August '68, tower at An Hoa after 30-days with Mike Co. 1st platoon. 
(photo taken by Cpl. Bechaud, Houston, Tx.)

Steve "Doc Whiskey" Weltzbarker
FMF Corpsman with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Mike Company '68-69

I served with Mike Co. 3/5 out of An Hoa Combat Base from July '68 to June '69 as an FMF-Corpsman. During 6-months with the 1st platoon, I contracted hookworms, went to DaNang for treatment, and then was assigned to 3rd platoon. This was the beginning of the most memorable and tragic part of my tour.

It involved the stark-terror of combat where we were ambushed from popping AK-47's and the bump-bump-bump sound of a 20mm anti-aircraft gun, received B-40 rocket attacks, routine incoming mortar attacks, accidental / inevitable injuries from friendly M-60 machinegun fire from a Huey providing very close perimeter support, and witnessed the screams from pain and fear of the forth-coming death from untreatable chest wounds. At one point realizing the probability of losing my own life I ripped up the photos of my sweetheart because I could no longer bear to look at her face and fantasize about  going home

 I remember seeing the transformation on the faces of Marines before and after sustained firefighting and after being in "Arizona Territory" where they witnessed fellow Marines being killed instantly by snipers.

I remember wrapping bodies in their plastic-ponchos and rope under their arms to provide an above-head loop for extraction from the jungle by choppers that never came. And one of the most gripping sites I experienced was when I was on my way to get on a CH-53 on the runway in An Hoa. There between the French-buildings, which were used as Battalion Aid Stations, and laying face-down and straight along side this BAS was a deceased Marine, alone, with no one attending.

While treating the massive wounds from kicking a booby-trapped fragmentation-grenade, the injured Marine asked if his eyes were ok because everything was dark. His face and neck was peppered with fragments. He died about 15-minutes later on the chopper. I remember this and much more grief we suffered, and am instantly overwhelmed with choking-tears because these true-grit Americans just wanted to do the time and go home. I was there, what seems like another lifetime now, and I remember thinking after each KIA .....he's gone and his loved ones so far away are not even aware of it and won't be for a while, and it was almost unbearable for me.  

 My "bush" time which was a required 11-month assignment with a grunt-company in combat was over when "M" was back in An Hoa in June '69 preparing for another op.  

Steve Weltzbarker, HM3-USNR / Doc Whiskey, FMF Corpsman-USMC


Doc Weltzbarker with 3rd plt. nicknamed "Whiskey" by SSgt. F.S. Blackman. Fire Support Base Maxwell, sitting  on freshly-dug hole because we were receiving daily routine incoming mortars. Am proudly wearing a cross worn by my brother when he served with the Air Force (aircraft-ordinance) in Pleiku and Ben Hoa 65-67.

Doc Whiskey on FSB Maxwell after company's return from Hill 332.
(photo by Meeks)

Doc Whiskey

Mike 3/5 Website

FMF Corpsman graphic by Redeye