructed to work its way up towards my left flank. So, as to be on-line as much as possible with the NVA trenches which (some) were within 15 meters to relieve some of the fire on my position. The 2nd squad 's position where they were pinned down was just too far back and too the right to be of help to either my position or the CP's position.  At that moment about seven RPGs and B-40 rockets overshot the remaining tank and landed in my 3rd squads position and killed all but Cpl Terry Molyneux and a black kid named Alexander. Immediately after that , the last tank was hit by multiple RPG fire. There was a Six by Six truck that had been hit and knocked out sitting off to our right rear that had a 50 caliber ring on it and a Marine was still firing the 50 CAL when the tank was hit. The tank drove up the rear of the truck and the Marine had to jump off. He was hit 3 times in the chest but later I heard he lived. We had him in our crater that we were fighting from and Doc Pipkin was tending to his wounds. 
I was on the radio calling in mortar and air-strikes but someone on the radio said that it was already being done. We were pinned down by a enemy machine gun emplacement which proved to be the enemy's furthermost position across the MSR. I asked my 1st squad leader if he had a LAAW (66mm disposable rocket). We had to look around for one and a grunt said Sarge I been carrying this for 3 months, please use it.    
The enemy machine gun position was about 75 meters up the road, almost level with our position. I took aim and (there were so many incoming rounds) my guys were yelling for me to hurry up and fire. I was popping up and down and will never know how but, that LAAW fired and exploded on a tree just above the gun. I thought I missed but, the blast killed the 3 NVA and the gun never fired again.  
We were being assaulted and someone had taken over calling in missions so, we were repelling  (killing NVA) coming into our zone. The Company CP had been over-run and killed to a man. I still regret to this day not being able to help Captain Troy Robert Oliver Jr. and the CP group. I did not realize at the time we assaulted into the ambush that we had about 25 yards of trench to our right that held NVA that we had crossed their front and they were now to my right rear firing on the CP group even as we were pinned down by a terrific volume of machine gun fire, small arms and RPG's and B-40 rockets. 
The fighting went on for 8 hours with three assaults by the NVA which were repulsed by my fighting hole which contained seven Marines plus three wounded. Golf company must have linked with Colonel Duncan's CP and also the rest of Fox company. But, that was 200 yards from where my Marines were fighting for our lives. 
Each time we were assaulted we pushed them back by killing them sometimes not once, but twice. I remember firing my grease gun and hitting the NVA rushing to get within grenade range and as the .45 caliber bullets hit them they would fly backwards.  
And, one I really remember because I hit him in the chest with three 45's and than the next round hit him in the elbow. His elbow and arm was dangling almost off and after hitting the ground he was still struggling to get up on his feet and kill me.  
Some of them would struggle to get up again as if they were on drugs and their wounds did not matter. It was quite un-nerving to watch this but, of course a pitched battle is quite un-nerving in itself. So, we had no choice but to keep shooting at them till they were dead and stayed that way. The ones that got around our fighting position would find our dead and dying Marines and shoot them multiple times.. 
We had been in continuous combat for about 8 hours and I realized we were almost out of ammunition. Even though I didn't understand it, I realized that day just what we were up against here in Vietnam. They were dedicated to their ideals. They were single NVA soldiers that would attempt to crawl up as close as they could to toss grenades on us. They had no other weapons on them. And, to my way of thinking that was either stupidity or total dedication. But, whichever it was, it sure was an eye opener for me. Also they used radios to communicate. I fired at one who had a radio on his back but when we went to find his body the radio was gone.   
As the NVA were throwing grenades and shooting at us, I hollered Fix Bayonets!. We all looked at each other and began to laugh hysterically for a moment because, we never carried bayonets, as they were impractical in the jungle. We than got back to the business at hand. 
We were running dangerously low on ammo so I got on the radio and requested a tank to support and reinforce my position because I could see it sitting on the road from the intersection of Route 9 and the road to the base maybe a 1/4 mile away. After asking for the tank to support us it began moving towards us (very slowly) and about 40 meters pass the NVA machine gun position I had destroyed with a Laww which was  their anchor for their horseshoe style  ambush, I began to move towards the tank so I could direct it's fire on the remaining NVA in the trenches. 
During the battle we had been supported by gun-ships, jets with napalm, artillery, mortars and the North Vietnamese Army were still confronting us in battle. I knew where the enemy was and wanted to show the tank as a show of strength. But, I did not want a repeat of Corporal Fred Kellogg's tank being missed  by numerous RPGs and B-40 rockets and killing any remaining 3rd platoon Marines in the process.  
I didn't know that back in 1966 they had removed the radios from the rear of the tanks which they kept in a small box. It was there for grunts like me to direct the tank where to fire. Anyway I was up and running for it, praying I wasn't mistaken for the enemy. Also I was worried that the  RPGs and B-40 Rockets being shot at the tank wouldn't miss and would get the tank and me at the same time.  
I pointed to the NVA trenches and the tank pivoted to the right and began firing Fleshhett Rounds and HE  at the trenches . The incoming enemy rounds began to noticeably decrease in our direction. Wasn't long before the tank crew was hard-pressed to find a target and the rest of my platoon began to mop up what we saw. We moved along and finished off what NVA remained. 
This wasn't a One Marine Show. But what has bothered me all these years was why it took so long for two Marine Company's and Tanks to get to us. We were under intense fire for about 8 hours and what I didn't realize was we had assaulted through the original ambush platoon and my sister platoon was still getting into assault position with our brave captain between us. And when he said attack, we went full force into the heart of the NVA.  
I was never asked for a statement of this action and this is my first time since May 19th,1968 that I sat down and wrote down what I recalled about that terrible bloody day in May 1968. That is why I have to change some of it, because my 3rd Squad leader contacted me to correct me about not losing my whole 3rd squad. 
Hell! I didn't know I was being awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V until I was Medevaced while out in the field on an operation (November 10th 1968) when I collapsed into a coma. I woke up in a Guam Hospital recovering from Japanese B Encephalitis (Sleeping Sickness) with a general placing a Bronze Star with Combat V on my robe. 


January 21, 1968 - General William C. Westmoreland, Commander USMACV, ordered a temporary halt to work on the "McNamara Line", the barrier and anti-infiltration system south of the DMZ. 


Significance: This, much to the relief of the offensive-minded Marines who chafed at the prospects of being penned up behind the wire, for all practical matters, ended the work on the McNamara Line which officially terminated on October 22, 1968. 


January 21 - April 15, 1968 - NVA troops began shelling the base at Khe Sanh and the strongholds in the surrounding hills. This rocket, mortar, and artillery barrage initiated the 77-day "Siege of Khe Sanh."

Significance: The Siege of Khe Sanh would be one of the defining battles of the Vietnam War. Supplied by air and supported by massive artillery and air bombardments including B-52 strikes, the 6,000 man Khe Sanh Marine garrison would hold out against elements of an estimated two North Vietnamese Divisions until relieved to resume offensive operations against the NVA by U.S. forces on April 14 in Operation Pegasus.


January 30 - February 28, 1968 - Communist forces launched a country-wide offensive during the Vietnamese Tet holidays. On January 30, Viet Cong Main Force and NVA units launched an aborted attack upon Da Nang. Units from the U.S. Army's Americal Division would reinforce the 1st Marine Division at Da Nang. Fighting in the Da Nang sector would continue sporadically until the end of February. Communist offensives would also occur in Hue, Quang Tri City, Hoi An, and Quang Ngai City in I Corps.


Significance: While providing the Communists with the some political and propaganda successes, especially in the United States, the defeat of their nation-wide offensive would cost the Communist forces dearly in manpower in both the NVA regular forces and especially among the Viet Cong infrastructure and local forces.


January 31 - March 2, 1968 - In the Battle for Hue City, the North Vietnamese in Division strength on January 31 captured most of the city except for small pockets of resistance. Elements of the 1st Marine Division Task Force X-ray, the South Vietnamese 1st ARVN Division, and the U.S. 1st Air Cavalry Division in month-long house to house fighting retook the city with significant losses suffered by both sides.


Significance: The capture of Hue, the ancient Imperial capital of Vietnam had significant symbolic reverberations throughout the country and was the one initially partially successful element of the enemy Tet offensive. The defeat of the Communist forces at Hue prevented them from possibly taking over the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. 


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. 

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. Again U.S. Marine units in Vietnam played almost no role in Lam Son 719 as they redeployed or planned to redeploy from Vietnam.


Selected Named Operations During January







42 days
5-8 Bns

1st Cavalry Division operation in Binh Dinh Province. USMC operation Double Eagle links in cross border segment

VC/NVA 2,389
US KIA 349

Lancaster II


21Jan67- 23Nov68
308 days
12 Bns

3d MarDiv search-and-clear operation

VC/NVA KIA 1,801
US KIA 352

Hue City



25Feb 68
26 days
5 Bns

1st MarDiv operation to clear Hue City during Tet Offensive

VC/NVA KIA 5,113
US KIA 142

Dewey Canyon



56 days
4 Bns


1st MarDiv operation north of the A Shau Valley in Thua Thien Province

VC/NVA KIA 1,335
US KIA 121

Double Eagle I


23 days
4 Bns

3d MarDiv operation in Quang Ngai Province



Casualties During January (all battalions)


Thursday, January 6, 1966

J R GIPE, LCpl, Age 21, 

Harrisburg, PA

Friday, January 28, 1966


New York, NY


Monday, January 2, 1967

CURTIS T ANDO, Pfc, Age 22, 

Powell, WY

Friday, January 13, 1967


 Lancaster, CA

ROGER L PARKER, Cpl, Age 20, 

Bellefontaine, OH

Tuesday, January 17, 1967

GEORGE A JONES JR, Pfc, Age 21, 

Houston, TX


Wednesday, January 3, 1968


Nashua, NH

Saturday, January 6, 1968

JAMES A WALL, Pfc, Age 19, 

Columbia, SC

Monday, January 8, 1968

MICHAEL R DAY, Sgt, Age 21, 

Ashland City, TN

ALTON J FENNELL, Pfc, Age 18, 

Warner Robins, GA

VICENTE GARZA, Sgt, Age 25, 

Houston, TX

Friday, January 19, 1968

JOHN P MARKEN JR, 2ndLt, Age 26, 

Escondido, CA

Wednesday, January 24, 1968

DANIEL W KENT, Capt, Age 24, 

Auburndale, MA

Thursday, January 25, 1968

DAVID P DODSON, Pfc, Age 19, 

Atlanta, GA

Wednesday, January 31, 1968

JOHN B HOGAN, HM3, Age 21, 

Fort Plain, NY

Book Review


"Well I can tell you that we were winning the war when I left 'Nam. What the hell happened?" "I just don't get it, we never lost a battle. How did we lose the war?" "We kicked Charlie's booty - handed him his lunch - all over the country and every time he raised his head. And he won!?"


There is no end to the questions like these. Then, there are those who really dig into the history and background to find an answer. While there's either no plausible answers to what sounds like pretty simple questions or there's multiple "explanations", often accompanied by finger pointing and ample blame to go around, one is still left scratching his head with "How is it that the strongest military on the planet mourns the death of more than 58,000 men and women in a place no larger than half the size of New Mexico in a little more than 5 years to an enemy seldom seen who didn't have the strength to meet and fight us face-to-face. A force that, when the war started, was learning the effectiveness of smearing his feces on sharpened bamboo sticks that would bring a company-size operation to a halt and calling for medevac helicopters to fly out the wounded.


Well the explanation that seems to answer the basic question is found with the 5 words - "We fought the wrong war". That is, we were sent to fight and die in the "Strategic Defense" mode while the North Vietnamese soldiers were sent to fight and die for the unification of their homeland using the precepts of "Strategic Offense". Harry G. Summers, Jr.'s "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War", applying the principles of war based on the classic "On War" by Carl von Clausewitz, provides some eye-opening answers to the question of why we lost the war - if not who lost it for us.


Col Summers, USA uses the Korean War (oops "Police Action") to cite how we "took counsel of our fears" that resulted in surrendering the initiative to the enemy. And further, how we mistook the internal Vietnamese problem for the threat of North Vietnamese aggression. And, as importantly, he quotes often the Army's Field Manuals for definitions that were either not read or consciously ignored.

This is not a new book. It was written after many of the major players in the Vietnam War had exonerated themselves by passing the blame onto others and then dying. The analysis provided is both timely and timeless. Here's how Summers, using Baron von der Goltz' concise portrayal of the four variants of war, boils it down -


  1. Strategical defensive & tactical defensive

  2. Strategical defensive & tactical offensive

  3. Strategical offensive & tactical defensive

  4. Strategical offensive & tactical offensive


The results there from:

  1. Complete absence of a decision.

  2. Victory on the field of battle without general results for the campaign or war.

  3. General situation for a victory, which, however, is without results because the fighting power of the enemy is not impaired.

  4. Destruction of the enemy, conquest of his territory.


Look at the 2.s. That's us! We never lost a battle (tactical offense). And then look at the "McNamara Line", Khe Sanh, Chu Lai, the rest of South Vietnam (strategic defense).


Now, look at the 3.s That's the other guy while we were there. We hardly ever saw those guys. We were being set up for the ultimate NVA victory but as long as we were there US/ARVN fighting power remained intact.


And then there's the 4.s After we got home, most of us not later than 1970, the war raged on without us for 5 more years - or as long as tanks and Ontos were in-country from 1965 to 1970. As the ARVN's fighting power, supplemented by with our air cover and logistics support was increasingly "impaired" (3.) What remained was a shell of the ARVN and the final destruction of the force led to the North's "conquest" of South.


Summer's book is a fast read and one of the best yet. Its value lies primarily in answering some of my questions around "How could we have lost that war?"


Ray Stewart


Brain Injury and Vision Problems


Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can result in many visual problems such as binocular vision dysfunction, light sensitivity, and visual field defects. The pathophysiology of these injuries is not well understood and continues to affect soldiers in their activities of daily living. The degree of binocular or accommodative dysfunction can range from mild to severe, but the effects on activities of daily living, such as reading, studying and administrative tasks, may be dramatic. Many of the issues associated with these injuries can be managed or eliminated with lenses. Another common finding in the TBI population is photophobia or light sensitivity. One 2007 TBI study evaluated 50 patients with diagnosis of a TBI. Seventy-four percent of subjects complained of vision problems. Fort Benning Optometry is currently involved with two TBI studies that are focusing on eye movements shortly after a concussive event. For more information, visit the website and the website.

VA to Add Five TBI Related Illnesses


The Department of Veterans Affairs is publishing a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would change its rules to add five diagnosable illnesses which are secondary to service-connected Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received. The proposed rule and information on how to comment is available on the Federal Register website. Specific information about the Defense and Veteran Brain Injury Center is available at Information about Gulf War and VA's services and programs are available at VA's Gulf War Exposures webpage

USMC Retiree 2012 Tax Statement Reminder


Retiree and annuitant pay customers of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service are scheduled to receive their 2012 tax statements between mid-December through January. Most of the 1099 forms will be available a week earlier via the online myPay pay account management system for retired military members and annuitants. Retirees and annuitants must keep their contact information current to avoid delays. For more information about account maintenance, 1099-R requests, and logging in to myPay, visit the DFAS website at People without an online account can contact DFAS at 800-321-1080.

VA Offers Home Care Alternative


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expanding its Medical Foster Home program to include more locations. The program allows veterans to live in private homes where a trained caregiver provides 24/7 service for the veteran. VA inspects and approves all Medical Foster Homes, which can serve as an alternative to a nursing home. While living in a Medical Foster Home, veterans receive Home Based Primary Care services, but veterans will have to pay for the Medical Foster Home themselves or through other insurance. A VA social worker or case manager can help with eligibility guidelines for Home Based Primary Care and Medical Foster Home care. For more information, visit the VA website.

Veteran Wins $1.25M in Hep C Case Against VA Hospital


A failure by Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center staff to properly clean colonoscopy equipment likely infected a patient with hepatitis C, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan awarded U.S. Air Force veteran Robert Metzler and his wife a combined $1.25 million in their medical malpractice case against the United States government. Metzler, 70, and his wife, Lucy Ann Metzler, had sued for a combined $30 million.

Metzler was one of more than 11,000 veterans who received colonoscopies with improperly-cleaned equipment between 2004 and 2009 at VA hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., according to an investigation by the VA's own Administrative Investigation Board.

The hospitals used equipment that had been rinsed after each patient rather than being sterilized by steam and chemicals as called for by the manufacturer. Investigators who took apart water tubes on some of the equipment that was supposed to be clean and ready for use instead found "discolored liquid and debris."

Metzler, who received his colonoscopy in 2007, had tested negative for hepatitis C the previous year. He tested positive for the virus in 2009, days after the VA administration sent him a letter warning him of a "potential health risk" related to the endoscopic equipment used during his procedure.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, defending the VA, acknowledged the hospital "breached" a "duty of reasonable care" but denied the equipment caused the health problems.

Dr. David Nelson, a board-certified doctor in internal medicine, testified that "there is less than a 0 percent chance" Metzler contracted hepatitis through his colonoscopy, according to the ruling. But the judge, despite acknowledging that VA records "strongly suggest" Metzler couldn't have been infected by the colonoscopy, said the veteran had no other risks associated with contracting the virus.

"I realize that the chances of acquiring hepatitis C under these circumstances is slight," Jordan wrote. "But I find that there is nothing to preclude Mr. Metzler from being one of those two persons in a trillion or billion who do get the virus."

Division of Public Affairs Current News Playbook    

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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.


We will be allowed 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.


We encourage you to bring your wives or your girl friends and as many of your family members as you want to attend.






May 8 - 11, 2013, Quantico


Details: Click here for tentative agenda


Contact: Louis Nafjus, 




Obit BevinsGeorge E. Bivens - Mansfield, OH


George was age 65, passed away at his residence. He was born on April 15, 1947 in Willard, Ohio to the late Raymond Bivens and Flossie (Pine) Heintz. George served his country during the Vietnam War, where he was a tank mechanic. He was a jack of all trades and enjoyed cutting wood. His main priority in life was to make sure his family was provided for. 

George is survived by his six children, Sondra Newsome of Willard, Shelley Vargas of Plymouth, Sherry (Henry Tudor) Bivens of Mansfield, George Bivens Jr. of Willard, Sheila Ceja of Willard, and Sindy (Jose) Vargas of Kansas; 14 grandchildren, James, Katie, Christina, Shawna, Aaron, Corey, Claudia, Olivia, Daniel, Javier, Nicolas, Leon, Cruz and Jose; 8 great grandchildren, Myah, Crissi, Wade, Dameon, Carlos, Arianna, Maria and Alex; two brothers, Richard Bivens of North Fairfield, and Robert Bivens of Centerton; and three sisters, Betty Marvin of Siam, Carol Miller of Norwalk and Beverly Davis. 

He is preceded in death by his parents and three siblings.




Daniel Lee Price - Sevierville, TN 


Dan passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was a Marine Corps veteran and served during Vietnam in the 1st Marine Division, 1st Tank Battalion.  He served with the National Guard while employed with the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation for 22 years. Daniel was Past Post Commander with American Legion Gatlinburg Post #202. He was a member of Lt. Alexander Bonneyman Detachment # 924 Marine Corps League in Knoxville and a charter member of Sevier County Marine Corp League, Sevier Detachment #1206. Dan assisted hundreds of veterans to obtain the benefits they deserved during his 12 year service as Veteran Affairs Officer of Sevier County. 


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,

Vice President

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
In Coming!
Marines at Con Thien Video
Visit Our Blog
Credit Card Donations
Donors 2013
Donate Address
Heroes Corner
Information Update
Hill 34 Incident
Legend of the Ho Chi Minh Trail Web Site
"The Worst Day in My Life"
Casualties During January
Book Review
Brain Injury and Vision Problems
VA to Add Five TBI Related Illnesses
USMC Retiree 2012 Tax Statement Reminder
VA Offers Home Care Alternative
Veteran Wins $1.25M in Hep C Case Against VA Hospital
Division of Public Affairs Current News Playbook
We Need Your Assistance
Can't Access Links




Marine Corps
Vietnam Tankers
Historical Foundation



President & Editor

LtCol Raymond A. Stewart USMC (Ret.)



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


Marketing & Production

Richard 'Dick' Carey



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


Charter Director, 

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association


Richard Tilden



LtGen Martin R. Steele,

USMC (Ret.)


Charter Director,

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association  


Col William  'Bill' Davis,




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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    Official USMC Flag

In Memory
Lance Corporal
Robert Hugh Gage
1st Marine Division
1st Tank Battalion
1st Anti-Tank
Alpha Company
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.


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