Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation®
Marine Corps Tankers Have Made History. Your Foundation is Making it Known.
1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Tank Battalion.
Photos from Bob Haller, via Joe Tyson and Col. Ev Tunget USMC (Ret.)
These are pictures one of my former Bravo Company tank crewmen sent to me from our crossing of the Song Thu Bon river during Operation Macon in the summer of 1966. Hope you can bring up the pics by clicking on the attachments. In the platoon picture back row, I still have regular contact with the second man, GySgt (then Sgt) Tom Shirey, and the fifth man, LtCol (then 1st Lt) Bill Lochridge, who was my 2nd platoon commander.
Bill Lochridge and I waded across the Song Thu Bon a short while prior to the tank crossing to verify that we could "swim" our tanks across the river without drowning them. I had been asked by the 9th Marines Regimental CO, Col D.J. Barrett, if we could get tanks across the river to suppport the upcoming operation and could leave some to operate out of the An Hoa Fire Base afterward. I had noticed from our maps, which were made from old aerial photos the French had made of the area, that there were "light areas" on opposing banks of the river. On a previous reconnaisance, I found that the "light areas" were heavy sand and gravel deposits which had been washed down from the mountains during the monsoons and had apparently built up at high points of the river bottom.
To check out this possible fording site, Bill Lochridge and I started out ffrom the north bank of the river, spaced ourselves the width of a tank apart and started out poking the bottom with tank bars to see if the gravel bed held up all the way across. At this point, the river was about 200 meters wide during the dry season and we also needed to know how deep it became so that, as I mentioned before, we wouldn't "drown" our tanks in the process of crossing.
We had a rifle platoon from 1/9 to provide fire support deployed on the north bank and had artillery firing smoke rounds over the south bank to cover us while we waded across the river. (This was VC controlled country known as the "Arizona Territory".) When we reached the south bank, we knew we had a good fording site. As we started back across the river, the artillery smoke stopped for some unkown reason and about mid-way across we started receiving small arms fire from the south bank. Our infantry support opened up and Bill and me made like turtles with only our steel helmets showing above the water!
After Operation Macon, I left Bill's 2nd Platoon on the south side to support 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines out of the An Hoa Fire Base. I later recommended Bill for the Silver Star Medal which was awarded him for a subsequent action where he distinguished himself.
Obviously, some memories fade but some remain vivid.
Hello LT or should I say Col
Long time ago .
I saw the article you wrote for the latest mcvta newsletter magazine. I had been assigned to Shireys tank at that time as driver. Had lost a tank just prior to that from a mine incident and was waiting to be reassigned another one if my mind recollects correctly. Remember Sgt Shirey well, good man and Marine. He knew I loved to drive and was the best (not bragging) but didn't want to interfere with his crew.
Sent six pictures attached. 1st pic is that heavy section picture with me standing far right, Sgt Joe Tyson. Other five I thought they might be of that river crossing related to the article . They were sent to me by then Sgt Bob Haller a tanker in our platoon. Let me know what you think. Bob seems to think they were from opp. Macon. Me I got CRS, spent so many years trying to forget, but now my grandchildren want to know.
Take care and always Semper Fi