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USMC Vietnam Tankers have made history and your Foundation is making it known.


November 20100

Dear Marine, 

Several years ago a few good Vietnam War-serving Marine Tankers joined hands in Washington, D.C. Many of us were "recruited" by Tom Snyder who dug us out of the woodwork and, with the help of Dick Carey, brought us together for the first time. During that first reunion it was decided that would form-up as a "Vietnam Tanker Chapter" under the MCTA umbrella and scheduled our next reunion. It was also decided that we needed to be organized with both a "heart" and a "soul". Dick Carey took the "heart" piece and ran with it. Since the Vietnam Tankers "Chapter" was not allowed in the by-laws of the MCTA as a separate chapter, Dick, with full approval of his Board of Directors, incorporated as the "USMC Vietnam Tankers Association (VTA)" a 501(c)(19) non-profit veterans organization. Thus was born the "heart" of Vietnam Marine Tankers. In the meantime Ray Stewart incorporated separately, with a different mission as the "soul" of Vietnam Marine Tankers, the "Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation (VTHF)" - also a non-profit 501(c)(19) - with the primary mission to collect, archive, and write "The History of Marine Tanks in Vietnam".


So much for where the Foundation came from several years ago: but, "What have we done?", "Where are we today?", and "Where are we headed?" To answer those questions - or at least help - the "Breech Block" was born. 


Here is the Foundation's list of macro projects, all being actively worked to support the ultimate goal of the Foundation:


  • Write the history of "Marine Tanks in Vietnam" in by-quarter segments.
  • Collect and archive oral histories of Vietnam-serving Marine Tankers.
  • Write summaries of Marine Corps History Division's Vietnam oral histories.
  • Create a "Map History of Marine Tanks in Vietnam" on the website.
  • Write and support the publication of others' on-subject articles and books.
  • Create a lasting tribute to the Vietnam War-serving Marine Tanker.
  • Combining all of the above, write a "Comprehensive History of Marine Tanks in the Vietnam War".


Note: Each of these seven bulleted projects is expanded upon with the Project Plan (PP), work breakdown structure (WBS), and other supporting documentation. The entire Historical Foundation effort is incorporated under the umbrella of a 501(c)(19) non-profit set of Bylaws and a comprehensive Business Plan with a definitive mission, goals, and objectives statements. The Foundation's long-term viability is guided by its 5 Year Strategic Plan. The Foundation maintains a small library of military-related books, photographs, maps, documents, CDs, oral histories w/written summaries, and electronic-based data bank.

Leatherneck Magazine and the Foundation

  The Leatherneck Magazine has been very generous to the Foundation by publishing our book reviews, "Sound Off" (letters to the editor), and Vietnam Tanker articles. One example: that, if you do not subscribe to the Leatherneck Magazine, you may have missed - the February 2008 on the 40th Anniversary of the "Tet Offensive", "Marine Tanks in the Battle for Hue City: Tet 1968". Prior to that, in 2007, Jim Coan co-authored "Marine Corps Tank Operations in Vietnam's I Corps, Early 1967".

  Presently, we have a "hand shake 'contract'" with Col Walt Ford, Leatherneck's editor, to write an article about Marine Tanks' participation in the amphibious Deckhouse Operations. LtCol Herb Steigleman (then Lt) led his tank platoon during the entire Deckhouse iteration of 5 named landings and several rehearsal landings. He is key in the development of this article and has solicited input from the other members of his platoon. If you, or any one you know, particpated in the Deckhouse Operations, please let the Foundation know and we'll be in contact.


Deckhouse I - 18-30 June 1966. South of Qui Nhon

Deckhouse II - 18 July 1966. DMZ

Deckhouse III - 16-29 August, 1966. Saigon.

Deckhouse IV - 15-24 September 1966. DMZ

Deckhouse V - 6-15 January 1967. Delta region

Deckhouse VI - 16 February to 3 March 1967. Northern I Corps

The MCVTHF -vs- the VTA

  While the "Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation (VTHF)" and its brother organization the "USMC Vietnam Tankers Association (VTA)" are separately organized, have separate Boards of Directors, and are established under separate charters with quite different missions, goals, and objectives, we both represent and serve the same Vietnam War-serving Marine Tankers Community. In addition, the president of each organization sits on the board of directors of the other. In short, every dues-paying member of the VTA is also a member of the VTHF. Here is the roster of the VTHF Board of Directors:





Lloyd Reynolds

Web Master

Dick Carey

Public Relations

Herb Steigelman

Vice President

Jim Raasch


Marty Steele


Ray Stewart


Dave Forsyth


Don Gagnon

Member Emeritus

Mike Flick


Jim Coan


Richard Tilden


John Wear


Bill Davis


Marine Corps & Bag Pipers

  Although not commonly known, the U.S. Marine Corps has a long and rich tradition of bag piping. Marine pipers have played their bagpipes on the battlefield, and for monarchs and Presidents. Despite the shortage of trumpets, the lack of rifles for a volley at funerals, and the inability to fully support the rendering of due honors, stories are heard of pipers playing "Taps" and performing before the formal mess

The history of piping in the Marines is long and glorious. Piping's effect on the Marine Corps can be traced back through a former Commandant of the Marine Corps' memories of the mess night that the Marines adopted from the Second Battalion Scots Guard in China in 1924, where LtCol Merrill Bartlett, USMC(Ret) writes, "Gen [Lemuel C.] Shepherd remembered an impressive evening. . . . During the dinner, the battalion's pipe major played several traditional highland ballads to the tune of his own wailing on the bagpipes. . . ." (MCG, Nov99). Some mess nights are still done with bagpipes in the way of that 1924 dinner that so inspired Gen Shepherd.

  The following facts relating to the history of piping were provided by Justin Stodghill: The documented tradition of Marine pipe bands began in 1943 at Marine Barracks, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, where Marines formed a pipe and drum band that was so successful the Department of the Navy publicized it. The Marines at Londonderry were the first to play the bagpipes for dignitaries; they played for President Truman and the Queen of England. The tradition carried on in the Pacific where "From the beaches of Peleliu in September 1944, to the black sands of Iwo Jima in 1945, to the landing at Inchon in 1950, Marine pipers have instilled fear in the enemy while filling their comrades with pride."

  Bagpipes, the only musical instrument declared a weapon of war, have been played by Marines in combat not only during World War II and the Korean War, but also in the Vietnam War, during Operation Desert Storm, and most recently in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pipers exist in the Marine Corps and are in demand. Commanders tell stories and boast of having had a piper at their mess nights, balls, changes of command, or other official functions.

  We Vietnam Marine Tankers can also rightfully boast that we had a "Marine Bagpiper" play for us at our Minneapolis Reunion. None other than James Webb, Jr., former Marine Captain, son of  James Webb, Vietnam War Navy Cross winner, Secretary of Navy, author, and presently the senior U.S. Senator form Virginia.


Remkiewicz: Diabetes & Neuropathy

   In August of 1969 I was medivaced out of Vietnam. I wound up teaching at the Del Mar tank ramp.  In February of 1970 I gave up my green military ID card and headed for civilian life. 


  The Department of Veterans Affairs granted me a 10% disability based on multiple fragmentation wounds.  To be honest, I did not think that I would ever grace the doors of the Veteran's Administration again. I was 20 years old and had my whole life ahead of me; Vietnam issues were safely ensconced in my memory, forever.  Fast forwarding 40 plus years --- Sitting in my physician's office he informs me that I have type II diabetes.  I'm 60 years old, nearly retirement age. I thought what the heck?  Where did that diagnosis come from?  I played basketball until I was 35 and played baseball well into my 40's - I ran and was not sick a day in my life!  What was going on?


  I wanted to know so I started to read our webpage, the VA webpage and I talked with other Vietnam veterans.  All of them said; "Go see the VA."  So, I went to the VA.  The Agent Orange 'thing' came up and I started to read more.  I filed a claim and became a VA statistic. I entered the system with a claim centered on Agent Orange.  Turns out Agent Orange is a presumed cause of type II diabetes. 


  The process became tedious once a claim is filed.  First, I went to the VA clinic in Modesto, California for a check up.  Since my civilian doctor had already diagnosed the type II diabetes I had to bring a current 'blood work up panel' plus a letter explaining the diagnosis of type II diabetes from my personal physician.    With that information the VA then made a decision.  Based on my time in Vietnam (DMZ area) and the diagnosis of Type II Diabetes I was declared service-connected at 30% compensation.  That was not the end of it.  The VA then asked me to go to Menlo Park, CA (a trip of about 180 miles round trip) for what the VA termed compensation and pension (C and P) examination.  The doctors checked my eyes, and then gave me a pretty good physical and determined that my vision was affected and I had neuropathy in my hands and feet.  After the physical in about three or four weeks later I got a call from a nice young DSRV (I think that was her title) by the name of Allison out of the Oakland Regional Office.  She informed me the VA was working on my case and a determination would be forthcoming.  I now had a name and a phone number and I have use both extensively since that first call.  Allison has been both patient and helpful.


  I recently received a new 'combined rating' of 70% plus an allotment for my spouse and I am currently awaiting a determination on aid and attendance.  My wife has multiple sclerosis and there is a possibility that an additional allotment for 'aid and attendance' would be granted.  Here again Allison called and kept me informed.


  What is the VA like?  It is slow.  It is methodical and I responded immediately with every request for additional information.  They in turn, were slow and methodical but always positive.  A surprise to me was the fact they pay mileage for the C and P examinations they request.  I have and use a veteran's service representative, while helpful and supportive I do not think my case moved any faster or slower because I had him. Although his knowledge was invaluable, the process for this from filing of the claim to final adjudication will be slightly over ten months.  The staff of the VA I have worked with were kind and thoughtful and very hard working. I have always kept a positive outlook and a cheerful attitude even when I wanted to chew on someone's heels.  I think that helped. 


  I am writing this in hopes that it will help others in a similar situation.  I am available for questions and answers.

In This Issue
Leatherneck Magazine & the Foundation
Remkiewicz: Diabetes & Neuropathy

Quick Links

Beech Block

Ownership & Staff

Owner and Publisher"

Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation



LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (ret.)





Richard 'Dick' Carey




Web Master:

Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds






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