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Born on July 23, 1945
Casualty was on Nov. 7, 1967

Panel 29E - - Line 41

2Lt. Dale Loudin served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Mike Company. He was Killed In Action during Operation ESSEX. His name stands proudly on the Mike 3/5 Wall of Honor. Semper Fi, Brother Marine. We will never forget.

Remembering 2nd Lt. Dale Loudin
Letter written by Jack Swan to 2nd Lt. Dale Loudin's family

My name is Jack Swan,

After 36 years I still recall when 2nd Lt. Dale Loudin joined Mike Co. 3/5 in October of 1967 as our 1st platoon comander. Craig Sullivan was our 1st platoon Seargent at that time, and when Dale joined us in the field, Sgt. Sullivan brought the new LT to meet Cpl. Bill Vandegriff, 1st squad leader, 1st platoon. Vandegriff was my Squad leader, and we walked point for the company. Vandegriff had ben incountry nine months or better, and Sgt. Sullivan and I had been there close to 6 months when Dale joined us.

The reason Dale wanted to meet Bill and I was to inform us of a conversation he had with a few officers he met who had ben lucky enough to have survived the 6 months required in the field as a line officer. My memory of Dale starts here.

Mid afternoon, chopper comes in to resupply us with C-rats, ammo, mail, water and a new platoon comander. I don't recall how we lost the last one cuz we went through quite a few. I saw the 3 of them headed straight for me. My thoughts were - Damn! Gotta break in another one. As they approached, I noticed the sincere look in Dale's eyes which had a calming effect on me. He came to us to talk truth.

Sgt. Sullivan introduced him to me, then Dale turned to the 3 of us and said, (these are close to his words) "Marines, good officers who have survived the field have informed me that if I desire to live through combat and get back to my loved ones in the real world, I had best listen to the ole salts who have been here for some time. Walk with the point man and see how he reads the land and uses his gut feelings." He then said, "I want all of us to get back home."

Bill and I let him walk point with us for 2 days, a few hours at a time. He learned fast He also came out on a night ambush with us and I informed Dale that he was a big man in size and that humping in the day time was a diffrent world from not being heard at night. He was noisy at first, then quickly adjusted to not being heard at all.

His performance as a platoon commander was outstanding from the start. Vandegriff would ask Sgt. Sullivan, who was always with Dale, how he was handling the 3 squads in 1st plt. Sully's reply was, "We found us a good one Bill." Bill would then come to me, smiling and say the same.

I figure Dale had been with us almost 3 weeks (which is like 3 months in a combat zone) when our company was called out to support 2nd Batallion. 5th Marines who were engaged in a heavy battle with the North Vietnamese in a place we called Antenna Vally. It was given that name because of the high mountains which surrounded it. The radio operators in the field had to remove their small antennas and replace them with a much longer, whip antenna to pick up signals.

Mike Co. did a lot of humping to meet our objectives by the 7th of Nov. By this time, all of 1st platoon had total confidence in 2nd Lt. Loudin. Late that afternoon we spotted 3 NVA solders moving into a tree line ahead of us. We opened fire on them and advanced forward into a rice paddy which came up to a sandy berm overlooking heavy brush and more tree line behind it.

Unkown to us, their comrades had regrouped and opened up on our platoon with AK - 47's. The first man to get hit was Cpl. Bill Little. He caught a round in the chest. Then Roger Nicholsen and the radio man Steve Walker were wounded. I turned sideways to put another clip of ammo into my rifle and saw Dale take a round
as he was directing our machine gun fire to a target he spotted. He felt no pain. The NVA disengaged not long after that.

When the medivac chopper arrived, the door gunner informed us they had wounded aboard and could only take our wounded. Cpl. Little died on the way in. The men of 1st platoon carried Lt. Loudin with us throught the night and put him on a chopper the next morning. That night we took good care of a great man we cared about.

Two days later our company walked into an ambush. A lot of good men died that day. Speaking for myself, I don't have total recall of Viet Nam. I do recall the great Marines I met there. After 36 years, I am proud to say DALE LOUDIN is one of them. Jack Swan


I Would Do It Again

I was on the detail that carried Lt. Loudin's body all night on Operation Essex, I believe it was Nov. 8. There was no way we were going to leave a fallen brother behind.Tony Martinez, two other Marines and myself carried Dale until the next morning. I believe we may have been the only four but I am not sure about that. This task was one of the most difficult things we did, not only from an endurance and strength demand but also emotionally! Believe it!, we would do it again!! Semper Fi, I will never forget!~Steve Lovejoy, 2nd. Plt. Mike Co, 3/5


See also: Operation ESSEX


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