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.
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
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Weltzbarker, HM3-USNR / Doc Whiskey, FMF Corpsman-USMC