Allen, Joseph Ebert (Joe), 1st Platoon

Allen, Joseph Ebert (Joe), 1st Platoon

17 July 1945 – 24 May 1968
Long Beach City Cemetery, Long Beach, MS

Platoon Commander with Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines,  FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF:  KIA 24 May 1968.”

01-allen-joe2Joseph Ebert Allen was born on 17 July 1945 in New Orleans, LA to Mr. and Mrs. Ebert Ayers Allen. His mother later remarried Col. Nunez C. Pilet, of Bay St. Louis. He had a sister, Barbara Allen. He spent most of his childhood in Pass Christian where he briefly attended elementary school before entering Christ Episcopal Day School in Bay St. Louis.  He attended Gulfport West Junior High School where he received the God and Country award from the Joe Graham Post 119, American Legion.  He was an honor student and student body president. Joe was a Cub Scout, attaining the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts and was elected to the Order of the Arrow.   Upon receiving his Eagle Scout Award, he stated, “I’ve been real lucky in having good leaders, good teachers and good friends who have given me much of their time and taught me so many of their skills.” He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Pass Christian where he served as acolyte and Crucifer before entering Tulane University on a full Naval Reserve Officer Training Scholarship which he received on graduation from Gulfport High School in 1963.

An honor graduate of Gulfport High, Joe had an outstanding career at Tulane where he was elected to the military fraternities, Scabbard and Blade, and initiated into Kappa Delta Pi, honorary leadership fraternity. He was an officer of the junior class at Tulane and was selected for a summer cruise to Europe with a group of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He received his wings from paratrooper school at Ft. Benning, GA while a junior and served as battalion executive officer and commanding officer.  On graduation, he received the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association Plaque and the Award of Merit. He also was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity and served as its president in his senior year. He graduated from Tulane with a double major in English and Latin American studies and was selected for intensive training in the Vietnamese language.

Upon graduation from Tulane, Joe was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC with a regular commission.  Reporting to his first assignment in June 1967, Joe became part of 1st Platoon, A Company, Basic Officers’ Class 1-68.  Late in the course, Joe received his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) assignment of 0301, Basic Infantry Officer and orders to report to Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Western Pacific Ground Forces following graduation. The class graduated on 22 November 1967.

Joe arrived in Vietnam on 11 Feb 1968 and was killed on 24 May 1968 by hostile small arms fire during an Operation Houston night engagement 12 KM south-southeast of the Phu Bai airfield—Thua Thien Province, UTM Grid YD950050.  Joe’s name on The Wall is at Panel 76E, Line 003. Joe was buried in the Long Beach City Cemetery in Long Beach, MS. Second Lieutenant John Joe Ebert Allen was awarded a silver star for gallantry in action during the Vietnam War.

USMC Resume:
The Basic School Class 1­68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Vietnam: 11 Feb 1968 ­ 24 May 1968; Platoon Commander with Company D, First Battalion, Fifth
Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF
Silver Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon

The following is an excerpt of his Silver Star award:
“The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant Joe Ebert Allen (MCSN: 0-103089), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the evening of 24 May 1968, Second Lieutenant Allen’s platoon established an ambush on a suspected enemy infiltration route in Thua Thien Province. Alertly observing a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force moving near his position, he immediately adjusted mortar fire on the enemy and quickly led his platoon to an advantageous position from which the Marines commenced delivering accurate fire upon the hostile force. Although painfully wounded in the initial moments of the fire fight, he boldly moved among his men, shouting words of encouragement and directing their fire. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Second Lieutenant Allen was maneuvering his squads into an assault formation when he sustained a second wound from an enemy hand grenade. Steadfastly refusing medical aid, he advanced to the most forward position and fearlessly led a determined assault on the enemy positions until he fell seriously injured by the hostile fire. Inspired by his bold leadership and resolute determination, his men continued the attack, killing ten enemy soldiers and seizing numerous weapons. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty, Second Lieutenant Allen upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
Action Date: May 24, 1968,
Service: Marine Corps,
Rank: Second Lieutenant,
Company: Company D,
Battalion: 1st Battalion,
Regiment: 5th Marines,
Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.), FMF

Personal Reflections about Joe Allen:
Colonel and Mrs. Pilet received a letter Tuesday from their son dated May 15, 1968, in which he wrote:: “Not much to report.  Everything is going well here and my platoon is still doing a fine job for me. We are doing nearly all of our work at night now since that’s about the only time that the Vietcong (North Vietnam Army) are moving.  At first everyone thought that the Vietcong had the advantage at night, but right now we are proving different. Documents and letters we have captured indicated that the North Vietnam Army is tired of this war and don’t understand why they are here.  They are hungry and their supply lines are inadequate.  They are fine soldiers and I have a great deal of respect for them.  As good as they are, the Marines are better. I feel that I have done a lot here to have my men prepared and with one exception (a few nights ago a couple of our captured got away) we have taken full advantage of our contacts with them. Captain Harrington always accepts my ideas and plans and they have proved fruitful so that always makes me happy.  It’s just like hunting, and the same techniques I learned when I hunted behind our house apply.”

 

Baker, David Lyng (Dave/Bakes), 1st Platoon

Baker, David Lyng (Dave/Bakes), 1st Platoon

26 April 1945 – 13 November 1980
Unknown Loc: Pax River Helo Accid, MD, 20670

David Lyng Baker (Dave) was born 26 April 1945 in Abilene, TX to John Barnard Baker and Caroline Prescott Hoar. Dave’s father was a class of 1936 graduate of University of Michigan Law. He was married to Caroline and working as a corporate attorney in South Milwaukee when WWII broke out. Joining the US Army in July 1942, he was stationed at Abilene Army Air Base when Dave was born. Dave graduated from South Milwaukee High School ]in 1963 and moved on to the US Naval Academy graduating in the class of ‘67.

01-baker-dave2From his USNA ’67 Biography: “South Milwaukee Senior High was the starting point for the “Bakes” naval career. Trying to keep track of him was a near impossibility because no one knew what new activity he was engaged in. Varsity sports eluded the wee tyke but he showed his spirt in a sport where size doesn’t matter, Brigade Boxing. Bakes had natural writing and acting talents and second class year was director of Masqueraders. Academics play a major part in his life and he is working towards both Economics and Mechanical engineering majors. He’s decided on Nuclear Power. Success will surely flavor his career.”

Upon graduating from the USNA, Dave was commissioned a 2ndLt in the USMC. He reported to Officers Basic School Class 1-68, Alpha Company and was assigned to the 1st Platoon. Alpha Company graduated on 22 November 1967 and Dave was off to Flight school in Pensacola, FL – Helicopter pipeline. Dave married Lynda Margaret Kosbob, an undergraduate at Hook College in Frederick, MD, at some point between the USNA and flight school. Lynda, hailing from Ridgewood, NJ, and Dave were married in Ho-ho-kus, NJ. A good USNA friend Rufus Artmann was in attendance. Dave and Lynda had three children: Timothy, born March 1971 while Dave was stationed at MCAS Santa Ana; Caroline, born April 1972 in Maryland; and Benjamin, born Apr 1977 while Dave was stationed at MCAS New River, NC. Between children 2 and 3, Dave and Lynda traveled and studied in Sweden on a [Olmstead or Fulbright] scholarship. Before leaving for Sweden they were sent to the American University in DC for a crash course in the language.

In 1980 Dave was assigned to the US helicopter test facility at Pax River, MD. On 13 Nov Dave was killed in a helicopter test flight in a Bell helicopter. The accident was attributed to “mast bumping” where the rotor struck the tail resulting in structural failure. Linda, jointly with another wife, sued Bell. She and her three children agreed to accept a multimillion-dollar settlement from Bell — spread over at least 30 years — in exchange for dropping their suit. Lynda passed away on 24 Nov 2003 in Evanston, IL.

USMC Resume: TBS Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon June-Nov 1967.
Flight School Pensacola, FL – Helicopter pipeline.
MCAS Santa Ana, CA, CH-46 training.
Vietnam
Sweden on a scholarship.
MCAS New River, CH46 pilot and Maintenance Officer.
US Helicopter Test Facility, Pax River, MD – test pilot.

Personal Reflections about Dave Baker:
A recollection from Mike Barretti: Dave [Baker] and Brian [Casey] were in my wedding party on November 26, 1967. Both of them, along with four other of my TBS “friends” Shanghaied me the night before the wedding, and I recall it was Dave and Ken Bruner who were the ring leaders. Dave became a favorite of my sister in law at the wedding, and they danced most of the night. However, Dave had a serious girlfriend at the time, whose name, regrettably, I don’t recall, because they were talking marriage after Dave finished flight training. I lost touch with both guys shortly after, as we went our separate ways, but heard about Brian’s death. Ironically, I didn’t know about Dave’s passing until I saw it in the info circulated for the reunion. Really sad about both of them.”

A recollection from Becky DeCraene: “I did not meet Lynda until she and David moved in with Alan [DeCraene] and me in California when the guys were starting helicopter training [at MCAS Santa Ana CH-46 June 1969]. Alan made the arrangements with David because they had two Irish Setters and we would be finding housing that would accommodate our two dogs, so they and the dogs could stay with us (and let me babysit the dogs) while they looked for housing. For some reason we were scheduled to arrive in CA a week or two before David & Lynda.

While we were in CA, David & Lynda rented a house and Alan & I helped them construct a fence for the yard for the dogs. One was a registered show dog and we went to dog shows with them in Bakersfield and in San Diego. During that time I became able to hear an announcement for “9-12 puppy bitches report to ring 3” without blushing. Alan & I got hooked on dog shows and decided to get an English Setter when he came back from Viet Nam. I located one and brought her home about 4 months after Alan was killed. Bob & I showed English Setters from then until about 1982, all from David’s introduction to the sport.

David Baker was a good guy and a particular help to me when Alan was killed. Alan let me know a lot about what he was doing and how different “watches” worked. I knew he shouldn’t have been on the particular assignment he was on the night he was killed. Lynda told David about my questions and he researched it and got the information to me. He was also able to give me favorable information about the double-amputee they were trying to get the blood to. Alan was still lost to our son and to me, but I knew he was doing exactly what he thought he was meant to be doing. It helped.”

Banning, Johnathon Jacques (John), 1st Platoon

Banning, Johnathon Jacques (John), 1st Platoon

22 March 1943 – 4 November 1973
Arlington National Cemetery, VA, 22211

 

Captain Banning’s untimely death occurred on 4 Nov 1973, in Okinawa, Japan as the result of a motorcycle accident.

Captain Johnathon Jacques Banning was born March 22, 1943 in Joplin, Missouri. John graduated from Northwest Missouri State College in June 1967, where he majored in Biology and Sociology. His activities while an under graduate included the track and swimming teams and membership in TAU KAPPA EPSILON social fraternity. Upon receiving a commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, Captain Banning was assigned to the Basic School from which he graduated in November 1967. He married Sharon Kay Lucas on November 25, 1967 in North Kansas City, Missouri. They had two sons, Matthew and Benjamin, and maintained their residence in Dale City, Virginia.

Subsequent tours included: student in Tank School, Ft. Knox, Kentucky; First Marine Division, Republic of Vietnam; Headquarters Sixth Marine District; student, Amphibious Warfare School; instructor and student Platoon Commander, the Basic School; Company Commander H & S Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, Third Marine Division, Okinawa, Japan. Personal decorations of Captain Banning consisted of Silver Star Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Captain Banning’s untimely death occurred on November 4, 1973, in Okinawa, Japan as the result of a motorcycle accident. John was interred at Arlington National Cemetery on 13 November 1973, Section 36 Site 1977.

John has a younger brother, Deryll B. Banning, who is also a TBS Marine, ’69. Deryll is from Florence, AL. Sharon Kay remarried to a Marine Officer who adopted her two sons.

USMC Resume:
TBS Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon June-Nov 1967
Tank School, Ft. Knox, Kentucky;
First Marine Division, Republic of Vietnam;
Headquarters Sixth Marine District;
Student, Amphibious Warfare School;
Instructor and student Platoon Commander, the Basic School;
Company Commander H & S Company, 2nd Bn, 4th Regiment, 3rd Mar Div, Okinawa, Japan.

Awarded the Silver Star for actions during the Vietnam War:
“The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Second Lieutenant John Jacques Banning (MCSN: 0-102452), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company A, First Tank Battalion, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the evening of 25 May 1968, while occupying a defensive position near Hue, Second Lieutenant Banning’s unit was attached to elements of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division when the driver of his tank suddenly observed a large North Vietnamese Army force silently approaching the perimeter and preparing to assault the friendly position. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Second Lieutenant Banning directed his men to wait for the enemy to advance further before commencing fire. When approximately one-half of the enemy had penetrated the perimeter, he directed the delivery of a heavy volume of accurate fire on the hostile force. Ignoring the intense anti-tank rocket fire being directed at his tank, he skillfully utilized a night observation device which enabled him to pinpoint the North Vietnamese soldiers while continuing to direct his tank’s suppressive fire, forcing the enemy to flee in panic and confusion. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who served with him and were instrumental in his crew accounting for twelve North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed and numerous weapons captured. By his courage, aggressive leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Second Lieutenant Banning upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.”

Action Date: May 25, 1968;
Service: Marine Corps; Rank:
Second Lieutenant;
Company: Company A;
Battalion: 1st Tank Battalion;
Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.), FMF.

 Reflections:
11 Dec 2016
From: Larry Simpson  Colonel USMC Ret. <simpsonle@aol.com>
Subject: Capt Banning
Message Body: Noted your remarks on Capt. Banning. I was his XO in H&S 2/4.  His presence in our unit reached into every part of 2/4. His untimely death was tragic and cut short a life filled with so much promise. I once made the mistake of telling him, if he was working, I would too. He buried me in about 2 weeks. So much one could say.  He was one of the best! Semper Fidelis.

Barnes, Robert Crozier Jr. (Rob), 1st Platoon

Barnes, Robert Crozier Jr. (Rob), 1st Platoon

4 June 1944 – 30 May 1968
Santa Fe National Cemetery, NM, 87501

Robert Crozier Barnes, Jr. was born on 4 June 1944 in Carmi, IL. He graduated from Highland High School and attended the University of New Mexico, where he conferred a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1967. He served as battalion executive officer in the NROTC unit at UNM where he received the Corps’ award as the outstanding midshipman. He arrived in Vietnam on January 27, 1968 and served with 1st Marine Division, 1st Recon Battalion, B Company. Basic Infantry Officer. 2nd Lieutenant Barnes was killed on 30 May 1968 by hostile gunfire in Quang Nam Province near UTM grid AT816862. He was with Recon Team Aldbrook 13 KM SW of Hai Van Bridge. He earned the following awards: National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Purple Heart, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal.

Barnes’ father was in command of the Navy Special Weapons Facility at Kirtland and chief of what is now the stockpile management of Sandia Base from 1962-1965. At the time of his son’s death he was Commander of Lake Mead Base Nev. Memorial services were held at Sandia Base Chapel. Robert Barnes was buried with full military honors at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM.

Second Lieutenant Barnes is honored on Panel 63W, Row 14 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Barnes is also listed on the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Association memorial at the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, National Museum of the Marine Corps.

1st Recon Battalion’s Command Chronology for May 1968:
A nine-man recon patrol led by 2ndLt Barnes was inserted into Elephant Valley at 0900 26 May and spent the next four days observing enemy activities in the patrol area. They were to be extracted on the morning of 30 May.

Extract from Post-operation Report:

SYNOPSIS: This patrol covered a period of 98 hours with 1 contact with an estimated 40 VC. Contact resulted in 1 USMC KIA, 1 USMC WIA, and 2 VC KIA confirmed. 1 FM [artillery fire mission] and 1 airstrike were called with unknown results.

“300800H at AT816872 – Estimated 40 VC engaging patrol, khakis and black PJ’s; AK-47’S and M16’S and packs. The patrol was in their extract LZ when they observed 2 VC moving down a streambed. The patrol took the VC under fire, resulting in 2 VC KIA confirmed, almost immediately the patrol came under fire from 40 VC, resulting in 1 USMC KIA and 1 USMC WIA. Arty and fixed wing were utilized with unknown results. The fixed wing and the birds which extracted the patrol took heavy fire.” Although the only available copy of the Situation Report associated with the incident (1st Recon Bn SITREP 151-68) is nearly illegible, it is clear that the extraction effort involved A-4s from Marine Attack Squadron 121, 4 (perhaps 6) UH-1E gunships, and two CH-46s. CH-46A tail number 152518 is known to have taken hits while on the ground but it appears there were no casualties other than 2ndLt Barnes and the enlisted Marine wounded in the exchange described above.

Personal Reflections about Robert Barnes:

Sandia/Albuquerque NM area newspaper (Tribune) clipping without a date (approx. June 1968).: “Killed in Vietnam Patrol

Lt. Robert Barnes Was Top Marine Reservist

The top student officer and outstanding Marine Corps reservist graduating from the University of New Mexico last year was killed in combat in Vietnam, Sandia Base reported. Second Lt. Robert Crozier Barnes Jr., 23, was killed while on patrol May 30 with the First Reconnaissance Battalion of the First Marine Division. He received top Marine Corps Association honors last year when he was commissioned. The commandant of the Eighth Naval district presented him with a Marine officers sword awarded by the Marine Corps Reserves Officers Association of Albuquerque.

He also won the Corps’ award as the outstanding midshipman. A 1963 graduate of Highland High School, Lt. Barnes received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNM last year.

Blond, blue eyed, well built, he was described by his senior Marine Instructor as “a real man … an outstanding student … an outstanding Marine.” “He was the type you liked as soon as you met him,” added Maj. Jerry Bowlin, senior instructor. “He had leadership potential, he showed initiative and he was well thought of by his peers.” Barnes was battalion executive officer during his senior year. Barnes’ father was in command of the Navy Special Weapons Facility at Kirtland and chief of what is now the stockpile management of Sandia Base from 1962-1965. He is now Commander of Lake Mead Base Nev. Memorial services will be at Sandia Base Chapel. Burial will be in the National Cemetery in Santa Fe.”

 

Belser, Joseph Henry Jr. (Joe), 4th Platoon

Belser, Joseph Henry Jr. (Joe), 4th Platoon

15 March 1945 – 15 October 1989
Greenlawn Mem Park, W Columbia, SC, 29209

Joseph H. Belser Jr. was originally in Kilo Company (TBS Class 5-67) but was in an automobile accident and got pretty busted up. He ended up in Alpha Company (TBS Class 1-68 4th Platoon). Joe Belser passed away on 15 Oct 1989, at the age of 44, of a heart attack in West Columbia, SC.

Joseph Henry Belser, Jr. was born in Fort Myers, FL to General Joseph H. Belser Sr. and Delores Huffstetler Belser. He had four siblings: brother Mark, and sisters Beryl, Dorothy, and Nanette. He received his Master’s Degree at Florida State University and his law degree at the University of South Carolina. He married Penny Miller, and they had a daughter, Megan Louise. He was a Vietnam War Veteran and received the Silver Star, the Purple Heart with two stars, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation with Palm and Rifle and Pistol Marksman Badges. He attained the rank of Captain. A resident of West Columbia, SC, Joe passed away on 15 OCT 1989 at the age of 44 from a heart attack.

USMC Resume:
TBS Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 4th Platoon June-Nov 1967
Vietnam: K/3/27 Dec 1967- May 1968
Hospital: Naval Hospital in Philadelphia
Post-Vietnam: Third Recruit Training Battalion PISC. He was a Series Officer in Golf Company from May 1969 until discharge.
Discharged <date> with the rank of Captain.
Awarded the Purple Heart with 2 Gold Stars.
Awarded the Silver Star

Following is the excerpt for his Silver Star:
“The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant Joseph H. Belser, Jr. (MCSN: 0-101738), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company K, Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 24 May 1968 during Operation ALLEN BROOK in Quang Nam Province, Company K was attacking the village of Le Bac (1) which was well fortified and occupied by a large North Vietnamese Army force. As the company approached the area it came under intense automatic weapons fire and two platoons were separated from the remainder of the company. Assigned to assist the besieged units and in an attempt to envelop the enemy, First Lieutenant Belser moved his reserve platoon to within 300 meters of the hostile positions when the Marines encountered heavy fire which inflicted several casualties, including First Lieutenant Belser. Calmly informing his men of the situation, and although seriously wounded in the arm, he courageously moved across the fire-swept area from one position to another, encouraging his men and directing their fire while simultaneously keeping his commanding officer appraised of the situation. Under his courageous leadership, his men successfully repulsed repeated attempts by the enemy to overrun their position. Assisted by a platoon from Company M, First Lieutenant Belser utilized supporting arms fire, hand grenades and a smoke screen to withdraw his platoon along with their casualties to the company perimeter. Informed that Company M was heavily engaged with the enemy and had sustained numerous casualties, he refused to be evacuated for treatment of his injury and organized a group of Marines to retrieve the casualties. With complete disregard for his own safety, he made several trips into the fire-swept area until he was wounded in the leg by the intense enemy fire and subsequently evacuated. By his courage, dynamic leadership and selfless devotion to duty in the face of grave personal risk, First Lieutenant Belser inspired all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.”
Action Date: 24-May-68
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company K
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Regiment: 27th Marines
Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.), FMF

Personal Reflections about Joe Belser:

Tony Pesavento, 31 Jan 2015: “Joseph H. Belser Jr. was originally in Kilo Co. but was in an automobile accident and got pretty busted up. He ended up in Alpha Co. and despite his last name beginning with a “B” he ended up in the 4th Platoon. He was an 0302 and was with K/3/27 in Vietnam Dec. 1967- May 1968. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star, 5 Purple Hearts and lost his right leg just below the knee. We both ended up at Parris Island in 1969 and shared a house. He got out of the Corp in 72 or 73 as a Capt. He died of a heart attack in 1989 (I think) in Columbia, SC.”

 

Black, Bill (WRB Jr), 1st Platoon

Black, Bill (WRB Jr), 1st Platoon

William Ray Black, Jr. “Bill”
30 Sep 1945 – 18 Mar 2017

INTERVIEW: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/oh/render.php?cachefile=1985oh164_vvk012_ohm.xml

OBITUARY: (followed by Biography)
William Ray Black Jr., age 71, of Paducah, KY, died Saturday, March 18, 2017 at his home.
Mr. Black was born September 30, 1945 in New York City to William Ray Black and Virginia Giblin Black. Bill graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School in 1963 and attended Princeton University on a NROTC Scholarship. He graduated in 1967 with a degree in History and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served two tours in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service and two Purple Hearts. He completed his service to the Marines in 1971, having attained the rank of Captain. Following his service in Vietnam, Bill returned to his hometown of Paducah, and joined his father and grandfather in the family construction business at Ray Black & Son. Bill recognized that a community’s architectural and historic heritage was a source of beauty and diversity and knew these treasures were non-renewable resources. He specialized in historic preservation throughout his career. Among his preservation projects were: Whitehaven, The River Discovery Center, and many other historic buildings in Paducah. In the late 1970’s he was an original visionary for the creation of the 26 square block Lower Town Neighborhood National Register District. Bill became the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 1 in 1985 and kept the historic troop from losing its charter as one of 7 original troops in the U.S. The troop grew to more than 70 scouts, from all backgrounds, under his leadership. Bill served on the Paducah Independent School Board for 24 years. He was a passionate lepidopterist, archaeologist, and collector of all things he found interesting.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Nancy Fowler Black; three sons, William Ray (Will) Black III and his wife, Sarah Maggos Black, David Dawson Black and his wife, Lindsay McMaster Black and Merle Fowler Black and his wife, Emily Yocum Black; five grandchildren, Liam Black, Dawson Black, Sasha Black, Ford Black and Nolan Black. He is also survived by his sister, Virginia (Ginny) Black Coltharp and her husband James Richard (Rick) Coltharp and his brother, Christopher James Black and his wife, Nancy Williams Black.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, David Bruce Black.

Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 am on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Grace Episcopal Church with Rev. Charles Uhlik and Rev. Tim Taylor officiating. Burial will follow at Mt. Kenton Cemetery.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, March 22, 2017 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church.

Milner & Orr Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Paducah is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to: Paducah Public Schools Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 2550, Paducah, KY 42002 or Paducah Cooperative Ministry, 402 Legion Dr., Paducah, KY 42003.

You may leave a message for the family or light a candle at www.milnerandorr.com
Milner and Orr Funeral Homes
120 Memorial Drive
Paducah, KY 42001
Phone: (270) 442-5100
Email: info@milnerandorr.com
Website: http://www.milnerandorr.com/

BLACK: 1st Lt. W.R. Black C.O., CACO 1-4 FEB 1970

BIOGRAPHY:
On a September afternoon in 1963 I lined up in civilian clothes with two dozen other freshman NROTC midshipmen on Princeton’s scruffy parade deck. Staff Sgt. M.D. Arnold, USMC, stepped forward. His immaculate uniform accented his trim, muscular build. On his chest arraigned in tightly fitting rows were numerous ribbons including the Silver Star from serving at the Chosin Reservoir under Colonel “Chesty” Puller. Perhaps as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island he had learned to crack his voice on the execution part of a command causing a shock wave when he called us to attention. The last syllable echoed off a brick wall, and I was hit in the face by 188 years of the Glory of the Corps. I had been recruited!

BLACK: Nancy and Bill Black, La Son School House, Hue City 8 June 2006

Somehow, early in my quest to become a Marine, I came to understand what Glory really means. It does not mean “Dress Blues”, although they are a powerful symbol of it. Glory is really more like the inverse of what we usually think when we hear the word. It is discouragement, fatigue, and exhaustion. It is pain, and blood. It is a dance with death and hatred. It is grief for our dead, and, for the innocents we have collided with. It is all that is horrible in war. It is sacrifice unnoticed, and heroism unrecognized. All these things we are able to endure to be worthy of the uniform, with the help of our fellow Marines and the Grace of God, as we persevere in the mission given us. That is Glory. We accept the traditional promise by the Marine Corps recruiter ­ “a pack, and a rifle, and a hard way to go”. With those expectations, it is hard to become disillusioned.

Capt Sidney Chapin was the Platoon Commander and mentor of 1 the transition from candidate/midshipman to Marine infantry officer. He was a stout Marine with kinky brown hair, who came from California. With respectful affection (but not to his face) we called him “the Golden Bear”. He was a veteran of Vietnam who wore only one simple ribbon on his shirt – the Bronze Star. He was a keen observer and knew more than he spoke. I remember a watershed talk he gave to our platoon one day. We had been goofing off. He told us we were officers now, and he was not there to break us or force us into that role. The platoon was ours, not his. What we would become was up to us. We responded.

I remember the day when a Navy Chaplain came to our lecture hall. I think he was a Lieutenant Commander. He wore a Marine uniform. He spoke to us about “professionalism”. The Latin root word meant “to proclaim”, or “to proclaim to the world”. When used in a Marine context, it means “to proclaim to the world a standard of excellence”. Years later I read in the Marine Corps Gazette another inspirational message by a Navy Chaplain. Well into the article, I found a paragraph that echoed the concept of “professionalism”! The chaplain had become a Bishop, was promoted to Rear Admiral, and served as Chief of Navy Chaplains. I wrote him a letter to attest how powerful his talk to the Basic School had been to me, how it had helped me through crises I encountered as a Marine, and in life after the Marines. He wrote me back. The chaplain’s name was John J. O’Conner. After the Navy he became the Archbishop of New York, and ultimately CardinaI. One Sunday in New York City, I attended Mass at at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (although I am not Catholic) hoping to meet Cardinal O’Conner. A young priest asked if I had known him in the military and had me wait. Cardinal O’Conner came from the sacristy back up a long flight of stairs to greet me. I realized that I was not the first veteran to tell him how his much his inspirational messages had been to me. He responded with such grace and kindness! Thanks be to God!

Capt. John Ripley was serving as the Marine Corps’ Infantry Monitor for company grade officers, as I recall, and he came to TBS to encourage us to contact our MOS’s monitor to express a request when we anticipated a new assignment. Captain Ripley was a brave, hardy, adventurous Marine, highly decorated from his tour in Vietnam. He was fun and likeable. I remember standing in awe before him at a happy hour in the lobby of O’Bannon Hall, hoping to glean lessons learned in Vietnam.

The 27th Marines went to Vietnam as reinforcement after Tet. The majority of the Marines had not operated together as a unit. We spent our first month south of Da Nang in the relative quiet of its outlying defenses, learning to operate and maneuver as tactical units. Then our Battalion was flown in C­130’s up to Phu Bai, where for the next six weeks our platoons operated out of Platoon Patrol Bases, and our companies participated in several of the “No Name” Operations east of Hue. We steadily pushed the VC and NVA farther away from the city. About 0230 on 5 MAY 68, I was wounded while checking my lines. A number of our units were attacked that night. This was the beginning of the enemy’s second of three nation­wide offensives attempting to get the South Vietnamese people to rise up against us and their government. It is called in history, “Mini­Tet”, and it fizzled sooner than the original Tet Offensive did.

When I was discharged from Bethesda Naval Hospital, I was assigned to HQ Co. at Henderson Hall. Most of the duties I had were those of an “Odd Jobs Officer”. One day I ran into 1 friend from college who He advised me to get out of HQ to find the camaraderie that I wanted in the Marine Corps. I remembered Capt. Ripley at the Infantry Monitor’s Office, right across the street.

I knew if I asked for Vietnam again, they would give it to me. Capt. Ripley invited me in with a buoyant hand shake. “Well, Lieutenant, what can I do for you?” I went for broke and asked for Marine Barracks, London England (the only billet for a Marine Lieutenant in all of Europe). He threw his hands in the air and shouted, “Out of the question! But I’ll tell you what I can do. Did you ever consider Sea Duty?”

A month later, via a S2F propeller driven mail plane I was on the U.S.S. America (CVA­66). She was on Yankee Station, bombing targets in the panhandle of North Vietnam. I would be XO of the Marine Detachment.

Near the end of my one year tour of Sea Duty, I requested orders back to Vietnam. . Once there, I was assigned to the 3rd Force Recon Co., commanded by one of the Marine Corps’ flamboyant majors. “I don’t like Lieutenants”, he asserted in his interview of me as I entered his command. I hoped to become an exception. I had several exciting and broadening experiences, the last of which was as O.I.C. of a fixed radio relay station on a mountain top beside the A Shau Valley. We were probed late one day, and an enemy mortar round fell squarely in the center of our position. My sergeant suffered a head wound. After his head was checked and bandaged, he seemed rational and said he was OK. I requested a “routine” medivac. About ten minutes later the sergeant began vomiting, likely a symptom of brain injury, so I upgraded the medivac request as “emergency”. Changing the urgency of the sergeant’s medivac, could be seen as indecisive, but that was vastly less important than his future. The firefight died down, darkness fell, the medevac helicopter arrived, and successfully picked up our wounded sergeant.

Two more days of clouds followed, but on the third day a helicopter brought replacements for me and the two others with minor wounds. Back at Phu Bai, the C.O. Said that I had panicked under fire, that the young enlisted men deserved better in their officers, and that I had disgraced myself, my unit, and the Corps. He relieved me of all duties, tactical and administrative. I was to leave in the morning on the first helicopter to Da Nang. That night I prayed to the Lord for guidance. One of the other lieutenants suggested that I see LtCol. Jerry Polakoff in Da Nang if I wanted another job in recon. I had met LtCol. Polakoff six weeks earlier during orientation in intelligence at his Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center at III MAF.

Early the next day I stood with my sea bag on the landing pad waiting for the first helicopter to Da Nang. This was a lonely moment. I had been banished, with ruffles and flourishes, from one of the elite units of the Marine Corps. Suddenly, 1 me. He was a CH­46 helicopter pilot in HMM­262. We had first met as midshipmen in the NROTC unit at Princeton. Bob managed to think up a variety of subjects to talk about until the helicopter arrived and I boarded for Da Nang.

At Da Nang I first fortified myself as a Marine by getting a high and tight haircut and headed for LtCol. Polakoff’s SRC. In the privacy of his office he asked me why I had been relieved. I told him that my C.O. judged me to be tactically incompetent. I refrained from criticizing the C.O. LtCol. Polakoff asked if I intended to serve a career in the Marine Corps. I answered that I intended to join my father and grandfather in their construction company after my four years in the Corps. “But I consider myself a professional and I am hoping to get another chance in a combat billet.” He ended up offering me a choice between two units he thought might have an opening, 1st Recon Bn., and Combined Action. I had read LtCol. Bill Corson’s book, The Betrayal, which featured Combined Action in Vietnam, and I was intrigued with it. I chose that. LtCol. Polakoff called to arrange an interview for me.

Col. Tom Metzger commanded the Marines’ Combined Action force (CAF), which had units scattered throughout the populated areas of all five provinces in I Corps. He wasted no time orienting me, “Lieutenant, we are not ‘civic action’, we are a combat force”. I told Col. Metzger that suited me fine, and given my circumstances, was exactly what I needed. He told me about the change in CAP tactics from operating out of fixed forts built in hamlets to ”mobile CAPs” operating out of different locations every day. These are some of my heroes of Combined Action: LtCol. David Seiler – C.O. 1st CAG, went on squad sized patrols/ambushes with Marines and PFs; Capt. Jim Murphy – C.O. CACO 1­3, West Point grad., inspirational easy manner; Sgt. Tom Robbins (and PF counterpart) – CAP 1­3­5, brave, aggressive, creative, based operations on enemy (instead of on time and space); LCpl. Miguel Keith – Machine Gunner CAP 1­3­2, posthumous Medal of Honor; GySgt. D.W. Duvall – Ist Sgt. CACO 1­4, experienced, strong, steady character; Cpl. Carl Biehl, LCpl. John Williams – CAP 1­4­6 (at My Lai), carried on aggressive spirit of Cpl. O.J. Ostenfeld; Capt. Bing West ­Princeton grad student, author of Small Unit Action in Vietnam, Summer 1966, The Village, 1972 I was XO of CACO 1­3 for 1 month, and CO of CACO 1­4 for 6 months.

Brinson, James Albert Jr. (Jimmy), 1st Platoon

Brinson, James Albert Jr. (Jimmy), 1st Platoon

31 December 1944 – 12 October 2006
Millen Cemetery, GA 30442

Colonel James Albert Brinson, Jr. was born on 31 December 1944 to James A. Brinson Sr. and Frances Lovett Brinson. A native of Savannah, GA, he had one brother, Bobby. He was a retired colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps and spent the last 10 years of his life in Buford, GA. He served in Vietnam, and was awarded several medals, including two purple hearts. Col. Brinson married Donna Brinson of Buford, and they had a son, Christopher J. Brinson and a daughter, Kimberly. Col. Brinson was a member of the Masonic Lodge 242 and a member of the Celebration Baptist Church in Hoschton. He had two grandchildren, Charlie Britton and Jack Britton. He died suddenly on 12 October 2006 at the age of 61. Colonel Brinson was interred at the Millen Cemetery with full military honors.

USMC Resume: The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Purple Heart x2

Burkhart, Joseph J (Joe / Joseph), 1st Platoon

Burkhart, Joseph J (Joe / Joseph), 1st Platoon

28 June 1943 – 20 May 1995
Interred: Tampa, FL 33618

Joseph John Burkhart (Joe) was born on 28 June 1943.  He worked with his father at their Stone Quarry Shop in Bedford, Indiana.  He joined the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class (PLC Jr/Sr) Program in May 1962 while enrolled at Indiana University – Bloomington (IU-B). He was a swimmer/diver, and a Center for Intermural Football at IU-B.  He chose the PLC option because there was “esprit de corps” a sense of pride, friendship and togetherness.  Joe earned a BA in German from IU-B.  On the morning of 28 May 1965 he attended his military commencement commissioning ceremony, and later that day married Susan K. Buzzard who he met at IU-B. He got a two-year deferment from the USMC to work on his graduate degree, teaching German and Psychology at Portage High School in Indiana.  Although Joe did not receive his MS in Secondary Education from IU-B before reporting to the Basic School in June 1967, he later conferred his MS degree in June 1970, three months after his release from the Marine Corps.

Joe reported to Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon in Quantico in June of 1967.  He graduated on 22 Nov 1967, received orders for West PAC, and was assigned to 3/9 as an 03 infantry officer. He was deployed to Vietnam, receiving a Navy commendation medal for his Heroic Achievement while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company L/3/9. Joe’s platoon was moved to Dong Ha where he was an S-4 until he returned to state side.  Joe was assigned to Camp Lejeune, NC, where his wife Susan gave birth to their only child, Kirsten Kay on 24 Oct 69.

Capt Burkhart chose to pursue his career in education and thus was honorably discharged Aug 1971. He taught German and coached swimming at Huntington North HS.  He went on to be a principal in Goshen, Elkhart, and Edinburgh, Indiana before finally deciding to move to Florida in 1978. There he worked as an insurance agent for almost twenty years. Joe was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 1994. He suffered from two bouts of congestive heart failure in 1995 and succumbed to complications from Amyloidosis on 20 May 1995.  His health problems were attributed to exposure to Agent Orange. Joe is interred in Tampa, FL.

USMC Resume:
PEBD 04 May 1962; HoR: Bedford, IN; DoR 2nd Lt 29 Jun 65.
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Vietnam: 3/9 H&S CO, Bn S-4; Jan 68 to 22 Jan 69
Reported to Camp Lejeune, NC. Jan 1969 March 1970
Released from active duty: USMC 29 June ’65 to 17 March ’70

Personal Reflections about Joe Burkhart:

From Joe’s wife Susan, 13 Apr 2015: “Then came basic school at Quantico in June of 1967 where the days began and ended at the BOQ.  Those of us that dropped our men off who lived off base would sit in our cars and wait 3-5 hours while they did night training. The woman that stayed always found something to talk about and this made for some lasting memories.

Joe was so mad that he survived Vietnam but yet he could not beat this deadly disease. He cleaned his guns every day until he died trying to think of a way to survive this early death. He always told my daughter, “You have to learn how to do it yourself; I’m not always going to be here to help you.” Our daughter has many of his traits and reminds her kids that she was raised by a Marine, so there will be no fear, no whining, and you will succeed at all you do.”

From Rod Arena, 8 Apr 2015: “Yes I remember Joe Burkhart from both 1stPlt 1-68 and 3/9 in 1968.  We both joined 3/9 CP located initially in Dong Ha but was operating in Northern I Corps for our entire tour.  He was assigned to H&SCo, on the Bn staff as the S-4A, probably because he was one of those 1stLts in our class, and I went to Co M as a PltCmdr.  During the following weeks and months our paths didn’t often cross but when they did I remember him frequently accompanying the resupply helo lifts to the field and taking a great deal of pride in pushing the beans, bullets, and band-aids out to the troops.  Checking the 3/9 Command Chronology website shows that Joe was CO, H&SCo 11-31 July 1968 and then as the Bn S-4 from Aug 1968 to 22 Jan 1969 when he rotated home as a Captain.  My best to Susan and daughter. S/F Rod”

Casey, Robert Brian (Brian), 1st Platoon

Casey, Robert Brian (Brian), 1st Platoon

13 May 1944 – 26 August 1969
Long Island Nat’l Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY 11735

First Lieutenant Robert Brian Casey from Idaho Falls, Idaho was killed in an aircraft accident during A6 Intruder training at Cherry Point MCAS on 26 August 1969.

Robert Brian Casey “Brian” was born 13 May 1944 in Westerly, Rhode Island to Robert Ambrose Casey and Dorothy Louise Coyle. Brian had three younger siblings: brother Edward Coyle Casey and sisters, Janice A. Casey and Kathleen M. Casey. Brian’s father was a lifelong employee of the General Dynamics – Electric Boat Division and his job required him to move the family twice. The family moved from Rhode Island to Saratoga Springs, NY in 1953 and then on to Idaho Falls, ID in 1962. Brian attended and graduated from St. Peter’s Academy High School in Saratoga Springs. He lettered in football, baseball, and basketball. He was co-captain of the football team during his junior and senior years.

Brian was offered football scholarships from both Notre Dame and the University of Idaho. He selected the University of Idaho because it was closer to his family in Idaho Falls. After the first year of football, Brian had to abandon football and his scholarship due to a knee injury. He applied for and received an NROTC scholarship and put in four more years at U of Idaho obtaining a BA in English and Physical Education. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity for 5 years. Having been an NROTC with Marine option, Brian would most likely have attended the 6-week Bulldog PLC at Quantico, VA in the summer of 1966. In order to earn extra money, Brian would work on the potato farms in Idaho.

At graduation in June 1967, Brian accepted his Regular commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and was off to The Officers Basic School (TBS), Class 1-68, Alpha Company, 1st Platoon. At the conclusion of TBS, Brian went to NAS Pensacola, Florida for flight school in the jet pipeline.

In a turn of fate, Brian was killed in an A-6A accident flying out of MCAS Cherry Point, NC. The following news article describes the accident:

From the Idaho State Journal, 29 Aug 1969: “Cherry Point, NC. (AP) – An Idaho Falls man has been killed in the crash of an A6A Intruder jet near Kinston, 40 miles west of Cherry Point. The Marine air station at Cherry Point said he was 1stLt Robert B. Casey. The crash occurred Wednesday, but identification was not released until late Thursday. Casey was the pilot. The copilot, 1stLt Russell W. Albright, Delmar, NY was reported in satisfactory condition today with a broken leg and other injuries.”

From Report on A6-Intruder accidents: “26 August 1969: Student pilot was performing SPLIT “S” from 20,000 feet. At a point when it was apparent the aircraft would not safely pull out, instructor pilot ejected and immediately thereafter student pilot ejected. Student pilot ejected too low. Chute did not fully deploy and he suffered fatal injuries. Instructor suffered serious injuries.”

Brian was interred at the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York. Long Island National Cemetery was chosen because it is close to Brian’s greater family roots of Westerly, RI and Saratoga Springs, NY.

USMC Resume:
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Pensacola FL Flight School – Jet pipeline
MCAS Cherry Point – A-6 Squadron

Personal Reflections about Brian Casey:

A recollection from Mike Barretti: “Dave [Baker] and Brian [Casey] were in my wedding party on November 26, 1967. Both of them, along with four other of my TBS “friends” Shanghaied me the night before the wedding, and I recall it was Dave and Ken Bruner who were the ring leaders. Dave became a favorite of my sister in law at the wedding, and they danced most of the night. However, Dave had a serious girlfriend at the time, whose name, regrettably, I don’t recall, because they were talking marriage after Dave finished flight training. I lost touch with both guys shortly after, as we went our separate ways, but heard about Brian’s death. Ironically, I didn’t know about Dave’s passing until I saw it in the info circulated for the reunion. Really sad about both of them.”

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