In March, 1966 I had just joined the 2ndBn, Third Marines as a ground FAC in Vietnam. One morning a Marine accidently discharged his M14 rifle and killed a tent mate. As a newbie, the XO assigned the JAG investigation to me.
Interviewing the Marine who had killed his buddy was an agonizing event; he was, naturally, a mess. He was also new to 2/3 and had not seen any combat.
I submitted the JAG report and later the Marine was court-martialed.
I never knew what the Marine`s court-martial verdict was, but I heard that his Marine lawyer was alleging PTSD for his client. Bear in mind, he had not yet been on a single patrol in combat. That was the first time I had ever heard the term PTSD and did not know what it meant. When the legal officer explained it to me, I realized it was the new term for “combat fatigue or shell shock”.
Lawyers———–will always be lawyers……
As one of two Marine pilots in the battalion, trained to be a Forward Air Controller, we were always in demand for every platoon or rifle company combat patrol or combat operation, outside the wire at our base camp. As a result, we both spent a huuugggggeeeee amount of our year combat tour living under our helmets & sleeping with and using our rifles and pistols while supporting the infantry combat encounters against the VC or NVA enemies.
I have no idea how many enemy I killed while controlling close air support missions. I do know that I killed several NVA enemies with my rifle, but only 3 (…one about 300 yds/ two at about 20 yds…) because I collected their weapons and emptied their pockets which was standard for intelligence purposes—–did I handle.
The most numbers of NVA soldiers I saw was one overcast & raining morning when about 2 to 300 enemy were coming at us over rice paddies, during a battalion operation. The artillery officer, who had slept next to me was firing artillery at them and they were the 3rd NVA Regiment. The whole battalion was firing furiously (…which tends to be a really shitty alarm clock…) Visually and thru my binoculars, I estimated they were 500 to a thousand yards from our perimeter. I immediately scrambled the A6 Intruder alert pads in Danang and established radio contact with the leader of a flight of 4 Intruders in about 20 minutes after my scramble call. (…A6`s were the only jets that could *system drop* when the weather prevented seeing my targets, plus they each carried 24 fucking 500lb bombs!…) I confirmed with the AO (…arty officer…) the 8 digit grid coordinates of the center of the attackers, and passed them to the BNs (…bombardier navigators…) in the right seat of the A6s. When my buddy AO confirmed that he had a no-shit cease fire from the artillery batteries, I cleared the A6 flight leader to make one run (alone…) to see where his bombs hit (I told him to system drop only 2 bombs…). They hit the enemy about center! I them cleared his entire division to drop on those grid coordinates, providing each A6 gave me a call at “bombs away”, so I could adjust their drops across the whole enemy line. I never saw them and they never saw the ground, but they blew the 3rd NVA Regt attack to kingdom come!!!!
That was my last close air support mission, as my year was up.
One month later, I was ordered to VMFA-115, The Silver Eagles, an F4B Phantom sqdn in Chu Lai, Vietnam for another year of combat. I flew 192 missions with them in 1967, in both South and North Vietnam.
I returned to the USA after that 2nd year(…we called it *The World*…) and became an instructor with the Navy Advanced Jet Training Command in Beeville, Texas——-(…the home of caliche dirt, mexican beer and cumulo-nimbus storm clouds that reached to outer-fucking-space!!!!!…)
I never experienced anything, variously described as PTSD (…that I know of…). I did re-learn to fucking love winter snow in South Texas….and winter temperatures that would have frozen Captain McCall an a Commanche named Blue Duck and his pal, Quanah Parker………………………………..
Comment by Colonel Jerry USMC — February 5, 2013 @ 1:59 pm
Geez Colonel Jerry Sir!! That was awesome. You’re awesome. All of your stories are. They should all be recorded.
Comment by geezerette — February 6, 2013 @ 2:33 pm