Dear Marine, |
First things first. We have received dozens of get well wishes for Dick Carey our Foundation's Vice President. I am pleased to tell you that these best wishes and your prayers have worked! Dick's operation to remove a cancerous mass from his pancreas was successful and Dick is home. While facing a very long and painful rehab, Dick and his doctors are confident that he will fully recover. Dick's extended absence from the day-to-day operations of the Foundation had its impact but we have realigned our work load with the "eye on the prize" - our book - and in that context have not skipped a beat.
And, although we have amassed hundreds of stories - some quite short but to the point, some much longer and with more detail - we can never have "enough". There will always be room for more. Every article will be available to the book's readers and every author will be cited for his - and occasional her - contribution. And new, fresh ideas from our Tanker/Ontos Crewmen Community for inclusion in our book are many and noteworthy. For example, just last week we received the idea to develop an annex, appendix, whatever, to list logos, slogans, nicknames, statements, thoughts - some may refer to them as graffiti, others as art - of stuff we painted on our vehicles, helmets, flak jackets, tents. Bob Peavey's book "Praying for Slack" had written on his tank "Pray for Slack". Dick Carey's M51 Retriever was called "Bodacious Bastard". Helmets displayed a number of "catchy phrases". There may not be another publication that provides a comprehensive list of the many names, signs, and logos Marine's used in Vietnam. Well great idea - or not - Pappy took off running with it and take a look at what he's come up with http://mcvthf.org/names_logos.html!!! Pappy's is most sophisticated and is typically Pappy. What we would like is the verbiage (uncensored, preferably) and where it was found. On a helmet cover "Jane Fonda Sucks". On the side of a 6X "Jane Fonda Sucks". Or on a hootch "Jane - you know.
Also, while we add and incorporate new ideas, we have to weigh those decisions against the time we have to devote to developing them. In this case we'll drop an appendix "A Comprehensive Glossary of Terms/Acronyms/Abbreviations" and replace it with just a bibliography i.e., the best books to find them. The book's appendix will provide an explanation of only the terms and acronyms found within its covers.
And lastly, the several hundreds of pages of the Command Chronologies of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tanks and Ontos for the month of June 1965-1970 have been condensed to a 52 page Abstract which can be found on the Foundation's web site by following the link provided. To reduce errors, save time, and provide the authentic feel of the CC's the Abstract is replete with cut and paste, unaltered, directly from the original documents. If you served in-country during any June in either Tanks, Ontos, in support of them, or were supported by them, please look up your unit to jog a few memories. Then write a few lines and send them off to us for publication. A bit more interest is served by finding your unit on one of the maps featured in Pappy's Map Chronology site.
Pappy has been busy pulling in hundreds of stories from every source - books, magazines, and first-hand authors. Our Administrator, Jackie Hunter, is converting them to a common script and font, providing a first edit, and taking steps to place them in chronological order
Thank you for your support through the submission of stories, captioned pictures, letters, documents, and maps. Thank you for your most generous financial support. And, most of all, thank you for your continued loyalty to the Foundation and the Tankers and Ontos Crewmen it our distinct honor to serve.
Tribute to Navy Corpsmen
For those of us who heard and used the term "Corpsman Up!" it is a term that remains everlasting in both our hearts and our minds. The truth is that we ask and expect far too much from these young men and women who are called Corpsmen, and who like most young Marines were first exposed to the horrors of war in ways most will never forget. Those assigned to the Fleet Marine Forces Marines (FMF) lived the way we did and that of the units to which assigned, and they endured and participated in every hardship and disappointment, as well as the praise and glory awarded their units.
The truth is many in Vietnam were 18 years old and upwards, and were just as fearful of being hurt or killed as the rest were and like the rest failed to receive mail for extended periods of time. Like every other Marine in the ground combat units, Corpsmen dug their foxholes with other Marines, ate the same C-rations as the rest, felt the stings of ants, leeches, bees, and scorpions, and they also dug their own toilets like the rest of us and they also buried their cans, papers, etc., after cooking and eating their meals. They were Just as tired as the rest and at times just as afraid of the unknown as was anyone else.
However, Corpsmen still had to check on the sanitation of our locations, as well as tending to the minor and major injuries and ailments suffered sooner or later by all. And those aliments and injuries ran the gamut from diarrhea to coughs and colds, and from Elephant grass cuts which usually festered into very large and ugly sores, to the usual heat related issues such as heatstroke, and on to more serious mental and physical issues to include VD and other issues of that nature.
Our Navy Corpsmen did all that while still carrying the gear needed to care for a platoon or company sized unit as well as carrying their own gear and weapons. And often times they were told to help out the locals with their illnesses, injuries, or wounds, and that in turn meant using up precious bandages and medications, which the Corpsman had carried in his pack and medical bags for his fellow Marines. That then caused the Corpsman to pray or ask help from somewhere that he would not run short of needed medications and supplies, and just in case and when the next firefight, or mine explosion, or enemy mortars or artillery might happen upon his unit.
To ask the above of a young 18-22 year old FMF Corpsman, is asking much more than many in the field ever realized until much later and after the fact. After all, that Corpsman is thought by many to be an "expert" on wounds, or how to handle other major injuries, in addition to which medication might be needed and requested to be used for everything from fleas or hair lice to trench foot or crotch rot or pink eye. While every Corpsman that our units had in Vietnam might not have been quite as astute, courageous, gifted, and the logically- minded individuals we make them all out to be, I would love to have just one more time to shake their hands and hug them all, and to thank them all for that which they did for so many over the years, and especially for those units I was honored to be a part of.
DOC, THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE, BRAVERY AND CARING
Thanks to Ben Cascio for passing this along...
You have done such an amazing job with this communication. I look back at some of the first periodicals (paper copy) I received and it has been a monumental progression you guys have made. Many thanks and OO-RAHs to you.
Keep up the great work please, thank you.
Wants to Contact
Any way if I can find out whether this gentleman was on O.P. 10 with me in the sprig/summer of 1969?
MOS: 1811, Tank Crewman
1st Tank Bn. B Co; 1968/1969
Enlistment Hometown: Van Nuys, CA
Thank you so very much for the time and effort you have put into this organization so we will not forget the things that went on there and also to help get us in touch with others we would like to keep in touch with. It has taken me many years to be able to sit down and write the script that I have written. Please feel free to make any corrections necessary to make it grammatically correct. This is the one that I think is a must print. I have one or two more that occurred to me that I may write a little later. My personal thanks to you for recognizing the fact there are few articles about the Hospital Corpsmen. Thank you so very much and may God Bless you.
William L. "Doc" Cox HM2
"Pappy" is off on another project. He is looking for the Names and markings you had on your tanks. He want's the Bn., Co., Plt., date, location, name on tank, picture or description of logo. As much information as possible. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go here!
| A Tribute to HM3 Joel Arnold Balcom |
by William "Doc" Cox
It was the procedure of the Battalion Aid Station assigned to the 1st Marine Division, 1st Tank Bn, if you were within a week of going home, you were taken off the duty roster. Such was the case for HM3 Joel Arnold Balcom.
On 3 November 1969, some enemy rockets and mortars had fallen short and hit the civilian community of Da Nang. The injured civilians were pouring into the Aid Station. We needed help from anyone that had medical experience. Joel came in to assist even though he was off the duty roster, The phone rang and it came in that a Deuce and a Half had wrecked on the road leading to "Three Fingers Outpost" in Quang Nam Province, and the Hospital Corpsman there was requesting an ambulance pick up for the injured Marine. This was the last thing we needed... more casualties. HM3 Balcom said he would take the ambulance and pick the wounded Marine up.
When Joel arrived at the road leading up to "Three Fingers," he came upon a Deuce and a Half that was turned over on its side. Joel was not sure if anyone was still in the vehicle so he stopped to check it out. Finding no one in the vehicle he continued on the way to the outpost. Joel arrived, found the injured Marine and loaded him and the Three Fingers Corpsman into the ambulance for the return trip back to the Battalion Aid Station. As Joel started back down the road, he was stopped by other Marines and told the entire road had been mined and he should wait until the road was cleared before proceeding on. Joel stated the Marine needed vital medical assistance that could not be furnished in the field and he stated "If I stay in the very same tracks I made coming up, then we will be "O.K." Joel's decision was based on the condition of the injured Marine only, not his and the other Corpsman's safety. At this time Joel got out of his vehicle and was only ¼ width of the left front tire of the ambulance when a land mine detonated, killing Joel instantly. The Corpsman from Three Fingers and the injured Marine that had now suffered two mine explosions within an hour's time, were blown from the ambulance and landed in a rice paddy face down. The Marines that were clearing the road ran to their assistance pulling them from the rice paddy. They called in a Medevac, and the injured were sent straight to First Med.
While Joel was in country, he had been notified by the family that he was the proud Father of a son. This would be a son he would never see.
To Joel's son: You can be so very proud of your father. He was a very dedicated Corpsman and gave his life attempting to get medical help for an injured individual.
Rest in Peace, Joel. You are not forgotten by the ones that were there with you, your family and friends.
| Heroes Corner |
"The story that follows is an example of one that could be told about many of our Vietnam Tankers and Ontos Crewmen. It is never too late to obtain that medal you earned during combat in the Vietnam War. The Foundation has provided assistance to dozens of Tankers and Ontos Crewmen seeking information about the medals they thought they were "put in" for. With the "fog of war" and the day-to-day operational requirements often taking priority - as well as the lengthy chain of approval and the turmoil of the rotation system - it is easier to understand how a document could get misplaced.
If you need supporting documentation concerning the circumstances around which you were to be awarded recognition for your valor, please contact us and we'll put our team of researchers on your case to help you in any way that we can.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. --
Nearly 50 years separate his actions in Vietnam from his award, but the wait was well worth it. Family, friends and dozens more gathered at the 24th Marine Regiment drill hall May 4 to witness the awarding of the Bronze Star Medal to former Pfc. Robert L. Rimpson.
The award was presented for combat actions on Aug. 18, 1965 in support of Operation Starlite in the Republic of Vietnam. Although that day was almost half a century ago, Rimpson, a Kansas City, Mo. native, remembers it like it was yesterday.
"That day makes me cry," Rimpson said. "I've seen a lot of misery and pain in my life and that was the most heartache I've ever had; something I put behind me for a while."
Rimpson, who was 19 at the time, and his fellow squad members advanced on an entrenched enemy near An Cu'ong village when suddenly they received intense small arms fire. He and members of his squad, to include Sgt. Robert O'Malley, his squad leader, advanced in an effort to clear the trench line. Rimpson assaulted the trench line with rifle and grenade fire. O'Malley was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
After clearing the trench line, the squad moved to assist a nearby unit, Rimpson, who suffered shrapnel wounds from enemy mortar fire, moved forward with fellow squad members to assist in moving wounded personnel to a helicopter landing zone for evacuation, according to the award citation. During this time, Rimpson delivered accurate suppressive fire from his grenade launcher on the enemy position, which in turn enabled the helicopters to land and evacuate casualties.
"When we hit the trench line, we opened fire to save my brothers from harm," Rimpson modestly recalls of the day-long engagement, which saved several lives.
Rimpson was recommended for an award while he was still on active duty, but once off active duty lost contact with Marine Corps officials and didn't hear much more about his award. He was once again recommended for an award by retired Col. John A. Kelly in May 2010. It was further approved by Headquarters Marine Corps to be awarded in February. Although more than 40 years after his service, Rimpson is proud to wear the award and be a part of the Marine Corps brotherhood.
"I couldn't believe it," said Rimpson, surprised when he learned of the approval. "I've never been more proud to be a Marine."
According to the Department of Defense Manual, the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in the capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces, distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service... while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. Rimpson is authorized to wear the Combat "V" device, denoting personal hazard during direct participation in combat operations.
"When giving a medal like this, especially a combat valor award, unlike an athlete, this is probably that Marine's worst day of his life," said Col. Charles Sides, the commanding officer of 24th Marine Regiment.
Rimpson is currently a resident of Kansas City and also wears a Purple Heart for wounds he sustained during the Vietnam War.
June 1965 to 1970 - Marine Tanks & Ontos Action
This is the third of what was - and is - intended to be a monthly feature of abstracted Tank and Anti-Tank Command Chronologies. Due to some adjustments to the work load and priorities with the temporary sabbatical of our V.P. Dick Carey, we suspended the publication of May's Breech Block. This Breech Block - June 2013 - will give you a brief overview of the action that the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tanks and Anti Tanks were involved in during each June that they were in-country. For the complete command chronologies, please visit our Foundation's website where Pappy Reynolds has posted the Tank and Anti-Tank CCs. Most of the CCs are 100-300 pages in length with material that is not usually of great interest to many. I will attempt to feature that which is of most interest. If we've omitted areas that you would like to see included in these monthly overviews, please let me know. If you served in any of these units during the month of June and recall some experiences that you would like others to read about, jot them down and send them to us for inclusion in our upcoming book.
Please note that, the Command Chronologies routinely list all the battalions' principle staff officers. However, I will provide just the Bn. C.O.'s, X.O.'s, Operations (S-3), and Logistics Officers (S-4) of the battalions. Also, you will see the names of the C.O.s of H&S and the letter companies. I hope our readers, who may remember the names of their Platoon Leaders and Platoon Sergeants, as well as others with whom they served, will inform us of those as well. Those Marines are a part of our history which needs to be made known. We serve our Brothers best by recording their names in history.
Also, you are encouraged to access the Foundation's Map Chronology that Pappy has created. There you may find out exactly where your unit - battalion, company, often platoon, and occasionally section - was located at any given time. If you do not find your unit on one of Pappy's several maps, let us know.
June Abstracts in Word
|Causalities (All Battalions) NEED MAY????|
Secure Credit Card Donations [ IRS Tax EIN 91-2111544 ]
2013 Donors: Thank you for your support!
See our Sponsors/Donors page at Sponsors
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 Plus
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 Approved Tax EIN 91-2111544
A 501(c)(19) Non-profit Historical Foundation
|Official United States Marine Corps Playbook |
TRICARE and New Emergency Centers
Week of April 22, 2013
TRICARE beneficiaries may have noticed new kinds of "Emergency Centers" popping up in their area. Free-standing emergency rooms (ER) that are not affiliated with a hospital may not be TRICARE-authorized, which can leave a beneficiary stuck with a big bill. Beneficiaries need to "know before you go." Check a free-standing ER's TRICARE status -- before emergency care is needed. Beneficiaries can check if a provider is TRICARE-authorized by calling their regional contractor. Contact information for regional contractors is available on the TRICARE website at www.tricare.mil/contactus. All TRICARE network providers are also searchable at www.tricare.mil/findaprovider. Learn more about emergency care under TRICARE on the TRICARE Emergency Care webpage at www.tricare.mil/emergency.
For guides to all TRICARE benefits, visit the Military.com TRICARE section.
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.
USMC ONTOS Information
May 8 - 11, 2013, Quantico
Contact: Louis Nafjus,
I was a former S-2 scout, but I have hosted three Ontos reunions over the years. Many of the Ontos crews have seen my machine, but I doubt if many tankers know of it. I thought you may have an interest in including this email in the website. I am hoping some information may be brought to light on the location of an M48 for the Museum of the American GI.
Second rebuild of my Ontos
I had the majority of my Ontos completed by 2007. The turret was missing some major interior parts. In fact, my old turret was devoid of every interior part except the gunner's periscope. I had to fabricate the rear doors and they needed the rear door hold-open brackets and catches. As a result of an exchange of parts with Camp Pendleton's Transportation Museum, I have finally collected almost all the necessary parts. While I had the guns off, I did some refinishing on them. I also had to machine some of the gun parts to accept the breech hydraulic lines that had been missing from the old turret. The 106mm recoilless rifles used on the Ontos differed slightly from those used on the mules. After examining more than 100 rifles, I found one Ontos part that I could use as a guide for my rebuild and three other rebuilds that may be done by others.
I have a contacts that has both the money and rebuilding resources to tackle an M48A3. If any crewman knows of a privately owned M48, please contact me at 281-744-0625.
Brent Mullins, operator of the Museum of the American GI in Bryan, Texas, will have a rebuilt Ontos in a newly constructed 43,000 square foot building. This would be a great location for a Vietnam tankers/Ontos crewmen reunion. It would be an even better location if the museum could secure an M48A3 tank.
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.
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.
THE BREECH BLOCK
Vice President & Editor
Marketing & Production
Richard "Dick" Carey
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
Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds
Board of Directors
LtCol Raymond A. Stewart,
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
Founder, USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
Charles 'Chuck' Garrison
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
LtGen Martin R. Steele,
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
Col William 'Bill' Davis,
Robert 'Mike' Flick
David 'Doc' Forsyth
Dr. Ken Estes,
LtCol, USMC (Ret)
MGySgt Donald Gagnon,
Robert Hugh Gage
1st Marine Division
1st Tank Battalion
03 July 196PP/ Staff Sergeant
"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.