MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's

Vietnam Personal Accounts

Dennis Richardson

Former Captain of Marines

Ontos

 

 

During operation PEGASUS, then Lt. Richardson found himself leading a platoon of "pigs" on this operation to clear the road to Khe Sanh. The siege of Khe Sanh had been broken, but the road leading to the base had to be cleared. LT Richardson was placed under the Battalion Commander of 2nd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment 3rd Marine Division. The road leading from the Marine Base at Camp Carroll to Khe Sanh would take about a week. The Ontos would stay close to the road while the infantry swept the steep hills. As the road got closer to Khe Sanh, the effects of the massive B52 bombing showed on the terrain. The once heavily forested hills looked like a moonscape as most of the trees were blown down.

 

In a conversation with the Battalion Commander, LT Richardson pointed out a lone pine tree that had survived the bombings. The Battalion Commander said the Ontos couldn't hit the side of the hill much less the lone pine tree that sat about 1500 yards away. Lt. Richardson bet the commander $1.00 that his crew could mercy kill the pine on its first shot. The LT picked a good crew for the shot and the deed was done as ordered. After the tree fell, the commander quickly departed without leaving a penny in his wake.

 

Later at a Battalion meeting the chaplain told the gathering that he had noticed a rise in gambling going on within the battalion, even within the highest levels of command. The commander showed concern. The chaplain added that low morale was accompanying the gambling, as some debts were not being paid. The Battalion Commander got the message and stalked out of the meeting to return with a US dollar that was given to the LT. The commander asked the chaplain if that would end the morale problem.