Personal Experience Questionnaire
Captain Harry James Todd, Jr.
I am Harry James Todd Jr., born in Easton Memorial Hospital Easton, Maryland 13 June 1943.
I lived with my parents and was raised at a home at 205 Park Avenue, Federalsburg, Maryland for 17 years of my youthful life until 27 May 1961 at which time I joined the Marine Corps. I attended Federalsburg Elementary School from 1949 – 1955 and Federalsburg High School from 1955 – 1961. During the summer school breaks in the high school years I worked at Caroline Poultry plant (learning not to eat chicken for many years afterwards) and a second summer at Maryland Plastics making poker chips for various gambling emporiums of the time. Schooling was OK but I could have and should have done far better even though I did graduate without honors from the academic curriculum. I joined the Marine Corps primarily out of spite directed towards my father and because my childhood experiences at home were less than stellar and because the Marine Corps promised me nothing more than a hard time, which I had already experienced at home, and what I could honestly earn. All the other recruiters at the school annual career day were promising the world. The corps presented itself most openly and honestly. It would be what you made it. The Marine recruiter did make one promise and that was kept to the letter. He promised the Corps would give you a hard time.
Immediately upon signing on I was sent to Fort Holabird Maryland in Baltimore and introduced to the world of military life even if it was for only three days. However, by the time I left I had taken the oath. I now belonged to the Marines. The physical upon looking back on it went very similar to that as seen in the movie “Alice’s Restaurant”. We were poked, prodded, pinched, tweaked, felt up, invaded, tested and in general violated not to mention receiving a myriad of shots. The trip to Yemassee, South Carolina was the last bit of independence I knew for about twenty weeks (16 weeks of continuous training at Parris Island and 4 more weeks of training at Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Geiger, Jacksonville, North Carolina). Of all the boys from my hometown that year to volunteer I was the only one to choose the Marine Corps and ultimately one of two who made a career of the military (both of us amazingly earned commissions from the enlisted ranks). Arriving at Parris Island I was enlightened to say the least. Initial shock eventually gave way to understanding which lead to absolute survival in a world some were unable to cope with. It was my childhood with a less than fatherly father that allowed me to realize what was being done and why. What the Drill instructors were doing wasn’t far different from the way I was raised at home except for the physical abuse from my father. Psychologically boot camp was a breeze. In fact I managed to gain 20 pounds and grew 1 and ½ inches in height leaving a lean mean 155 pound 5’6” fighting machine. I barely qualified for acceptance as a recruit because if my size both in weight and height in the first place, the minimums at the time being 130 pounds and 5’3”. In December after being home from boot camp and now serving with the 8th Communication Battalion at Camp LeJeune, I asked my Sergeant Major via the chain of command for permission to marry and upon his approval after all the standard cautions about the life of a Marine, I married the gal I have lived with now for 48 years, just in time for a tax break, on December 29, 1961. It hasn’t all been a rose garden but it has survived. We have only one surviving child, Deborah Dawn, born March 19, 1964. We are fortunate to have that blessing as we have over these many years lost two others for whatever reasons. Our daughter lives in Salisbury, Maryland, is married to a wonderful man we are proud to call ‘son’ and they have one child, a son, Dillon Adam, born 24 June 1990. Presently he is in his second year at Hofstra University in New York.
One day after retiring in 1981 I checked in for freshman orientation at Delaware State College, now Delaware State University. My education while active being less than complete contributed to my retirement. Headquarters Marine Corps had already forwarded me a letter indicating same with the admonishment that perhaps only one more promotion was possible and that was not assured. My assignments precluded my additional college work thus I was caught in a catch 22. No education no promotion further than major and then being assigned to billets precluding time for classes. I actually made the list of candidates and had the promotion arrived and I accepted it would mean approximately 18 months wait time and then three years obligation with no more forth coming promotions. By then 25 years would have been invested, far too many to get out without serving at least five more to make up a full thirty and the idea of being ineligible for further promotion was not appealing. Thus after twenty-one years I chose to retire. My college years were a hoot. I was the old man among kids my daughter’s age. My experience in the Corps allowed me to challenge two courses successfully, and in two years of English Literature I only had to read one book having read over the years all the other requirements. A quick glance at contents and reading the footnotes sufficed to procure 4.0 grades. Personal experience allowed me to challenge the premise of one professor’s ideas regards PTSD, which nearly caused me to be banned from class. Finishing college in 2 and ½ years by taking summer courses and night classes I received a BA in History/Political Science in 1983 and a BA in Education in 1984. A look at my teaching career would seem I did it backwards. The first teaching job was at Chesapeake College (1985-86). From there I went to high school and further to Special Education certification and teaching. Those years from 1985 thru 1994 were the absolute most rewarding. In 1994 an accident curtailed full time teaching. In 1996 I again addressed students as a substitute but found I was not sufficiently healed to deal with even that rigor.
The accident in 1994 made me realize I was actually not superhuman. It took the better part of two years to sufficiently heal to work full time. Fortunately I was able to work enough to get sufficient tenure to claim a State pension because Delaware allowed twelve years longevity for federal service (military) and after eight years actual service I was eligible to retire and receive benefits at age sixty five. After teaching, not being able to sit at home without going bonkers, I worked as I could for a few years at part time jobs and finally landed a job as a Lab Technician at Tilcon, an asphalt company, until the economy began tanking and caused cutbacks. I have always been seriously pragmatic and enjoy the life my wife and I have had all these years. Being retired has allowed us to appreciate attending Scottish Games across the country and working in the shop on wood working projects. In 1973 we settled in rural Delaware in order to provide roots for our daughter and in 1989 we built a log cabin where we still reside at 917 Raughley Hill Road, Harrington, Delaware 19952-3167. When we built there were only seven homes on our road. Today civilization has caught up to us and there is a planned housing development a mere quarter mile down the road where once 90 acres of corn flourished and were it not for the property we purchased our closest neighbor would be a mere spitting distance away.
My Marine Corps career extended, unbroken, from 27 May 1961 thru 1 September 1981. In basic I was assigned a 2500 Military Occupational Specialty (basic wireman) and PCS’d (permanent change of station) to 8th Communication Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. At Parris Island I was in Platoon 357, 3rd Battalion, the Senior Drill Instructor SSgt O.G. Montgomery, the Junior Drill Instructors were SSgt R. A. Rockwell (who was relieved while the platoon was on the rifle range by Sgt FNU Junger; who acted like a maniac) and SSgt D.L. Jones (he was killed in 1967 in a firefight not far from my position one evening while I was supporting 2nd Bn 5th Marines during operation Arizona). Major General Thomas Ennis was the CG of MCRD P.I., CO of RTR was Col. Michael Ryan (later CG 2nd MarDiv) and the CO 3rd Bn was LtCol F. Fribourg. While in 8th Comm.Bn I became the Col’s (Victor M. Johnson) driver being selected by SgtMaj Charlie Martin because Col Johnson, the SgtMaj and I were all the same height (short). When Col Johnson received orders in 1963 he wanted to take me along but by then the Corps had changed the policy of Commanding Officer’s taking their drivers along as well. As a result he asked me what I wanted to do and since at the time the James Bond movies were all the rage I said work in the intelligence field would be nice. He secured for me a transfer to 2nd AmTrac Bn and a 0200 MOS for OJT as an analyst (0231). The only person I recall in the S-2 shop at the time was a Cpl. FNU Haas (a washed out Auburn College football player who actually played for Bear Bryant). During this period of OJT I was sent to the 0231 Intelligence Analyst Course at Fort Holabird, Baltimore, Maryland from March 1964 to June 1964. By then I was a Cpl. (E-4), which meant I had by that time received a promotion per year since joining. This was unusual at the time and frowned upon by many of the old timers. Upon returning I was assigned to the S-2 section of 2nd Force Recon Co. at Camp Geiger. The CO was Maj. “Hotdog’ Carruthers (so named for his penchant for leading Saturday jump marathons), I worked for Capt. J.J. Carroll (killed in Vietnam 1967 and had a firebase named for his exploits) and a Lt. FNU O’Keefe (who I threatened to kill one day in the 2 shop and was supported in that breech of protocol by Major Carruthers) While there I attended Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Sub School at Mystic, Conn. and Land Navigation School at Camp LeJeune. In 1965 I applied for and received a language billet. Indonesia at the time was suffering a Communist uprising and as would have it I was sent to the Indonesian language course. I thought I was going to be sent there but no such common sense prevailed even after the expense of the training.
From September 1965 to July 1966 I attended Indonesian Language Course 8 hours a day 5 days a week for 44 weeks at Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia where one learned to read, write and speak the language. The school was full of other Marines but unfortunately none in my class. As I recall the class had an Army Col. And his wife who was being assigned to FAO duty in Djakarta, several other foreign service types and one or two Army personnel. I did not know at the time I received this billet the Corps had other plans for me and were utilizing unfilled Radio Bn or Counter Intelligence billets to qualify me for their purposes. By this time I was a Sgt. and the promotion per year thing still held.
Immediately upon completion of the Indonesian course the move was a short one from D.C. to Fort Holabird for a second time in July 1966 for about 8 weeks. The USAINTS Interrogator Translator Course (0251) had eight Marines including myself. They were Gysgts W. H. Cearly, B. J. Clubb, A. Patino (class SNCOIC, assigned to 3rd ITT out of school, lived in one of the squad bay rooms on the second deck, became an earth sciences teacher in Omaha, NB. after retirement and died of heart and liver problems in Jacksonville, N.C. November 7, 2001), SSgt V.J. Nichols ( lived in the other squad bay room that overlooked the WAC barracks next door, assigned to 3rd ITT out of school, received a Bronze Star for action in Vietnam with 1st Bn. 1st Marines, became a speech pathologist after retirement in Jacksonville, N.C., died of brain cancer in 1993 and was honored at NMITC with a classroom dedicated in his name in 1999) The Army in its infinite wisdom erected a fence to obscure the view from the first deck but failed to prevent the entire second deck on the starboard side a full view. Sgts Peter C. Formaz (assigned to HqtrsCo, HqrtsBn 3rd MarDiv Pendleton FFT to 3rd ITT,1st Mar Div (rein) RVN out of school), G.K. Neer, R.E. Synan and myself (assigned to Camp Pendleton, HqtrsCo, HqtrsBn. 3rd Mar Div out of school) rounded out the Marine contingent. For the most part all the Marines captured the top ten spots in class rankings leaving spots 1 and10 to the Army. Holabird was fun and games for the Marines. The Army just did not know how to deal with them. There was an Army SSgt (name forgotten) who had a photographic memory that came in number one in class because of that ability. He could quote page and paragraph in answering test questions and as long as he was conducting a schools solution interrogation he did well .Of course the following was not known at the time. I had the opportunity in 1967 to witness his real life abilities once when I was in Saigon on translation business. I asked and received permission to observe his interrogation. To say the least from what I knew I was asked to do and able to do in the field with POWs I was absolutely floored. He arrived along with a Vietnamese Army female shortly after the PW was brought in the room. Once he was ready he handed the female a clipboard with a list of questions. Then proceeded to check off what she relayed by way of answers supposedly said by the PW on a matching sheet/list of questions he had. He never said a word. When this farce was all over I asked him if this was what passed for an interrogation and was provided with an affirmative answer. He told me the Army never sent interrogator teams to the field with the operating companies like Marines. I asked how it was done and found out the PW was always sent back for an exercise like I witnessed. A bit later when I observed another quote ”real” unquote interrogation by this guy I discovered he was totally incapable of the practical application of the art. I went back to DaNang wondering what the Army did for immediate tactical information. I never found out. As an aside Marines never went anywhere in their AO without being armed and this included a visit to the one seated library. While in Saigon I was brought before the Army Provost Marshall for being armed. I did not surrender my weapon to him but was admonished to keep it out of sight. What a way to fight a war.
For the other Marines in the class with the exception of myself, G.K.Neer and Peter Formaz it was direct to Vietnam. Patino and Nichols went to 3rd ITT 1st Mar Div (rein) RVN, Cearly. Clubb and Synan went to the 9th ITT, 1st Mar Div (rein) RVN I think. This was during the time the Marines started rotating individual replacements vice complete units. This method allowed for a turn over of sorts or a passing of lessons learned so the learning curve did not have to start from the bottom every year or so. Initially I had PCS orders without FFT(for further transfer) attached to HqtrsCo HqrtsBn 3rd MarDiv Camp Pendleton. Miracle of miracles I had escaped being sent to VietNam and had a three year tour at Pendleton. Well, that lasted all of 28 days. Just time enough for me to sell our East coast home, have the moving company ship our household goods and for me to transport my family to California. My wife and I secured a rental property at 333 Grant Street, Oceanside for a whole two weeks. Upon arrival and check in I was told there had been a mistake and the orders should have read FFT 1st Mar Div RVN.. Here I was with my family, without a home or furnishings as they had not arrived and without a home to return to back East. Luckily the moving company had not shipped my furnishings from the East coast so I told them to deliver them to my in-laws home. We immediately headed East. We made the return trip in four days. In the span of ten days I had to purchase a new home, find and retrieve my household goods, settle my family and get back to the West coast.
Within four days I managed to depart BWI in the Baltimore/Washington area and stepped off a Saturn Air passenger plane in DaNang. I have to admit I was beginning to believe I would never make it to VietNam. The plane out of Santa Barbara, Ca. barely made it to Hawaii and had to lay over for repairs. Out of Hawaii on the same plane we managed to leave twice and the third time was warned we had passed to point of no return when all internal cabin pressure was lost. We got there but did not pass go and did not collect $200.00. As an individual replacement I was assigned in September 1966 to 3rd ITT, 1st MarDiv (rein) DaNang. I was further assigned by the Team Office to the Division ITT annex office and worked in Division G-2. ITT itself was at the time located in Dog Patch along with CIT in an old French outpost. Members of 3rd ITT at the time included GySgts Paul Glassburner (who later became an editor for “leatherneck” magazine and has since passed away), Arthur Patino (who became an Earth Science teacher in Omaha, Nebraska and died of cancer related problems in 2002. He operated while in country almost exclusively with the SOG units in Thoung Duc) and Victor Nichols (by this time promoted. He became a master scrounger and the go to guy when you needed or wanted something), SSgts Harold Weist (who rotated soon after my arrival had adopted two Vietnamese dogs named Vang (yellow) and Do Ma (mother F-----) in Vietnamese. These dogs were picked up as puppies and adopted by him because they were the only two things living in a village after ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ finished making a run or two. Neither of these dogs would eat meat (hamburger or steak) but would chow down on fish and rice like it was candy. When Harold left he sent a case of dog food back as a care package for the dogs. They never did eat the stuff and I don’t know what happened to the dog food. Both dogs were killed one night after triggering a general alert when they wondered off into the minefield) and SSgt Formaz (by this time promoted). I did not get to know many of the others as my billet was located at the foot of Division hill away from ITT headquarters. In January 3rd ITT was reassigned to 3rd Mar Div (rein), moved headquarters and I was reassigned to support the PW compound.
From January 1967 to December 1967 3rd ITT was located at their new location until they moved north to support operations leading up to TET 1968. ITT Headquarters was located behind Freedom Hill across the road from E.O.D., just and down the road from the Division ammo dump and Dog Platoon and adjacent to the Division POW Compound. The OIC at this time was Capt J.T. Irons who along with 2nd Lt. Ball (an older mustang who never left the compound) and MGySgt Bates (called ‘masturbates’, also late in 1968 or 1969 became a mustang) made up the administrative section. There was also a Cpl Christ, (FNU) clerk typist assigned.
When the team moved to the new location I was assigned to work the PW Compound because I was a Sgt awaiting promotion to SSgt and all the field slots were being filled, as a rule of thumb by J.T. Irons, with SSgt ranks minimum. Irons did not want to send me to the field because he felt it was more proper for SNCOs to work the field and deal with the Bn. S-2s, Bn and Co. COs. As I recall all those assigned to PW Compound duty were the ones who by rank were, like me, there or were the ones who wanted nothing at all to do with the field. Several who shall remain nameless spend an entire tour at the compound refusing field duty. In late January all that changed when I was finally assigned to field duty after SSgt P. C. Formaz was relieved of his field assignment (?) or decided he could no longer deal effectively with field duty (?) with an operating Bn. Never the less he was relieved from 2nd Bn. 5th Marines which caused a shifting of personnel assignments. He relieved me at the compound. I was sent to support operations with 2nd Bn. 26th Marines from January through March 1967. Don’t recall who was sent to 2nd Bn. 5th Marines. I was just happy to get to the field. During my time in the field Formaz disappeared and to this day I don’t know the real story behind this episode. He hung around the headquarters working the compound and hospital for a while and became but a footnote for me. Last I heard anything of Formaz he was a ‘county mountie’ (sheriff’s deputy) somewhere in Arizona. Have been unable to verify that.
While at 2nd Bn 26th Marines I participated in operations Stone, Gold and Canyon. During Canyon we operated along the Yellow Brick Road of French Foreign Legion fame in the book “The Road Without Shame” that ran through Elephant Valley. We pushed almost to the French R&R resort complex at Bac Ma which was at that time serving as the headquarters for a local VC Bn.. The lead company was hit hard before reaching Bac Ma and the point maneuver platoon finally was able to withdraw with only nine guys walking and only one not wounded. That engagement triggered reinforcements and an extended operation. With 2nd Bn 26th Marines I had my first introduction to shots fired in anger. I realized I could deal psychologically with combat.
In mid to late March until July 1967 I was assigned to 2nd Bn 5th Marines in support of operations in Union I and II, Arizona and Calhoun. In general 2nd Bn 5th Marine TAOR was called “Indian Country” and included Antennae Valley. This valley was a hot bed of activity as it was part of the main infiltration trail for NVA forces. No one ever entered this valley without exchanging shots of some degree or another. Sometime in June 1967 Sgt Bill Tomlinson arrived at 3rd ITT TAD from the 5th ITT at Pendleton. Tomlinson worked operation Arizona with me in the field but then was returned to headquarters for compound duty. On the evening of July 4th (Happy Independence Day) 1967 the Bn. Compound was hit with mortars and a ground supported assault. One well placed mortar round managed to wound five in the S-2 section including me. The next day not being severely wounded and having talked to a PW from the assault and with the assistance of our Kit Carson Scout we set out that evening on a body snatch. I discovered the guy we were out to capture from the info provided was in fact not only the local VC Company commander but also the brother of our Kit Carson Scout. The ambush/snatch went well until nearly dawn. At that time, just beginning to get light, there was movement and tension was rising within the group until I was signaled to open fire because I was closest to the person coming toward us. About the time I was taking aim the movement stopped and I found myself shooting at basically nothing or so I thought. Just as I opened up I’m guessing the person was squatting. When we went forward we discovered I had shot a woman in the buttocks. She was out relieving herself. She was wounded but far from dead. A quick search of the hooch she had come from and the one we had been watching was empty. We withdrew quickly before the remainder of the village could react. Because I had shot her I was the one to carry her back to the Bn aide station and compound. I delivered her to the Red Cross hospital at An Hoi. Everyone got a good laugh as I carried her in on my back. About a week or so later there was a cartoon in the ‘Stars and Stripes’ depicting me carrying a huge VC woman captive piggy back with a bouquet of flowers nib her hand and a box of candy under her arm stating in the caption ‘Sgt Todd certainly has a way with the girls’ I was to say the least surprised and was later presented with the original celluloid of the cartoon and have that along with the cartoon I cut from the paper. What they did not know was that in actually my interpreter and I talked to her all the way back and gained some actionable information. Information not only about the guy we had set out to capture but also about the local unit plans. I must say she was the easiest woman captive I ever talked to. Normally I would have rather talked to 50 men before talking to one woman anytime. It may have been because she was shot but I wasn’t arguing and hope my skills played some part. I was promoted that July to SSgt and later on was relieved by SSgt Howie Khan.
Almost immediately that month and thru October 1967 I was sent to relieve GySgt Victor Nichols at 1st Bn 1St Marines in Hoi An. Nichols rotated to 3rd ITT compound to work the PW compound for a few days in September until he returned to CONUS in early December along with MGySgt Bates. At 1/1 I supported the Bn. in the field constantly. 1/1 rotated companies by having one in the field, one maintaining compound security, one training/preparing to relieve the operating company and one basically resting. Each of these companies rotated on a monthly basis but the ITT support was always with the operating company or constantly traveling back and forth between the maneuver company and Bn. PW compound This rotation routine was only interrupted if there was a need to support major operations gone sour or the operating company had stepped in the mess and needed reinforcing. In general operations were on Goi Noi Island and in and around the rocket belt. It was while supporting 1/1 that I made my single most enlightened discovery. One day several days after one rocket attack I was back at the 3rd ITT compound and noticed the entire area was acting and looking strange being strangely quiet everywhere. After about 4 to 5 hours I reported my suspicions to J.T.Irons. I reported I believed the Air Base would receive another rocket attack that night. After providing my logic in that prediction and convincing him I was serious he agreed. To make a long story short I predicted time, target, and launch location. No one at Division, except Irons really believed me, nor anyone at 1/1, 3/1 or 2/3 the BNs having rocket belt responsibilities. Well, target was spot on, time was 20 minutes off and the launch site was merely 100 meters from prediction when discovered. Both 1/1 and 3/1 reacted of course but a bit after the fact. My creditability was cemented. In early October 1/1 was moved North and because I was supporting I was on my way with them to Phu Bai, in the Cam Lo area. This move came about three months prior to TET 1968. I was on the C-130 ready to go when I was pulled off by J.T.Irons and told to report instead to 2/3 supporting local operation. The 11th ITT or 17th ITT would support 1/1. I stayed with 2/3 until December when I rotated prior to the TET build up and assault in January/February 1968.
About the time I left GySgt Patino opted to stay on a second time but was denied and rotated to CONUS in January just days before TET. 3rd ITT was moved North in January and the incoming crew joined them at Camp Evans, Phong Dien just above Hue City but the headquarters was relocated South to Phu Bai by 22 January 1968. Camp Evans was turned over to the Army Air Cav. The new crew of 3rd ITT included CWO Pete Caudillo (later killed at Khe Sanh after being sent there to relieve GySgt Jimmie Brown of the 17th ITT), SSgt Jim Haskins (who was subsequently promoted via the LDO program, and assigned in the early 1970s as CO Mar Det at Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado), SSgt Paradis (also sent to Khe Sanh), Sgt Tony Billups (who was wounded during the fight for Hue City in the same engagement that GySgt George Kendall (11th ITT) was killed and Capt. J.T. Irons was wounded). Kendal received a Bronze Star for his action and had a Messhall at DLIWC dedicated in his name in the 1970s and later had the Marine Barracks at DLIWC rededicated to his name in the 1990s. Billups eventually got out and was killed attempting to break up a mugging in D.C. during the 1970s while serving as a body guard for Senator Andrew Young) and L/Cpl Tanigawa, and had to hit the ground running. TET broke on 31 January 1968 in Hue City. Interpreter SSgt Tam and my old assigned interpreter SSgt Troung Van Nhut were in Saigon on leave granted by Irons a week before. At the outset action was hectic and 3rd ITT had the distinct honor of capturing the first NVA PW and weapons by US forces in the operation. It was this action that killed Kendall and wounded the others mentioned above. During the first week of February GySgt Manual and Captains Rowe and Smith arrived at 3rd ITT and Irons was rotated CONUS.
During my first tour I was awarded a Navy Achievement award with Combat V for personally interrogating in excess of 1500 captives to include regular NVA, VC, Political Cadre, and suspects (commonly called JSRs (Joe Shit the Ragman)). For the years between December 1967 and July 1969 I was PCS’d to 2nd ITT at Montfort Point, 2nd Mar Div, Camp LeJeune. However, for the most part I was TAD to FIC (Fleet Intelligence Center) in Norfolk, Va. for nearly three back to back 6 month tours. Major James T. East (then a Captain) was OIC of the OOB (Order of Battle) Section in N-2. Major East was one of the founding fathers of interrogation in the Marine Corps in late 1958 while he was a GySgt
By July 1969 I suppose the powers that be decided since I was constantly at FIC anyway they would permanently assign me. So I stayed there until March 1972. I was promoted to GySgt during this time and had an unusual experience because of the job slot I filled. Sometime around 1970/1971 time frame I was quietly approached regards a brevet commission to Captain and assignment to the Israeli Mossad as an analyst in their Intelligence section teaching them how we compiled computerized OOB. The proposal actually went all the way to the US Congress for approval via their Embassy personnel but nothing more was ever done. In March 1972 I was assigned a WestPac tour to Okinawa being assigned to 13th ITT initially. I was reassigned over the tour period until April 1973 to the 17th ITT and 11th ITT in support of 1/9 operations aboard the LPH USS Tripoli, LPH USS Okinawa and LPH USS Inchon. Operations with 1/9 involved in-country Vietnam action with the Vietnamese Marines. Thus I was in-country twice more. In February 1973 when the peace treaty was signed while aboard the LPH Inchon we were in the China Sea supporting operations ashore with the Vietnamese Marines. They had made several training helicopter assaults in the Phu Loc area before actual operations in the Dong Hoi area of North Vietnam. Operations were costly in Vietnamese Marine casualties and American helicopters and one or two from 1/9. The Inchon helo squadron also took a few casualties and lost or had damaged 7 helos in a single day. The assault landed in the middle of a regimental size NVA unit and was cut to pieces. One helo crew and RVN Marines had to be rescued via special insert because they were trapped with their downed craft in a position surrounded by the enemy. The rescue cost the lives and wounding of several aircrews but was successfully done. One helo returned with its landing gear shot away on one side and the corpsmen on board rolled out a gurney to act as a prop to prevent the craft from tilting sideways and eating the blades on the deck. It was also during this period afloat that I was in support and training of the Philippine Marines in their operations on the islands of Lubang and Mindoro against communist insurgents. Eventually we returned to Okinawa and I rotated in March 1973 to Camp Lejeune with 12th ITT.
Some of the folks I recall stationed at Oki included SSgt Schindler (who died in 2008 after 7 years being invalided as a result of a debilitating stroke) CWO George Anderson (brother-in-law to Schindler who was RIFT and allowed to serve out a career), GySgt Mitch Spies of Texas and who died in the 1980s, MSgt Ben Parks (who could speak 9 languages with English not being one of them), CWO Joe Borroughs (nephew to Edgar Rice Borroughs of “Tarzan” fame) and MSgt Urasaki with SSgt FNU Peddrick along with one or two more were accidentally shot by a gate guard at Camp Hansen (none fatally),SSgt Fitzgerald (who was involved in a jeep accident that damaged his leg sufficiently to cause a medical release) SSgt Bill Tomlinson and MSgt Wheeler (who golfed at every opportunity), MSgt George Simpson (owner of a bar in Jacksonville, N.C. until his death from cancer in the 1990s), Sgt Luke Thoma (presently living in Ohio), SSgt Garcia (who lived in Arizona until he died of cancer in the early 1990s) MSgt Bill Keifer (presently living in Baton Rouge), Gysgt Victor Nichols, MSgt Arthur Patino, GySgt Bill Beatty (a Marine Corps legend along with his wife), SSgt Bob Rogers (who transferred to the Army CWO program in the mid 1970s and subsequently disappeared it is thought because of his gambling habits), and CWO Beavier (who was eventually declared a paranoid schizophrenic upon his release from active duty in the 1970s).
From April 1973 to December 1973 at Montfort Point with the 12th ITT was busy. That tour was basically a training tour for the various visiting Reserve ITTs from New York and Florida. This was when I met for the first time CWO5 Howard Young. CWO3 Al Kent was the ITT Coordinator. At one point I was assigned as SNCOIC of a contingent of 15 Marines from both coasts sent to re-write the Army’s Interrogation Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. CWO3 Bob Farmer was OIC of the group that included of those I can remember GySgt Anderson who by now was harboring a serious grudge for being the junior GySgt after being RIFT, SSgt John Schindler, SSgt FNU Mayne, Sgt FNU Nix. It was during this time I was promoted to 2nd Lt being one of the thirteen total LDOs selected on the final Marine Corps Mustang selection board. An incident of ‘John Wayne’ justice at Huachuca caused the promotion to be delayed until May 27, 1975 exactly to the day 15years after I took my enlisting oath in the Corps. A GySgt Frank Liles, SNCOIC of the Marine Detachment at the Fort, was involved with drug trafficking as we found out some time later. He was discovered and jailed to best of my knowledge. A member of the Army staff there was CWO Zak Fuentes a former Marine ITTer who transferred to the Army.
I went to DLIWC, Presidio of Monterey, for German Language Course in December 1973 for a 24 week stint. Gysgt George Anderson was also assigned to the German Course and became seriously involved with one of the instructors to the point of distraction. Not only did the instructor cause problems for other Marines the affair caused some problems. None the less, he passed the course and was along with me reassigned to the ITT units at Camp LeJeune. Arriving in August 1974 PCS’d to 2nd Mar Div., Hqtrs Co, Hqtrs Bn, ITT units the TAD efforts began in earnest once more. One of these TAD periods prior to being promoted to LDO status the German Team (4th ITT) became involved with the CISM (Counsil International du Sports Militaire) games as interpreters for the German Boxing Team. Also went on a couple floats out of Moorehead City. One was a SOLANT AMITY cruise (South Atlantic Friendship cruise) and one was to the Med. I was with the 4th ITT supporting 2/6 aboard the LPH USS Guadalcanal in support of operation Straffe Zugel (Tight Rein) conducted in Northern Germany by the North Sea in the vicinity of Bremen, Bremerhaven, Rottenborg and Hamburg as a brand new Lt.. The operation was a simulated protection of the Fulda Gap against an incursion by the Soviet Forces in conjunction with the German Army. This was the 1st time Marines had entered upon German soil in mass in 56 years, the last was WWI in 1918. Being promoted and receiving an 0205 MOS curtailed a lot of the TAD and I was assigned to Division G-2, Hqtrs Co Hqtrs Bn until October 1976. Spent a good deal of this time adjusting to the rank with some difficulty. The rank was in between. By the military caste system I out ranked my peers in the enlisted grades, within the officer caste I was older than my rank peers and they being youngsters had nothing in common with me and I was not of sufficient rank to associate with officers who were my age peers; they being senior Captains and Majors. Sort of stuck without a real support group.
In October 1976 I was sent to the Naval Intelligence Officers Course at Lowry AFB until March 1977. The OIC of the Marine Detachment there was Captain James Haskins who I knew as a SSgt in Vietnam in 1968 and who had been promoted to LDO status in 1971(?). Because I was an older Mustang with actual combat experience among a group of very young Naval Officers I was asked to teach a particular block of instruction as a result of the first hand knowledge and experience. I deemed that to be quite an honor.
After schooling in March 1977 I was assigned as the assistant N-2 aboard the LCC USS Mount Whitney serving with ComPhibGru Two. By this time I was eligible for promotion to Captain and received the bars in early 1979 a full year ahead of my peer group. The tour aboard Whitney was more than exciting. Because she carried at times 5 Flags as the Landing Command and Control she was always ported at the choicest ports of call when deployed. She visited all the best ports in Europe not normally visited by regular float deployments, always have the choicest mooring positions and spent 9 full days dockside at New Orleans for Mardis Gras in 1978. Service aboard Whitney was from March 1977 until March 1979 at which time the assignment was with G-2 Fleet Marine Force Atlantic Headquarters in Norfolk, Va. as the Assistant Intelligence Officer and Top Secret control Officer.
In May 1979 along with several other Marines I went TAD to the Intelligence Analyst Center (IAC) at Dalhgren, Va. to attend classes on the operation of Marine Air Ground Intelligence System (MAGIS). MAGIS was one of three units to coordinate, Marine ground and Air and Naval OOB in a mutually supporting system to provide real time information to operating field commands via satellite hookups with the Air Force and Army units of same design. Amazingly it actually worked. After schooling I was designated FMFLant OIC of the MAGIS Marine Corps R&D operations East Coast. This system encompassed at the time three semi-trailers loaded with equipment plus a power source. It could transmit around the world talking to itself from hard wire via satellite link to teletype but could not transmit at times depending on location direct line of sight to a companion unit without a hardwired land line. By 1999 that same system was contained within a single man-packable suitcase with more capability than the original system.
Retirement was taken advantage of on September 1, 1981. This wraps up a less than spectacular 21 years. Many asides have been omitted as not being worthy even if a bit funny or downright stupid. Besides this is long enough as is. I hope you are not put to sleep reading this drone on of the years.