~ Representing All Vietnam-Era Marine Corps Tankers, Ontosmen & Support ~


OntosMCVTHF LogoOntos



We are the voice of  history

March 2011   


CARPUCNat. Def. Ribbon



Dear Marine,  

We have added some new features to the Breech Block; Letters to the Editor, Poll Results, Guest Book and upcoming Reunions.


If you have a comment you would like to share be sure to send it to us. As you know, we have been sending out monthly Polls to get your feedback on various subjects.  The results have been interesting as well as informative. Pappy Reynolds has added a Guest Book to our web site. We hope you will take the time to sign it. The reunions section has been added to keep you informed as to what reunions are coming up within the brotherhood.


Your Historical Foundation is working hard to keep you informed. Our hope is that you will become more involved with the various programs we have to offer.

eMails to the Editor



Thank you for including me in your newsletter distribution. My primary MOS was 2142, AmTracks but after 2 or 3 months with 1st LVTs on hill 327 (etc) Danang, I was transferred to FLSG-B, Chu Lai, where I volunteered for the Turret Shop, as OJT 2151. I spent the next 15 months as first, an ONTOS specialist and secondarily M55 and M109; with a big side order of M48A3s. I was on numerous LSAs to where the armor and guns were to do what I could to keep them in the field. I was the guy on the scene for some interesting developments concerning the M50 ONTOS, especially the sear problem on the 106mm rifles. That was from July 66 to April 67, then at Dong Ha from late Apr. 67 to Dec 67. 


Thanks Again,     

George Jessop, USMC (ret) 

Response: George - Many tanks for checking in. I'm sure that, with your experience and  background, you have many stories to tell and we encourage you to "keep those cards and letters coming."

- Ed. 



What happened to my bid at the beginning? I think my bid was the first bid? There was no other contact with me about where the bid was. I would enjoy making more bids but I was not informed. I was even left out of the participation list in the Breach Block.   


SSGT Thomas Colson Sr

Sent from my iPhone



I offer my sincerest apology to you for losing your opening bid for the USMC Belt Buckle.  It seems I placed your email in an incorrect mailbox folder thus, denying you an opportunity to make additional bids throughout the week.  You are correct, your's was  the first bid received.



Semper Fidelis,

Richard "Dick" Carey


 *************************************************** I Sir,


I am Joe Tiscia.  Our web site members are attempting to get a Silver Star approved for the Ontos commander of A-11 or A-13, Cpl. Dace Smith.  We need to find his platoon commander or company commander.  As an Officer in Nam and president of the Tankers Web Site, I hope you can help us. Attached are 2 write up, one is by me. 


During an ambush with Dace in the lead Ontos. He was ordered by the Convoy OIC to  break from the ambush and head for Hwy 1 and safety at Phu Bai. The OIC jumped on Dace's Ontos and they headed out to Hwy 1.  The OIC was killed in the break out. (Hwy 547).  Dace upon making it to Hwy 1 loaded 2 of his Tubes; and headed back to the scene of the Ambush.  He and his driver, a Cpl. Folley made it back to the ambush. 


Rockets and satchel charges were thrown at his Ontos.  He managed to fire off one tube at a concrete building housing many of the NVA....he knocked out the block house.  At this time a rocket penetrated the Ontos killing his driver with Dace Smith receiving facial and eye wounds from shrapnel and fire.  He jumped out of the Ontos and continued the fight.  His actions inspired us and he did a great amount of damage to the NVA ambush.  We were outnumbered by the NVA force 10 to 1. 


Dace and I were in the Hospital together at Yokasuka, Japan. I found Dace 2 years ago after looking for him for over 40 years.  He deserves an award for his heroic actions.  We need to find Dace's CO or Officer in his chain of command to recommend him.


Sir, your Tankers/Ontos web site is great....I am glad to be a part of it. 


My email address is: 


NVA Captured Ontos
Joe sent this photo in of a captured Ontos. He believes it might be Alpha 11 or Alpha 13 of the 1st Anti-Tank Battalion.


Poll Results

KIA FlagWe result sent out a Poll Question asking for your opinion on this question:
As you already know, we have a national MIA/POW  flag. A new national flag to honor those that have died in combat has been suggested. The purposed flag will have a red-and-white background with a star, an eternal flame and the words "HONOR AND REMEMBER."
Of those voting (154) in the poll the results are; 51-Yes,  26-No, and 77- Ambivalent.


This was our first unofficial poll. The response numbers were most gratifying and the responses themselves were most enlightening. We did not provide a lot of detail about the issue on which to better base your opinion but, in typical Marine Tanker and Ontosman fashion, that lack of informaton did not dampen the opportunity to express your thoughts! Thank you. We'll keep asking your opinion and we most value your repsonses.

Navy Cross Recipient


Navy Cross
Navy Cross Medal


Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Company A, 3d Tank Battalion, 3d Marine Division (Rein.) FMF
Date of Action: May 8, 1967


The Navy Cross is presented to David J. Danner, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as a Tank Maintenance Man and Crewman with Company A, Third Tank Battalion, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 8 May 1967. While operating in support of the First Battalion, Fourth Marines, Sergeant Danner's tank was hit and heavily damaged by enemy fire during a savage mortar and infantry attack on the battalion's positions at Gio Linh by a 400-man North Vietnamese Army force Although wounded himself, Sergeant Danner helped his dazed and wounded fellow crewmen from the wreckage to the medical aid station. Realizing that enemy soldiers were in the Command Post area, having penetrated the defensive perimeter during their initial assault, he refused first aid and resolutely returned to his disabled tank to retrieve a .30-caliber machine gun. Mounting the weapon on the ground, he commenced delivering a heavy volume of fire on the attackers. With complete disregard for his own safety, he repeatedly left his position to deliver badly needed ammunition to the infantrymen in the fighting holes and to assist in moving casualties to safer positions. On one occasion, observing a seriously wounded Marine in need of immediate medical treatment, Sergeant Danner carried the man through intense enemy fire to the Corpsman's bunker where he could receive life-saving first aid, which prevented him from bleeding to death. Demonstrating uncommon courage and tenacity, he then returned to his machine gun where he continued to provide covering fire for his comrades, moving his weapon to alternate positions in order to deliver maximum fire on the enemy. Although in extreme pain from fragment wounds in his arms and back and suffering severe burns and a loss of hearing as a result of an explosion, he selflessly disregarded his own welfare throughout the vicious fire fight in order to assist his comrades in repulsing the North Vietnamese attack. By his exceptional professional skill and bold initiative, he personally killed fifteen enemy soldiers and undoubtedly wounded many more. Sergeant Danner's daring and heroic actions at great personal risk, inspiring leadership, and unwavering devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service


Latest Auction Results
 Jacket Front

 Our latest auction winner of the Carhart jacket is Martha Zaragoza with a bid of $312.  Thank you Martha for supporting the Historical Foundation.


The other 12 participants listed  in alphabetical order are; Steve Christensen, Al Christy, David "Doc" Forsyth, Frederick Mace, Dr. Charles Neimeyer, Larry Parshall, Mike Pingrey, Mike Remkiewicz, Everett Tungert, Dave Walters and Guy Wolfenberger. Thank you for your enthusiastic support.


Also, A special thank you goes out to Rick Lewis for donating the Carhart jacket.


*Next month's auction is a miniature of the Iwo Jim Monument that is vintage WWII. It came out of an estate here on Cape Cod.

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)

Jim 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)
Richard Traiser, 1st Tanks ~ (2010) 
Belmo Belmessieri, 5th / 3rd Tanks ~ (2010)
Mike 'Boris' Bolenbaugh, 3rd Tanks ~ (2011)
Justin Donnelly, 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
MGySgt Mark Damschen, USMC (ret.), 1st Tanks ~ (2010)
Garry Hall, 3rd 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)


 *In-Kind Services

**In-Kind & Monetary

~ Donations received after 25 February will appear in the April issue.

MC Flag Big WaveYour continued support is appreciated.
Please send your Donation to:
MCVTHF, 707 S.W. 350th Ct., Federal Way, WA 98023

                                                                                 Thank you!
Ontos at Hue City 

by Tom Riggins 


My first tour in Vietnam was as a sniper with H&S Company, 9th Marine Regiment.  I landed in DaNang in March 1965.  During this tour I attained the rank of Gunnery Sergeant prior to attending Officers' Training School and receiving a commission.  I returned to Vietnam with then Lt Dennis Richardson and was assigned to the 1st Marines Anti Tank Battalion.  I stayed with the anti tank battalion for about one month before volunteering for 1st Marines Force Recon.

When the battle of Hue began, I was ordered into the city with a pick-up platoon of 14 men of Force Recon to protect some combat engineers that were attempting to rebuild a destroyed bridge.  The engineers encountered too much enemy fire to complete their mission and so I set up an observation post on a steep hill that overlooked one of the main entrances of Hue.  There was a small pagoda near the summit.  My team had several M60 machine guns and M79 grenade launchers and felt they could discourage any NVA from attempting a serious assault on the hill.  From this position the team called in artillery fire on buildings occupied by NVA in the city.

The 101st Airborne sent units into my area to attempt to cross some open ground prior to entering the city.  The first two patrols of Army troops sustained very heavy casualties attempting to cross the open area.  The Army units then called in supporting fire from 155 mm and 8" artillery as well as support from fixed wing and F-4 aircraft.  The supporting fire was impressive, but it didn't stop the NVA from returning fire from the city.

I found a single Ontos and driver and convinced the driver that his Ontos could climb the steep hill to the pagoda I climbed the hill in front of the machine acting as eyes for the driver.  I remember the Ontos was well worn out by this time.
Once on top of the hill, The Ontos provided well-aimed fire into the windows of the buildings that housed the NVA.  I had the range well calibrated since I had been calling in artillery fire for several days.  The range was 2500 yards.

The Ontos was knocking out NVA positions with each firing.  The recon team did its best to hand carry ammo to the Ontos, but it was a laborious task lifting the 37 pound rounds up the steep hillside to the Ontos.  They learned that they could force the NVA from some of the buildings by firing the M8 50 caliber spotting rifle through the windows and thus notifying the NVA that their demise was near.

The Ontos did in a short time what the artillery and air units couldn't.  It cleared the open area so the army units could enter Hue. 


Thank you Tom for your article. We wrote an article for the Leatherneck's Feb 2008 40th Anniversay of the Tet Offensive "Marine Tanks in the Battle for Hue City". We didn't give Ontos the credit they deserve in that article (then-LtCol Ernie Cheatham, C.O. 2/5, cherished his Ontos while shrugging off tanks as "RPG magnets".) but we're going to fix that going foreward. Your emploment of the Ontos is a testimonial to your leadership and the Ontos crewmens' aggressiveness and effectiveness.

Tanks at Khe Sanh

3rd Platoon Charlie Company 3rd Tank Battalion at

LZ Hawk / Khe Sanh.

by Ken Zebal


My second tour in Viet Nam started on 11 April 1968 at Da Nang. It didn't take long to get orders for 3rd Tank Battalion at Dong Ha. The C130 ride was short and sweet. The cargo bay was packed with Marines. The load-master from VMGR-152 told us to remain standing, link arms and then sit down on the deck - no nice red nylon folding seats for us that day. Upon landing we hitch hiked to Quang Tri and checked in with 3rd Tank Bn. I was assigned to Company "C." We had some chow went to rack-out in the transient tent.


Tet operations had just finished and a lot of tanks were in the battalion area. Most of the ones I saw had bullet or shrapnel holes in the sponson boxes, gypsy rack ammo boxes and fenders. Clear evidence of an ongoing shooting war.


My first night back in-country was uneventful, sleeping on a cot under canvas and having hot chow was a nice touch compared with sleeping in the turret or on the engine compartment and eating C-rats. Our welcome aboard briefing the next day was by Sgt Maj Fullerton, whom I remembered as the Company Gunnery Sergeant at Charlie 2nd Tanks in 1963-64. Back then his sea-bag looked like a Marine Corps history lesson with WWII island campaigns and Korea written on it. Today the Sgt Maj had a severe case of dysentery so he stood before us with his utility trousers unbuckled, looking pale - waiting for the next wave of uncontrollable diarrhea to either pass or pass through him. The second night went quickly with a short-lived mortar attack. The next day after checking in with the company office, a clerk told me to catch a "rough rider" and join the 3rd Platoon at Ca Lu right away. I had no idea what a rough rider or Cal Lu was but 2 days in the rear was enough for me.


The convoy of six-bys departed Quang Tri on Highway 9 winding past Dong Ha, Cam Lo and Rockpile to Ca Lu - I now grasped the meaning of a rough rider. As it turns out Ca Lu was different than LZ Stud and the platoon really was at Ca Lu, parked near the river, just as Highway 9 turns north towards Khe Sanh. I was welcomed by Gunnery Sergeant Jones, the platoon sergeant, and an NVA rocket attack. After the incoming lifted, Gunny Jones assigned me as gunner on C32 and told me to get acquainted with the crew. The word came down that we'd be going to Khe Sanh that night along with some grunts. The platoon had already made one run in that direction and engaged NVA along the way. Unbeknownst to me, this was Operation PEGASUS which lasted through 15 April and was immediately followed by SCOTLAND II.


Later that night we motor-marched north on Highway 9, ever so slowly and carefully we crossed the newly constructed bridges built by the combat engineer until we came to a stop near Bridge 18, or thereabouts. The Gunny or Lt tells me to ground-guide our vehicle - the lead tank. So, grease gun in hand and magazine pouch around my shoulder off we go again -  but slower, much slower. The grease gun and full magazine pouch seemed both heavy and unbalanced. It's pretty black out too, but hey, there are grunts around and a platoon of tanks behind me so what could go wrong - I've been back in-country less than a week.


After a while it seems like I'm walking down a steep hill only to find out it's a bomb crater. 32's driver had dutifully followed me into the crater so I backed the vehicle out and looked for a way around. Its pitch black out and Highway 9 is both narrow and overgrown with a cliff on either side; one side goes up the other goes down. Finding a way to keep our tank on the road without crashing into the hillside or losing it over the side of the road took more skill on the driver's part than mine but, after a fashion, the platoon got around that bomb crater and continued towards Khe Sanh.


Miles and miles later we come upon the smoking ruins of what used to be a few trees and I can make out some of the scenery. We'd passed Bridge 32, 34 and 36 and had also passed the red and white obelisk highway marker that said Hanoi - Lang Vei and were on a road less traveled now. There was a bombed out rubber plantation on the left and I could actually see knee trenches on the right with gooks smashed into their walls - thank you Mr. B-52. It was pretty much moonscape with mortar, arty, and bomb craters and a lot of churned up dirt but not much else.


We reach our destination, turn around and go to LZ Hawk just in time for daybreak. I remember we were positioned just south of the LZ with some grunts from Company "B" 1/26 and there was scuttlebutt their Company Gunny had just been recommended for a Silver Star.


Early the next morning we begin what would become a daily task of road sweeps to ensure Highway 9 stayed open between KSCB and Ca Lu. There are two sweeps in the morning - one to Khe Sanh Combat Base and one to Ca Lu, or Bridge 28 or 32 - I forget.


Before 1/26 left LZ hawk they were relieved in-place by 2/3. Second Battalion, Third Masrines deployed its companies to various outposts including Foxtrot Ridge, Bridge 34 and on a small hill near Bridge 36. My lot was to ultimately spend quality time at each of them.


Our platoon had recently had a tank go off the side of Highway 9, although I forget how. The road may have given way, or something - not sure but don't think it was due to enemy actions. For all I know we only had 4 tanks in the platoon to start with. Its gunner, Louis Moriello from Chicago, told the story that the TC said over the intercom "we're going over" to which he asked "over what?" before the long and bumpy ride down to the river.


While at LZ Hawk we dug a hull defilade revetment for our tank although we only took intermittent incoming. We did however receive a fire mission that was interesting. The Lt said there were reports of enemy tanks near the Laotian border coming our way and we were to fire on them. Well, it's a tankers dream to engage enemy tanks and we were all looking forward to engaging them. We were also aware of the PT-76s that attacked Lang Vei and assumed there were some T-54/55 or T-62 Russian-made tanks coming our way. Since we dug a hull defilade position for 32we were able to drive it forward onto the ramp in order to get a higher angle of fire. I got out the gunners table and M1A1 quadrant and set the correct elevation and deflection on the gun and we fired at the suspected enemy tank location - no FOs or spotters and no BDA for us, just a fire mission.


Shortly after that we were at KSCB refueling and Co Roc sends us some incoming 152s. However, it's a little awkward this time because we're refueling with 55 gallon drums using the fuel transfer pump. We've had to manually lift the drums from ground to tank - heavy and awkward lifting for a 4-man crew. Incoming and my crew goes looking for roots and I'm left holding the drum of diesel half-way up the tank until incoming lifts. Sam, my driver, and I had a short but meaningful discussion about that which resulted in the Ontos CO coming over and telling me to see him before we depart I figure he's going to chew on me a bit but he didn't. Instead he gives me a beer and asks me how things are going - now I'm really confused.


Sometime in April we get called to mount out to KSCB along with another tank. When we got to the straight stretch of road between the plantation and base entrance we see a tank from the Bravo Company platoon on fire, black smoke coming out of it and the 90 rounds are cooking off. I have no idea what happened to the crew. During my time at LZ Hawk there were two tank platoons in the area. A Bravo Company platoon at KSCB and us, from 3rd Plt Charlie Tanks, at Hawk. We deployed off the road to the right and I listened to the chatter on the 2/3 Bn Tac Net. It seems there were some gooks in spider holes that ambushed a patrol with tanks from KSCB and we're now just waiting for a tactical decision. Soon enough an F-4 makes a pass and then makes another pass - but much lower and slower. I watch as the napalm canister releases and begins its ungraceful tumble and fall to the ground. After it hits I can actually see the pilot's face from the TC cupola's vision blocks. His oxygen mask is undone and it seems like he's looking right at our tank (me). Then I can feel the heat from the napalm. Our driver Sam (Frenchy) says over the intercom that he wants to run over some crispy critters but I tell him no way. Sam persists and I tell him that if he does he'll be cleaning the suspension. So, true to his nature, he runs over a dead gook, he's happy now and then we both get out and I make him clean the dead gook parts out of the track as best he can. It was a mess.


One day at LZ Hawk we took some incoming and I dove in the nearest bunker. After a while it dawned on me that no one else came in after me, so I looked around and said is anyone here? All quiet. Then I see a pair of red eyes looking back at me and figure it's a rat because we had lots of seriously big rats in our bunkers. For fun we used to catch them in rat trap using a combination of C-Ration peanut butter and C-4 and then we'd use some gasoline to set them on fire, open the rat trap door and watch them run themselves to death. Anyway, the all clear sounds and I left the bunker for fresh air only to find a bunch of Marines standing around looking at me and the bunker. Not knowing what's going on I join them and look at the bunker too. No one is saying anything. After a while a monitor lizard comes waddling out and they start laughing and looking at me and all of a sudden I'm not feeling to good about going into that bunker.


During May it seemed like 32 spent a lot of time at Bridge 34 patrolling uphill towards LZ hawk and also patrolling the other way towards Ca Lu. Around that time, Hall's tank was ambushed at night coming downhill from LZ hawk towards our position. Come to think of it, Hall's tank may have been from a different Charlie Company platoon. Anyway, the platoon had lost 2 tanks and had one KIA - Hall's driver; Jimmy Jaynes.


Like the other tanks we were resupplied with ammo by truck and with fuel from either a tanker truck or from 55 gallon drums at KSCB. From one source or the other we received some contaminated fuel and couldn't negotiate the uphill grade to LZ Hawk. The tank would run but it had no power. We drained and purged the fuel filters time and again but the fuel cells needed to be completely drained and flushed and the fuel filters changed. Because we couldn't pull the hill, we missed a few missions, but that wasn't all bad. One of the missions we missed was to provide supporting fire from a location between the LZ and the big curve on Highway 9. The tank that took that particular mission and the grunts with it got mortared and received several casualties.


After we got the contaminated fuel issue squared away we were told to conduct a night patrol to the LZ with a platoon of grunts. Because we were still at Bridge 32, we were mindful that Hall's tank had just been ambushed about a week earlier, Cpl Jaynes was killed and the tank rolled off the side of Highway 9, down to the river and its rounds cooked off all night long. Prior to the patrol we were briefed to get out of the kill zone if ambushed. It was as dark as dark can be, we had a canister round in the tube and everyone seemed on edge. We started the patrol and were just about at the same place Hall's ambush took place when we got ambushed. I yelled at the grunt in charge and then told Sam to get up hill fast. We cleared the kill zone, got uphill and turned around, returned and re-engaged. By that time the grunts had conducted their immediate action drill and the NVA ambush was foiled.


Later at a hill just south of Bridge 36 on the southeast side of Highway 9 we're with another grunt platoon (or company) we learn the benefits of defensive perimeter fires. Reveille comes from Co Roc as they pound us with 152s and from Camp Carroll as they shoot defensive perimeter fires to keep the gooks out. Oddly enough all that arty seems to land pretty much in the same place but no one gets killed or wounded - not sure about the NVA though. Getting pounded by both enemy and friendly arty is the daily routine on this hill. We continue to patrol between this outpost and KSCB and Hawk day after day until relieved.


Going to KSCB is a daily event now as is the exercise of opening and closing the concertina wire gate. The gate is a strand of concertina wire that must be unhooked and dragged open so our tank can both enter and exit the compound. The NVA FOs at Co Roc know this too so timing and speed become important. We drive the road to Khe Sanh flat-out. I get out of the tank to pull the wire gate open flat-out. About that time we hear pop, pop, pop and I know there's only a few seconds before the incoming and I become well acquainted with the red clay mud between my tank and KSCB on a twice a day basis. It's the same thing leaving but we're less of a target. My field tan is getting darker.


At KSCB there's an Ontos Marine I was stationed with at Tracked Vehicle Co, Schools Demonstration Troops, Quantico (can't remember his name). Every day I go to his bunker and we shoot the bull, play a few chess moves and then the next day a few more - on and on. One day I look at his glasses and they're bent forward. He tells me they got bent from incoming blast concussion - kind of close I think but, I don't say anything.


The battle for Foxtrot Ridge was intense. Fox 2/3 occupied the ridge line just east of LZ Hawk for some time. One night they were being probed and then the probe turned out to be a full on attack. Eighty-one flares then 105 flares and then mortars and arty firing; then Puff arrives and uses some type of really bright flare that seems to last for a very long time and lights up everything. All of the sudden, Puff lets out with 20mm cannon fire - sounds like someone ripping cloth and the tracers are one solid red stream. Someone says there's a round every square foot and I believe them. Along with several other tanks we mount out to a position off the road to Lang Vei and wait. When it's light enough to shoot safely we see uniformed enemy soldiers (NVA) running all over the ridge and take them under fire. Later we evacuate some of the WIAs and KIAs to both KSCB and Hawk. Lots of body bags that day.


The battle for Foxtrot Ridge brought some dignitaries for the after-action briefings including Maj Gen Davis. The CG surveys the site by walking around and talking to the guys from both Echo and Fox 2/3 when one of his people walks around LZ Hawk checking things out. He sees a few of us and stops to look around. We think nothing of it. But in retrospect we were greasy, lots of oil and diesel stains, knees rotted out of our jungle utilities and one of my boots is being held together with fording tape. I have no doubt we were a bio hazard and collectively flammable - but we were shaved. The next day a Huey lands with boxes and boxes of new boots and utilities. It's nice to have friends in high places.


Around this time I was in a small group including Tex Massengil looking at various NVA 782 gear and weapons. I picked up an RPG without rocket to look it over, turn it over and ka-boom - it went off. It left Tex with a chunk out of his left forearm and me with serious ringing in my ears I wasn't able to hear for about 2 weeks after that and could barely hear the radio in the tank so my gunner listened to the radio and info'd me using the intercom.


We had some visitors at LZ Hawk too. Some Marine self-propelled 8"howitzers and an Army battery of 2 self-propelled 175s came separately to shoot fire missions from time to time. These self-propelled guns would arrive, lay their guns, fire a few missions and leave. After they left we generally had some NVA counter battery fire so we weren't all that happy to see them.


June had us conducting more patrols towards Ca Lu as the grunts at Khe Sanh are finally going to the rear. These patrols ultimately turn into convoys with Army quad 50 cal dusters and Army Cobras for air support. For one reason or another one of the Army gunships took our convoy under fire one day although there were no WIA or KIA.


July had us participating in the full-on evacuation of Khe Sanh and the daily convoys were getting a lot larger. Marines at KSCB celebrated the 4th of July by firing the FPF and red tracers were all over the place. We had immediate action drills if ambushed and knew the road pretty well by then. One day we got the word that one of the Bravo Tankers from Khe Sanh was being medevac'd for malaria. He was a S/Sgt or Sgt and the word was he was a really good Marine. Well, a command detonated mine initiated the ambush and he was in a jeep near the lead vehicle and was KIA, along with some others.


As we finally left the area I saw a group of tanks coming the other way between Ca Lu and LZ Stud. Gary Heckman, my old buddy from 2nd Tanks and TV Co, was either TC or Section leader for this Bravo Co Plt and I briefed him on the situation along Highway 9. Not sure if they went to Khe Sanh, LZ Hawk or some other position.


In early July, maybe around the 8th or so, our platoon left LZ Hawk and relocated to Gio Linh and Operation KENTUCKY.


Book Review Corner

Eric Hammel, an award-winning author, is well-known to the Marine Corps as a friend and a prolific author. Of his many books, several are about the Corps - from the "Aces" series, to WWII in the Pacific, through Korea, Beirut, and a number about Marines' action in the Vietnam War. Of particular interest to the Marine Tanker Community is Eric's "Marines in Hue City: A Portrait of Urban Combat, Tet 1968" with the M48A3 on the dust cover.


(Note: To see a complete list of Hammel's books go to


I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by Eric. He is about to publish his newest book "The Steel Wedge: U.S. Marine Corps Armor in Pacific Island Combat, A Pictorial Record".He offered me the opportunity to review his book for the Foundation's members in our E-Ltr publication "The Breech Block". The Foundation has also been asked by Col Walt Ford, Editor of the Leatherneck, to review Eric's book for that publication.


Our review of the "The Steel Wedge" (I've read the chapter on "Tarawa" and can tell you it is stunning) will be posted in the April edition of the "The Breech Block" and a full review of the book will be published in a future issue of the Leatherneck.

Veterans Affairs ~ 

Korea & Agent Orange


Due to a final regulation recently issued, VA officials will now presume herbicide exposure for any veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and Department of Defense officials to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.

Veterans with covered service in Korea who have medical conditions that may be related to Agent Orange are encouraged to submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation as soon as possible.

Relocation Assistance

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced that veterans who submit to a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure can receive $1,500 in relocation assistance. The agency has instructed mortgage servicers to provide the funds to help borrowers cover moving costs or other expenses incurred during the tumultuous process. Borrowers can use the money to cover moving expenses or to simply pay for lodging while they deal with the pending loss of their home. For more information, read the file on the VA website.

New DoD PTSD Website

The Department of Defense has launched a website, "Virtual PTSD Experience," that will allow users to explore the causes and symptoms of post-traumatic stress in an anonymous setting on the Second Life virtual world platform. Second Life provides T2 a limitless space on the Internet where servicemembers can learn more about PTSD causes, symptoms and resources for information and care. Visitors enter the Virtual PTSD Experience space through the Second Life website, which can be accessed for free. For more information, visit the Virtual PTSD Experience website.


Vietnam Veterans Day: March 29

On December 29th, 1973, the Congress approved a Joint Resolution submitted by one of its members to establish March 29th, 1974, as Vietnam Veterans Day. On February 26th, 1974, President Nixon issued Presidential Proclamation 4270 establishing March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day. The date selected was the one-year anniversary of the departure of the last American combat soldier from South Vietnam. The proclamation directed that the United States flag be flown on all public buildings on that day and requested Federal, State and local Governments, as well as civic and patriotic organizations to give their enthusiastic support through appropriate ceremonies and observances.  

New Guest Book

Be sure to take the time to sign our new Guest Book.  We would appreciate your thoughts, comments and suggestions.


Guest Book Link:   



Mustang Logo



Mustang Officers Association. Tampa, FL. Sheraton Sand Key Resort. September 29 - October 2, 2011. More Information

 VTA Logo

USMC Vietnam Tankers Association. San Diego, CA, Town and Country Resort Hotel and Convention Center. August 14 - August 24, 2011. More Information.

Major Gene Duncan Passes 

Gene Duncan 

It is with a deep sense of sadness that I must tell you that Major H. G.

"Dunk" Duncan, writer, lecturer, tanker, Marine and good friend has passed away after a long a typically-Marine fight with numerous cancers.  He passed on to Heaven at approximately 1900 on Monday, February 14, 2011.  His son, David, and others were with him at the time.  Details are very minimal now but I'm sure they will be passed when possible.


I cannot think of too many other Marines that have had more of a love for and impact on untold thousands of Marines than "Dunk".  I use that name affectionately and because he insisted I do.  I will always obey that order.

 John Wear



-----Original Message-----



Greetings Everyone,


Thank You everyone for your thoughts and prayers regarding my father passing away. I went through dad's e-mail address book and am sending this out to all his contacts.


The Fort Wayne area memorial service was held on Monday February 21, 2011 at 1800 hours. The service was held at the VA Hospital Chapel.


In lieu of flowers a donation to Heartland Hospice of Fort Wayne would be appreciated. Hospice did a wonderful job treating and assisting my father daily in his struggle with his illness.


My father wished that his final resting place would be at Quantico.


Arrangements are "in the works" but will be several weeks away.


Thank you everyone,


David Duncan - "Dunk" Son   


In This Issue
eMails to the Editor
Poll Results
Heros' Corner
Auction Results
Donors (2010/2011)
Ontos at Hue City
Tanks at Khe Sanh
Book Review Corner
Veterans Affairs
DoD PTSD Website
Vietnam Veterans Day
New Guest Book
Gene Duncan Obit




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.)



LtCol Herbert Steigleman 

USMC (ret.) 

Vice President


James Raasch


Oral Historian 


Richard 'Dick' Carey


Public Relations/Marketing


Richard Tilden



LtGen Martin R. Steele

USMC (ret.)



Robert 'Mike' Flick



David 'Doc' Forsyth Director

MGySgt  Donald R. Gagnon

USMC (ret.)

Director Emeritus 


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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

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