Frank J. Ambrose

Frank J. Ambrose, Mike 3/5 Frank went into the USMC straight after graduating from high school. He went to boot camp at Parris Island SC. From there he went to ITR at Camp Lejeune NC. There he received special advanced weapons training. After completing his training he went straight to Vietnam as a M-60 machine gunner (MOS 0331).

He was temporally assigned to H&S then permanently to Mike company 3/5. While in Vietnam he served in many combat operations. Some of these included Operation AUBURN, the big TET offensive of 1968, and Operation HOUSTON. He was wounded 3 times by the NVA while on recon and ambush patrols. He was shot by an AK-47 assault riffle, wounded by a booby trap explosion and received shrapnel wounds in the face and chest from an enemy grenade.

He was awarded the Silver Star, 3 Purple Hearts, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Combat Action Ribbon, along with several other medals.

After Vietnam he was medivaced to a hospital platoon in Okinawa to recover from his injuries. Then was sent to San Miguel and Subic Bay, Philippines where he was assigned to a detached guard company. Later he went to Camp Pendleton. Then back to Camp Lejeune where he received his Honorable discharge from the USMC. After the service, Frank obtained his degree in Criminal Justice. He was a Law Enforcement officer in Florida for 24 years. His major hobbies now are Amateur Radio "W4QV" and deer hunting. He has had major problems caused by the scar tissue inside his body from his injuries.

 Most memorable memories from Vietnam were as follows:

We were finally able to spend a few nights in a tent inside our perimeter instead of a muddy fox hole. Some damn gook shot a couple of sniper rounds into the tent. We had just that day been re-supplied with ammo. There were 4 tanks in the perimeter which was very rare. Everyone went to the perimeter wall including the tanks and opened up. The woods and trees were virtually mowed down by the ammunition that was being put out. The word must have spread among the enemy as we were told that perimeter never received any more sniper rounds. Mortar attacks continued on a regular basis.

There was a night when we were engaged in a major fire fight with the NVA. They had us pinned down in a cemetery behind some old tomb stones. The skies were clear and then out of no where PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON opened up on the NVA. He apparently had spotted their green tracers. Puff at that time was as I understand it a C-47 plane with muffled engines. It was equipped with 4 to 6, 50 cal. machine guns on each side. It was said that they could hit every square foot of a football field with a 50 cal. round in less than a minute. Puff got the full attention of the NVA and we were able to hold for reinforcements and advance at daybreak. That was the only time I ever saw Puff.

One time we were headed back to the perimeter after being on a night recon patrol. There were 8 of us and we had an ARVN point man. Gooks had set up to ambush us as we returned by a pretty normal route. By a twist of fate we had decided to walk a path off that route as we returned. We walked in right behind them unseen. We completely wiped them out before they realized what had happened


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Silver Star Citation

Sept. 19, 2008 Forty years ago, LCpl. Frank Ambrose of M Co. 3/5 was recommended for the Silver Star for his actions on 7 Feb. 1968, but it was never awarded. He finally received his medal at Parris Island on Sept. 19, just before the graduation of 869 Marines. Col. W.K. Rockey, the 3/5 Battalon Commander who made the recommendation in 1968, presented the medal. Former M Co. 3/5 Capt. Jim Mitchell, who re-submitted the award package to HQMC in 2006, came to show his support, also Ken Fields, who served in M Co. 3/5 Weapons Plt. with Ambrose (For more information, see "WTOC Salutes Silver Star Vietnam Veteran").

Semper Fi, Frank...long overdue!
~ Brad and Debbe Reynolds~

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1. BrigGen. James Laster, Col. W.K. Rockey, LCpl. Frank Ambrose
2. Col. W.K. Rockey, LCpl. Frank Ambrose, former Capt. Jim Mitchell
3. LCpl. Frank Ambrose with son, Brent, USAF


Feb. 7, 1968

On Feb. 5th or 6th 1968, we (Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division) had made contact with some NVA from the 2nd NVA regiment. We were able to take some prisoners (I think 11). The U.S. Army had more gear then we did. They had a 106 recoilless mounted on a jeep (called a Mule). As we were always in combat, prisoners were no big thing. From what I understand we wound up swapping the Army unit our prisoners for the Mule. That way they would get credit for the NVA POW's. We got the much needed Mule and were taking it to the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) base that worked with us. As it said US Army on it we could not take it back to our base camp.

On Feb. 7th, there were 15 or 16 of us escorting the Mule to the ARVN perimeter that helped 3/5 protect Danang from the south. We were on Hwy. Route 1, south of Danang. There was an M79'er and two other Marines in front of me. We were walking about 10 yards apart. I was the M60 machine gunner. There were only two ammo humpers that day as we were short on men due to the Tet Offensive which had started a week or so earlier. Usually there would have been 3 ammo humpers carrying extra M60 ammo.

We crossed a small bridge (about 60 to 70 ft. long). We were just entering a village going toward an old French fort. The point man was about 60 yards past the bridge. I with the M60 was in front of the Mule, about 40 yards back from the point man. The M79'er was second from the front. The Mule had just cleared the bridge when all of a sudden civilians on the road start running. Some one hollered, "ambush!" Then almost instantly a rocket or mortar hit the front of the Mule killing both guys on it. The 106 was pointing to the back left over the bridge where we had just came from.

All hell broke loose. I saw one NVA throw a grenade at me. I was able to shoot him before the grenade went off. I took a lot of shrapnel in the face and chest from the grenade. I guess it was his responsibility to take out the machine gunner. We jumped in the drainage ditch along side the road. It was about 4 ft. deep. They were shooting so much at us, I will never forget trying to look up for targets. The sand blasting off my face like a sand blaster from their rounds hitting the ground in front of me then ricocheting over my head. The guys that were still alive were running out of ammo, as it turned out to be a extreme large number of NVA that we had walked into. Apparently from after action reports the NVA were staging there to attack Danang from the south the next morning. History shows that Danang never was attacked from the south during the TET offensive. That, protecting the southern approach to Danang was one of 3/5's assignments along with keeping route 1 open. There was a massive number of NVA. I have heard from several hundred to well over a thousand NVA troops fighting against the few of us who had not been killed from the get go.

Robert Montgomery, who was on the M79, had been badly wounded, and shortly ran out of M79's. There were guys dead on both sides of me. The one on my left was blown in half from a rocket or mortar. I took the M60 ammo off of him. The M79'er came back through the ditch and jumped over me as I was shooting. Everyone else up front had been killed. He was taking the ammo and weapons off dead Marines also. (I guess about 30 minutes had lapsed since we had walked into the ambush.) I had seen 3 Marines run out to the 106 to try to turn and fire it. At the time I did not understand why, because it was pointed to the back left of us. We were being hit from the village buildings in front of us. The Mule's left side tires were blown, and it was leaning to the left.

I later found out later that there was a large number of NVA coming up behind us through a rice paddy trying to flank our position. Two of the Marines had been shot and killed going for the 106, and the third was laying on route 1 screaming from wounds. I think that he later died. They had been trying to get to the 106 to fire it at the advancing NVA that were flanking us. It had a beehive round in the chamber. That definitely would have put a hurting on the NVA had it been fired.

There were just a few of us left. Montgomery had been wounded again in several parts of his body and was going in and out of conscientious. That left me alone with the next live Marine about 20-30 yards behind me, back by the bridge. I could not see the NVA behind me and was unaware of them being there. Luckily for me the sergeant who was back close to the bridge saw 2 of them about just a few yards behind me trying to come over the other side of the ditch to knock out the machinegun and shot them both as they got to the top of the ditch brim. One fell backward and the other feel in the ditch very close to me. When I saw him I at the time had no idea how he got there. I was firing at the main ambush in front of us trying to preserve all the ammo that I could and still hold the NVA back.

It had been about 30 to 40 minutes before our Captain, Jim Mitchell, and another group of Marines who were trying to get to us, finally arrived. They had been ambushed along the way. Jeff Goss was a grunt with them. He ran across the bridge (under very heavy fire) and ran up to my location. I was bleeding bad, and my whole face was blood. He laid out some cover fire while I crawled over the dead Marine to my right. We noticed Robert Montgomery appeared to still be alive, so Jeff took my M60 as it was 22 lbs. and gave me his lighter M16. He took the Montgomery's right shoulder, and I took his left, and we drug him face down through the ditch to the safety of a cement building. Part of the old French fort. When we got there I attempted to stop his bleeding, then returned by the door with Jeff who was guarding us. We again swapped weapons and began to lay covering fire. Montgomery lived, and we now talk regularly. At the time I had figured he had died, and only learned different a few years ago.

As more Marines advanced across the bridge, the NVA broke and ran. I was told the support Marines chased them for 2 days before they caught them and virtually wiped them all out. History shows that Danang never was attacked from the south during the TET offensive. We had completely disrupted the NVA's attack plans for the attack on Danang and now they were on the run.


Frank and Barbara Ambrose

Frank & Barb have 2 sons who are both USAF officers. Brent is a Major and Commanding officer, Craig is a Lt. Colonel. They have 3 grandsons. Jake, Ryan and Connor. Craig was sworn into the USAF by a USMC Major in honor of Frank's service in the USMC.

One of Frank's hunting trophies. This buck made the Florida Buck Registry and was taken with a 357 mag. revolver pistol in central Florida.

This is the whitetail deer Frank shot in Canada, November 2002. It's final score should be enough to make the Boone & Crockett record books. It weighed in right at 300 LBS.

Frank, Barb and Cody on a trip to NC, 2007

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3rd Battlion, 5th Marines Reunion May 2003
La Grange, Georgia

3/5 Marines and their Ladies

Col. Dean Esslinger, Col. Bill Rockey, Frank Ambrose

1. Sgt.Maj. Wright holding our 3/5 colors for M/3/5 Marines Bob Montgomery and Frank Ambrose
2. Charles Tate, Bob Montgomery, Frank Ambrose
3. Charles Tate, Frank Ambrose
4. Bob Montgomery, Chaplain Roger Richards, Frank Ambrose

1. Charles and Nancy Tate (Charles was the Marine criminal investigator for I Corps in Nam)
2. Bob and Nancy Montgomery
3. Frank and Barbara Ambrose
4. Nancy Tate, Nancy Montgomery, Barbara Ambrose


Mike 3/5 Website

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