Crew, Randy (REC), 2nd Platoon

Crew, Randy (REC), 2nd Platoon

CREW--Randy-Crew-&-SonAuburn University: School of Science and Literature, BS degree in Business Administration, listed in Who’s Who for work in student government, regular Army ROTC Distinguished Military Student, interservice transfer to USMC the day of graduation, regular commission. By then I knew I was going to Vietnam so I decided I’d rather go with the first string. My father, Colonel E.B. Crew, USMC aviator from Birmingham, AL, was pleased with that decision. My mother, also from Birmingham, was unsure. My siblings, a younger brother and sister, didn’t care either way.

TBS class 1-68, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company (“Anguish Company”). Graduated on the Commandant’s Honor Roll. Great people. I really was with the first string.

After graduation spent a couple of weeks with the TBS Training Department where Kent Dobbins and I checked points on the land navigation course. Several of them were incorrect. The instructors scoffed at our report.

CREW: Randy Crew LZ Baldy Medevac 3-70

CREW: Randy Crew LZ Baldy Medevac 3-70

Reported to Pensacola for flight training on January 2nd, 1968. Unlike the Army and Air Force, everyone in the Navy/Marine program was pushed as fast as they could go as individuals. As the Corps was over 1,000 aviators short in 1968 we were pushed extra hard. On February 20, 1969, I was the second aviator in our TBS class to get wings. I believe Ray Norton was the first.

Reported to HML-267 at Camp Pendleton, CA, in March, 1968, for training as a Huey gunship pilot—an assignment I had hoped for. I finished the Huey program quickly (in spite of a tail rotor failure that resulted in a totaled Huey but without serious injury to myself or my instructor pilot) and arrived in Da Nang on July 9th, 1969—the first aviator in our TBS class to get there.

I was assigned to HML-367 (“Scarface”) at Phu Bai. We spent most of our time escorting CH-46s out of Quang Tri (“Cattle Call” and “Chatterbox”) on resupply and medevac missions in the Mudder’s Ridge area plus points west along Highway 9 and east to Con Tien and Leatherneck Square. But our primary gunship mission was to lead the CIA’s daily Special Forces recon missions into Laos known as “Prairie Fire.” Later in my tour, as a designated Flight Leader, I led Marine, Army, USAF, and Vietnamese Air Force aircraft on that mission. But my favorite mission was “Guns South” where we provided gunship escort for CH-46s out of Marble Mountain and for Marine recon units out of Da Nang. Plus we usually got to eat lunch at Marble. At Marble they had ice cream.

Finished my 12-month tour (Nixon changed the Marine tour in 1969) with HML-167 at Marble with 793 combat missions including 31 fire fights. My Huey was shot up a couple of times but never shot down and fortunately I was never wounded. I returned to Camp Pendleton as an Huey Instructor Pilot with HML-267.

After 3 years at Pendleton I resigned my regular commission, accepted a reserve commission, and moved my wife and infant son to Atlanta, GA. There I joined HML-765 (later HMA-773) and flew the Huey again then the AH-G and later the AH-1J Cobra. I did 15 years in the reserves then retired with 21 total years and the rank of Lt. Colonel.

My civilian careers started in Atlanta where I owned American Fleetcare, a preventive maintenance service for truck fleets. Later I was a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep, a Cargo Pilot, an Airline Pilot (with a small airline), a Corporate Pilot (with a large corporation), a Department Manager for a manufacturing company, the Owner of my own manufacturing company, a Licensed Counselor, and a Writer (www.aKillingShadow.com). All except the preventive maintenance business took place in Greenville, SC.

During that time I earned a masters degree, finished my first published novel, and was awarded two U.S. Patents for the health care products I invented and manufactured. I never did figure out what I was going to be when I grew up. I congratulate those who did.

In 2012, I moved to Maui to retire and write.

A 1967 TBS Memory The memory begins under a swollen gray sky on a grassy hilltop during a squad tactics problem. In front of us stood a fair-skinned instructor in utilities with calamine lotion all over his face and arms, apparently from an earlier battle with poison oak. As he pointed to a hill in front of us he said, “Note the lone pine to your immediate front.” That’s when the sky let loose and a sheet of wind-blown rain splattered off our starched utilities and green-side-out helmets All ten of us reached for the ponchos strapped in a roll on the back of our webbed belt.
“FREEZE!”
We looked up, squinting through the splatter.
He glared at us with feet apart, hands on hips, and water running off the bill of his starched utility cover.
“Put those ponchos away! You’re Marines!” He gestured at the sky and as calamine dripped off his elbow and thunder rumbled in the distance he said, “You’re above this shit!”
So with the others I put my poncho away and finished the problem in the rain, soaking wet but now convinced that as a Marine I was invincible and above anything man or nature could put upon me.
Two years later, now in Vietnam, I saw the same instructor from the cockpit window of my Huey. As I sat in the LZ with the rotors turning he led his battalion by me and down the hill into the jungle. They looked ready, they looked invincible. I knew why. After that day in the rain at TBS, anytime I’d hit one of life’s little bumpy roads I’d hear that instructor’s voice in my head say, “You’re a Marine; you’re above this shit.” That voice has helped me overcome many challenges and more than a few rainy days. But I don’t remember his name so if any of you know who I’m talking about and you ever see him again, please tell him I said, “Thanks.” And “Semper Fi.”

Cross, Herbert Terrell (Terry), 2nd Platoon

Cross, Herbert Terrell (Terry), 2nd Platoon

12 January 1944 – 8 April 1968
Oakdale Cemetery, LA 71463

Herbert Terrell Cross is the son of Elbert E. and Hazel T. Cross and the brother of Kenneth A. Cross of Oakdale LA. He attended Louisiana Tech Terry CrossUniversity 1967 with a MSEE. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps on May 27, 1967 in Rustin LA and was later commissioned as an Officer. He arrived in Vietnam on January 23, 1968 and was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st MARDIV (Rein) FMF.

While on a patrol along the Song Yen River in near the village of La Chau in Hieu Duc District Quang Nam Province (AP) anti-personnel mine was detonated resulting in the death of three Marines and one who was wounded. Following the explosion the enemy opened fire, which was returned and continued until a reaction squad arrived forcing the VC to withdraw. 2dLt Terry Cross - 2Cross was one of the casualties; he was killed in action as a result of multi fragmentation wounds. 2Lt Cross was presented a posthumous award of the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device “For meritorious service from January 27 to April 8 1968.” Second Lieutenant Cross is also honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Panel 48E – Line 52.Terry Cross - 3

USMC Resume:
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st MARDIV (Rein) FMF, Jan – Mar 1968

Daigle, Paul Reginald (Paul), 2nd Platoon

Daigle, Paul Reginald  (Paul), 2nd Platoon

18 January 1945 – 6 November 2017
St Bernard Cemetery #2, Breaux Bridge, LA

http://www.daigles.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Paul-Daigle-Resume-be-3.pdf

Louisiana State University, Army ROTC
Bachelor of Computer Science, Daytona Beach FL
Captain USMC, 11 years, Artillery 08

Breaux Bridge – A gathering of family and friends will take place on Thursday, November 9, 2017 from 10:30 am until 12:00 pm at Pellerin Funeral Home in Breaux Bridge for Paul Reginald Daigle, 72, who passed away on Monday, November 6, 2017.

Interment will be held at a later date at St. Bernard Cemetery No. 2 in Breaux Bridge.

Mr. Daigle honorably served his country in the United States Marine Corps while serving during the Vietnam War. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing, gardening, and riding around on his tractor. He cherished moments spent with his family and friends, especially his beloved dogs.

He is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Marjorie Brewer Daigle of Breaux Bridge; daughter, Susan Elizabeth Hodge and husband Johnny of Breaux Bridge; sons, Paul Jonathan Daigle of New Orleans, John McKinley Daigle of Breaux Bridge, and Joshua Paul Daigle and wife April of Lafayette; brother, Wiley Daigle and wife Marilyn “Bo” of Arkansas; and his grandchildren, Braden Wesley Daigle, Dallas Gabrielle Hodge, Jackson Paul Daigle, Alexandre Loyd Daigle, and Evangeline Landri Daigle.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul Wilden McKinley and Nola Ohmer Daigle; his brother, Earl J. Daigle; two sisters at birth; and his maternal and paternal grandparents.

Honorary pallbearers will be Paul Jonathan Daigle, John McKinley Daigle, Joshua Paul Daigle, Johnny Hodge, Wiley Daigle Jr., Eric Hayes, Dustin Melancon, Shane Garrad, Bob Pinnix, Dr. Ken Morgan, and Keith Robin.

Dakin, Bill (WED), 2nd Platoon

Dakin, Bill (WED), 2nd Platoon

Born in Palm Springs, California on March 31, 1945, my family moved to Virginia in 1950, as my dad returned to active duty in the Navy, and thereafter joined the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.

I attended Princeton University on a Navy ROTC scholarship. In 1965, I decided to substitute a fox hole for a wardroom, to my father’s chagrin, and selected the Marine option. In May, 1967, we were commissioned as 2d Lieutenants, destination TBS.

After Basic School, when Berne Lovely and I arrived in Dong Ha with the plane load of 2″” LTs, we took a short cut to 3rd MarDiv HQ where we were offered by the duty sergeant a choice of assignments; and I suggested that we go to 1/9. My high school buddy in Virginia had just returned from Viet Nam and told me, under no circumstances, to stay away from 1/9. So, with that selection, we arrived as platoon commanders shortly thereafter in Khe Sanh in January of 1968, he in Alpha Company and I in Bravo Company. We both survived, with a couple of stories to tell. We dug a lot of trench line in Khe Sanh.

On May 1, 1968, having been out of Khe Sanh for about 3 weeks, Bravo 1/9 was involved in a large sweep south of C 3, when we were hit with a barrage of incoming mortar rounds. I was wounded and medivacked to Delta Med and then to the Yokohama Naval hospital in Japan.

After recuperating at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where Ike Eisenbach and John Masters also were convalescing, I was retired from the Marine Corps and went to law school at the University of Virginia. Graduating in 1972, I married Leigh Johnson, a UVA nursing school graduate, in that same year.

Living in Reston, Virginia thereafter, we began to look for a Valhalla far from our familiar haunts in Northern Virginia. In 1976, with our 9 month old son Christopher, we moved to Chester, Vermont and have never looked back.

Chester is a town of 3, 000 folks in southeastern, rural Vermont, close to the southern ski areas of Okemo, Killington, Stratton and Bromley. Our 3 kids had a great place to grow up; and have gone off in different directions, as my son, Christopher is now an elementary school special education teacher in West Allis, Wisconsin, my daughter, Jessica, a former high school English teacher, is working in patient affairs at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and my daughter, Emily, after being in Iraq for 4 years, is now working for USAID as the senior humanitarian advisor for OFDA in South Sudan.

Leigh, my wife and my foundation for more than 42 years, has been in nursing in many different capacities in our community, from hospital work, to Visiting Nurse work and finally as a school nurse. She has served her town as a Selectman and is now in her third term as a State Representative, currently in the annual session at the State House in Montpelier.

I am still active in the practice of law, focusing on real estate, estate planning and administration and commercial law. In the small state of Vermont where one leaves anonymity at the border, I have had the pleasure of being involved in just about anything I have wanted to do, including Vermont Humanities Council, Bar—related committees, state commissions, Rotary, and an ongoing involvement in community service. Looking back, I would not have done things too much differently over the years.

Davis, Crane (C Dav), 2nd Platoon

Davis, Crane (C Dav), 2nd Platoon

My parents were reporters for newspapers and radio who left college to join the Marines in World War II as Combat Correspondents. He was a Master Sergeant and she a Sergeant when they married in Hawaii in March, 1945, and I was born in Dallas, Texas, nine months later. Their careers eventually took us to New York City, where I graduated from high school, then majored in Romance Languages at Princeton on an NROTC scholarship. For those of us who came up that route, TBS was the last of a series of training experiences we shared. Since we were always at the same end of the alphabet, I spent a lot of summers with Joe Allen, Paul Daigle, Terry Graves, and others. Joe Renaghan and I attended ninth grade together in Massachusetts and, at Quantico, I roomed with Bill Dakin, also from Princeton, but we never liked each other at school and still don’t, so that was of little help.

After TBS, ten of us (all 03’s, I think) were selected for six weeks of Vietnamese language training at Quantico, which made remarkably little difference in our ability to speak Vietnamese, but did mean that we arrived in the middle of Tet, rather than before, and missed some of the fireworks. The 27th Marines was just arriving in country, so three of us were immediately assigned as S-5’s to the battalions and I was assigned as regimental S-5, stationed a few miles south of Da Nang. In May, I caught malaria while TAD to an Army artillery battery supporting Allan Brooke on Go Noi Island, and spent late June hospitalized at Cam Ranh Bay.

In July, I took over the platoon John Kispert had led in C/1/27 and was wounded by grenade during night fighting in the final Tet Offensive of late August. When the 27th went home in September, I joined 1st Marines, the replacement unit in the TAOR, as Asst S-3, and returned to Go Noi Island for Meade River. From November to February, I was Psyops Officer for 1st Marines, then for 1st MarDiv. I extended for six months and returned to Da Nang in April as press officer for the 1st MarDiv. In October, 1969, I left Da Nang for my next duty station, Fifth Avenue, New York City, where I was press spokesman for the Marine Corps until I was released in June, 1971.

I traveled back to Vietnam for two weeks for Time Magazine in the fall of 1971, then moved to WNET, Channel 13, public television in New York, where I hosted news programs. In 1976, I left television and set up my own company, providing speech writing and coaching for senior executives at IBM, AT&T, Ford, and Merck, among others. My original headquarters was a cheap industrial loft on the waterfront in Brooklyn, in an area later called DUMBO.

The business was good to me and the property appreciated, so I was able to retire around 2000 and move two hours north of the city to Palenville, population 1,000, in the Hudson Valley. Along the way, I married at 40, had a wonderful daughter, Alden, and married again in 1996, to Doreen Parsley, a Vice President at Merck, who recently retired to join me in Palenville with two Labrador retrievers.

The summer and fall of 1967 was an extraordinary time for me, preparing for an experience that would claim 5 of my TBS platoon of 45, including Al DeCraene, our married roommate. How unique was our experience? More than 28,000 of us died in 1968-69, half of all those who would die in Vietnam and four times the number who’ve died in all the wars since Vietnam. Today, we have as much direct experience of combat as any Americans alive.

At TBS, I was openly opposed to US involvement in Vietnam, based on everything I’d read, and I remember wondering whether I should go or not. Ultimately, I decided to go and make my own decision, based on what I saw. Once there, I knew I had done the right thing and I’ve never had a doubt since. Decades later, I began to wonder how I reached that conclusion, when everyone else concluded that Vietnam was a disastrous mistake.

I’ve spent more than a decade sorting it out and am now completing a book on that question tentatively called Vietnam, The Forgotten War. To make a long story short, we weren’t fighting a people’s war of national liberation. We were in the final years of a war that stretched back to 1600, between North Vietnam, the country run by mandarins that we knew about, and South Vietnam, a smaller state led by the Nguyen, a renegade family of Vietnamese warrior/kings. During the 17th century, the North invaded the South six times with armies of up to 200,000 men, and the South beat them each time. When Vietnam was finally unified in 1802, it was the South that was victorious. By the time the French left in 1954, Vietnamese nationalists had erased that 350-year struggle from their history, in order to promote Vietnamese unification.

Bottom line? We fought alongside people who had been fighting for survival for three centuries against a much stronger enemy, but had no history to prove it. From 1954 to 1974, the ARVN KIA were proportionally three times higher than we, ourselves, suffered in our own Civil War.

In retrospect, the training I received at Quantico not only got me through Vietnam, but the rest of my life as well, and I’m very grateful for that, as well as the friendships I’ve carried ever since.

Semper Fi.

DeCraene, Alan Charles (Alan), 2nd Platoon

DeCraene, Alan Charles (Alan), 2nd Platoon

9 May 1945 – 16 February 1970
Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Kewanee, IL 61443

First Lieutenant Alan Charles DeCraene of Kewanee, Illinois was a member of the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161, Marine Air Group 16, 1st MAW, III Marine Amphibious Force. On 16 February 1970, he was aircraft commander of a CH-46D flying a night time emergency resupply mission in inclement weather in or around Thua Thien province South Vietnam, when the aircraft crashed into a mountain top killing him. First Lieutenant DeCraene is honored on Panel 13w, Line 19 of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

Personal Reflections about Al DeCraene:

From Ray Norton, TBS 1-68, 4th Platoon, 12 Apr 2015: “I recall that Al had grown a pilot’s mustache. It was always neatly groomed and apparently in exact compliance with the Regulations. Al was one squared away Marine. It was an honor to be a Basic School Classmate and a member of his Vietnam combat unit, HMM 161 call sign Cattle Call.”

From Randy Crew, TBS 1-68, 2nd Platoon: “In the Corps, some things never change. The exception to that truism is “The Word.”

Summer, 1967. Across the grounds outside our second-floor window of O’Bannon Hall, a white hot sun eased into the sky. Inside, already perspiring, my roommate and I broke starch. Meanwhile, through our open doorway, tense voices grumbled, boots pounded the floor, and wall locker doors and foot locker lids slammed. Five minutes to morning formation.

“The word is one canteen!” someone up the hall screamed over the noise. “ONE!”

From down the hall in the 1st Platoon area, “TWO canteens you guys!”

From near me in the 2nd Platoon, near the center of the hall, “Ponchos?”

From the original voice up the hall to my right, apparently our 2nd Platoon acting Platoon Leader for the day, “YES, ponchos and ONE canteen!”

From the 1st Platoon area again, apparently their acting Platoon Leader, “No ponchos, the word is NO ponchos!”

I looked at my roommate, Mike Connor of the New York City area and Holy Cross University. “Here we go again,” I said. “First there was the word, then for forty days and forty nights the word was changed.”

From near the center of the hall, “Green side out?”

From the original voice up the hall to my right, “YES, green side out! I think.”

Same voice from the center of the hall, “Hard covers?”

Same voice that had answered the first question, “If it’s green side out then it’s got to be hard covers, Numb Nuts! Wake up damn it! Let’s go!”

By that time a few of us had stepped into the hallway or stood in our doorways fully dressed in utilities with green-side-out hard covers on our heads, web belts and ponchos in our hands, and a hard look of confusion and frustration in our eyes.

All around me angry voices echoed up and down the halls with accusations being made and the acting Platoon Leaders defending themselves. No one wanted to be the only guy in the company formation that had two canteens instead of one or a utility cover on his head instead of a helmet. Non-conformity was intolerable to Major Angus and all of us remembered the wrath Angus had wrought on Terry Deggendorf the day Terry showed up in formation wearing store-bought green jungle boots instead of spit-shined Marine Corps issue black leather boots.

At that point, with the anger and frustration at a mutiny pitch, a very loud and very commanding voice screamed, “Alright, alright, ALRIGHT!”

I looked to my right just as Al DeCraene leaped from his doorway into the hall. Wearing only a jock strap but accessorized with a soft cover under a hard cover, a loose brown side out camouflaged cover draped half tucked-in over the hard cover, two web belts around his waist with a single canteen on one belt and two canteens on the other, a spit-shined boot on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other, a poncho under one arm, an M-14 rifle in his hands, and a bayonet in the teeth.

The din in the hallway stopped immediately.

Al snapped the bayonet from his teeth, waved it in the air, and screamed, “WHAT’S THE DAMN WORD?”

When the laughter subsided we filed down the stairs and into formation in front of our parked cars in the parking lot. Somehow, and I still don’t know how, we all ended up in formation on time and wearing the same proper gear. Even Al.

Yes, The Word may change daily in the Marine Corps but one of the things that never changes is the quality of the young men, and now young women, who choose to be Marines. Such a young man was my friend from TBS 2nd Platoon, NAS Pensacola, and Vietnam—Alan Charles “Al” DeCraene. Born 9 May, 1945, in Kewanee, Illinois, the middle child of three, Al was a NROTC graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Social Studies. His plan was to finish a 20 year career in the Corps then teach in a Catholic school. But first he married his college sweetheart, Becky, and headed for TBS. After TBS he checked into flight school in Pensacola, Florida, where he and Becky had a son, Kevin, in 1968. He received his wings, transitioned to the CH-46 at MCAF Tustin, CA, and reported to HMM-161 in Vietnam in July, 1969.

Al loved being a Marine and loved everything it stood for. While some of us grudgingly wore the Marine high-and-tight haircut, Al was that haircut; he was all Marine all the time. But he never lost his sense of humor about it. He was as playful as he was tough and that’s why my lasting memory of him is the one above in the 2nd floor hallway of O’Bannon Hall. Well, that plus a high-and-tight haircut under an impeccably starched and shaped utility cover.

We lost Al in Vietnam in one of those bizarre accidents that sometimes happen in aviation, particularly in a combat setting. [Editor: While enroute to the USS REPOSE on an emergency blood resupply mission on the night of 16 February 1970, his aircraft crashed into the side of a hill while in inadvertent IFR flying conditions. The crash resulted in the death of all five crew members.”

Someone added this “personal narrative” to the official report: “Al had just returned from Chu Lai as the Med Evac bird. A call came for an emergency resupply of blood to the med center at Phu Bai. Al and the rest of the crew were tapped because we (HMM-161, “Cattle Call”) had just moved out of Phu Bai a few months before. The mission left after dark. Coming in off the water, the aircraft commenced a decent into Phu Bai. Apparently they had the lights from Phu Bai in sight and commenced a visual decent. Unfortunately, the aircraft impacted the mountain SE of Phu Bai. According to the accident/aircraft recovery team, they missed clearing the crest by only a few feet. Supposition was that they kept the lights to the field in sight, but neglected to maintain altitude enough during the entire arc to be clear of the mountain. Al was a hard charger who would have gone far, Jody Sampsell was one helluva good kid.”

Yes, Al would have gone far. But as far as he got was far enough to leave behind a lot of good friends with a lot of good memories. I’m proud to be one of those friends.

Postscript: Becky went on to marry one of her fellow classmates from her high school in Centralia, Illinois, and have two more children. She has had a rewarding career teaching computers in a Catholic girl’s school in Missouri. Kevin, whom Al would introduce in Pensacola when Becky was pregnant (before ultrasound) by saying, “This is my wife Becky and my son, Kevin” is an electrician and doing well. Becky tells me Kevin was blessed with his father’s personality and sense of humor. Those, my friends, were major blessings.”

From John Narney, TBS 1-68, 4th Platoon, 14 Apr 2015: “Al and I were NROTC Midshipmen at the University of Illinois from 1963 to 1967. Even in college Al could be considered driven–driven to be the best Midshipman in the Battalion. Always Impeccable in appearance, with razor sharp creases, high-and-tight haircut, and spit shined shoes; Al set an example for all. His performance on the drill field earned him a place on the Battalion’s very successful exhibition drill team, which he commanded his First Class year. He was no less driven in the class room, always giving over 110%. He was a professional; he was a Marine! He was so much of a Marine that many of us were surprised that he went to aviation instead of becoming a Grunt. Al was also very personable and fun to be with. I never flew with him, but I am sure that he approached flying with the same intensity that he displayed both in NROTC and TBS.

I was included in the wedding party when Al and Becky were married. After the rehearsal all of the guys in the wedding went to a bar/restaurant that belonged to one of Becky’s relatives. There was some beer drinking and general camaraderie. At closing time we retired to a motel where one big room had beds for all of us. The group included Al’s brother, other relatives, and several of us who were with Al in NROTC. Everyone went to bed, and the lights went out. Everything was quiet for a minute and then pandemonium broke out. Someone attacked Al with a pillow and then we were all involved, all still in the dark. After a few minutes, someone turned on the lights and we found Al unconscious on the floor. How were we going to explain to Becky that we had killed the groom? Luckily Al had a tough enough skull that he came around quickly and was not too much the worse for wear the next day.

Al’s death was a great shock for all who knew him. He was a great guy and an outstanding Marine.”

 

Deggendorf, Buck (TTD), 2nd Platoon

Deggendorf, Buck (TTD), 2nd Platoon

One could say I got into the Marine Corps by accident. In my junior year of high school in Dyersville, the school held a ‘Career Day’ in the gym. I was sleeping through part of it when I woke up just in time to hear a Navy recruiter describe a college scholarship program. Our family had no money to speak of. There was no plan for me, or any of us, to attend college. So I applied for the ‘Holloway Scholarship’, took the appropriate mental & physical tests and was selected. I chose to attend Ohio State University. The scholarship was actually the NROTC program as a Midshipman for 4 years, after which I would serve 4 years on active duty. The summer 6 week ‘cruise’ in 1964 was aboard the USS Laffey DD724. This pretty much convinced me that I was not a good match for the Navy. The summer 1965 cruise was 3 weeks at Little Creek (learning about amphibious landings), VA followed by 3 weeks at Corpus Christi (learning about Naval Aviation). I decided the right path for me was the Marines.

Summer 1966 was ‘Bulldog’ at MCB Quantico, VA. I rather enjoyed that, and knew I was on the right path. Upon graduation I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U S Marine Corps, & reported to MCB Quantico again, this time to attend The Basic School (TBS) for Marine officers. I spent six months learning quite a few basics, the most important of which for me would turn out to be that “EVERY Marine is a rifleman”. I finished TBS Class 1-68 in January 1968. Several of my classmates (Infantry MOS) chose to immediately go to Vietnam – just in time, as it turned out, for some to die in Tet ’68. (“Absent friends”)

I was selected for MOS 2502 – Communications Officer, and attended basic communications school Feb-Apr 1968, after which I went to Vietnam. I served my entire 13 month tour with the First Marine Division, in HQBN just outside Danang, RVN. For the most part I served as a duty officer in the Division Communication Center at Division HQ. Typically this meant 12 hours on / 12 hours off receiving / sending (what we would now call email) messages & routing them to the correct people. Additionally all junior officers had duty on the Division defensive perimeter. Mostly watching nothing, keeping Marines awake (& off pot), reporting in, and writing up log entries. (This is what you call “in the rear with the gear”).

But for me the highlight of my tour (aside from 1 R&R in Hawaii & 1 R&R in Hong Kong, plus a trip as Division Crypto-Security Officer to Japan) was the ‘Additional Assigned Duty’ as XO, then CO, of the Second Provisional Rifle Company for the Division. This brought together assigned Division Marines (cooks, supply, motor pool, communication center clerks, typists, et al) as members of an ‘on-call’ rifle company to assemble & respond to any emergency situations (in other words – when ‘it hits the fan’).

I was the Company Commander of the 2nd Provisional Rifle Company in February 1969 when it did hit the fan. I woke up in the early morning hours of Feb 23 to the sounds small arms fire & explosions just to our north near Dai La Pass, essentially marking the start of the 1969 Tet offensive. I looked out & saw tracers over by Dai La Pass & the 26th Marines regimental HQ. I immediately did what we trained for: call out the company & assemble ready to fight. I went to Battalion HQ to find out what was going on and met with Colonel Fagan HQBN Commander.

The Division defensive perimeter has been breached, part of the defensive line has been overrun, Marines killed, Viet Cong held that portion, and ‘sappers’ enter thru the pass to the regiment HQ & explode their bombs. Col Fagan was understandably nervous / upset / mad / scared – he sees me & tells me to call out my company I tell him we are already formed & ready. (I am particularly proud of this the training / drills we did really paid off). Col Fagan is also pleased and decides my company will deploy to retake Pass & restore the defensive perimeter. We quickly work out the plan (route, radio freqs, etc.) but the actual assault is my call. We form up truck out to a small village (Don Son) get off the trucks and walk the final 1,000 meters to the pass. We are walking down the road (low ground) toward the pass & ridge (high ground), so the VC are firing down on us the entire way. We suffer a few wounded Marines.

We reach the pass & I order the assault: the 1st platoon will go thru the pass & serve as a blocking force (to ensure the VC on the ridge cannot get reinforcements); the 2nd platoon will go up the ridge to the west of the pass and lay down covering fire; & the 3rd platoon will assault directly up the ridge to the east of the pass, retake the hill & restore the defensive line. Sparing the details of the ‘battle’ (which did not last very long) we retake the hill killing 4 VC and suffering 2 Marines & 1 Corpsman KIA & several wounded. We dig in the defensive positions and prepare for a counterattack, but one never comes.

This is what I consider the highlight of my time in the US Marine Corps I commanded a Marine rifle company in combat. And we accomplished our assigned mission. We hold the line the rest of the night, but get hit with 3 rockets the next morning (no casualties). We are assigned to continue holding that portion of the defensive perimeter for the following week, after which things pretty much settled down, the Tet offensive winds down, and all my Marines return to their normal assigned jobs.

We see in later communications that the VC who took that ridge were to fire an orange flare when the ridge was secure and that would signal an NVA force outside the pass to pour through & attack the 26th Marine Regiment HQ & First Marine Division HQ. My company reacted, formed & attacked quickly enough, that we apparently killed the VC who was to fire the flare before he could send that signal. We undoubtedly saved the lives of many Marines by our actions, which is why I am so proud of what we did.

Col Fagan wrote some very nice things in my evaluation after that week. I was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor for my role, and several of my men received awards (including one Silver Star, a couple Bronze Stars, a few Navy Commendation Awards, and several Purple Hearts to the wounded. Some wounds were minor but there were a few quite serious (who were evacuated to the nearby Hospital Ship) whom I visited later.)

That is my highlight. I know it doesn’t hold a candle to many of my fellow Marine officers who spent significant time in the bush & under fire a hell of a lot more than I experienced. But I’m proud of it. I finished my 13 months in May 1969 & returned to the US. I spent another 8 weeks in advanced Communications school. After that I was assigned to the Communications Center at Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall – the communication center was in the Navy Annex. I managed one shift (of four) on a staggered schedule for the next 2½ years. During that period I was promoted to Captain.

I spent my evenings earning my Master’s degree from the George Washington University. My military career ended in November 1971 when I resigned my commission & returned to civilian life.

After Viet Nam I was also awarded a Navy Commendation Medal for my service in 1st MarDiv HQ, as well as a Presidential Unit Citation, a Combat Action Ribbon, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and Vietnam Service & Campaign medals. I served a total of 4½ years on active duty. My communications experience (which at HQMC was primarily accomplished on IBM computers) prepared me for my eventual career in computing in civilian life. It’s funny how everything fell into place – all because I woke up on career day – strange.

In civilian life I spent brief stints with Ohio Bell & Kent State University before joining Systems & Computer Technology Corp. I was with SCT for 30 years, eventually becoming a Vice-President of the Company before retiring in 2004. One key aspect of my Marine Corps experience that facilitated my success with SCT was the philosophy: “Marines adapt / improvise / overcome”. This approach allowed me to succeed in several projects where others failed.

In August 1973 I married my wife Anne and we raised 2 children (Lisa, now a teacher with 2 children of her own, and Dave, who followed my path in Information Technology management). With SCT I began by managing computer operations, then data centers, then contracts in various regions of the country. With SCT we lived in Miami, FL; Fairbanks, AK; Malibu, CA; West Chester, PA; Hudson, OH; two towns in England; one in Netherlands; two towns in the south of France; Conshohocken, PA; and ultimately retired to winter home in Bonita Springs, FL and summers in Northampton, MA. I typically return to Alaska every 2-4 years for fishing vacations.

Delong, Michael P. (Mike/Rifle), 2nd Platoon

Delong, Michael P. (Mike/Rifle), 2nd Platoon

mike-delong

15 Mar 1945 – 27 July 2018
Arlington National Cemetery

Lt. Gen. Michael P. DeLONG, USMC (Ret.) 73, of Treasure Island, passed away unexpectedly July 27, 2018. Michael was born on March 15, 1945 in Kinston, NC to the late Phillip C. and Katherine (Cahill) DeLong. He is survived by his beloved wife, Katherine; his son, Phillip DeLong of Colorado; and sister, Susan Newton of Lady Lake, FL. Michael was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He received his master’s degree from Central Michigan University. Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, Lt. Gen. DeLong was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and went to flight school at Pensacola, FL. A true war hero, he served tours in Vietnam where he survived being shot down three times; additionally, he served in Somalia, campaigns Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Lt. Gen. DeLong considered his times as a Commanding Officer the most enjoyable tours. He commanded the squadron, HMM-266 in New River, NC as a Lt. Col. Marine Aviation Weapons, Tactics Squadron (MATWS-1) as a Col. in Yuma, AZ, and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Miramar, CA as a Major General. His last assignment was the Deputy Commander, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, where he set up the first coalition of international forces from as many as 80 countries. He retired in 2003 after more than 36 years of military service. A distinguished author, he wrote several books about his time as the Deputy Commander at CENTCOM. Upon retirement from the Marine Corps in October 2003, he transitioned to the civilian workforce as Senior Vice President of the Shaw Group, Inc. From 2008 until 2013, he served as Vice President of Boeing International Corporation. Since 2003, he was a Board Member of Sykes Enterprises. Michael was the epitome of the Marine motto Semper Fidelis, always faithful. He was loyal to his family, his country, and his service. Michael always took care of “his Marines”. Among Marines, he had the reputation for being firm but fair. He was never afraid to make the hard call, no matter the occasion. Michael was always the guy you wanted on your side. He was smart, competitive, and unafraid; a true “bulldog” of a man who had a tender side as well. Always quick with smile and a laugh, he approached life with gusto. He will be missed by many. A visitation will be held from 3-5 pm on Sunday, August 5 at the David C. Gross Funeral Home in St. Petersburg. Interment will follow at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the charity of your choice. An online guestbook is available at: davidcgross.com. David C. Gross Funeral Homes, 6366 Central Ave. (727) 381-4911.

BIOGRAPHY:
Lieutenant General Michael DeLong is a retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General who served as Deputy Commander, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Born: March 15, 1945 (age 71)
Service/branch: United States Marine Corps
Commands held: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Books: Inside CentCom, A General Speaks Out: The Truth about the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
Education: United States Naval Academy, Central Michigan University
Awards: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, More
Battles and wars: Vietnam War, Unified Task Force, Iraq War, Operation Enduring Freedom

Lieutenant General Michael DeLong (also known as Lt. Gen Michael “Rifle” DeLong) is a retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General who served as Deputy Commander, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. From 2000 until his retirement in 2003 (with over 36 years of service), Lieutenant General DeLong was Second-in-command to General Tommy Franks who as Commander of United States Central Command was in charge of the war on terror including Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Biography

Lieutenant General DeLong is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds a master’s degree in industrial management from Central Michigan University.

Lieutenant General DeLong’s operational assignments include tours with HMM-262, Quang Tri, Republic of Vietnam; Standardization Instructor, HT-18, Naval Aviation Training Command; Maintenance Officer, HML-367, where he participated in Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Operation Frequent Wind the evacuation of Saigon; Operations Officer, Helicopter Heavy Marine (HMH); Commander, HML 367, Detachment C; Executive Officer and Special Projects Officer, Marine Air Base Squadron 24; Plans and Operations Officer, Marine Air Group 36; Executive/Commanding officer, Marine Air Group 30; Executive Officer, MAG-26; Commanding Officer, HMM-266; Executive Officer and Commanding Officer, Marine Aviation Weapons/Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1), where he participated in Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, where he served as the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia; Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California; Deputy Commander and Acting Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Atlantic, in Virginia and his previous duty as Commander, 3rd Marine Air Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.

His principal staff assignments include Officer-in-Charge, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific Command Center; Intelligence Requirements Officer, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; Aide de Camp to the Deputy Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; Arms Control/Strategic Weapons Action Officer in the Strategic Requirements Branch of the Plans Division, Headquarters Marine Corps; and the Director for Joint Training (J-7) and Director of Joint Training Analyses and Simulation Center, U.S. Atlantic Command. Lieutenant General DeLong’s professional education includes the Basic School, Naval Flight School, Amphibious Warfare School, Defense Intelligence School, Armed Forces Staff College, Army War College and a Defense Department fellowship at the Brookings Institution. Lieutenant General DeLong also holds an Honorary Doctor of Strategic Intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College.

Lieutenant General DeLong’s personal decorations include: two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Defense Superior Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, two awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Flight Strike Numerals 69, Navy Achievement Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon. General DeLong has logged more than 5,600 flight hours in all models of aircraft and more than 800 combat hours.

Dobbins, Kent (KED), 2nd Platoon

Dobbins, Kent (KED), 2nd Platoon

Marine Corps 4 years. Vietnam ’68 ’69 first tank battalion. Silver Star 2 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, but as everyone knows it is not what you did but rather if someone saw you and put you up for an award whether or not you have medals as I definitely didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Camp Lejeune 70 and 71.

Decided to get out of service and go back to school for degree in Optometry for two reasons. One, I got tired of taking orders. Two, I doubted anyone would hire me for anything. Graduated and set up practice in Lawrence, Kansas.

My wife, Liz, is an excellent athlete and we have competed in various running and triathlon races around the world and still lead a very active lifestyle. We both have won our age groups in both national and world championship competitions in triathlons (age group being the definitive words– definitely not professional or overall winner).

I am still practicing since I can usually take off and do what I want when I want, have a very good associate and I enjoy my practice. When we do take off on vacation, it usually involves activities of some type such as scuba diving, skiing, bike trips, etc.

I have 4 great children and 4 great grandchildren all of which are smarter and better looking than I am which is a great relief to all.

Silver Star:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant Kent E. Dobbins (MCSN: 0-102429), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving Executive Officer of Company C, First Tank Battalion, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. During the early morning hours of 23 February 1969, First Lieutenant Dobbins became aware that an adjacent artillery battery was under hostile attack. Unhesitatingly assembling a crew, he directed his tank into the neighboring area and, observing a quarters building burning, fearlessly exposed himself to the intense enemy automatic weapons fire has he ran with a fire extinguisher to the flaming structure. Disregarding the small arms ammunition and grenades exploding inside, he assisted in extinguishing the flames and returned to his tracked vehicle. Alertly observing hostile soldiers attempting to breach the unit’s defensive perimeter, he directed his tank to the point of contact and, despite anti-tank rockets impacting nearby, remained in his dangerously exposed position to deliver several rounds of fire into a forward tree line suspected of harboring additional enemy soldiers. Utilizing his search light, he pinpointed the breached berm, thereby enabling a Marine squad to capture two hostile soldiers. Interrogation of a North Vietnamese Army warrant officer, captured later, revealed that the tree line had concealed a large force that was assembled in preparation for an attack on the Battery. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who observed him and minimized Marine casualties. By his courage, bold initiative and unwavering devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Dobbins contributed significantly to the security of the artillery battery and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: 23-Feb-69
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company C
Battalion: 1st Tank Battalion
Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.), FMF