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

The Marines' Hymn
Happy 236th from your Historical Foundation


OntosMCVTHF LogoOntos



We are the voice of  history  


CARPUCNat. Def. Ribbon




November 2011   




Dear Marine, 


James F. Amos
General, U.S. Marine Corps

For ten years now, our Corps has been engaged in continuous combat operations against those who threaten the security of America and our allies. We turned the tide in the Anbar province of Iraq and continue to see success today in southwest Afghanistan. While it has come at a cost ... we have much to be proud of.


This past year in operations around the world including humanitarian disaster relief, counter-piracy, theater security cooperation, special operations, counter-insurgency and many more, you continued to solidify our place as America's expeditionary force in readiness. Since the Continental Congress created two battalions of Marines 236 years ago, our legacy as an ever-ready, ever-capable, victory-producing organization remains intact.


Our rich heritage of selfless service and fidelity to Nation and to one another lives on in all who currently wear the eagle, globe and anchor-those who have answered the clarion call to duty with remarkable courage, dedication and unshakable resolve that Marines are so well known for. To all Marines-past and present-and especially to our families ... I extend my deep gratitude for all you have done and all you continue to do.



As we celebrate our 236th Birthday, let us look forward to future challenges-whatever they may be-and reaffirm our pledge to be America's premier crisis response force; to be the
first to fight ... always ready for the toughest and most challenging assignments. 


Happy Birthday, Marines, and Semper Fidelis!


James F. Amos
General, U.S. Marine Corps


Silver Star


Silver Star 

2nd Lt John Jacques Banning

Alpha Company, 1st Tank Battalion

25 May 1968 


The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Second Lieutenant John Jacques Banning (MCSN: 0-102452), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company A, First Tank Battalion, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the evening of 25 May 1968, while occupying a defensive position near Hue, Second Lieutenant Banning's unit was attached to elements of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division when the driver of his tank suddenly observed a large North Vietnamese Army force silently approaching the perimeter and preparing to assault the friendly position. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Second Lieutenant Banning directed his men to wait for the enemy to advance further before commencing fire. When approximately one-half of the enemy had penetrated the perimeter, he directed the delivery of a heavy volume of accurate fire on the hostile force. Ignoring the intense anti-tank rocket fire being directed at his tank, he skillfully utilized a night observation device which enabled him to pinpoint the North Vietnamese soldiers while continuing to direct his tank's suppressive fire, forcing the enemy to flee in panic and confusion. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who served with him and were instrumental in his crew accounting for twelve North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed and numerous weapons captured. By his courage, aggressive leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Second Lieutenant Banning upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.Action Date: May 25, 1968

Foundation Member Garry Hall Runs for Congress


Garry Hall
Garry Hall


Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation charter member and Vincennes, Indiana businessman Garry Hall, 64, has announced his candidacy for the Republican 8th District U.S. Congressional seat.


Hall is a graduate of Vincennes Lincoln High School and also attended Vincennes University. A decorated Marine Corps combat veteran having served during the Vietnam War, Hall was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device for valor.



Donors: Thank you for your support.


Mike 'Boris' Bolenbaugh, 3d Tanks ~ (2011)

Peter Brush* ~ (2011)
Dick Carey, 3d Tanks* ~ (2011) 

Kyle Decicco-Carey* ~ (2011)
David 'Doc'
Forsyth, 1st Tanks* ~ (2011)
Chuck Garrison, 1st Tanks ~ (2011)
LtCol Will Lochridge, USMC (ret), 1st Tanks ~ (2011)
Jim Raasch, 5th Tanks** ~ (2011)
Pappy Reynolds, 3d Tanks* ~ (2011)
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (ret), 1st Tanks** ~ (2011)
Guy Wolfenberger, 3d Tanks ~ (2011+)
Martha Zaragoza~ (2011)

Sid Ferguson, 1st Tanks ~ (2011) 
Gene 'Doc' Hackemack, 1st Tanks (2011)
Garry Hall, 3d Tanks ~ (2011)
LtCol Frank Slovik USMC (ret), 3dTanks ~ (2011)
Danny Farrell, 1st Tanks ~ (2011)
Garry Hall, 3d Tanks ~ (2011)
Louis Najfus, 3d Anti-Tanks ~ (2011) 
Larry Parshall*, 3d Tanks ~ (2011)
Michael 'Doc' Pipkin*, 3rd Tanks ~ (2011)
Rick Oswood, 3d Tanks ~ (2011)
Jerry Wahl, 3d Tanks ~ (2011)
Ontos Crewmen in possession of Ontos manuals who wish to donate them to the Foundation Library, we would be most proud to archive them.  

+Additional Donation 

*In-Kind Services

**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., Ste. #1 

Federal Way, WA 98023

                                                                                 Thank you!


IRS Tax EIN 91-2111544
A 501(c)(19) Non-profit Historical Foundation



Major Marine Operations in RVN - November:

Prairie I/Deckhouse IV - 3 Aug 66-31 Jan 67
182 days
13 Bns,1 MarDiv operation in the Con Thien/Gio Linh areas of the DMZVC/NVA KIA 1,397
US KIA 215
Scotland - 1 Nov 67-31 Mar 68
152 days
5 Bns, 3 MarDiv operation in westernmost area of Quang Tri Province, centered in the Khe Sanh areaVC/NVA KIA 1,561
US KIA 204
Kentucky - 1 Nov 67-28 Feb 69
485 days
18 Bns, 3rd MarDiv operation in the Con Thien area of the DMZVC/NVA KIA 3,921
US KIA 478
Lancaster II - 21 Jan-23 Nov 68
308 days
12 Bns, 3 MarDiv search-and-clear operationVC/NVA KIA 1,801
US KIA 352
Scotland II - 15 Apr 68-28 Feb 69
320 days
17 Bns, 1 MarDiv operation centered on the Khe Sanh area of Quang Tri ProvinceVC/NVA KIA 3,311
US KIA 435
Henderson Hill - 24 Oct-6 Dec 68
44 days
3 Bns, 3 MarDiv search and clear operation in north-central Quang Nam ProvinceVC/NVA KIA 700
Meade River - 20 Nov 68-31 Jan 69
73 days
8 Bns, 1 MarDiv operation in "Dodge City" area of Quang Nam ProvinceVC/NVA KIA 847
US KIA 107
Pipestone Canyon - 26 May - 7 Nov 69
166 days
6 Bns, 1 MarDiv operation in Quang Nam Province centered approximately 13 kms west of Hoi AnVC/NVA KIA 488

Agent Orange


Claims Granted Based on New Presumptive

Agent  Orange ConditionsData Current through June 24, 2011

Total Claims Granted


Claims Granted

Compensation Paid

Average Award





 Claims Received Prior to October 30, 2010


Claims granted that had been previously denied (prior to October 2009)

Compensation Paid

Average Award





 Claims granted that were received after October 2009 but before the final regulation was published (thru August 30, 2010)

Compensation Paid

Average Award






Claims Received On or After

October 30, 2010

 Claims granted that were received after the final regulation was published, including Fast Track claims

Compensation Paid

Average Award





 Interim awards made pending final claims decision (included in the above number)

Compensation Paid






Note that the total benefits awarded may include

payment for other than AO conditions.

Making a Real Difference
for Veterans
Stories from the Field
From a Huntington VA Employee:
A Family In Need Gets the Help They Deserve

The Veteran was informed that he would be getting an increase in his regular benefit amount, and that he would be receiving a retroactive payment in the amount of $419,813.

From A St. Petersburg VA Employee:
Purple Heart Recipient's Good News

The Veteran was extremely grateful to hear he had been granted service connection for coronary artery disease (CAD) and would receive a retroactive payment of $55,598.



Disability Benefit Questionnaires

Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinicians will complete Disability Benefit Questionnaires (DBQs) for compensation and pension examinations scheduled by VA. As always, VHA and VA-contracted clinicians conduct compensation and pension examinations at no cost. However, Veterans or Service members also have the option, at their own cost, to have their private physicians complete DBQs to provide medical evidence on disability benefit claims.


Who is qualified to complete Disability Benefit Questionnaires?

A private physician with an active medical license is qualified to sign and attest to completed DBQs. The physician must have sufficient medical expertise to conduct a medical assessment regarding the type of DBQ completed.


How are completed Disability Benefit Questionnaires submitted to VA?



Will VA pay for a Disability Benefit Questionnaire completed by a private physician?

No. VA cannot pay for a private physician to complete Disability Benefit Questionnaires or for any costs associated with examination or testing. VA will continue to provide disability examinations at VHA or VA-contracted facilities free of charge as part of its mission to assist Veterans and Service Members with their claims.


Physicians may mail or securely fax completed DBQs to the VA regional office handling the Veteran's or Service member's claim. The Veteran or Service member may also submit completed DBQs directly to the VA regional office in support of their claim, including a Fully Developed Claim, which is an expedited process for a swift decision where the Veteran has provided all relevant evidence to "fully develop" the claim (for more information, see Visit our facilities page at or call 1-800-827-1000 for the addresses of VA's regional offices.
Book Review

By LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (Ret) 


Mr. Eric Hammel's "The Steel Wedge: U.S. Marine Corps Armor in Pacific Island Combat - A Pictorial Record", as I pointed out in a previous Breech Block is a magnificent tribute to the Marine Tanker published in eBook format. Not only are there many never-seen-before pictures of Marine tanks and armored vehicles in action but an accompanying history of the development of Marine armor in conjunction with the revision of amphibious operations doctrine - literally on-the-fly - by the Navy to support the Marines' assaults of the "pacific islands". The formal review of "The Steel Wedge" is scheduled for publication in the January issue of Leatherneck magazine.
Now comes what most probably is to be Mr. Hammel's last book. It's difficult to comprehend a world without new books by Hammel. He has been - and I'm sure will always be - a great friend of the Marine Corps and most kind in his coverage of Marine Tanks and Tankers. "ALWAYS FAITHFUL: U.S. Marines in World War II Combat - The 100 BEST photos", an Osprey Book, is ready to order. While the Leatherneck will publish a review that I've written for a future edition, I can give you a sneak preview of what you'll find in the book - destined to become a collector's item.
Mr. Hammel reminds the reader that "A picture is worth a thousand words". And then presents 100 combat photos to prove his point. His story is that of the Marines' costly victory over the Japanese in the 23 months of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. While the book is surely a "page turner", the pages must be turned slowly and then only after studying the images to get their full meaning and impact. After an Introduction that sets the stage for each of the following 12 sections, Hammel, with a brief opening statement, presents the reader with an often heart-breaking pictorial story to forever etch in your mind what the Marines faced - and overcame - for victory in the Pacific Campaign of World War II. I'll save the rest for you to discover and enjoy.
For Hammel's several other publications go to




USMC ONTOS REUNION ~ May 2013, Details to Follow.

Marine KIA




SAN DIEGO, CA --LtCol Vernon Sylverter, USMC (Ret) 


Vern SylvesterHe joined the Marine Corps right out of High School at the age of 17 and served in Guam during the end of WWII. He returned to his hometown to attend West Chester State Teachers College and majored in Health and Physical Education. Once again, he participated in many extracurricular activities including Friars, Junior Varsity Football, Junior Varsity Wrestling, Day Student Council, Lacrosse, Intramural Basketball, and Serpentine. It was here that he met a lovely young lady named Louann Scheetz, who would become his wife in 1955.

After graduating from college in 1951, he rejoined the Marine Corps as an officer on active duty and subsequently served in Korea, Okinawa and Vietnam. While in Vietnam he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His specialty during his years of combat was that of a Tank Officer. His peacetime specialty was logistics and he also served briefly as a Recruiting Officer. Some of his decorations, medals, commendations and citations include the Bronze Star with Combat V, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon w/device, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, Korean Service Medal with one star, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Navy Unit Commendation. His duty stations included Tallahassee, FL, Parris Island, SC, Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN, Quantico, VA and Camp Smith, HI. He retired to San Diego, CA in 1973.

In 2010, Vern and Louann quietly celebrated 55 years of marriage. His lovely wife passed away in October 2010. Vern is survived by his three daughters, Leann McStay of Temecula, CA, Dayna Hosler of Anza, CA and Shannon Beaupre of San Diego, CA., as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In This Issue
Heros' Corner
Donors (2011)
Donate Address
Vietnam Flashbacks
Agent Orange
Disability Benefit Questionnaires
Book Review




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.)




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


Dr. Ken Estes, LtCol

USMC (ret.)



Rick Walters


MGySgt  Donald R. Gagnon

USMC (ret.)

Director Emeritus 


Quick Links

Ontos Web Site 

Khe Sanh Veterans

Mustang Officers Assn.

Marine Corps Hertiage Foundation

The Marine Shop  

Defense Department 


Our Members' Books:


Beyond My Horizon

Con Thein: Hill of Angels




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    Official USMC Flag

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

03 July 1966
PP/ Staff Sergeant
 30 September 1974

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.