Curtis Batten
South China Sea, Vietnam '67

Curtis Batten, Mike 3/5 I served with Mike Co. late Sept. or Oct. '67. Participated in Operation SHELBYVILLE, ESSEX, AUBURN (TET), BAXTER GARDEN, HOUSTON I and HOUSTON II, ALLENBROOK, MAMELUKE THRUST, and countless No Names, and patrols and ambushes.

I enlisted into the Marine Corps on what was then called the "BUDDY PLAN" in the fall of 1966 and had been guaranteed (HAHA) by the recruitment Sgt. that all enlistee's east of the Mississippi went to Paris Island, S.C. and that everyone west of the Mississippi went to San Diego and would become a Hollywood Marine (QUOTE--UNQUOTE). 

I was later inducted in New Orleans, La. along with my reach and grab-em physical. In the spring of 1967 I was told to report to New Orleans International Airport and upon arrival to go to the Delta Air Lines ticket counter and they would have my travel voucher located there. Upon my arrival at Delta I was informed to go to Piedmont Airline ticket counter that there had been a change in my travel orders. Oh well, so it began already!!

 Upon my getting over to the Piedmont counter I was given a ticket and told what time my flight departed and what the flight number was. I then looked at my ticket and saw Charleston, S.C. I told the ticket agent that there must be some mistake but he told me that there was a change and that a whole bunch of us were going to Parris Island for training. He did not know anything more than that and neither did I.

After boot camp and A.I.T. at Camp LeJune, N.C. I was then shipped to Camp Pendleton for further training in my M.O.S. which was 0351 (Rockets--106 Recoilless Rifle--Flamethrower). Upon completion of advanced training I was herded aboard the BIG BIRD and sent west (FOREVER and FOREVER). Upon arrival in Viet Nam I was assigned to 5th Marine Regiment.

Upon checking into 5th Regiment I was assigned to Weapon's Plt. of Mike Co. 3rd Bat. 5th Marines. At the time I arrived the company was in the bush on an operation which I later learned was called "OPERATION SWIFT". I got there during the last couple of days of this operation, but I do remember everyone talking about a Chaplain and some of the heroic deeds which he had performed. Later found out it was Father Capodanno and he had gotten killed while attending to wounded Marines, something most Chaplains do not do on a regular basis, most of them just aren't that close to the action. It was VERY evident to this BOOT that everyone really liked Father Capodanno and not only did they like him, they respected him.

June 1, '68, transferred from 1st Plt. Weapons to 2nd Plt Weapons. The reason was to be a squad leader in 2nd Plt. Shortly after this, I contracted Malaria, and was medivaced to the hospital ship USS Sanctuary which was cruising off the coast of South Viet Nam. Boy was that ever slack duty. Ended up getting put onto report because a bunch of us JARHEADS got into a food fight with the SWABBIES in the mess hall (for some reason the Captain of the ship did not like that, I guess it was because we had backed all of his SWABBIES out of the mess hall. I don't know what all of the fuss was about, it was all done in fun, just nobody has a sense of humor.) 

Of course it was fun after the chills and fever subsided, those of you that contracted Malaria know what I'm talking about, my temperature was 106 when they checked me in and then placed me into or onto the aluminum ice bed. 

After my returning to An Hoa, the company was in the bush (The Arizona Territory), one bad place for booby traps and huge rice paddies. Seems like someone would hit one of those God awful booby traps at least everyday if not more often. I was shot in the left leg on Sept. 18, 1968, and subsequently medivaced back to Japan (The 101st Medical Evacuation Hospital) from Charlie Medical in DaNang.  

From Japan I was medivaced to Corpus Christi, Tx. Naval Hospital for final recuperation and therapy. From Corpus Christi, I was assigned duty at M.C.A.S. Yuma, Az. in the M.P. Battalion where I ended up as Sgt. of the Guard. I was discharged from the Marine Corps April 1970 in Yuma, AZ..~Semper Fi, Curtis Batten


Friend or Foe?

We all liked them, friend or foe

For some reason Brad Reynolds is one of the few people that I have recognized. One of Brad's pics is taken standing outside of weapons platoon tent on Hill 55. I remember the day Brad was zinged by the Betty (June 15, 68), I was not far behind. I also remember Willie Riviera, "THE" Dirty Dan, Jerry Lomax, Doc Bowman (MY TRUE HERO), I just thought that he was invincible.

Left pic: Brad Reynolds on Hill 55
Right pic: Willie Riviera (left) and Marine (can't remember his name)

I remember the camaraderie which we shared along with other things. I mean we never gave it a second thought to drink something behind someone else or to eat from the same can together or smoke the same cig--it is memories like those which I enjoy the most. WE WERE TIGHT. I can remember so many things which took place, but yet all of the faces and names are so fuzzy to me. There was a LOVE among us that no one else can know unless they were there. Not that I think that our combat experiences were different from other combat veterans, but we did fight the oppressed war. So we were the only ones that we could truly trust at the time- EACH OTHER.

Left: Curt sewing pants with needle and thread from Doc Bowman
Right: Curt and Willie Riviera, too pooped to pop

Ontos on Operation ESSEX
Nov. '67

Jan. 30-Feb. 8 '68

I remember that they told us we were going to Phu Bai, and then we ended up landing on a bald hill where we set in for the night. Gunny told us to dig in deep cause we was up north now, and the GOOKS got artillery. I remember all of us saying --- Well why don't you just stick up a red flag as to our location, I mean DUUUUH we just landed a whole company of Marines on top of that hill not like there was any secrets about it. 

That night was the coldest I think I can ever remember, EVVVVER. Man it was cold, all of us were down in our holes huddled together trying to stay warm. It really wasn't all that cold temperature wise, it is just that we had been flown up from the flatlands into the mountains and we were not used to the temperature change. I also remember someone, a Sgt. I think, checking the lines that night and someone shot him. Don't really remember much about that. All of us were pretty jumpy right then when the GOOKS kicked off TET. 

They pulled us out of Dodge City and sent us to attempt to make contact with an ARVN compound, or maybe it was a RuffPuff outfit that was being overrun, but anyway when we entered that village while walking down the road they ambushed us and kicked the dog poop out of us. They knew that we would come and help out, so they set up an ambush using that compound as bait.


Operation HOUSTON II
Hill 1192 (Haivan Pass)
May 8-16, 1968

Haivan Pass looking from the South

I remember when Jerry Lomax was hit in the arm, it was on Hill 1192 and I think that all of us that were up there remember what that steep mother looked like. That truly was a BAD scene. I remember Doc Bowman when he got hit the last time he was only about 15 or 20 twenty feet away from me. Jerry was there with him, and then the other corpsman (can't remember his name) crawled over to them but it was too late. I truly think and always will to the day I die that Doc deserved The Medal of Honor for that day, man, he just would not stop even though he was already hit. 

Going up Hill 1192 (Haivan Pass)

I remember crying that night, we lost so so so many good men during those few days. Years later after I got home, my stepfather told me one day that he remembered a time in May 1968 that he and my mother were eating breakfast and had the morning news on. He said that it mentioned something about a Marine unit being pinned down and surrounded, very vague. 

He said that my mother just looked at him and said "That is Curt that they are talking about", something only a mother could understand. Since we were on that hill for "MOTHER'S DAY," I remember that after we were finally relieved I took a poster down from one of the huts (mess hall) I think. It was very a pretty picture of some flowers which had been water colored. I wrote a short note on it and then in larger letters wrote "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY," to this day it hangs in her bedroom.


Muts at Haivan Pass and USMC K-9

Viet Family and Irrigation System


Doc Bowman Memorial

A Real Combat Story


Operation ESSEX

Operation AUBURN 

Operation HOUSTON

Operation HOUSTON II
NVA Base Camp
Hill 1192


Mike 3/5 Website

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