Being off the coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin with the 1st Battalion 9th Marines (BLT 1/9), a.k.a. "The Walking Dead," during July 1972, and waiting to see if President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were going to authorize us making a landing directly into the heartland of North Vietnam.
This was meant to be a very limited, diversionary tactic, in hopes that the NVA regiments, who had invaded South Vietnam during the Easter Offensive of '72, would return north believing that they needed to protect their homeland from an "invasion" by the United States.
However, the president and secretary of state failed to give the green light for this mission, and we stood down. Had this landing ever taken place at that time, we would've been the very first American ground troops sent into the country of North Vietnam during the entire war up to that point.
I've often wondered how this may have changed the course of the war, if at all, and also if we would've ever made it out of North Vietnam. ... The peace treaty was signed in Paris on Jan. 27, 1973, and we finally departed Vietnam on Jan. 29, 1973, for our home base on Okinawa, Japan.
I'm honored to have been a member of the very last battalion of Marines to have been within the designated combat zone when America's direct involvement in this war ended.