Mark your calendar and make plans to attend the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association (VTA) Reunion in San Diego, CA 17 thru 21 August.
During the entire reunion the Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation (VTHF) will be conducting Oral History Program interviews directed by Jim Raasch. Pappy Reynolds will have his Map History Program maps mounted for attendees to locate "Where you were when" during your Vietnam tour(s).
The VTA has published a very full reunion agenda so it will take some prior planning to attend those activities and also find time to sit for a taped interview and work with Pappy's Map History. However, these two activities are top priorities for the VTHF in pursuing our ultimate goal of writing "The History of Marine Tanks and Ontos in the Vietnam War". We can't write the Tank/Ontos book if you don't provide us your personal stories to fill the many voids in the official Marine Corps documentation.
The response to the latest non-official poll that solicited your thoughts about the announcement the Marine Corps has been ordered to cancel its plans to proceed with the new EFV - Amphibious Fighting Vehicle was outstanding.
The 132 responses break down this way:
27 indicate that the decision is part of the over-all plan to do away with the Marine Corps.
41 believe the Pentagon doesn't believe it needs an amphibious (across-the-beach) capability.
64 observe that the 2-War land battles we're fighting has drained the $ from the Pentagon's budget.
There were several note-worthy expanded opinions beyond the selection of the multi-choices provided.
We appreciate readers' participation. If you have an issue that you would like to see the opinions of our readers - nearly 600 of them - please let us know
Navy Cross Medal
RANDALL A BROWNING,
Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Company A, 3rd Antitank Battalion,
3d Marine Division (Rein.) FMF
Date of Action: September 10, 1967
For extraordinary heroism while serving as an Ontos Commander with Company "A", Third Antitank Battalion, Third Marine Division (Reinforced) in support of the Third Battalion, Twenty-sixth Marines in the Republic of Vietnam on 10 September 1967. While engaged in a search and destroy operation in the northern sector of Quang Tri Province near the Demilitarized Zone, the Battalion came under a heavy enemy bombardment of artillery and mortar fire. Although painfully wounded by fragments from an artillery round, Corporal (then Lance Corporal) Browning quickly had his injury treated and immediately returned to his Ontos where he learned that his was the only tracked vehicle in operation. Rapidly assessing the situation, he maneuvered his vehicle through the intense hostile fire to a forward position and began delivering highly effective machine- gun and recoilless rifle fire against the enemy. Successfully repulsing the first of several human wave assaults, he remained undaunted by the vicious enemy fire and steadfastly continued to deliver a heavy volume of fire during ensuing fanatical attacks. His aggressive actions repelled the hostile force on each occasion and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. When his recoilless rifle ammunition was expended and his machine gun became inoperable, Corporal Browning unhesitatingly manned a sub-machine gun and continued to deliver devastating fire on the enemy. Due largely to his fearless initiative during the four hour battle, he was undoubtedly instrumental in thwarting the enemy's attempt to overrun the battalion's position and prevented the capture, injury or possible death of many Marines. By his resolute determination, dauntless courage and selfless devotion to duty at great personal risk, Corporal Browning inspired all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
Donors: Thank you for your support.
Peter Brush* ~ (2011)
Dick Carey, 3rd Tanks* ~ (2010/2011)
John Coffee, 5th / 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Kyle Decicco-Carey* ~ (2011)
David 'Doc' Forsyth, 1st Tanks* ~ (2010/2011)
Jim Raasch, 5th Tanks** ~ (2010/2011)
Pappy Reynolds, 3rd Tanks* ~ (2010/2011)
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (ret.), 1st Tanks** ~ (2010/2011)
Guy Wolfenberger, 3rd Tanks ~ (2011+)
Martha Zaragoza~ (2011)
GoldJim Didear, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Sid Ferguson, 1st Tanks ~ (2011)
Gene 'Doc' Hackemack, 1st Tanks ~ (2011)
Glen Hutchins, 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Louie Ryle, 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Rick "Smitty" Smith, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Maj. Frank Box, USMC (ret.), 3rd Anti-Tanks ~ (2010)
Col Bill Davis, USMC (ret.), 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Danny Farrell, 1st Tanks ~ (2011)
Garry Hall, 3rd Tanks ~ (2010/2011)
Richard Traiser, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Belmo Belmessieri, 5th / 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Mike 'Boris' Bolenbaugh, 3rd Tanks ~ (2011)
MGySgt Mark Damschen, USMC (ret.), 1st Tanks ~ (2010)Garry Hall, 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Justin Donnelly, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Dave Helfrich, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Carl Lemon, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Rick Oswood, 3rd Tanks ~ (2011)
Claude Vargo, 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Jerry Wahl, 3rd Tanks ~ (2010/2011)
**In-Kind & Monetary
~ Donations received after 28 March will appear in the May issue.
|Your continued support is appreciated. Please send your Donation to:
MCVTHF, 707 S.W. 350th Ct., Federal Way, WA 98023
The Grease Gun - Model M3
by LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC, (ret)
Several months ago, when Dick and I were toying with his idea to launch the Foundation's monthly E-Newsletter, we reviewed a number of projects and issues that would fill the "Breech Block", be of value to the intended audience, and hold readers' attention. Of course, the main reason for the Breech Block, or any thing else the Foundations does for that matter, must relate in some way to the Vietnam Tanker and Ontosman. We found that there are many fields that we can dig to satisfy most readers on a regular basis. In addition, there's any number of today's news that directly impacts us older Vets. The changes to the VA system that affect us could be their own book and in fact, are!
And then, the light came on even brighter! How about all those Tankers and Ontosmen who trained up to meet the VC/NVA enemy but, for one reason or another, did not get the chance to "go south?" We agreed that the Foundation's Bylaws would be changed to include all Tankers, Ontosmen, and direct support personnel who served during the Vietnam War-era, removing the restriction that "Vietnam War-serving" has placed on us. So, we've cast a much wider net and now provide a historical home for tracked vehicles that popped caps on shells larger than 89mm and can stop incoming smaller than .29cal.
We thought that introducing our readership to what the Foundation "does", how we do it, and who does it would be an "O/K" feature. Articles on the many operations tanks and Ontos participated in would stir some memories. Even some stories around how Tankers and Ontos Crewmen used the weapons we had available to us in the many situations we found ourselves involved.
We drew straws and came up with the "Grease Gun" for starters. And a great choice it is - much smaller than a tank and only slightly smaller than an Ontos and TO/E on both! What's not to like?
Here then is some long-forgotten nomenclature of, and a few (sea) stories about, the "M3 .45 Caliber Submachinegun".
Click on this link to read the nomenclature.
It was the Spring of '66, I was nearing my end-of-tour as a Tanker, and I was planning my route home via Hong Kong after my "Senior Trip" to Vietnam. The Battalion Commander called me into his tent to ask me to assist the move of 2/4, re-locating from Chu Lai to south of Marble Mountain across Danang's Tien Shau
Ramp. A few days later, arriving at the debarkation site with 6, 6Xs, 5-ton M-54's, I found my old college roommate, and wed-ding Best Man just moths before, was a Platoon Commander in Fox 2/4. To make a long story a bit shorter, he talked me into extending my tour by six months and joining up with the "Magnif-icent Bastards". I met the Bn. CO., LtCol "PX" Kelley, who told me that if my extension and transfer were approved, I'd be assigned a platoon in Fox Company.
After 2/4 got settled in, I returned to the Tank Battalion, informed my boss of my intentions, he approved, Division approved, and, to the point of the story, I checked out a grease gun, packed my kit in the back of a jeep, and headed off to Marble Mountain and the F/2/4 CP. On the way, after several departing beers, and having to stop for relief, I shot a chicken running across a sand dune - with my .45. But that's another story I'll save to tell when the Breech Block covers that Tanker TO/E weapon in a future article.
The next morning I stood in front of my new platoon and its Platoon Sergeant, SSgt Jimmy "Pappy" Cline, a crusty, bald, mean-looking, re-tread Korean War Grunt. My God, I thought, these are truly "Magnificent" (the "Bastard" part would come later!). That night I took out my first Grunt patrol on a five day operation.
With my grease gun loaded with 2 magazines of .45cal rounds taped back-to-back we moved out into pitch-black darkness. I cannot begin to relate how heavy that grease gun got as we slogged hour-after-hour through the rice paddies, tumbling over dikes, and through chicken-filled, dog barking villages that night. Before first light we settled into our first ambush site, took off our boots, rang out our socks, and waited. We had a contingency plan for a cordon/sweep operation of the village, from which suspected VC departed every night to salt the area with mines and returned in the morning to change their clothes and get ready to work their plots, if our ambush failed.
To our extreme disappointment the returning VC party skirted our well-conceived ambush. We'd been "out thought" but were prepped for the back-up tactic. The next move then was for the platoon, with cordon set, to sweep the village. By this time I was anticipating lightening my grease gun load at the first opportunity. That came almost immediately when a pair of black pajamas scurried around the corner of a straw hootch and into its front entrance, closely followed by a volley of M-14 rounds kick up around his flip flops.
Momentarily he peered around the left side of the entrance way and ducked back. I let loose with my grease gun. The entire door frame disappeared leaving a much larger opening. Surprisingly, the black pajammed gentleman re-appeared - facing us. Then, before we could react, he pitched forward, face first, into the muddy yard, lying motionless.
We broke cover and carefully approached the body. Trying to re-construct what had just happened, we guessed that when he peered out the hootch after first entering, he'd stood next to the entrance with his back against the straw wall because, as we approached is lifeless body, he looked like a bristling porcupine,
not covered with quills, but covered with hundreds of pieces of embedded straw! My grease gun had taken the straw wall he was backed up to and re-deposited it into his back side. On the dirt floor we found Chicoms and a fully loaded AK-47 next to where "Charlie" had been standing moments before he played "peek-a-boo", became an active participant in the "straw transfer" exercise, and changed his status from "VCS" to "VCC".
As good as the news was that my platoon added, by one, to the VCC body count of our company's totes for the month, the personal achievement that I'd got my first kill as a Grunt, was the relief in the knowledge that for the rest of the 5-day operation, I'd have 5 lbs less to pack.
This was the first time I carried my grease gun as a Grunt.
Note: "VCS" (Vietcong Suspect) was the designation of any Vietnamese - man or woman - found in the battle area. For body count purposes the "VCS" status was automatically changed to "VCC" (Vietcong Confirmed) upon expiration.
Vietnam War Flashbacks
15 April 1962 LtCol Archie Clapp and HMM-362 flew into Vietnam's Mekong Delta to set up Operation SHUFLY at the Soc Trang airfield. Thus becoming the first operational marine Corps unit deployed to Vietnam.
24 April 1962 HMM-362 helicopters supported (SHUFLY) 21st Army of the RVN
25 April 1967 Khe Sanh "Hill Fights". 3/3 followed by 2/3 fought for 3-days the entrenched NVA on Hill861. Fighting continued through early May on Hill 881as 26th Marines came to relieve 3rd Marines.
15 April 1971 III MAF redeployed to Okinawa after six years of service in Vietnam.
29 April 1975 Operation Frequent Wind with BLT 2/4 and HMMs-462 and -165 and HMH-463 evacuated 6,968 people from South Vietnam.
|Book Review Corner|
In researching information on the Battle for (Siege of) Khe Sanh for an upcoming Breech Block article, I "found" in our less-than-well-organized Foundation Library "Voices of Courage: The Battle for Khe Sanh, Vietnam" by Ronald J. Drez and Douglas Brinkley. These two authors of many books and much acclaim put their talents together to write this book which comes (new, at a pretty hefty price) with CDs of interviews of the Marines who fought the battle and broke the siege that held the American public on the edge of their chairs for weeks. A worried President Johnson actully got his generals to sign a personal document that Khe Sanh would not result in "No goddam 'Din Bin Phoo'"
"Voices" opens with a Foreword that sets the stage not just for Khe Sanh but for the Vietnam War itself. The authors provide a run up to the Siege of Khe Sanh by detailing the "Hill Fights" that took place nearly a year before the Siege. Then they launch into the Siege itself. The photographs are outstanding and support the narrative. The CDs (many of the interviews were recorded within days of hand-to-hand combat) are keyed to follow the written story. The authors also provide a graphic timeline that keeps the reader chronologically oriented.
If there's a shortcoming in this interesting and important read, it's the paucity of maps. I believe that to get the full value of the book, one should first acquire a map of Northern I Corps and the DMZ Then follow the authors' detailed account of the Siege and its aftermath. The political analysis and conclusions will please Marines in general and in particular the Marines who fought the battle.
I've found that the book (can't attest to the shape of the CDs) is available, used, on Amazon for $.01. Yes, 1 penny. Pretty hard to beat that deal and a lot less than the "when new" price of $35.00!
Veterans Affairs ~
Your Claim for Service-Connection:
I suggest you get that Award letter the VA sent you and read it over several times. Be sure to save everything you get from the VA. Read and re-read the letter carefully because it will completely explain each disability that you applied for.
1. A 0% (zero percent) rating means the illness, accident or injury is in your military records but it is not severe enough to warrant compensation. It must be rated at least 10% for you to get paid.
2. You think the VA's rating is too low. Get another diagnosis for the disability and send it to the VA requesting a re-evaluation. A private doctor's diagnosis is fine. Get a copy of your compensation and pension exam (C&P). You need to request this through the Records Office at you local VA. There is no cost for this.
3. The award letter WILL refer to all claimed disabilities. Sometimes it is 5 pages back in the letter but it'll be there.
4. Occasionally a disability of muscle, bone, organ, or tissue can affect another part of the body, causing additional problem. When that happens, that secondary disability is also service-connected. While the impact might presently be minimal it could become worse later.
5. When the award letter states that a condition has "Been Deferred" it means it will take considerably longer to adjudicate that condition. Rather than delaying the entire claim, the VA renders its findings on the conditions completed. Make a note on the calendar to follow up.
Patients Sue VA Over Exposure
Four patients of the VA Tennessee Health Care System in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee have filed a complaint in the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee seeking millions in lawsuits against the government and alleging medical malpractice, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other claims. Similar complaints are under way in Florida and Georgia. VA patients in those three states were exposed to potentially fatal infections during colonoscopies performed between 2003 and 2008 due to mistakes with rigging or cleaning endoscopic equipment. Updates on the actual incidents are available on the VA website
Space A Travel Opportunies
Space-A flights, also known as "military hops," are free with the exception of customs and head tax fees on the aircraft. To sign up, eligible travelers must present a DOD-issued ID card (for ages 10 and up) and appropriate travel authorization or, for active duty personnel, current leave paperwork. Eligible travelers can sign up for Space-A in person at any passenger terminal, or by fax, email, Internet or regular mail. For more information, including AMC passenger terminal information, travel eligibility, and a downloadable Space-A traveler handbook, visit the AMC travel website. Passenger terminal locations and contact information can be found at the AMC travel website.
Learn more about Space-A Travel
Khe Sanh Veterans Inc. Rochester, MN, Kahler Grand Hotel,
July 17 - 24, 2011. More Information
Mustang Officers Association Tampa, FL. Sheraton Sand Key Resort. September 29 - October 2, 2011. More Information
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association. San Diego, CA, Town and Country Resort Hotel and Convention Center.
August 14 - August 24, 2011. More Information.
THE BREECH BLOCK
Vietnam Tankers Historical 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
LtCol Herbert Steigleman
Richard 'Dick' Carey
LtGen Martin R. Steele
Robert 'Mike' Flick
David 'Doc' Forsyth Director
MGySgt Donald R. 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.