Submitted by: Don Bumgarner C-1-3
Email: dbumc13usmc@verizon.net

Date: Aug 5, 06

Operation Buffalo

 

            On July 3rd, B/1/9 had gotten in trouble up at DMZ, and we went in on operation BEAR CLAW/BUFFALO(Quang Tri Province-area around Con Thien).  It was a TUFF OPERATION with lots of ROCKETS and ARTY INCOMING. On the third day, we took a 250 round barrage, lucky we were dug in good. Actually the Ground was HARD, and  I was with a Marine named "Johnson", we barely dug a hole that covered us both on our sides facing each other head to feet of each other. Mortars provided interperimeter guard for the Captain and CP. I was in the hole with Johnson , and the arty and rockets were close with shrapnel flying over our heads. The dust would settle, and Johnson would light up a cigarette as he was a smoker, I wasn't at that time. He had a hell of a time lighting up with his SHAKY HANDS. Will always remember him barely getting his cigarette lit. I always figured my head to the north, just in case a round landed in the hole, and hoped for the BEST. I thought maybe I would survive, but didn't know about Johnson. After one barrage of rounds, close again, and the dust settling I looked out and saw a Marine about 30-40 feet away, he jumped  up off the ground, pulled up his pants, and rushed back to his hole. He apparently was responding to the call of nature-taking a dump, out by himself without his Helmet or Flack Vest, when the rounds started landing. Brought a smile to my face. A couple days later, we lost a S/SGT and SGT when the S/SGT was hit by a round. The S/SGT Malloy had been a DI at boot camp to my sister platoon (2219, I think). He and SGT Pike, both were good guys. B/1/9 I think earned the title "THE WALKING DEAD", from this operation, as I heard 15 men from the company made it out with half of em wounded. I remember there were pictures of Tanks with KIA bodies stacked up on em from this operation. I'm sure anyone that was there, REMEMBERS Operation Buffalo.

 


Submitted by: Bruce Jones D/1/3
Email: BJones1@loomisfargo.com
Date:3/27/06

January 26, 1966

January 26, 1966 was my first day on the hill with D/1/3.  I still have no idea geographically where “the hill” as I call it was located. Some have told me it was/is NW of Danang others SW of Danang. D company would put out four man teams, “snatch patrols/ outposts” pretty much every day. The four marines who were killed On January 26, 1966 were I believe from Delta, got complacent, and were pretty badly fucked up. There’s a ton I don’t remember.  I don’t remember the two women being part of this but am not surprised…it took a few months but eventually I didn’t trust any of the locals.   Pissed off that it happened, this tragedy made us take the snatch patrol very seriously! 

The snatch patrols were hit at least twice while we were out on operations.  Typically an Army unit would come in and man the hill when we were off it.  All four of one replacement “Snatch Patrol” were KIA one time and as memory serves me a couple more another time.  The local VC just knew whom they could get to and whom they couldn’t.  “Wish I knew then what I know now!” 

Also there were two Amtrac's that hit mines.  After the first one blew, the second Amtrac moved north and hit another mine. Again, we were out on a snatch patrol about 50 meters from the mine when they blew. The Amtrac's had no idea we were there. Those were the worst wounds I ever saw….  Terrible burns….  I always thought it was Bravo Company though. Company C was a surprise.   

As a side note: one of the marines who was with me the day the Amtrac’s went up was wounded in the “Wild Pig Attack.”  The hog hooked him pushing a tusk into one knee. In an attempt to shoot the pig off of the man, another Marine accidentally shot the same guy in the other knee. He was a character; don’t remember his name, always clowning around but a good Marine.  He was put him in charge of my team while I went on R&R. We had walked that area a dozen times and never saw anything like that.  They said the VC had corralled these animals and released the pissed of porkers when the squad made contact. Not sure that was the case but sounds better than the alternative…”sorry sir, I fucked up!” He wasn’t supposed to be out there then, he volunteered. My section leader said he was spread-eagled from the waist down in a wishbone body cast.  I was so pissed off at him leaving my team to go walk in the woods and passed on going back to see him.  Wish now I had. <laughing> He was hooked/shot the night before I got back.  I sent a picture of him to Ray Kelly last year. I never knew Ray, he joined the company when in Khe Sanh. 

Just a few memories were brought back by this timetable.  Is there one that is more detailed?  I remember a few incidents I was involved in that were pretty interesting but don’t see them listed.  When I have time I’ll write those down and send your direction.  


Submitted by: Don Bumgarner C-1-3
Email: dbumc13usmc@verizon.net
Date:

May 1967

I remember on our fifth night of the operation(May 2nd), as we were digging in for the night(HARD digging too) on a hill top, a group making a WATER RUN was out, and it was getting dusk. All of a sudden RED Tracers were flying by and exploding(57 recoiless rounds), and we all got down. I saw bullets hitting all about us, but nothing real close. Being in mortars, we were up the hill from the lines. Kelly(Gerald Kelly) and I were in a hole together, but I was outside the hole. Bullets started coming up the hill towards us, and Kelly got hit in his ankle. A moment later a bullet hit next to my right side, kicked up dirt, and SCARED me big time. I asked Kelly if there was room in the hole for me, he said YES, and I was there next to him. The enemy apparently saw my movement, and put alot of fire into that area. Bullets were zinging by and kicking dirt on both Kelly and me. Then the fire subsidded a bit, I yelled for a Corpsman for Kelly.

That was an AMBUSH I shall never forget. We spent the rest of the night in a Zig Zag Trench up the hill, where I had delivered some mortar rounds, and saw my first DEAD Marine the next morning. Kelly had been Medivaced and presummed He had returned home, never saw him again during my tour in Nam.


Submitted by: Percy Avalos C/1/3
Email: percy@softcom.net
Date:

September 1967

The following event is derived from memories and a few photographs I took while assigned to the 1st Platoon of "Charley" Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, "Special Landing Force-Alpha". Operation "BEACON POINT" was conducted in the Quang Tri/Thua Thien Provinces, Republic of Vietnam, from 01Sep67 to 05Sep67. We lifted off the USS Okinawa-LPH-3, aboard CH-34's Helicopters landing in our area of operation sometime in the morning of 01Sep67. 1st Platoon was located in an area surrounded by the usual dry rice paddies, bamboo type foliage, and a few Hamlets. 1st platoon had it's "Gun-team", 3.5 Rockets, Communications, and Corpsmen’s. One of the two Corpsman assigned to us was on his first combat operation, and would have to use ALL his medical skills to Save Lives, in the next couple of days. After a brief halt in our platoon area, we received the word to "Mount-Up", and move out assuming our position on the left flank of "Charley" Company.

Approximately an hour or so into our "SWEEP", we noticed a dirt berm, (used to separate rice fields), about two to three feet high with a tree-line beyond the berm. I was trailing Lt. Francis as we approached the dirt berm, when we came under small-arms fire from our direct front. I continued to follow Lieutenant Francis, when out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed two of our Marines ten to fifteen yards behind us. At that point, I stopped and yelled for them to come-up on line, when our Radioman passed me and started following the Lieutenant. As I turned back towards the dirt berm, I heard a Large EXPLOSION, then saw a cloud of Dust with several Marines screaming in pain. Our Radioman had just stepped on a anti-personnel Mine(a Bouncing Betty), Killing him instantly, seriously wounding our 3.5 anti-tank(Rockets) Marine (hand and crotch) plus several others in the platoon. Our Corpsman, did an outstanding Job that day keeping individuals alive and calm.

TO THIS DAY, I have wondered WHY our Radioman made the Ultimate Sacrifice for our Beloved Corps, and I was left Unscathed. UN-Scathed in Body, but not in mind. This operation, "BEACON POINT", in which "Charley" Company conducted down the infamous "STREET  WITHOUT JOY" will stay with ME personally till my last breath on this earth.

(Sgt Percy Avalos, 1st Platoon, C/1/3)


Submitted by: Bill Bratton H&S-1-3
Email:
twbratton@comcast.net
Date:
3/26/06

May 22 1969

I love your site or, as I should say, our site. I am so proud to have been a part of this historic outfit just as I am extremely proud to be a part of the Corps. I was serving with H&S 1/3 on LZ Kevin near the DMZ on May 22, 1969 when Cpl. Paul Edward Speaks was killed by a direct hit from the incoming we were taking from across the "D". He was in a hole about six feet from my hole. We were already packed up to leave that morning and the choppers were actually going to come out and get us. We waited but they didn't come. Someone said the General and his entourage had to go to the PX so the choppers were tied up. Some more of the sick humor we all shared. While we waited, with most or our gear packed and ready, the NVA "seized the moment" and began shelling us with mortars, rockets and artillery from across the D. This went on for a couple of hours and it seemed more like a couple of days. When the round hit in the hole next to me, I knew there was little or no chance of either of the guys surviving. I still jumped up and went over and there was nothing but blackened skin and tattered clothes left. When we tried to get them out of the hole to take up to the LZ for later extraction, I grabbed the arms and someone else grabbed the legs. When we started to lift, the limbs began to tear loose from the torso. We jumped down in the hole and carefully lifted them out and onto a poncho. We carried them both up to the LZ. The rounds were still coming in all the time we were doing this. When I got back to my hole, my hole had taken a direct hit also. My pack, rifle and all my belongings were torn to pieces. I lost all my pictures, letters and other personal effects. I still had my life and, for that, I am thankful. In the truest sense of the word, my life was spared by the sacrifice of others.

The reason I am sending this is to let you know that, although you have Cpl. Speaks on this web site, PFC John Ralford Jackson, who was killed at the same instant in the same hole, is not on this site. I know you must verify this before you put it on the site but this information is available on several web sites reporting the KIA on this day. I also found the information on your site under the "No Quarter" icon. I have copied and pasted the info below. If you could confirm this info, it would be an honor to us all to have PFC Jackson included in the list of 1/3 Marines. Thank you for all you do. Welcome Home!


Submitted by: Bill Ervin D-1-3
Email:
hatch101@comcast.net
Date:
3/26/06

May 22 1969

When I received the letter above from Bill Bratton, I had a few shivers run through me. I was also on that hill on May 22. I was a machine gunner with Delta Company 2nd platoon. Though I had not been in country very long, I was carrying the M-60 early in my tour because I was the only man in the squad who was actually trained as an 0331 and because the machine gun section had recently taken heavy losses. Delta Company had been having a rough month all through May. It began on May 1 when the company was caught in an ambush and we were getting hit on a regular basis throughout the Month. Mutter's Ridge was known to be a bad place. Located just below the DMZ and about 7 miles west of Con Thien, the hilly terrain had a reputation of being a stronghold for NVA troops moving down from the North.

When Delta Company moved on to LZ Kevin, the hill was pitted with gaping craters from a recent B-52 drop. There were NVA bodies scattered over the hillside and the place stunk of death. We all knew this was a bad place and everyone dug in deep. This was one of the few times in the field when I can remember stringing concertina wire and tangle-foot around a position that we were not going to occupy for long. Everyone was busy making our lines as strong as we could and there were few complaints about it.

On the night of May 21, I was sent out on ambush with a squad from 2nd platoon. We found a good spot in some thick brush down by the stream that wound through the valley about a klick from the Company position. There were about ten of us on this ambush and we were all edgy. None of us got much sleep that night even though it passed without incident.

Just before dawn, the leader of our party passed word for us to saddle up and get ready to head back to the perimeter. We were about half way up the hillside when we heard the first pop of a distant mortar tube. A few seconds later, we saw the gray smoke from the impact inside the company lines. A few moments later, the hillside began to erupt with explosions. Since the side of the hill was completely barren due to the B-52 drop, there was not much cover for those of us trying to make our way back to the company lines. We scrambled to the perimeter and had to weave our way through the barbed wire that we had so diligently strung just the day before, all the time dropping to the ground whenever we heard the sound of rounds being fired from the distance. Finally inside the wire, we dashed for the safety of the first fighting holes we could find.

I eventually made it back to the rest of my gun team that had not gone on the ambush. They were all standing in their holes, listening for the next volley to be fired then hunkering down as the incoming screamed in on us. We had taken incoming before but normally, we would only get a couple of rounds and it would stop. This morning it never stopped. We continued to receive fire until past 10:00 and the word came around to pack our gear and get ready to pull off the hill. One man would run out and gather his gear while the rest of us listened for tube pops. After nearly an hour of this, we were packed and ready for the word to move out. Finally, the word came around and we joined the string of Marines hastily heading off the hill. We moved quickly down the hill and up another that was over a klick away. Setting up a hasty defense, we waited in the hot sun for another two hours before the choppers came in to lift us out to Con Thein.

We lost four Marines that day. All of them to incoming. The after action reports show that we received more than three hundred heavy mortar and artillery rounds that morning. It was also said that a force of approximately 400-500 NVA were seen closing in on our position as we moved off the hill.