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1966: Troops and protests increase
along with strategy concerns


It was the year of the reality check, when Americans and their own government began to realize just what they faced in Vietnam — a resourceful and tenacious enemy, quarrelsome allies and an Asian society whose complexity they could barely understand.

Back home in 1966, the U.S. administration struggled to sell the war as a noble and necessary sacrifice to stop global communism and save a weak, backward people from an evil aggressor seeking to enslave them.

At first the effort was successful.

THE FIRST ROCK AND ROLL WAR

The sonic revolution and one-upmanship that defined 1966 make a compelling case to call it the greatest year in music history. Just two years after the Beatles fired the shot across America’s bow that started the British Invasion, the mop tops had matured as songwriters and recording artists.

In August 1966 they released “Revolver,” a fully-realized work that helped the album supplant the single as rock’s dominant art form. The other major players in the game of catch-me-if-you-can, The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan, released albums on the same day that are regularly ranked with “Revolver” on the best-of-all time lists.

They were not alone in defining the sound of the Vietnam era.

LEFT: Illustration by Bev Schilling/Stars and Stripes



 


 

REUNION AT THE BASIC SCHOOL



After five decades Marine officers reunite, reminisce about The Basic School

Most of them took the military road before they knew it was headed to Vietnam. They were high school graduates in 1962 – intelligent but not necessarily wealthy, and for many, ROTC scholarships meant a free ride to college.

By the time they chose to become Marine Corps officers, there was no doubt where they’d be going. The war that would define them was burning on the horizon. It was their calling, and these boys on the verge of manhood were eager to fight.

Select a photo below to read more about the reunited officers


Hon Lee

Artillery officer


Navy ROTC University of Oklahoma, artillery officer in Vietnam 1967-68, CIA intelligence officer 1971-2001, founder of martial arts school, opened Chinese medicine and acupuncture practice in 2001.


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Mike Wholley

F-4 Phantom pilot


Navy ROTC at Harvard University, flight school 1968, flew F-4 Phantom jets in Vietnam 1960-70. Thirty-year Marine Corps career, law degree and two master’s degrees. Chief judge and staff judge advocate of the Marine Corps.


Retired as brigadier general, was executive director of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, appointed general counsel for NASA. Retired in 2014 and loves to ride his motorcycle.


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Roger Hunt and John Astle

CH-46 helicopter pilots


Roger “York” Hunt, 71 Navy ROTC the College of the Holy Cross, Navy Flight School in Pensacola, Fla., 1967-1968. Flew CH-46 copter in Vietnam 1968-69. Left Marine Corps in 1970 and became a U.S. postal inspector. Retired in 1999.


John “Ace” Astle, 73: Enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves out of high school, Marshall University in West Virginia and Platoon Leaders Course, 1962-66, Navy Flight School in Pensacola, Fla., 1967-68. Flew CH-46 helicopter in Vietnam 1968-69, served as a pilot on Marine One, retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel after 30 years. Spent several years as a police pilot, and since 1982, has been an elected official in the Maryland legislature – first in the House, then in the Senate.


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John Sullivan and Robert Lund

Marine Observation Squadron-6, Vietnam 1968-69


John Sullivan, 71: University of Southern California, Platoon Leaders Course 1963, comissioned 1966, flight school 1966-68. Flew Huey gunships with Marine Observation Squadron-6 in Vietnam 1968-69, retired as colonel, 1994, became associate business professor and college athletics director and founded a leadership teaching ministry in Africa


Robert Lund, 72: Navy ROTC College of the Holy Cross, Flight school 1966-1968. Flew Huey gunships with Marine Observation Squadron-6 in Vietnam 1968-69, released from active duty 1971, career in information technology.


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Ord Elliot

Rifle platoon commander


Ord Elliott, 72: Princeton, 1966, Platoon Leadership Course, rifle platoon commander in Vietnam 1967, left Marine Corps 1972. Earned a PhD at Purdue University in 1974, associate professor and professor 1973-1982, management consultant and business strategic adviser, founder of two companies


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FEATURES






INTERACTIVE | THE MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS OF 1966

Staff Sgt. Delbert O. Jennings, U.S. Army

Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division

Kim Song Valley, Vietnam

Dec. 27, 1966


Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Part of Company C was defending an artillery position when attacked by a North Vietnamese Army regiment supported by mortar, recoilless-rifle and machine gun fire.


At the outset, S/Sgt. Jennings sprang to his bunker, astride the main attack route, and slowed the on-coming enemy wave with highly effective machine gun fire. Despite a tenacious defense in which he killed at least 12 of the enemy, his squad was forced to the rear.


After covering the withdrawal of the squad, he rejoined his men, destroyed an enemy demolition crew about to blow up a nearby howitzer, and killed 3 enemy soldiers at his initial bunker position.


Ordering his men back into a secondary position, he again covered their withdrawal, killing 1 enemy with the butt of his weapon.


Observing that some of the defenders were unaware of an enemy force in their rear, he raced through a fire-swept area to warn the men, turn their fire on the enemy, and lead them into the secondary perimeter.


Assisting in the defense of the new position, he aided the air-landing of reinforcements by throwing white phosphorous grenades on the landing zone despite dangerously silhouetting himself with the light.


After helping to repulse the final enemy assaults, he led a group of volunteers well beyond friendly lines to an area where 8 seriously wounded men lay.


Braving enemy sniper fire and ignoring the presence of booby traps in the area, they recovered the 8 men who would have probably perished without early medical treatment.


S/Sgt. Jenning’s extraordinary heroism and inspirational leadership saved the lives of many of his comrades and contributed greatly to the defeat of a superior enemy force.


His actions stand with the highest traditions of the military profession and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


Pfc. Lewis Albanese, U.S. Army

Company B, 5th Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

Vietnam

Dec. 1, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Albanese’s platoon, while advancing through densely covered terrain to establish a blocking position, received intense automatic weapons fire from close range


As other members maneuvered to assault the enemy position, Pfc. Albanese was ordered to provide security for the left flank of the platoon. Suddenly, the left flank received fire from enemy located in a well-concealed ditch.


Realizing the imminent danger to his comrades from this fire, Pfc. Albanese fixed his bayonet and moved aggressively into the ditch. His action silenced the sniper fire, enabling the platoon to resume movement toward the main enemy position.


As the platoon continued to advance, the sound of heavy firing emanated from the left flank from a pitched battle that ensued in the ditch which Pfc. Albanese had entered.


The ditch was actually a well-organized complex of enemy defenses designed to bring devastating flanking fire on the forces attacking the main position.


Pfc. Albanese, disregarding the danger to himself, advanced 100 meters along the trench and killed 6 of the snipers, who were armed with automatic weapons. Having exhausted his ammunition, Pfc. Albanese was mortally wounded when he engaged and killed 2 more enemy soldiers in fierce hand-to-hand combat.


His unparalleled actions saved the lives of many members of his platoon who otherwise would have fallen to the sniper fire from the ditch, and enabled his platoon to successfully advance against an enemy force of overwhelming numerical superiority.


Pfc. Albanese’s extraordinary heroism and supreme dedication to his comrades were commensurate with the finest traditions of the military service and remain a tribute to himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


Sgt. Ted Belcher, U.S. Army

Company C, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Plei Djerang, Vietnam

Nov. 19, 1966


Citation: Distinguishing himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life. Sgt. Belcher’s unit was engaged in a search and destroy mission with Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, the Battalion Reconnaissance Platoon and a special forces company of civilian irregular defense group personnel.


As a squad leader of the 2d Platoon of Company C, Sgt. Belcher was leading his men when they encountered a bunker complex. The reconnaissance platoon, located a few hundred meters northwest of Company C, received a heavy volume of fire from well camouflaged snipers.


As the 2d Platoon moved forward to assist the unit under attack, Sgt. Belcher and his squad, advancing only a short distance through the dense jungle terrain, met heavy and accurate automatic weapons and sniper fire.


Sgt. Belcher and his squad were momentarily stopped by the deadly volume of enemy fire. He quickly gave the order to return fire and resume the advance toward the enemy.


As he moved up with his men, a hand grenade landed in the midst of the sergeant’s squad. Instantly realizing the immediate danger to his men, Sgt. Belcher, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, lunged forward, covering the grenade with his body.


Absorbing the grenade blast at the cost of his life, he saved his comrades from becoming casualties.


Sgt. Belcher’s profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.


Capt. (then 1st Lt.) Joseph Xavier Grant, U.S. Army

Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Vietnam

Nov. 13, 1966


Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Company A was participating in a search and destroy operation when the leading platoon made contact with the enemy and a fierce fire-fight ensued.


Capt. Grant was ordered to disengage the 2 remaining platoons and to maneuver them to envelop and destroy the enemy. After beginning their movement, the platoons encountered intense enemy automatic weapons and mortar fire from the front and flank.


Capt. Grant was ordered to deploy the platoons in a defensive position. As this action was underway, the enemy attacked, using human wave assaults, in an attempt to literally overwhelm Capt. Grant’s force.


In a magnificent display of courage and leadership, Capt. Grant moved under intense fire along the hastily formed defensive line repositioning soldiers to fill gaps created by the mounting casualties and inspiring and directing the efforts of his men to successfully repel the determined enemy onslaught.


Seeing a platoon leader wounded, Capt. Grant hastened to his aid, in the face of the mass of fire of the entire enemy force, and moved him to a more secure position. During this action, Capt. Grant was wounded in the shoulder.


With a supply of hand grenades, he crawled forward under a withering hail of fire and knocked out the machine gun, killing the crew, after which he moved the wounded man to safety.


Learning that several other wounded men were pinned down by enemy fire forward of his position, Capt. Grant disregarded his painful wound and led 5 men across the fire-swept open ground to effect a rescue.


Following return of the wounded men to the perimeter, a concentration of mortar fire landed in their midst and Capt. Grant was killed instantly. His heroic actions saved the lives of a number of his comrades and enabled the task force to repulse the vicious assaults and defeat the enemy.


Capt. Grant’s actions reflect great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Army.


Capt. Euripides Rubio, U.S. Army

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, RVN

Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam

Nov. 8, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Rubio, Infantry, was serving as communications officer, 1st Battalion, when a numerically superior enemy force launched a massive attack against the battalion defense position.


Intense enemy machinegun fire raked the area while mortar rounds and rifle grenades exploded within the perimeter. Leaving the relative safety of his post, Capt. Rubio received 2 serious wounds as he braved the withering fire to go to the area of most intense action where he distributed ammunition, re-established positions and rendered aid to the wounded.


Disregarding the painful wounds, he unhesitatingly assumed command when a rifle company commander was medically evacuated. Capt. Rubio was wounded a third time as he selflessly exposed himself to the devastating enemy fire to move among his men to encourage them to fight with renewed effort.


While aiding the evacuation of wounded personnel, he noted that a smoke grenade which was intended to mark the Viet Cong position for air strikes had fallen dangerously close to the friendly lines. Capt. Rubio ran to reposition the grenade but was immediately struck to his knees by enemy fire.


Despite his several wounds, Capt. Rubio scooped up the grenade, ran through the deadly hail of fire to within 20 meters of the enemy position and hurled the already smoking grenade into the midst of the enemy before he fell for the final time.


Using the repositioned grenade as a marker, friendly air strikes were directed to destroy the hostile positions. Capt. Rubio’s singularly heroic act turned the tide of battle, and his extraordinary leadership and valor were a magnificent inspiration to his men.


His remarkable bravery and selfless concern for his men are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on Capt. Rubio and the U.S. Army.


Capt. Robert F. Foley, U.S. Army

Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Near Quan Dau Tieng, Vietnam

Nov. 5, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Foley’s company was ordered to extricate another company of the battalion.


Moving through the dense jungle to aid the besieged unit, Company A encountered a strong enemy force occupying well concealed, defensive positions, and the company’s leading element quickly sustained several casualties. Capt. Foley immediately ran forward to the scene of the most intense action to direct the company’s efforts.


Deploying 1 platoon on the flank, he led the other 2 platoons in an attack on the enemy in the face of intense fire. During this action both radio operators accompanying him were wounded. At grave risk to himself he defied the enemy’s murderous fire, and helped the wounded operators to a position where they could receive medical care.


As he moved forward again 1 of his machine gun crews was wounded. Seizing the weapon, he charged forward firing the machine gun, shouting orders and rallying his men, thus maintaining the momentum of the attack.


Under increasingly heavy enemy fire he ordered his assistant to take cover and, alone, Capt. Foley continued to advance firing the machine gun until the wounded had been evacuated and the attack in this area could be resumed. When movement on the other flank was halted by the enemy’s fanatical defense, Capt. Foley moved to personally direct this critical phase of the battle.


Leading the renewed effort he was blown off his feet and wounded by an enemy grenade. Despite his painful wounds he refused medical aid and persevered in the forefront of the attack on the enemy redoubt. He led the assault on several enemy gun emplacements and, single-handedly, destroyed 3 such positions.


His outstanding personal leadership under intense enemy fire during the fierce battle which lasted for several hours, inspired his men to heroic efforts and was instrumental in the ultimate success of the operation.


Capt. Foley’s magnificent courage, selfless concern for his men and professional skill reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.


Sgt. (then Pfc.) John F. Baker Jr., U.S. Army

Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Vietnam

Nov. 5, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. En route to assist another unit that was engaged with the enemy, Company A came under intense enemy fire and the lead man was killed instantly.


Sgt. Baker immediately moved to the head of the column and together with another soldier knocked out 2 enemy bunkers. When his comrade was mortally wounded, Sgt. Baker, spotting 4 Viet Cong snipers, killed all of them, evacuated the fallen soldier and returned to lead repeated assaults against the enemy positions, killing several more Viet Cong.


Moving to attack 2 additional enemy bunkers, he and another soldier drew intense enemy fire and Sgt. Baker was blown from his feet by an enemy grenade.


He quickly recovered and single-handedly destroyed 1 bunker before the other soldier was wounded. Seizing his fallen comrade’s machine gun, Sgt. Baker charged through the deadly fusillade to silence the other bunker.


He evacuated his comrade, replenished his ammunition and returned to the forefront to brave the enemy fire and continue the fight. When the forward element was ordered to withdraw, he carried 1 wounded man to the rear.


As he returned to evacuate another soldier, he was taken under fire by snipers, but raced beyond the friendly troops to attack and kill the snipers. After evacuating the wounded man, he returned to cover the deployment of the unit.


His ammunition now exhausted, he dragged 2 more of his fallen comrades to the rear. Sgt. Baker’s selfless heroism, indomitable fighting spirit, and extraordinary gallantry were directly responsible for saving the lives of several of his comrades, and inflicting serious damage on the enemy.


His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.


Petty Officer 1st Class,James E. Williams, U.S. Navy

River Section 531, My Tho, RVN

Mekong River, Vietnam

Oct. 31, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. PO1c. Williams was serving as Boat Captain and Patrol Officer aboard River Patrol Boat (PBR) 105 accompanied by another patrol boat when the patrol was suddenly taken under fire by 2 enemy sampans.


PO1c. Williams immediately ordered the fire returned, killing the crew of 1 enemy boat and causing the other sampan to take refuge in a nearby river inlet.


Pursuing the fleeing sampan, the U.S. patrol encountered a heavy volume of small-arms fire from enemy forces, at close range, occupying well-concealed positions along the river bank.


Maneuvering through this fire, the patrol confronted a numerically superior enemy force aboard 2 enemy junks and 8 sampans augmented by heavy automatic weapons fire from ashore.


In the savage battle that ensued, PO1c. Williams, with utter disregard for his safety exposed himself to the withering hail of enemy fire to direct counter-fire and inspire the actions of his patrol.


Recognizing the overwhelming strength of the enemy force, PO1c. Williams deployed his patrol to await the arrival of armed helicopters. In the course of his movement his discovered an even larger concentration of enemy boats.


Not waiting for the arrival of the armed helicopters, he displayed great initiative and boldly led the patrol through the intense enemy fire and damaged or destroyed 50 enemy sampans and 7 junks.


This phase of the action completed, and with the arrival of the armed helicopters, PO1c. Williams directed the attack on the remaining enemy force. Now virtually dark, and although PO1c.


Williams was aware that his boats would become even better targets, he ordered the patrol boats’ search lights turned on to better illuminate the area and moved the patrol perilously close to shore to press the attack. Despite a waning supply of ammunition the patrol successfully engaged the enemy ashore and completed the rout of the enemy force.


Under the leadership of PO 1 c. Williams, who demonstrated unusual professional skill and indomitable courage throughout the 3 hour battle, the patrol accounted for the destruction or loss of 65 enemy boats and inflicted numerous casualties on the enemy personnel.


His extraordinary heroism and exemplary fighting spirit in the face of grave risks inspired the efforts of his men to defeat a larger enemy force, and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


Pfc. Billy Lane Lauffer, U.S. Army

Company C, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division

Near Bon Son in Binh Dinh province, Vietnam

Sept. 21, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Lauffer’s squad, a part of Company C, was suddenly struck at close range by an intense machine gun crossfire from 2 concealed bunkers astride the squad’s route.


Pfc. Lauffer, the second man in the column, saw the lead man fall and noted that the remainder of the squad was unable to move. Two comrades, previously wounded and being carried on litters, were lying helpless in the beaten zone of the enemy fire.


Reacting instinctively, Pfc. Lauffer quickly engaged both bunkers with fire from his rifle, but when the other squad members attempted to maneuver under his covering fire, the enemy fusillade increased in volume and thwarted every attempt to move.


Seeing this and his wounded comrades helpless in the open, Pfc. Lauffer rose to his feet and charged the enemy machine gun positions, firing his weapon and drawing the enemy’s attention.


Keeping the enemy confused and off balance, his 1-man assault provided the crucial moments for the wounded point man to crawl to a covered position, the squad to move the exposed litter patients to safety, and his comrades to gain more advantageous positions.


Pfc. Lauffer was fatally wounded during his selfless act of courage and devotion to his fellow soldiers. His gallantry at the cost of his life served as an inspiration to his comrades and saved the lives of an untold number of his companions.


His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.


Maj. (then Capt.) Howard V. Lee, U.S. Marine Corps

Company E, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein)

Near Cam Lo, Vietnam

Aug. 8-9, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. A platoon of Maj. (then Capt.) Lee’s company, while on an operation deep in enemy territory, was attacked and surrounded by a large Vietnamese force.


Realizing that the unit had suffered numerous casualties, depriving it of effective leadership, and fully aware that the platoon was even then under heavy attack by the enemy, Maj. Lee took 7 men and proceeded by helicopter to reinforce the beleaguered platoon.


Maj. Lee disembarked from the helicopter with 2 of his men and, braving withering enemy fire, led them into the perimeter, where he fearlessly moved from position to position, directing and encouraging the overtaxed troops.


The enemy then launched a massive attack with the full might of their forces. Although painfully wounded by fragments from an enemy grenade in several areas of his body, including his eye, Maj. Lee continued undauntedly throughout the night to direct the valiant defense, coordinate supporting fire, and apprise higher headquarters of the plight of the platoon.


The next morning he collapsed from his wounds and was forced to relinquish command. However the small band of marines had held their position and repeatedly fought off many vicious enemy attacks for a grueling 6 hours until their evacuation was effected the following morning.


Maj. Lee’s actions saved his men from capture, minimized the loss of lives, and dealt the enemy a severe defeat. His indomitable fighting spirit, superb leadership, and great personal valor in the face of tremendous odds, reflect great credit upon himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.


Sgt. (then LCpl.) Richard A. Pittman, U.S. Marine Corps

Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein) FMF

Near the Demilitarized Zone, Vietnam

July 24, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.


While Company 1 was conducting an operation along the axis of a narrow jungle trail, the leading company elements suffered numerous casualties when they suddenly came under heavy fire from a well concealed and numerically superior enemy force.


Hearing the engaged marines’ calls for more firepower, Sgt. Pittman quickly exchanged his rifle for a machinegun and several belts of ammunition, left the relative safety of his platoon, and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his comrades.


Taken under intense enemy small-arms fire at point blank range during his advance, he returned the fire, silencing the enemy position. As Sgt. Pittman continued to forge forward to aid members of the leading platoon, he again came under heavy fire from 2 automatic weapons which he promptly destroyed.


Learning that there were additional wounded marines 50 yards further along the trail, he braved a withering hail of enemy mortar and small-arms fire to continue onward.


As he reached the position where the leading marines had fallen, he was suddenly confronted with a bold frontal attack by 30 to 40 enemy. Totally disregarding his safety, he calmly established a position in the middle of the trail and raked the advancing enemy with devastating machinegun fire.


His weapon rendered ineffective, he picked up an enemy submachinegun and, together with a pistol seized from a fallen comrade, continued his lethal fire until the enemy force had withdrawn.


Having exhausted his ammunition except for a grenade which he hurled at the enemy, he then rejoined his platoon. Sgt. Pittman’s daring initiative, bold fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty inflicted many enemy casualties, disrupted the enemy attack and saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades.


His personal valor at grave risk to himself reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service.


2nd Lt. (Then SSgt.) John J. McGinty III, U.S. Marine Corps

Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force

Vietnam

July 18, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 2d Lt. McGinty’s platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment.


With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy.


Hearing the engaged marines’ calls for more firepower, Sgt. Pittman quickly exchanged his rifle for a machinegun and several belts of ammunition, left the relative safety of his platoon, and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his comrades.


In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position.


Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy.


Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off.


When the enemy tried to out-flank his position, he killed 5 of them at point-blank range with his pistol. When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within 50 yards of his position.


This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. McGinty’s personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.


Maj. (then Capt.) Robert Joseph Modrzejewski, U.S. Marine Corps

Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, FMF

Vietnam

July 15-18, 1966


Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 15 July, during Operation Hastings, Company K was landed in an enemy-infested jungle area to establish a blocking position at a major enemy trail network.


Shortly after landing, the company encountered a reinforced enemy platoon in a well-organized, defensive position. Maj. Modrzejewski led his men in the successful seizure of the enemy redoubt, which contained large quantities of ammunition and supplies.


That evening, a numerically superior enemy force counterattacked in an effort to retake the vital supply area, thus setting the pattern of activity for the next 2 1/2 days. In the first series of attacks, the enemy assaulted repeatedly in overwhelming numbers but each time was repulsed by the gallant Marines.


Although exposed to enemy fire, and despite his painful wounds, he crawled 200 meters to provide critically needed ammunition to an exposed element of his command and was constantly present wherever the fighting was heaviest, despite numerous casualties, a dwindling supply of ammunition and the knowledge that they were surrounded, he skillfully directed artillery fire to within a few meters of his position and courageously inspired the efforts of his company in repelling the aggressive enemy attack.


On 18 July, Company K was attacked by a regimental-size enemy force. Although his unit was vastly outnumbered and weakened by the previous fighting, Maj. Modrzejewski reorganized his men and calmly moved among them to encourage and direct their efforts to heroic limits as they fought to overcome the vicious enemy onslaught.


Again he called in air and artillery strikes at close range with devastating effect on the enemy, which together with the bold and determined fighting of the men of Company K, repulsed the fanatical attack of the larger North Vietnamese force.


His unparalleled personal heroism and indomitable leadership inspired his men to a significant victory over the enemy force and reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service.


 


 




As Stars and Stripes looks at the monumental moments, actions and people from the Vietnam War on its 50th anniversary, we struggle to do justice to the life-changing war.


So we’re hoping our readers can make sense of it.


In six words.


It’s not a new concept. Two Army veterans launched the Six Word War project, a crowd-sourced memoir of Iraq and Afghanistan.


We want to do the same for Vietnam.


We’re looking for descriptions in six words of your Vietnam War experiences, at home or on the front lines. Whether you served, protested or lived the war through someone in your family.


We’ll publish the results as part of our Vietnam at 50 project. Please submit your six words using the form below, through Twitter with the tag #Vietnam6Words, or on our Facebook page.




 


 

LOOKING BACK







Max D. Lederer Jr., Publisher | Terry Leonard, Editor | Robert H. Reid, Senior Managing Editor

Tina Croley, Managing Editor for Content | Sean Moores, Managing Editor for Presentation

Bev Schilling, Graphic Artist | Catharine Giordano, Archivist | Astrid Herbert, Archives Assistant