Chafey, Merritt Neville, IV (Chip), 1st Platoon

Chafey, Merritt Neville, IV (Chip), 1st Platoon

25 June 1946 – 26 June 2005
Arlington National Cemetery, VA 22211

Merritt Chafey passed away on 26 June 2005, at the age of 59, of heart disease in Carlsbad, CA.

Merritt Neville Chafey IV (Chip) was born 25 June 1946 in Prescott, AZ to Merritt Neville Chafey III and Ora Lee Bray. Chip was an only child. Chip’s father was the Prescott, AZ Chief of Police and his mother was a teacher. In the 1960 timeframe, the family relocated to Scottsdale, AZ where Chip’s father took the position of Chief of Police of Scottsdale, AZ. In Scottsdale, Chip attended Coronado High School.

Chip attended both the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA and Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, AZ – VMI for freshman year and ASU for three years. He was in the Sigma NU fraternity at ASU. He was also in the ASU NROTC program with a Marine Corps option and attended the 6-week Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) Bulldog Program between his Junior and Senior years, at MCB Quantico, VA. Chip had a double major and received a BA in English and History.

Upon graduation from ASU, Chip accepted a regular commission in the USMC and reported to USMC Officers Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company 1st Platoon, in June 1967.

Member of the Force Recon Association

USMC Resume:
PEBD 14 Dec 1965
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Vietnam: Force Recon
Medical Retirement 1982, Captain

Chambers, Owen Sterling (Owen), 1st Platoon

Chambers, Owen Sterling (Owen), 1st Platoon

4 July 1941 – 19 June 1982
Interred Parklawn Cemetery in Rockville, MD 29902

Owen Chambers passed away on 19 June 1982, at the age of 41, of medical complications in Beaufort SC. He is interred Parklawn Cemetery in Rockville, MD

Owen Stirling Chambers was born on 4 July 1941 in Pensacola, FL to Owen Archibald Chambers and Dorothy Hand. Owen’s father, a 40 year career retired USMC Colonel, was in Flight School at the time of birth. Owen has one younger brother, William Elliot Chambers II (USAF Intelligence field). As a USMC “brat”, he moved many times with his family.  Among the places were Hawaii; Cherry Point, NC; Pendleton, Newport, RI for a Naval War College stint; and Naples where his father was assigned to NATO for three years. Owen went to several elementary and junior highs, and two high schools: Fallbrook High outside Camp Pendleton in 1958 where he played basketball and was on the Swim team & Rifle Team, and Forrest Sherman High School in Naples. In Naples, he ran track, played on the varsity basketball team, and played flag football (no tackle available). He attended the University of Maryland in Munich, Germany. After UM, he attended Bullis Prep in the DC area where he was on the swim team.

Owen attended the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA earning a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1965. While at VMI, Owen took part in many activities: track, intramural swimming, football, volleyball, IEEE, Vice Chairman, yearbook committee, hop & floor committee, electrician, armed forces club, Presidential Honor Guard.  During the summers, he attended both the Jr and Sr Platoon Leader Classes at Quantico, VA.  Following graduation, he accepted a regular commission as a second lieutenant in the USMC on 9 June 1965. With delayed entry to active duty, Owen continued his education as a graduate student at Clemson University in Clemson, SC earning a MSEE in June 1967. Owen Chambers and Jean Sanders married in June 1966 – a TBS wife. They had two children, daughter Jeanette Alayne in 1970 and son Owen S. Chambers Jr in 1975.

Owen reported to USMC Officers Basic School (TBS) June 1967. Following TBS and prior to Vietnam, Owen attended the Basic Communication Officers course at Quantico (classmates were Nunziato, Ames, Chaffey). He served in Dong Ha, Republic of Vietnam, from 5 May 1968 to 6 June 1969 where he managed and deployed electric sensor/surveillance equipment for the “McNamara’s Wall” along the DMZ. Owen was released from active duty at Camp Pendleton on 13 June 1970. He joined a USMC Reserve unit in Fredericksburg, VA, attaining the rank of Major.

As a civilian, he worked for the Federal Power Commission for one year, and was an Electrical Engineer at MERADCOM (Countermine/Counter Intrusion Department) from 1971-1974. He worked at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a Reactor Security Specialist with the Office of Inspection and Enforcement from 1974-1982. His personal hobbies and interests included psychology, golf, running, and music. He supported the USMC marathon, working on the wiring systems for the Air Control Squadron 23 Communications Electronics Office in Quantico, VA. Owen Chambers passed away on 19 June 1982, at the age of 41 in Beaufort, SC of medical complications. He is Interred Parklawn Cemetery in Rockville, MD

USMC Resume:
PEBD: 29 Jun 1961
PLC Jr and Sr:
Regular Commission 2nd Lt: 09 Jun 1965
TBS Class 1-68 Alpha company, 1st Platoon June – Nov 1967
Data Processing Installation, MCDEC Quantico VA: Nov 67 – Feb 68
Basic Communication Officers course, MCDEC Quantico VA: Feb68 – Apr 1968
Vietnam: 5 May 1968 – 6 Jun 1969
Dong Ha, Republic of Vietnam; Managed and deployed electric sensor/surveillance equipment for the “McNamara’s Wall” along the DMZ.
Post-Vietnam: MCB Camp Pendleton H&S Co, H&S Bn 5th ASR, (-) FMF  June 1969 – 13 June 1970
Released from active duty: Camp Pendleton 13 June 1970
USMCR unit: Fredericks, VA

Champe, Charles Randall (Randy), 1st Platoon

Champe, Charles Randall (Randy), 1st Platoon

13 February 1945 – 13 June 1991
Santa Fe National Cemetery, NM 87501

Randy Champe was born 13 February 1945 in Charleston, West Virginia. His love of adventure was well suited to the family’s move to Albuquerque, New Mexico in his early years. With the loving guidance of his father, Charlie Champe, Randy earned his Eagle Scout. He graduated from the University of New Mexico, 1967. He was in the NROTC with a Marine Corps option. During his seven years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, he was awarded the nation’s third highest combat award, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with the combat V and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry among other distinctions while serving as a Tank Commander and as a Force Recon Marine.

In 1973, Randy joined the Los Angeles Police Department. As his wife, Sue’s, grandmother said, “Randy went from the front lines of the country to the front lines of the country.” Serving and protecting with distinction, he worked first the streets and then the skies of L.A. as an observer in the Air Support Division. From 1983-1986, Randy was a policeman on the Houston Police Department. Upon his return to Los Angeles, he was immediately accepted back into Air Support Division.

Randy was killed in the line of duty, 13 June 1991, at the age of 46, when the helicopter crashed due to equipment failure that he and pilot Gary Howe were flying in over South Central Los Angeles. In attempting an emergency landing, through their dedication and expertise, they were able to avoid the primary emergency landing zone, a school yard full of children on recess. They also avoided the secondary zone, a roadway with a school bus, child and adult in the path, and put the ship down in a vacant lot with abandoned cars on it. Both perished upon impact. Randy loved helping his fellow officers by being their “eyes in the sky.”

Posthumously, Randy was awarded LAPD’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor. Randy was also awarded LAPD’s Purple Heart and in 2014, two signs were unveiled with Randy’s and Gary’s names, and erected at the crash site.

USMC Resume:
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Vietnam: Three tours (C/1st Tanks Company; two tours with 1st Force Recon)

Chiesa, Robert E (Bob), 1st Platoon

Chiesa, Robert E (Bob), 1st Platoon

5 October 1941 – 18 August 1991
Last known address: Knoxville, IA 50138

Robert E. Chiesa was born 5 Oct 1941 in Des Moines, IA  to Leon Victor Chiesa and Vivian Margaret Shook. His father served with the 94th Naval Construction Battalion in Hawaii and Guam from 1943 to 1945. Bob was the oldest of three children. He had one brother and one sister.

Bob enlisted in the USMC 22 June 1960 at 19 years old. At one time he served with a Marine detachment on a Navy ship. He attended the University of Oklahoma and gained his commission through the NESEP program.  He graduated on 4 June 1967 and was commissioned as a 2nd LT USMC with a regular commission 7 June 1967. He was a member of TBS Class 1-68 Alpha Company 1st Platoon. He then went to Flight School- Helicopter Pipeline in Pensacola, FL. He attended CH-53 training at Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Tustin, CA. He then received orders for Vietnam, where he flew CH-53s out of Marble Mountain. In 1971 he was assigned to NAS Imperial Beach, CA and served as an exchange pilot with a Navy helicopter squadron. While in Southern CA, he purchased and raced a Formula V race car.  Having medical issues he was grounded and medically discharged from the USMC on 1 May 1972. He returned to Iowa where he lived for many years. He passed away 18 Aug 1991 in Knoxville, IA at the age of 49.

USMC Resume:
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Flight School- Helicopter Pipeline in Pensacola, FL.
CH-53 training at Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Tustin, CA.
Vietnam: CH-53s out of Marble Mountain.
An exchange pilot with a Navy helicopter squadron, NAS Imperial Beach, CA: 1971

Cochenour, John (JJC), 1st Platoon

Cochenour, John (JJC), 1st Platoon

I met my wife, Donnice Williams, at Oklahoma State University, and we were married while still in college. I dropped out a semester to work while Donnice finished her degree and took a position as a math teacher in the farming community of Marland, Oklahoma. I commuted to OSU and joined the Marine PLC program, attending one summer session in Quantico in 1966. Fraser Getgood, Terry Ranstead, and I graduated from OSU in 1967 and were commissioned together.

During TBS, Donnice and I lived in an apartment in Woodbridge, and I commuted to Quantico with Terry Ranstead and Jack Larrison as we lived in the same apartment complex. It remains a matter of frustration that I cannot remember whose room I shared as a married member of the company.

After TBS, I attended the U.S. Army Officer Basic Artillery School, and then went directly to Vietnam where I spent 13 months with E Btry 2/12, serving as a FO with H 2/9, then FDO, and XO of the Btry. I was at many different positions, generally along the trace of Highway 9 from the Cua Viet to the Laotian border, into the northwest mountains, and south into the A Shau Valley.

After this tour I joined the 2nd Bn, RTR, San Diego as a series officer and then adjutant, which involved attending the Naval Justice School. I then received orders to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA where I studied Bahasa Indonesia for a year. While there, we were living at Fort Ord, where our son was born.

Following language school, I joined the 1st Radio Bn at KMCAS in Oahu. After receiving clearances and schooling at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, I served as the Direction Finding Platoon commander and assistant S-3. I also commanded detached signal intelligence teams, which included four months back in Vietnam (Easter Offensive 1972), some time afloat with the 3rd MAB , and four months along the Korean DMZ. During our Hawaii years, Donnice earned a Masters degree from the University of Hawaii.

My next assignment was to Camp Fuji, Gotemba, Japan, and the command of Lima Battery, 2/12. After four months in Japan, the battery moved to Camp Hauge in Okinawa, and I spent the last two months of the Okinawa tour as the assistant S-3 for the 12th Marines. During my absence in Okinawa, Donnice gave birth to our daughter in Stillwater, OK. My final assignment was advanced artillery schooling at Fort Sill, OK and a stint as a gunnery instructor with the Gunnery Department.

Building on the Marine experience as an instructor and student, I decided to use the GI Bill for more schooling. While Donnice worked as a school and then as an academic librarian, I finished two Masters degrees and a PhD at the University of Oklahoma while working in different professional and faculty positions.

In 1990 we moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where Donnice was a faculty member and serials librarian at Colorado State University. I accepted a faculty position at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming (just across the border). My teaching and research focused on design and development of instruction, visual literacy, distance delivery, and planned change—successfully chairing/guiding over 100 students to doctoral and masters degrees. My last several years were as a department head.

Donnice and I both retired as emeritus professors, she in 2011, and myself in 2012. Both of our children are married and live in Colorado. Our son is in law enforcement, his wife is a physician’s assistant, and they have three sons. Our daughter is in social work, her husband is a teacher, and they have two sons. We fill our retirement days with family, friends, and a variety of activities, but most prominently bicycling, which keeps us active and gives us opportunities for touring and traveling. In 2014, we purchased a tandem bicycle, outfitted it for touring and celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a self-supported tour around Wisconsin. Our journal documenting this trip and some of our married years can be found at:

Collins, Chuck (CAC) , 1st Platoon

Collins, Chuck (CAC) , 1st Platoon

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and lived in nearby Glen Burnie until the 2nd grade when my folks moved to Shawano County, Wisconsin. I grew up there in a Huck Finn atmosphere, roaming the small town and the fields and woods of northern Wisconsin. My folks moved to Fairchild, Wisconsin and I finished my senior year there and met my wife. I always say that I was in the top 10 of my 1959 high school graduating class – we had a class of 14.

I dropped out of college, in January 1960, at the end of my first semester at Wisconsin Institute of Technology, Platteville, Wisconsin to enlist in the Marine Corps. I was in Platoon 112 at MCRD San Diego and went to ITR at San Onofre on Camp Pendleton.

My first assignment was as a supply warehouseman with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines at San Mateo, Camp Pendleton. When battalion found out that I could type, I was assigned to the S-4.

We transplaced to Camp Schwab, Okinawa in the late summer of 1960 and became 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. We had a great 13 month tour, having exercised in North Borneo, the Philippines, Taiwan, liberty in Hong Kong, and cold weather training at Mount Fuji, Japan with liberty in Tokyo and Yakuska. We rotated back to Camp Pendleton as the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines at Las Pulgas.

I got picked up for the NROTC program, but flunked out of NAPS (Naval Academy Preparatory School), Bainbridge, Maryland and was reassigned to Headquarters, FMFLANT, Norfolk, Virginia. I got married and I guess I must have settled down as I got picked up for the NESEP (Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program), passed NAPS this time, and was assigned to Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

My wife was primary in my college success, typing up my term papers, working as a secretary to supplement my Corporal’s pay, and taking care of our two oldest daughters (Jennifer and Jane).

On graduation and commissioning in June 1968, I was assigned to A Company, The Basic School, Quantico, Virginia. In November, our third daughter (Julie) was born at the Quantico Naval Hospital the weekend before we embarked for our amphibious training at Little Creek – my wife could see the ship we got on from her hospital window. We still have and treasure the silver drinking cup that the TBS 1-68 class gave to Julie.

The Corps gave me a delay in orders until Julie was 3 months old and I moved my family to Augusta, Wisconsin to be near my wife’s parents while I was in Vietnam.

I was lucky as most of the infantry officers of our TBS class had gone over earlier and many were hit by the Tet offensive. I got there right after, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines who had just arrived from Hawaii. I was given a choice of positions and took the Platoon Commander of the 81mm Mortar Platoon as I thought it would be the safest place for a father of three. 1/27 was assigned to the Dong Son 2 area south of Da Nang, and about March we were transferred up to mop up the remains of the NVA east of Hue city, where I got my first Purple Heart.

It must have been late May that 1/27 returned south of Da Nang and participated in Operation Allen Brook, where I got my second Purple Heart. 1/27 returned to Dong Son 2 about August and I was reassigned to B Company, and I got my 3rd Purple Heart in support of the retaking of Cam Le Bridge, south of Da Nang. When I got out of the hospital, the 27th Marines had returned to the states and I was assigned to 3rd Force Service Regiment in Okinawa to finish my tour.

In April 1969, I was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and the battalion embarked for a Mediterranean cruise in July. We returned on December 16, and our son (Edward “Joe”) was born at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital on December 24.

Discouraged at the atmosphere in the country and a (literally) dead end career as an infantry officer, I was thinking of getting out, and my CO encouraged me to change my MOS to communications, and I attended the Officer Communications School at Quantico, and then was assigned to MACS-9/5 (Marine Air Control Squadron) at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina and our fourth daughter (Jeanaette) was born in the Naval Hospital there in 1973.

Three months later, I was again sent to WesPAC to spend a tour with MAU-14 at Subic Bay, and then to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines in Okinawa. I returned to the states in 1974 to the Communications-Electronics School at MCRD San Diego, and moved with them to MCAGF Twenty Nine Palms.

In 1977 I was transferred to 1st Force Service Support Group at Camp Pendleton, and retired there in 1980. I then worked as a Civil Engineer for several different engineering companies and the City of Vista in southern California, and with the County of El Dorado in northern California until I retired from California Public Employees Retirement System in 2007. We moved to Twin Falls, Idaho and worked for the city until my wife got sick and then retired for good to take care of her in 2008.

I did a lot of things in the Corps that I did not want to do, and went a lot of places I didn’t want to go to, but the Marine Corps treated me very, very well. I only regret not keeping a diary so that I could recall the names of all of the Marines that I served with.

Collins, Dave (CDC Jr) , 1st Platoon

After TBS, went to WesPac (on Christmas Day, if memory serves). Spent a few weeks on Okinawa, training Marines who had been assigned to the phased-out ONTOS to become recon Marines. Thence to RVN circa Feb 1st for Tet in I Corps, along Routes 1 and 9. Was with SLF Bravo (3/1) as platoon leader in two or three companies. Wounded, evacuated to Cam Rahn Bay and then back to 3/1. Finished that tour with a PH and NCM.

Hawaii was next, had the independent recon platoon; was jump and SCUBA qualified — and got PAID!! After some 18 months was transferred to NAD Lualualei as guard officer. Promoted to Captain.

Then came AWS beginning in Jan 1972 and a call for volunteers to be advisors to the RVN Marine Corps. Was assigned to 369 Brigade with then-Major Bill Keys as senior advisor. Same area as 1st tour, same NVA troops with their supporting arms. I called in what I believe to be the last Naval Gun Fire mission, at 0750 local, Jan 28th, from USS Turner Joy. Received BSM.

2d MarDiv followed, with flap to the Med in response to the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Went as S-4 of 3/6, returned as CO of M/3/6. Was then S-3A of 6th Marines, S-3 of 2/6, then sent to 4th MAB out of Norfolk under then BGen Al Gray; went from Norway to Turkey.

Promoted to Major, and assigned as CO, Recruiting Station Pittsburgh. Tough way to make a living! Received first MSM.

MCDEC followed; was put to writing and revising amphibious and ground doctrine. Promoted to LtCol.

Spent the next five (5) years at HQMC, split between I&L (LtGen Hatch) and PP&O (LtGen Trainor). Received second MSM and second NCM. Retired in Jan 1987, went to Tennessee and grew apples.

In 1996, changed careers and states, becoming a stockbroker in SC. Have since relocated 5 times within SC. Susan and I are in the process of moving to a different house here in Beaufort (where we proudly refer to MCRD PI as “our first gated community”).