Thursday, December 6, 2007

Then and Now

Stephen Sack - now
Stephen Sack - Oct 1967


Joe Faessler - now


Joe Faessler - receiving his Purple Heart from Gen. Krulak



Joe Faessler - 1967




Bob Bliss - now





Bob Bliss - Aug. 1967






Bill Sellers - now







Bill Sellers - Feb 1967


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Honor The Warrior

I want to recommend a book to you. It is " Honor The Warrior: The United States Marine Corps In Vietnam" by Vietnam Vet William L. Myers. Copies are limited but are still available by sending a check for $25.00 to;
William L. Myers
4715 Woodlawn Rd.
Maurice, Louisiana 70555-3449

The price includes shipping and Bill will inscribe and sign each book if desired.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tiago Reis, Navy Cross Recipient




*REIS, TIAGO Citation:

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Tiago Reis (2209245), Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Fire Team Leader with Company F, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in the Republic of Vietnam on 21 September 1967.

Corporal Reis was a member of a point squad which was participating in a search and destroy operation near Con Thien. The squad encountered a numerically superior unit of the North Vietnamese Army, which unleashed a murderous hail of automatic small-arms fire. The volume and accuracy of the enemy fire resulted in immediate and heavy casualties on the Marine squad and left Corporal Reis as the only member unwounded. With complete disregard for his own safety, he braved the continuing enemy fire and began dragging his wounded comrades from their exposed areas to sheltered positions. He quickly treated each man's wounds, comforted him and then courageously moved back into the vicious fire in search of other fallen comrades. On one trip he was struck by an enemy bullet, but paused only for a moment, and gallantly continued his rescue efforts. With all of the enemy fire directed at him, Corporal Reis exhibited uncommon courage as he worked feverishly to almost complete exhaustion, fearlessly exposed to the enemy fire and defying the enemy attempts to prevent him from aiding the wounded. Corporal Reis continued his courageous actions until he fell, mortally wounded, when struck a second time. By his intrepid fighting spirit, daring initiative and selfless efforts in behalf of his comrades, Corporal Reis upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals
Home Town: New Bedford, Massachusetts

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Tribute to Jedh Colby Barker



The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States takes pride in presenting the
MEDAL OF HONOR to
JEDH COLBY BARKER
Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
for service as set forth in the following
CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. During a reconnaissance operation L/Cpl. Barker's squad was suddenly hit by enemy sniper fire. The squad immediately deployed to a combat formation and advanced to a strongly fortified enemy position, when it was again struck by small arms and automatic weapons fire, sustaining numerous casualties. Although wounded by the initial burst of fire, L/Cpl. Barker boldly remained in the open, delivering a devastating volume of accurate fire on the numerically superior force. The enemy was intent upon annihilating the small Marine force and, realizing that L/Cpl. Barker was a threat to their position, directed the preponderance of their fire on his position. He was again wounded, this time in the right hand, which prevented him from operating his vitally needed machinegun. Suddenly and without warning, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the few surviving Marines. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his personal safety, L/Cpl. Barker threw himself upon the deadly grenade, absorbing with his body the full and tremendous force of the explosion. In a final act of bravery, he crawled to the side of a wounded comrade and administered first aid before succumbing to his grievous wounds. His bold initiative, intrepid fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death undoubtedly saved his comrades from further injury or possible death and reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Park Ridge Marine made ultimate sacrifice
(by Kathryn A. Burger - September 19, 2007)
"Jedh…Most athletic senior…ladies’ man…loves to have a good time." Those words are next to Jedh Barker’s photo in Park Ridge High School’s 1964 yearbook.

Three years later, Lance Corporal Jedh Colby Barker, United States Marine Corps, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division was serving in Vietnam. On Sept. 21, 1967, he threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow Marines, and although gravely injured, crawled to the side of a wounded comrade and administered first aid before succumbing to his wounds.

In 1969, in a White House ceremony, his family was presented with his Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a United States citizen.

Early years
Cpl. Barker was born in Franklin, New Hampshire in 1945. His father, Colby, served in the Marine Corps during World War II and the first name, "Jedh" is a combination of the first initials of his father’s Marine buddies: John Ezekial, Donald and Herbert.

When he was 6, his family moved to Park Ridge. During his years at Park Ridge High School, he distinguished himself in team sports including football and baseball, serving as co-captain of the former his senior year. In retrospect, his ability to lead and at the same time, be cognizant of the team dynamic so essential to success demonstrated the qualities he would later apply to his Marine service.
Semper fideles

After two years of college, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in June of 1966. In October, he was discharged from the Reserves to enlist in the regular Marine Corps. He did his recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., and underwent individual combat training and weapons special training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In December, he was promoted to private first class.
From March to June, 1967, he was a member of Marine Air Base Squadron 21, in San Francisco. He was subsequently re-assigned as a machine gunner with Company F and sent to Vietnam. He was promoted to lance corporal on Sept. 1.

That Cpl. Barker chose to be a Marine while protests against the war were being staged across the country and many young men fled the country rather than face the draft, speaks to his personal character and the sense of duty demonstrated by his father, who served with distinction during World Ward II. In an interview with Scott Hilyard of the Franklin, N.H. "Monitor" in 1990, his parents said he could have avoided Vietnam because his older brother, Warren, was already there. He was a Marine, too; a major. His father said, "Jeddy’s commanding officer let him meet his brother over there." Three months later, "Jeddy" was dead.

Perpetual remembrance
The bravery and ultimate sacrifice of Lance Corporal Jedh C. Barker has been memorialized in many ways.

In the months after his death, the then-Pascack Valley American Legion Post 153 in Park Ridge resolved to rename the post in his honor and memory and it has been the Jedh C. Barker Memorial American Legion Post 153 every since. His name is engraved on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel.

In 1976, the Marine Corps named a new building in his honor. Barker Hall is located at Marine Corps Base Quanitco, Virginia. In a letter to the family, the commanding general said naming the building in their son’s honor, "will assist in perpetuating the memory of your son, Jedh, in the proud history of our Corps, and is a special recognition of an individual Marine who helped write that history."

A plaque honoring his sacrifice is displayed in Franklin’s borough hall. In addition to the text of the Medal of Honor Citation, it bears this inscription: "Presented Nov. 11, 1990 by the townspeople of Franklin, NH, Franklin VFW Post 1698 and auxiliary and the Massachusetts chapter of the Third Marine Division Association in grateful appreciation to a Franklin, NH resident who was awarded the Medal of Honor for exemplary heroism."

He will be forever remembered by those who knew him as a beloved son and brother, a team player, a loyal friend; and to all who know of his sacrifice, a hero in the truest sense of the word.

He is buried in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus. His grave marker reads simply:
JEDH COLBY BARKER
MEDAL OF HONOR
L CPL US MARINE CORPS
VIETNAM
1945 - 1967
40 years on
American Legion Post 153 will host a celebration of Cpl. Barker’s life and honor his memory at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 27. The post has organized the hour-long program to honor and acknowledge the life and death of this Marine and to accept the Medal of Honor from his family. It will be henceforth on permanent display at the post that bears his name.
The public is invited to attend.
The keynote speaker will be Lt. General Anthony Lukeman (Ret.) who served in Vietnam during Cpl. Barker’s tour of duty. A color guard from the Marine Corps League will be present. Included in the program will be a video of the Medal of Honor presentation.
The program will begin at 7 p.m.; seating at 6:30 p.m. The post is located at 118 Ridge Avenue.
Jedh Colby Barker Lance Corporal WPNS PLT, F CO, 2ND BN, 4TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV United States Marine Corps20 June 1945 - 21 September 1967 Park Ridge, New Jersey Panel 26E Line 099




23 Nov 2002
LCpl Barker was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Con Thien on 21 September 1967.
From a Brother in Combat, Fox 2/4,John E Mongiove
mailto:mmemapopy@tampabay.rr.com?subject=Via

17 Aug 2006
I wrote this as a tribute to Jedh in a column I write for a local paper. It was published in 2003.

It was in late September of 1967 that reality finally grabbed me by the throat and dragged me into a consciousness I would rather have avoided. I won't say that I was totally inattentive to what was going on outside of my existence, but I was like most thirteen-year-olds who get wrapped up in the details of their daily lives and tend to be oblivious to what is going on in the rest of the world. Or even next door.

In 1967, I spent the summer painting the redwood basket weave fence in my parents' backyard, listening to great summer songs like "Groovin" by the Young Rascals, "Happy Together" by the Turtles and "Respect" by Aretha Franklin. College students were protesting the war in Viet Nam, but my friends and I kept busy riding our sting ray bikes with the banana seats around town, "popping wheelies" and looking for whatever adventure could be found within the confines of the tri-town area we roamed. We camped out in the woods overnight, we fished in Electric Lake and we started to learn how to play tennis, making up the rules as we went along.

While the days were always fun because of our adventures, evenings and nights were magical somehow. Like never before, we were allowed to go out after dark, whether at my house or over at my friends'. It wasn't that we were just out after dark, but we were allowed to stay out late, traversing the neighborhoods and enjoying newfound freedom that we had never before experienced. The summer seemed to be endless back then, and while our days were full, they didn't rush by, as they do now. There was time for playing, working and just laying in the grass, looking up at the clouds. Life was good when you were thirteen years old and living in the United States of America in the late 1960's.

As August meandered by, I came to understand the significance of the fact that this was the summer before my last year in grammar school. I was heading into eighth grade, and I knew that it was going to be a special time. For years, I had waited to be in eighth grade. Eight years to be exact. Eighth graders were cool. No upper classmen to deal with, we would be in charge. I knew that the freedom I was experiencing that summer was connected to the fact that I was now a much more mature individual, capable of being successful in the eighth grade and being in charge of all those first through seventh graders. I also knew that the return to school brought with it a return to organized activities, both social and athletic.

And so, as September approached, bringing with it a return to the dreaded classroom, it also brought countless possibilities for new experiences and exploits, the best of which was my favorite sport, Football. That almost made going back to school worthwhile. While the summer represented carefree fun and idle hours, September meant a return to conditioning and the structure of organized sports, and the chance to be a hero on the gridiron. We would practice two afternoons during the week, and play our games on Saturday morning. My friends and I often traveled to practice together, driven by a parent or coach, because the field was across town, and, as the season wore on, darkness came earlier and travel by bicycle was more precarious.

I seem to remember it was a Thursday, but it could have been any day. We were driving along, heading to practice, and as we drove by the high school, I saw a spray of flowers in front of the brick and mortar sign at the entrance to the school. This isn't something I would necessarily have taken notice of, or even mentioned, but on this particular day, I did. I said to no one in particular, "What's with the flowers at the high school?" and one of my friends said, "Didn't you hear? Jedh Barker was killed in Viet Nam."
Jedh Barker was my first baseball coach. He was a fresh-faced 17-year-old when I first met him, and he made me feel like a part of the team. He was one of those "big kids" I looked up to when I was small, and he helped me feel good about myself. Now, at 22, he was dead. A victim of a war on the other side of the world that I knew about, but hoped would never touch me.

From that day on, Memorial Day has always had a deeper meaning for me. I hate war and the things it does to those involved and those touched by it, but I have a deep and abiding respect for the people who serve in the defense of our country, and make the ultimate sacrifice when called. It is because of them that I was able to enjoy the freedom I was starting to experience.

It turned out that Jedh died as a hero. After being wounded in combat, he saved the lives of his remaining comrades by throwing himself on a live hand grenade that was tossed into the area that they were defending. For his courage and bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and the final sentence of the citation reads: "He gallantly gave his life for his country". Like many who went before him, he lives on in the hearts of those who knew him.

From a friend,Tom Banischmailto:tbanisch@cshore.com?subject=Via

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Tribute To 2nd. Bn. 4th Marines

Forty years ago the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines entered into a battle with the North Vietnamese Army east of a geographic point ironically called "A Place of Angels." The day-long engagement took many Marines' lives and consisted of small arms, rocket, mortar, and artillery fire directed at the attacking companies of 2/4. The NVA were well entrenched and fighting from concealed positions. The ferocity of the fight coupled with the closeness of the combatants produced substantial casualties among the Marine companies. Also demonstrated by all of the Marines who were thrown into this day-long battle was heroism, valor, and unquestioned resolve to prevail in the face of overwhelming odds. The intensity of the small arms fire forced the Marines to leave dead comrades on the field, a fact that clearly identifies the magnitude of the combat, the determination of the NVA to annihilate the battalion, and the commitment of the Marines to win the day.
.
Today, I stand on our hallowed ground of freedom in the United States and write for those Marines who cannot tell their story. Our mission, especially for the Marines of 2/4 who survived September 21, 1967, is to collectively remember those who did not survive, who gave the final measure for our lives so we can realize and pass on the liberty and freedom we enjoy today. The battle born on September 21, 1967, typifies the essence of what our country stands for, and what levels of commitment the Marine Corps is willing to accept as its responsibility in providing freedom for America's citizens. The brave souls left on the field and those carried from the battle ground should not be forgotten. The Marines who fought this battle did so with the utmost honor, heroism, and allegiance to American values with unfaltering devotion to duty and country in the face of certain death. You cannot ask any more of an American than what these Marines of 2/4 gave willingly forty years ago. Their spirits will remain with us forever.

Terry Fairbanks
Fox 2/4 1967

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Voice From the Past

These letters are the last sent home by Bill Kildare. Bill had already served a 4 year hitch in the Marines, reaching the rank of Sgt. He had gotten out and was attending Texas A & M University. His brother, Mike, had joined the Marines and was wounded near Khe Sahn. Bill dropped out of college when he finished the semester and re-joined the Marine Corps. At the time, only one son at a time from a family was required to serve in Vietnam, so Bill volunteered to go to Vietnam so Mike could come home. He was offered the chance to become a 2nd Lt., but turned it down and came as a private. In the first letter he had joined 1st Plt. Golf Co. (my unit), and we were guarding a radio relay station on a mountain west of Camp Evans. In the second letter, the entire Bn. had moved north and by the 13th of Sept, 1967, we were operating near Con Thien.


Bill Kildare died on Sept. 21, 1967 after only a month in Vietnam. His brother, Mike, made it home okay. Bill is a fine example of the men I served with. He didn't have to be there, but out of love for his brother and his country he paid the ultimate price.


His letters are compliments of his sister, Christine Trollinger. For more about Bill, see her tribute to him on this blog.


Bill Sellers
Golf 2/4





Letters From Bill Kildare August 30th, 1967


3D Marine Division, FMF, Vietnam


Wednesday Morning
30 Aug 67

Bud,

Been meaning to write to you, but just have not got around to it. Excuse the dirty paper, but it’s all I have got.

I spent a month and a half in California after leaving Ogallala. Had a lot of fun while I was there. We left Cal on July 14, & spent the next 5 weeks in Okinawa going through training. We got to Vietnam a week ago on the 21st. Went looking for Mike, and found out he got pretty badly wounded on that day. I tried to see him but they won’t let anyone near him due to burns. I’m just praying for him and now in the thick of things.

I’m in a machine gun squad so will probably see a lot of action before I get back to the states. So far, they have been shooting at Charlie all around me, but I have not seen him yet.

We are about 30 miles north of Phu Bai, on a hill (mt?) next to Camp Evans. It is hotter than hell and all we get to eat is “C” rations. Worst of all there is nothing but water to drink.

You don’t get beer unless you are in the rear, which we are not.

How is everything with the tree business? How many men are you working now?
Not much more to add, so will close. Write.

Bill

Ps, Address is on the envelope.



Letter Bill Kildare – Received after his death





3D MARINE DIVISION, FMF, VIETNAM


Thurs Morn
13 Sept, 67


Christy,

Sorry I have not written. I had to get your new address from the folks. How do you like living in Arkansas? Do you know yet where the RR will send Gene, when he finishes his training for the KCS?

How is my little future Aggie Nephew Randy doing? I’ll bet he will be excited to have a new brother or sister. Wish I could be there to see your adorable new rug rat. I can’t wait to be Godfather to a new Aggie Recruit. (Don’t let that Arkie Gene get all the say in their sports team.) I know he will have them being Razorback’s but I can always dream.

Don’t tell the folk’s, but I am a Machine Gunner and it’s not pretty. I don’t want them worrying what with Mike being wounded and all. I tried to see him but they wouldn’t let me. Don’t worry, he will be fine, just bunged up some.

Pray for us all. The guys here are first rate Marines and I am proud of everyone of them. And pray for me…”I swear if I survive this “Hell hole,” I will never raise my hand against another human being.” This is a dirty job, but the Marines as always don’t shy from difficulties.

Sorry to be such a short note, but I gotta go, “Charlie” (enemy) is raising hell all around us.

Hug Randy for me.

Semper Fi!

Bill

Ps. Address is on the envelope. Mail is slow.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Forty Years Ago


I have tried to come up with a few words in honor of the Marines and Corpsmen who walked into hell on a sunny morning, 40 years ago today. I will do my best to say a few words to you, my brothers, who share so much with me.

On September 21, 1967, we were, for the most part, teenagers just out of high school. Young guys who decided they should do something for their country, just as our fathers and their fathers before had done, and down through our American history. We were proud United States Marines and eager to do our duty. The Marine Corps was in Vietnam and that was where I wanted to be. Like me, I know many of you volunteered to go too. In Vietnam, our NCO's were the greatest asset to us young Marines, and they made sure we learned the ropes in a hostile land. In some ways, they were like big brothers to us. We admired and looked up to them in all things. Most importantly, they taught us how to survive.

40 years ago today, my Platoon Sgt., Sergeant Nelson, told those of us in 1st Platoon, Golf Company, to turn to the right and fix bayonets. He said "Remember who you are ... remember your training..I'll be with you. At that point we walked off online, and into history.

But it is not the history we would have wanted to tell to our children and our grandchildren. No. Certain aspects of the battle, and especially the end of it, went very bad. Things you wouldn't want to talk about. Oh yes, we did fight like Marines are supposed to fight. Yes, we did what we were trained to do. We fought hard, despite the confusion, the noise and the inescapable horror of it all. most of us witnessed acts of incredible courage and kindness. some of those gave everything they had. At dusk the angels came down off the hill and blessed them so God would know them.

But the thing that saddens us survivors about that battle in that far away land is so very hard to mention, even after 40 years. But it must be said, because we need, above all things, to HONOR THOSE MEN WE LEFT BEHIND. Even though Marines NEVER LEAVE THEIR DEAD BEHIND. Is this not true? Were we not told this time and time again by our officers? Then why did those brave Marines lay out there on the field to rot for 20 days? Why!? We may never know why. Because no one will take responsibility. Our buddies should have been brought in as soon as possible. if not that day, supposedly due to the large concentrations of NVA soldiers, then the next day, or the third day. But never over two weeks.
Some of us survivors have discussed this, and we want to know why a joint operation of military personnel was not sent to recovery the remains of those brave men. What the families went through later trying to identify remains of their loved ones is not to be believed. To this day, there are questions of misidentification.

I am saddened to be associated with the fact that some officer, or officers, or someone up the chain of command, made the decision to leave our brother Marines behind. I feel guilty and sad beyond belief, even 40 years later. But most of all, I am Mad as hell that after all these years we are still asking ... Why? We owe it to those we left behind, and to ourselves, the survivors, and to the families to continue looking for those answers. We must know.

So 40 years ago today, I am not proud of what our country did to their sons, and I am not proud of the Marine Corps for violating its sacred oath.
But I am proud to have served with you, my fellows, my brother Marines and Corpsmen, who 40 years ago reached out to me with many loving hands and carried me to safety. You saved my life. And you saved many others.

I will always love you guys.

And so to you, all of you filthy dirty, bloody, 2/4 grunts who shared that day with me, I say,
live well and remember..."Those gentle heroes we left behind."

~Semper Fi~
Bob Bliss
1st Plt. Golf Company
WIA - September 21, 1967

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Medal Of Honor Ceremony

Jedh C Barker American Legion Post of Park Ridge, N. J. will hold a ceremony to honor Medal Of Honor Recipient, Jedh C. Barker at 7 pm on Sept 27th, 2007. At that time, the Barker family will donate Jedh's Medal of Honor to the post.
On Sept. 21st, 1967, Jedh C. Barker of Fox Co. 2nd Bn. 4th Marines, gave his life in defense of his country and to save the lives of his fellow marines during Operation Kingfisher.
For more information on the ceremony, contact Perry (Ski) Piwowarski at
201-955-1176.

Bill Sellers
Golf 2/4 67-68

Friday, September 7, 2007

Part 8 (Final) - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1995 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199501160038

DATE: Monday, January 16, 1995
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO BY Samuel Hoffman / The Journal Gazette: Mary Jellison visits the grave of her son, Mark Warren Judge, at Concordia Cemetery Gardens. She was notified in August that the remains buried there might not be her son's, but the case remains unresolved.
SOURCE: Mother mourns - and wonders By Tracy Van Moorlehem Staff writer

A WAR FOR TRUTH, FINAL REST 3 DECADES LATER, WOMAN BATTLES FOR DETAILS OF SON'S BURIAL

There is an unknown soldier in Box 15, Stored in a warehouse on a shelf unseen.

No grave, no flowers for this fallen Marine. - Pat Plumadore They speak frequently now on the telephone, Mary Jellison seated before a TV tray spread with papers in her Fort Wayne home, and Pat Plumadore before a similar pile of official documents in Syracuse, N.Y. They sort through the papers together, searching for a nugget of truth that will help them believe what they can't really know. One a mother, the other a sister of boys lost in the Vietnam War, Jellison and Plumadore are bound by the thread of a story that began nearly 30 years ago near Con Thien, where their loved ones were thought to have died. Mark Judge, Jellison's son, and Kenny Plumadore, Pat's brother, were among 31 killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost south of the demilitarized zone. Gunfire in the ambush was so fierce that 15 bodies had to be left behind. When U.S. forces returned three weeks later, only 14 could be found. Working with what remained, military mortuary workers listed Plumadore as Missing In Action/Presumed Dead. A set of remains thought to be those of Judge were returned to his mother and buried in Fort Wayne. But the recovery of an unknown soldier from Vietnam in 1986 and recent revelations by the U.S. military have cast doubt on those identifications. Military officials now believe the unknown soldier - recovered in what was known as Coffin 15 - is Judge, and that the remains in Judge's Fort Wayne grave are of a California soldier named William A. Berry. They believe Plumadore lies in Berry's grave. The families were notified of the possible mix-up in August, but the case remains unresolved. With identification complicated by lost records and X-rays, bureaucracy and the grief of reopened wounds, the process has all but ground to a halt. Neither Jellison nor Pat Plumadore is sure what to believe, but both doubt the military is telling them the entire truth. The two women keep in frequent touch for support and to analyze information gleaned from the government. ``On this paper they said Kenny was examined and declared dead on the scene. ``That's not true,'' Jellison said on a recent January day. ``Many, many times they've said the battle was too fierce and they couldn't stop to examine him. Do you think they would do the exam, then walk away and leave him there dead?'' The two women continued to rehash the document, until a subdued Jellison shook her head. ``Sometimes I just want to say, `Forget it. I'm not going into this grave at all.''' Returned by Vietnam eight years ago, no name attached. Does anyone know this soldier? A hero? Some mother's son? Was he someone's husband or brother? Lord, what have they done? Two months ago, Mary Jellison hoped the mystery could be solved, and the new remains buried before the first snowfall. She wonders whether she'll ever have peace of mind that her son has come home for his final rest. In September, Jellison and her daughter gave blood samples so the military could compare their DNA against that of the unknown soldier. When the military's testing came back showing their DNA compared favorably, she requested a private second opinion. In previous discussions, she had been led to believe the military would pay for such an outside opinion, Jellison said. But military officials, including Col. K.W. Hillman, director of the Marine Corps' Human Services Division, said the Marines never said they agreed to pay the estimated $5,000 cost. She was welcome to consult an outside specialist, but would have to pick up the tab herself, he said. Unable to afford the procedure, Jellison said she would not release the remains in her Fort Wayne grave for testing until the military had proved to her the new remains were her son. In November, three military officials who specialize in mortuary and casualty affairs and DNA testing met with Jellison at her home to go over their findings. They told her three specialists hired by the military had gone over the preliminary DNA results and concurred the new remains were her son's. The story, as they could piece it together, was this: Judge had been taken prisoner of war by Vietnamese soldiers, and died at an austere field hospital several days later. According to the Vietnamese government, the remains had been found buried behind a former field hospital in Vinh Linh. While she wanted to know the truth, Jellison couldn't believe what the military was telling her. If they were wrong once, she reasoned, couldn't they be wrong again? Other factors nurtured the seed of doubt. The military had lost her son's dental and chest records. And two outside specialists who examined the incomplete remains told Jellison they could not, by skeletal and dental remains alone, identify the unknown soldier as her son. With so much riding on the DNA results, Jellison renewed her plea for an outside confirmation. ``If that's my son, I want him so bad,'' she said. ``But I just can't bury another boy without knowing, for sure, that it's Mark.'' Does his family now pray over another soldier's grave? Unaware That 27 years ago a mistake may have been made? Do flowers watered by tears from his sisters' eyes Grow over the grave where my brother now lies? That's where the case stands, with the military considering Jellison's demands. In addition to a private DNA test, Jellison wants answers to what she considers discrepancies in military records. For instance, military officials say the new remains compare favorably with her son's remaining records. However, documents written in 1989, 1992 and 1994 differ on whether dental comparisons were favorable. One analysis, dated Sept. 14, 1992, said ``no records of any of the Marines in this (Con Thien) incident matched the dental remains of CILHI 0048-86.'' She also wants assurance that the military won't seek a court order to exhume Judge's Fort Wayne grave. Capt. Mark Ward of the Marines casualty affairs office, who has served as a liaison to the families, said the military has no intention of doing so. While progress may be slow, he said, Jellison's requests are working their way through the system. ``You hate to pick on the government bureaucracy, but this is a complex process, and we have to coordinate between a lot of different agencies,'' Ward said. One recent development is that Gen. James Wold, deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs, took over the case. That happened as a result of Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar's staff, whom Jellison contacted for help. Wold's office declined to discuss particulars of the case, but spokeswoman Beverly Baker said the general is ``committed to helping Mary resolve this situation.'' Jellison hopes that is true, but is preparing for a fight if it's not. ``I'm on the phone every night for two or three hours,'' she said. ``It's like a part-time job. I go over and over the records to make sure I understand everything that's put before me.'' Jellison takes inspiration from Pat Plumadore, who is seasoned by nearly three decades of searching for her brother, and is trying to foster her own fighting spirit. That's not always easy. ``I'm mad one day and I'm sad the next,'' she said. ``I think I fight better when I'm mad. When I'm sad I just want to give up.'' I will not forget him, my brother Marine. The unknown soldier in Box 15. Tho I don't know him and can't call him by name, I will call him `brother' and pray just the same.

Part Seven - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1996 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199604100076

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 1996
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO CAPTIONS APPEAR AT BOTTOM OF STORY SEE MICROFILM FOR GRAPHIC SHOWING DETAILS OF THREE BODIES THAT WERE RETURNED FROM VIETNAM THAT OFFICIALS NOW BELIEVE HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN A MIX-UP. (THESE WERE MARK JUDGE, KENNETH PLUMADORE AND WILLIAM BERRY.) BY MIKE ROYER / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE. (ALSO CONTAINS A HEADSHOT OF JUDGE.
SOURCE: By Julie Zasadny The Journal Gazette

VIETNAM MYSTERY EXHUMED BY MOM IDENTITY CHALLENGED 29 YEARS AFTER BURIAL

Mary Jellison blinked back tears Tuesday during a short memorial service for her son, killed 29 years ago in Vietnam. She leaned on relatives while a backhoe removed dirt from the grave. She watched silently as a coffin was lifted from the ground at Concordia Cemetery Gardens and cried when the lid was pried open, revealing her son's Marine dress uniform.

Three decades after the funeral for her son, Jellison was again at his grave, facing again the tragedy of his death. But she already had resolved that opening the grave was something she had to do. The exhumation is expected to answer questions that have lingered since Jellison learned that the body she buried there in 1967 may not be that of her son, Mark W. Judge. Judge was among 31 Marines killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost near Con Thien in September 1967. U.S. officials returned what they believed was his body to his mother for burial. But in August 1994, U.S. military officials told Jellison the body buried in the grave may not be her son. They acknowledged that military medical experts may have misidentified three bodies - one buried in Fort Wayne, one buried in California and one that wasn't found immediately after the battle. The revelation came after the Vietnamese recovered the body of an unknown soldier near the battlefield in 1986. Military officials now believe the unknown soldier returned in 1986 is Judge, and the remains in Judge's Fort Wayne grave are those of William A. Berry, a Marine from California. They believe Kenneth Plumadore of Syracuse, N.Y., lies in Berry's grave. Plumadore had been listed as missing in action/presumed dead. Jellison didn't want to exhume Judge's grave. But the families want their questions answered. Jellison decided to dig up the grave on her own and didn't tell military officials what she was doing. ``Right now, we are so desperate to see it before the government does,'' Jellison said. By the end of the day Tuesday, the bones in the coffin had been examined by experts. But the most important question remains: Whose body lies in Judge's grave? Jellison never wanted to be in this situation. She didn't want to be standing at her son's grave, the lapels of her navy wool coat turned up against the cold, the sound of shovels scraping on a concrete vault in the background. ``It's been 29 years, and it seems like a bad dream,'' she said. ``It shouldn't be happening. ``It's not fair to the boy to be interrupted.'' Jellison has fought government efforts to exhume the body. She feared officials would take the body without giving her a chance to have the remains tested herself. Jellison was feeling pressure. A military review board hearing April 19 is expected to give officials the right to dig up the grave. The exhumation brought together for the first time members of all three families whose lives now are intertwined. Pat Plumadore, Kenneth Plumadore's sister, came in from Syracuse, N.Y. Fred Berry, William Berry's brother, came from Roseburg, Ore. Fred Berry has vowed not to dig up his brother's grave in Yreka, Calif., unless there is sufficient reason. ``Somebody's got to prove something to me. Otherwise, my brother's staying where he is,'' he said. Pat Plumadore was apprehensive about what the exhumation might uncover. ``I don't want anybody to end up with nothing,'' she said. But she is eager to find out whether she finally will have a body to bury. Before the digging started, 14 people huddled around Judge's grave, listening to the Rev. Arthur Klausmeier of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 917 W. Jefferson Blvd., read words Jellison had written. ``Give all here today the knowledge and wisdom to find the answers to our many questions,'' he read. Fifteen minutes later, the group watched as a yellow backhoe started removing mounds of dirt from the 10-by-10 hole. After two dozen scoops, workers with shovels jumped into the hole to clear dirt from the sides of the vault. The process was slow. Most people returned to their cars to get warm, but Kevin Jellison, Judge's younger brother, stayed. He was 9 years old when his brother was buried. Kevin Jellison remembers riding in the hearse with the Marine escort. ``Twenty-nine years ago,'' he said quietly, gazing at the grave. Cemetery workers found two shells from Judge's military gun salute that were embedded in the dirt around the grave. They gave them to Mary Jellison, who turned them over and over in her hand. One and a half hours later, the backhoe lifted the coffin from the ground. Indiana University anthropologist Steve Nawrocki and Allen County Chief Deputy Coroner Phillip E. O'Shaughnessy examined the exhumed bones, which had turned black from minerals in water that had seeped into the coffin. They weren't ready to draw any conclusions Tuesday about the skeleton's identity. ``It's really confusing,'' O'Shaughnessy said. ``There's three sets of records to check. We don't want to do this haphazardly.'' There is confusion, he said, because the body has been buried for a long time, and some parts are missing. The body now is being stored in a mausoleum at the cemetery. In a back room at the Concordia Cemetery Gardens office, Nawrocki cleaned the bones and laid them in sequence to dry. A green toothbrush, blue paper towels and a box of rubber gloves lay among the bones. Jerry Dennis came from Largo, Fla., to help with the identification. He has been in Jellison's shoes - the military returned remains it said were his brother's in 1966. Now his brother is listed as a prisoner of war. Dennis, who has been researching his brother's case for years, said the cheekbones are in good shape for identification purposes. Several teeth can be used for DNA testing. Jellison doesn't know when - or where - she will get the tests done. She is trying to find a DNA lab that doesn't have a contract with the federal government. She has piles of documents detailing the ups and downs of the case. All she wants is the truth. ``Now with all of these doubts they planted, you don't know what to believe,'' Jellison said. ``I want to believe I have my son. But I have to know so I can put it to rest.''

CAPTION: PHOTO BY CATHIE ROWAND / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE: Mary Jellison, center, and family watch Tuesday as the earth is removed from the grave of her son, Mark Judge , at Concordia Cemetery Gardens in Fort Wayne. Judge was killed in Vietnam. The military says it thinks the wrong remains are buried in the plot.

PHOTO 2 BY ANDREW JOHNSTON / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE (RAN ON 4A): Jerry Dennis, of Largo, Fla., looks at remains exhumed Tuesday from Mark Judge's gravesite. He was to help identify the remains.

Part Six - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1996 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199605140006

DATE: Tuesday, May 14, 1996
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: SEE MICROFILM FOR CHART SHOWING HISTORY OF REMAINS
SOURCE: By Tracy Van Moorlehem The Journal Gazette

DENTIST: REMAINS AREN'T CITY SOLDIER'S

The remains buried in a Fort Wayne soldier's grave are actually those of a fallen comrade, a local dental expert has determined. Dr. Phillip O'Shaughnessy determined the remains, thought to be those of Pfc. Mark Judge of Fort Wayne, are those of Cpl. William A. Berry of California. He drew that conclusion by comparing the remains against Berry's original dental records.

``There's no doubt in my mind that this was the body of William Berry,'' O'Shaughnessy said Monday. Judge's mother, Mary Jellison of Fort Wayne, had the remains exhumed in April. She commissioned O'Shaughnessy's study after two years of wrangling with military officials about how to settle a suspected mix-up of remains identified 30 years ago. Judge and Berry were among 31 killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost south of the demilitarized zone near Con Thien. Gunfire in the ambush was so fierce that 15 bodies had to be left behind. When U.S. forces returned three weeks later, only 14 could be found. Mortuary workers identified the others as best they could, determining that the missing soldier was Lance Cpl. Kenneth Plumadore of New York. They returned a set of remains to Jellison, who buried her eldest son, grieved and then tried to rebuild her life. So the story would have ended, but for a new set of remains found in 1986 that cast doubt on the original identification. Military officials contacted Jellison in August 1994 to tell her of the possible mix-up. They said they believed the new remains to be Judge's, the Fort Wayne remains to be Berry's and the remains buried in Berry's California grave to be Plumadore's. The military said a DNA test confirmed that the 1986 remains were Judge's. But Jellison doubts the accuracy of the test and has asked for a private DNA test to confirm the findings. On Monday, she said the case was at a standstill. ``I don't know what the next step is going to be,'' she said. ``I wish they would get it settled. I wish they would make a move one way or another.'' Her greatest fear has been that the military would take away the Fort Wayne remains without proving to her satisfaction the 1986 remains are her son's. O'Shaughnessy, a forensic odontologist who is volunteering his time to help Jellison, said he too hopes the case is drawing to a close. He said the next step will be to examine the 1986 remains and conclude whether or not they are Judge's. While he understands how difficult the revelation has been for Jellison, O'Shaughnessy said he believes military experts are trying to do the right thing by her. ``The question always remains, why didn't they let the thing go? Instead, they took the more difficult route and told the families involved they may have made a mistake. You have to commend them for that.'' But Jellison wonders why, after finding the remains in 1986, it took eight years to notify her and the other families of the snafu. ``If they knew it was Mark, why didn't they let us know? You don't keep a boy on a shelf for eight years and not let a mother know,'' she said. Beverly Baker, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said the military has not scheduled a review board to rule officially the Fort Wayne remains as Berry's. ``There have been no changes on the case as of today,'' she said Monday.

Part Five - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1996 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199607040024

DATE: Thursday, July 4, 1996
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
SOURCE: By Tracy Van Moorlehem The Journal Gazette

SOLDIERS' REMAINS MAY BE MIXED CALIFORNIA EXHUMATION CLOUDS CASE OF CITY VIETNAM VETERAN'S BODY

The exhumation of a California grave may have further clouded a suspected mix-up of three Vietnam War soldiers' remains. Military officials expected the grave of William Berry in Yreka, Calif., to hold the remains of a New York soldier, Kenny Plumadore. Both men died while defending a Marine outpost south of the demilitarized zone near Con Thien. Plumadore's remains had never been found.

However, a local forensics specialist said that after examining the contents of the California grave he believes it contains the co-mingled remains of two soldiers, and dental identification is impossible because there aren't enough dental remains. ``God only knows where this will end,'' said Mary Jellison, mother of the third soldier the military believes is involved in the mix-up. Jellison thought she buried her son, Mark Judge, in a Fort Wayne grave nearly 30 years ago. But in 1986, the military recovered an unknown soldier from Vietnam. Eight years later, the military alerted the three families that it might have misidentified their loved ones in the heat of war. Consequent DNA testing led them to believe the new remains were those of Judge. Jellison questioned the objectivity and accuracy of the DNA test that the military used to identify the new remains and asked for a private DNA test to confirm it. After being unable to reach an agreement on the second DNA test, Jellison in April allowed forensic experts, including Fort Wayne forensic odontologist Phillip O'Shaughnessy, to examine the remains. O'Shaughnessy concluded the remains actually belonged to Berry. That seemed to jibe with the military's suspicion that the new remains were Judge's; the remains in Judge's Fort Wayne grave were Berry; and the remains in Berry's California grave were Plumadore's. But results of a June 20 exhumation of the California grave complicates matters. According to O'Shaughnessy, who again served on the scientific team, the remains in Berry's grave are actually the co-mingled remains of two soldiers. And since only a jaw fragment and two teeth were among the remains, identifying either soldier through dental records would be impossible, O'Shaughnessy said. ``Although the jaw has some similarities with available records, we just don't have enough to go on,'' he said. O'Shaughnessy said he had not seen the other scientists' findings. Department of Defense spokeswoman Beverly Baker said the military has made not official identification of the California remains. Baker said data from the exhumation has been forwarded to the Army Central Identification Lab in Hawaii, where it will undergo further study. The DOD has not yet scheduled a review board hearing to formally identify any of the remains, she said. Meanwhile, Jellison said the military told her Wednesday they want her to give up possession of the Fort Wayne remains so they could be buried in California, under Berry's headstone. But after two years of searching for the truth, Jellison does not believe she's found it yet. ``These remains right here could be my sons because they never came up with his records,'' she said. ``I can't let them go until I have hard, solid proof.'' Among other things, she wants the military to do a DNA test of the Fort Wayne remains. ``I just want the truth,'' she said.

CAPTION: PHOTO PAGE 10A: MUGSHOT OF MARY JELLISON PHOTO (2): Mark Judge, above, was believed to have been buried in a Fort Wayne grave nearly 30 years ago. Remains of two other soldiers are believed to be involved in a suspected mix-up.

Part Four - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1999 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199911170026

DATE: Thursday, November 11, 1999
EDITION: Final
SECTION: PAGE
PAGE: 1A
SOURCE: BY FRANK GRAY

COLUMN NOTHING FINAL ABOUT FAREWELL FOR MOTHER OF VIETNAM VET

At 11 a.m. on Nov. 20, Mary Jellison will say goodbye to her son for the final time. A nagging doubt will always remain, though, for Jellison. Is the man she will say farewell to, a man who was killed in Vietnam in 1967, really her son Mark Judge ?

For 32 years, another set of bones lay laid in Mark Judge's grave, and Jellison was certain they were those of her son. But the military now says those bones belong to a soldier named William Berry, and on Oct. 29 those remains were prayed over one more time and shipped off to a forgotten cemetery in California. Next week, another set of bones, remains the military assures her are those of her son, will receive a funeral for the first time at Emmanuel Lutheran Church. They will be buried in a grave marked with Judge's name. ``I want to think it's my son,'' Jellison said. ``He will be treated like my son. I will visit this grave, just like I did the other one.'' One can't help but hope, for Jellison's sake, that the long-dead soldier is, after all, her son. Mark Judge graduated from Elmhurst High School in 1965, and shortly after that went to California, where he enrolled in college and studied engineering. But back in Fort Wayne, all of his friends were being drafted and sent to Vietnam. Judge felt an obligation to go, too. So he quit college after his first year and enlisted in the Marines. Then, on Sept. 21, 1967, on the edge of a rice paddy in Vietnam, Judge, working as the point man on a search-and-destroy mission, walked into an ambush. The men who had shared a foxhole with Judge said he was shot down and possibly even hit by a grenade in that attack. The last anyone saw of him was his body lying in a rice paddy, his face covered with blood or mud. It was a month before the military was able to return to the scene of that battle to recover the bodies of American soldiers who died there. Another month passed before the body the government said was that of Jellison's son arrived in Fort Wayne and was laid to rest Nov. 17, 1967, at Concordia Cemetery Gardens.

Since then, once a month, sometimes twice a month, Mary Jellison has visited the grave, placing fresh flowers on it, and a fresh flag. But in 1994, the military announced a mix-up. The body in the grave, it said, wasn't Judge. Judge had survived the ambush, been taken prisoner and been killed while trying to escape. His remains were returned to America in 1986, the government said. where they were left on a shelf in a building in Hawaii, the government said. Jellison couldn't accept that. In 1996, she had the remains in her son's grave disinterred and put them in a mausoleum, refusing to grant the military access unless DNA tests could prove the bones were not those of her son.

Not until last May did the military agree to the DNA test. Officials took bone samples, and}Three weeks ago, Jellison was told that the bones were those of William Berry, a soldier from California. Earlier DNA tests, Jellison was told, had shown that the remains that were repatriated in 1986 were those of her son.

By now, though, Jellison has no idea whom to believe or whom to trust. She can only hope that the bones the military says belong to Mark Judge are those of her son. After visiting her son's grave at Concordia Cemetery Gardens for 32 years, Jellison found it hard to give up the remains of the grave. At an October service for Berry, Jellison quoted thoughts she had written earlier. ``We are praying this is all God's will. . . . We have always called you Mark, my son, and the brother to Karen, Kim and Kevin. Though you have been with us for 32 years, they say you are not ours, and you belong to a family in California. In our hearts we will never know, but we do know this. They can take you from this family, but they can never take you from God. . . . May God hold you close, and you will rest in peace forever.'' What aches within Jellison is that the bones that were in her son's grave are going to a grave in an overgrown cemetery in California, one that she says has never been visited since the bones of yet another dead soldier were was laid there decades ago. She can't tolerate the idea that a person whom she still suspects could be her son is being placed in a grave that will be ignored. But she can't fight any longer. Despite her misgivings, ``I'm accepting this as our son and brother.'' And when he is buried, the marker will be changed. It will be added that her son was a prisoner of war.

Frank Gray's column is published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376; fax, 461-8893; or e-mail, fgray@jg.net
CAPTION: PHOTO: MUGSHOT OF MARK JUDGE

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Part Three - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1996 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199605140006
DATE: Tuesday, May 14, 1996
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: SEE MICROFILM FOR CHART SHOWING HISTORY OF REMAINS
SOURCE: By Tracy Van Moorlehem The Journal Gazette
DENTIST: REMAINS AREN'T CITY SOLDIER'S

The remains buried in a Fort Wayne soldier's grave are actually those of a fallen comrade, a local dental expert has determined. Dr. Phillip O'Shaughnessy determined the remains, thought to be those of Pfc. Mark Judge of Fort Wayne, are those of Cpl. William A. Berry of California. He drew that conclusion by comparing the remains against Berry's original dental records.

``There's no doubt in my mind that this was the body of William Berry,'' O'Shaughnessy said Monday.

Judge's mother, Mary Jellison of Fort Wayne, had the remains exhumed in April. She commissioned O'Shaughnessy's study after two years of wrangling with military officials about how to settle a suspected mix-up of remains identified 30 years ago. Judge and Berry were among 31 killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost south of the demilitarized zone near Con Thien. Gunfire in the ambush was so fierce that 15 bodies had to be left behind. When U.S. forces returned three weeks later, only 14 could be found. Mortuary workers identified the others as best they could, determining that the missing soldier was Lance Cpl. Kenneth Plumadore of New York. They returned a set of remains to Jellison, who buried her eldest son, grieved and then tried to rebuild her life. So the story would have ended, but for a new set of remains found in 1986 that cast doubt on the original identification. Military officials contacted Jellison in August 1994 to tell her of the possible mix-up. They said they believed the new remains to be Judge's, the Fort Wayne remains to be Berry's and the remains buried in Berry's California grave to be Plumadore's. The military said a DNA test confirmed that the 1986 remains were Judge's. But Jellison doubts the accuracy of the test and has asked for a private DNA test to confirm the findings. On Monday, she said the case was at a standstill. ``I don't know what the next step is going to be,'' she said. ``I wish they would get it settled. I wish they would make a move one way or another.'' Her greatest fear has been that the military would take away the Fort Wayne remains without proving to her satisfaction the 1986 remains are her son's. O'Shaughnessy, a forensic odontologist who is volunteering his time to help Jellison, said he too hopes the case is drawing to a close. He said the next step will be to examine the 1986 remains and conclude whether or not they are Judge's. While he understands how difficult the revelation has been for Jellison, O'Shaughnessy said he believes military experts are trying to do the right thing by her. ``The question always remains, why didn't they let the thing go? Instead, they took the more difficult route and told the families involved they may have made a mistake. You have to commend them for that.'' But Jellison wonders why, after finding the remains in 1986, it took eight years to notify her and the other families of the snafu. ``If they knew it was Mark, why didn't they let us know? You don't keep a boy on a shelf for eight years and not let a mother know,'' she said. Beverly Baker, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said the military has not scheduled a review board to rule officially the Fort Wayne remains as Berry's. ``There have been no changes on the case as of today,'' she said Monday.

Part four will be posted on Friday, Sept. 7, 2007.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Part Two - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1996 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199604100076

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 1996
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO CAPTIONS APPEAR AT BOTTOM OF STORY SEE MICROFILM FOR GRAPHIC SHOWING DETAILS OF THREE BODIES THAT WERE RETURNED FROM VIETNAM THAT OFFICIALS NOW BELIEVE HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN A MIX-UP. (THESE WERE MARK JUDGE, KENNETH PLUMADORE AND WILLIAM BERRY.) BY MIKE ROYER / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE. (ALSO CONTAINS A HEADSHOT OF JUDGE.
SOURCE: By Julie Zasadny The Journal Gazette
VIETNAM MYSTERY EXHUMED BY MOM IDENTITY CHALLENGED 29 YEARS AFTER BURIAL

Mary Jellison blinked back tears Tuesday during a short memorial service for her son, killed 29 years ago in Vietnam. She leaned on relatives while a backhoe removed dirt from the grave. She watched silently as a coffin was lifted from the ground at Concordia Cemetery Gardens and cried when the lid was pried open, revealing her son's Marine dress uniform.

Three decades after the funeral for her son, Jellison was again at his grave, facing again the tragedy of his death. But she already had resolved that opening the grave was something she had to do. The exhumation is expected to answer questions that have lingered since Jellison learned that the body she buried there in 1967 may not be that of her son, Mark W. Judge. Judge was among 31 Marines killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost near Con Thien in September 1967. U.S. officials returned what they believed was his body to his mother for burial. But in August 1994, U.S. military officials told Jellison the body buried in the grave may not be her son. They acknowledged that military medical experts may have misidentified three bodies - one buried in Fort Wayne, one buried in California and one that wasn't found immediately after the battle. The revelation came after the Vietnamese recovered the body of an unknown soldier near the battlefield in 1986. Military officials now believe the unknown soldier returned in 1986 is Judge, and the remains in Judge's Fort Wayne grave are those of William A. Berry, a Marine from California. They believe Kenneth Plumadore of Syracuse, N.Y., lies in Berry's grave. Plumadore had been listed as missing in action/presumed dead. Jellison didn't want to exhume Judge's grave. But the families want their questions answered. Jellison decided to dig up the grave on her own and didn't tell military officials what she was doing. ``Right now, we are so desperate to see it before the government does,'' Jellison said. By the end of the day Tuesday, the bones in the coffin had been examined by experts. But the most important question remains: Whose body lies in Judge's grave? Jellison never wanted to be in this situation. She didn't want to be standing at her son's grave, the lapels of her navy wool coat turned up against the cold, the sound of shovels scraping on a concrete vault in the background. ``It's been 29 years, and it seems like a bad dream,'' she said. ``It shouldn't be happening. ``It's not fair to the boy to be interrupted.'' Jellison has fought government efforts to exhume the body. She feared officials would take the body without giving her a chance to have the remains tested herself. Jellison was feeling pressure. A military review board hearing April 19 is expected to give officials the right to dig up the grave. The exhumation brought together for the first time members of all three families whose lives now are intertwined. Pat Plumadore, Kenneth Plumadore's sister, came in from Syracuse, N.Y. Fred Berry, William Berry's brother, came from Roseburg, Ore. Fred Berry has vowed not to dig up his brother's grave in Yreka, Calif., unless there is sufficient reason. ``Somebody's got to prove something to me. Otherwise, my brother's staying where he is,'' he said. Pat Plumadore was apprehensive about what the exhumation might uncover. ``I don't want anybody to end up with nothing,'' she said. But she is eager to find out whether she finally will have a body to bury. Before the digging started, 14 people huddled around Judge's grave, listening to the Rev. Arthur Klausmeier of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 917 W. Jefferson Blvd., read words Jellison had written. ``Give all here today the knowledge and wisdom to find the answers to our many questions,'' he read. Fifteen minutes later, the group watched as a yellow backhoe started removing mounds of dirt from the 10-by-10 hole. After two dozen scoops, workers with shovels jumped into the hole to clear dirt from the sides of the vault. The process was slow. Most people returned to their cars to get warm, but Kevin Jellison, Judge's younger brother, stayed. He was 9 years old when his brother was buried. Kevin Jellison remembers riding in the hearse with the Marine escort. ``Twenty-nine years ago,'' he said quietly, gazing at the grave. Cemetery workers found two shells from Judge's military gun salute that were embedded in the dirt around the grave. They gave them to Mary Jellison, who turned them over and over in her hand. One and a half hours later, the backhoe lifted the coffin from the ground. Indiana University anthropologist Steve Nawrocki and Allen County Chief Deputy Coroner Phillip E. O'Shaughnessy examined the exhumed bones, which had turned black from minerals in water that had seeped into the coffin. They weren't ready to draw any conclusions Tuesday about the skeleton's identity. ``It's really confusing,'' O'Shaughnessy said. ``There's three sets of records to check. We don't want to do this haphazardly.'' There is confusion, he said, because the body has been buried for a long time, and some parts are missing. The body now is being stored in a mausoleum at the cemetery. In a back room at the Concordia Cemetery Gardens office, Nawrocki cleaned the bones and laid them in sequence to dry. A green toothbrush, blue paper towels and a box of rubber gloves lay among the bones. Jerry Dennis came from Largo, Fla., to help with the identification. He has been in Jellison's shoes - the military returned remains it said were his brother's in 1966. Now his brother is listed as a prisoner of war. Dennis, who has been researching his brother's case for years, said the cheekbones are in good shape for identification purposes. Several teeth can be used for DNA testing. Jellison doesn't know when - or where - she will get the tests done. She is trying to find a DNA lab that doesn't have a contract with the federal government. She has piles of documents detailing the ups and downs of the case. All she wants is the truth. ``Now with all of these doubts they planted, you don't know what to believe,'' Jellison said. ``I want to believe I have my son. But I have to know so I can put it to rest.''

CAPTION: PHOTO BY CATHIE ROWAND / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE: Mary Jellison, center, and family watch Tuesday as the earth is removed from the grave of her son, Mark Judge , at Concordia Cemetery Gardens in Fort Wayne. Judge was killed in Vietnam. The military says it thinks the wrong remains are buried in the plot.

PHOTO 2 BY ANDREW JOHNSTON / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE (RAN ON 4A): Jerry Dennis, of Largo, Fla., looks at remains exhumed Tuesday from Mark Judge's gravesite. He was to help identify the remains.

Part three will be posted on Sept. 3, 2007.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Part One: The Odyssey of Mark Warren Judge, A Navy Cross Winner

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1995 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

TAG: 199501160038
DATE: Monday, January 16, 1995
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO BY Samuel Hoffman / The Journal Gazette: Mary Jellison visits the grave of her son, Mark Warren Judge, at Concordia Cemetery Gardens. She was notified in August that the remains buried there might not be her son's, but the case remains unresolved.
SOURCE: Mother mourns - and wonders By Tracy Van Moorlehem Staff writer

A WAR FOR TRUTH, FINAL REST 3 DECADES LATER, WOMAN BATTLES FOR DETAILS OF SON'S BURIAL

There is an unknown soldier in Box 15, Stored in a warehouse on a shelf unseen. No grave, no flowers for this fallen Marine. - Pat Plumadore

They speak frequently now on the telephone, Mary Jellison seated before a TV tray spread with papers in her Fort Wayne home, and Pat Plumadore before a similar pile of official documents in Syracuse, N.Y. They sort through the papers together, searching for a nugget of truth that will help them believe what they can't really know. One a mother, the other a sister of boys lost in the Vietnam War, Jellison and Plumadore are bound by the thread of a story that began nearly 30 years ago near Con Thien, where their loved ones were thought to have died. Mark Judge, Jellison's son, and Kenny Plumadore, Pat's brother, were among 31 killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost south of the demilitarized zone. Gunfire in the ambush was so fierce that 15 bodies had to be left behind. When U.S. forces returned three weeks later, only 14 could be found. Working with what remained, military mortuary workers listed Plumadore as Missing In Action/Presumed Dead. A set of remains thought to be those of Judge were returned to his mother and buried in Fort Wayne. But the recovery of an unknown soldier from Vietnam in 1986 and recent revelations by the U.S. military have cast doubt on those identifications. Military officials now believe the unknown soldier - recovered in what was known as Coffin 15 - is Judge, and that the remains in Judge's Fort Wayne grave are of a California soldier named William A. Berry. They believe Plumadore lies in Berry's grave. The families were notified of the possible mix-up in August, but the case remains unresolved. With identification complicated by lost records and X-rays, bureaucracy and the grief of reopened wounds, the process has all but ground to a halt. Neither Jellison nor Pat Plumadore is sure what to believe, but both doubt the military is telling them the entire truth. The two women keep in frequent touch for support and to analyze information gleaned from the government. ``On this paper they said Kenny was examined and declared dead on the scene. ``That's not true,'' Jellison said on a recent January day. ``Many, many times they've said the battle was too fierce and they couldn't stop to examine him. Do you think they would do the exam, then walk away and leave him there dead?'' The two women continued to rehash the document, until a subdued Jellison shook her head. ``Sometimes I just want to say, `Forget it. I'm not going into this grave at all.'''

Returned by Vietnam eight years ago, no name attached. Does anyone know this soldier? A hero? Some mother's son? Was he someone's husband or brother? Lord, what have they done?

Two months ago, Mary Jellison hoped the mystery could be solved, and the new remains buried before the first snowfall. She wonders whether she'll ever have peace of mind that her son has come home for his final rest. In September, Jellison and her daughter gave blood samples so the military could compare their DNA against that of the unknown soldier. When the military's testing came back showing their DNA compared favorably, she requested a private second opinion. In previous discussions, she had been led to believe the military would pay for such an outside opinion, Jellison said. But military officials, including Col. K.W. Hillman, director of the Marine Corps' Human Services Division, said the Marines never said they agreed to pay the estimated $5,000 cost. She was welcome to consult an outside specialist, but would have to pick up the tab herself, he said. Unable to afford the procedure, Jellison said she would not release the remains in her Fort Wayne grave for testing until the military had proved to her the new remains were her son. In November, three military officials who specialize in mortuary and casualty affairs and DNA testing met with Jellison at her home to go over their findings. They told her three specialists hired by the military had gone over the preliminary DNA results and concurred the new remains were her son's. The story, as they could piece it together, was this: Judge had been taken prisoner of war by Vietnamese soldiers, and died at an austere field hospital several days later. According to the Vietnamese government, the remains had been found buried behind a former field hospital in Vinh Linh. While she wanted to know the truth, Jellison couldn't believe what the military was telling her. If they were wrong once, she reasoned, couldn't they be wrong again? Other factors nurtured the seed of doubt. The military had lost her son's dental and chest records. And two outside specialists who examined the incomplete remains told Jellison they could not, by skeletal and dental remains alone, identify the unknown soldier as her son. With so much riding on the DNA results, Jellison renewed her plea for an outside confirmation. ``If that's my son, I want him so bad,'' she said. ``But I just can't bury another boy without knowing, for sure, that it's Mark.''

Does his family now pray over another soldier's grave? Unaware that 27 years ago a mistake may have been made? Do flowers watered by tears from his sisters' eyes grow over the grave where my brother now lies?

That's where the case stands, with the military considering Jellison's demands. In addition to a private DNA test, Jellison wants answers to what she considers discrepancies in military records. For instance, military officials say the new remains compare favorably with her son's remaining records. However, documents written in 1989, 1992 and 1994 differ on whether dental comparisons were favorable. One analysis, dated Sept. 14, 1992, said ``no records of any of the Marines in this (Con Thien) incident matched the dental remains of CILHI 0048-86.'' She also wants assurance that the military won't seek a court order to exhume Judge's Fort Wayne grave. Capt. Mark Ward of the Marines casualty affairs office, who has served as a liaison to the families, said the military has no intention of doing so. While progress may be slow, he said, Jellison's requests are working their way through the system. ``You hate to pick on the government bureaucracy, but this is a complex process, and we have to coordinate between a lot of different agencies,'' Ward said. One recent development is that Gen. James Wold, deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs, took over the case. That happened as a result of Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar's staff, whom Jellison contacted for help. Wold's office declined to discuss particulars of the case, but spokeswoman Beverly Baker said the general is ``committed to helping Mary resolve this situation.'' Jellison hopes that is true, but is preparing for a fight if it's not. ``I'm on the phone every night for two or three hours,'' she said. ``It's like a part-time job. I go over and over the records to make sure I understand everything that's put before me.'' Jellison takes inspiration from Pat Plumadore, who is seasoned by nearly three decades of searching for her brother, and is trying to foster her own fighting spirit. That's not always easy. ``I'm mad one day and I'm sad the next,'' she said. ``I think I fight better when I'm mad. When I'm sad I just want to give up.'' I will not forget him, my brother Marine. The unknown soldier in Box 15. Tho I don't know him and can't call him by name, I will call him `brother' and pray just the same.

Part two will be posted next Monday, August 27, 2007.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Something Special From Our Guys in Iraq

Everyone needs to see and hear this:

http://www.flashdemo.net/gallery/wake/index.htm

In Honor Of Victor Andreozzi



Bridge named in honor of Victor Patrick Andreozzi and all Vietnam War veterans

Cpl. Andreozzi's father, Victor Andreozzi Sr., and sister, Louise St. Angelo, hold an American flag which was presented to them after Cpl. Andreozzi was killed in Vietnam.
BARRINGTON - You never really die if your memory is alive. This sentiment was the overlying theme at Saturday's bridge dedication in honor of Lance Corporal Victor Patrick Andreozzi — the first Barrington resident killed in Vietnam. More than 100 friends, family and various dignitaries attended the dedication, many of them visibly emotional as the short life of the courageous young man was recounted.

The eldest son of Victor Andreozzi and the late Jean Andreozzi, Cpl. Victor Patrick Andreozzi was a father figure to his six siblings. Growing up on Bowden Avenue, the Andreozzi children would often swim, fish and dig clams in the Barrington River. John Andreozzi, the youngest member of the family recalls jumping off the White Church bridge with his siblings. "Victor would be in the water and tell me to jump and I would. I was maybe 5 or 6 and it was definitely a leap of faith. He was the only one who could get me to jump off that bridge. Victor was our safety net, our security blanket," he said.

The plaque which bears Cpl. Andreozzi's name and all Vietnam veterans was unveiled at the ceremony by family members will be displayed on the bridge when it is completed. Rhode Island Department of Transportation officials say the expected completion date is late summer 2007.
The family fought hard to get the dedication approved by the state and town officials and chose to hold the dedication now so the family patriarch, Victor Sr. could be in attendance. "Our father is 84 years old and we wanted him to be a part of this special event," said Victoria Arrone, sister of Cpl. Andreozzi.

Remembering a hero :
A handsome, green-eyed Irish Catholic, Cpl. Andreozzi was a serious young man who is described as honest and full of integrity by his brother Ernest.
"Victor was the son everybody wanted. God and county, that was what he was all about." Ernest recalled his brother's love for his sportscar, an MGA Midget Roadster. "When he would come home on leave, even if it was during the winter, he'd take us for rides with the top down. He loved that car," Ernest said.

Louise St. Angelo has similar memories of her big bother and was the driving force behind the bridge dedication. "Our family scattered after Victor died and our mother's death two years later. This is so emotional for me because my brother was such a special person who sacrificed for his family and for his country," Ms. St. Angelo said.

She recalled the time when while climbing trees — another family favorite activity — she fell out and her brother was the first one to help her.
"He was right there and the first one to pick me up to see if I was all right. He was always there for all of us," she said.

On September 21, 1967, the Andreozzi family was forever changed.
Cpl. Andreozzi enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1964 just after he turned 18. During his four years in the service, he traveled the globe with tours in Spain, Italy, France, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. In the summer of 1967, he was sent to Hawaii to train for deployment in Vietnam. This was an exciting time for the 21-year old rifleman and squad leader. He had just asked his girlfriend Sharon, also a Marine, to marry him and he was happy to go and fight for his country. The couple planned to marry after his return from Vietnam.

He was assigned with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division, Fox 2-4, also known as the "Magnificent Bastards."
Cpl. Andreozzi received the Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, National Defense Service Ribbon, Marine Corps Combat Ribbon and the Vietnam Service Ribbon.

When news of his death reached his family in Barrington, there was a feel of disbelief, anger and profound sadness. Gus Morelli, a first cousin, said he didn't believe Victor was killed until he saw his name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. in 1986. "I always expected him to come home. He was an empathetic and caring guy. A lot of responsibility was thrust upon him being the oldest. He always took control of the herd and never wavered," Mr. Morelli said after the dedication.

The program at the hour-long ceremony included a speech by guest of honor retired Col. Stephen M. McCartney, USMC. "It is said that when a Marine is killed he (or she) is reporting in to St. Peter to get orders for the next duty station. Cpl. Andreozzi is looking down on us from heaven," he said.

Victor Andreozzi Sr. often wiped tears from his eyes during the program and held the hand of daughter Louise. "My son was a good man and is missed beyond words," he said.

Other family members in attendance included many nieces and nephews cousins and friends. Brothers Jerry and Robert Andreozzi were unable to attend.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited to Ms. St. Angelo's home for refreshments. "Now we can go and celebrate Victor's life and share memories of my brother," she said.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Failed Strategy Of 1967

When the Marines landed in Vietnam, they had a plan. In fact, by past experiences, they had developed an entire book on guerilla warfare and pacification of the population. The Marine Corps leadership wanted to establish permanent positions around the densely populated coastal areas: Da Nang, Phu Bi, etc. Having established these areas to provide safe havens for the local population, these areas would gradually be expanded to increase the Marine's area of influence with the local population. By furnishing security and all types of aid to the locals, they could be won over.

There were other reasons for using this strategy. First, it denied access to the local population by the VC. They could not get supplies from these areas, influence the locals with their doctrines, or recruit new members into their ranks. Secondly,the VC or NVA sitting in camps in the mountains were rendered ineffective as a fighting force unless they wanted to attack our well established fortified positions. To make them come to us and fight on our terms, a situation in which they could not win.

Sounds good, so what happened? Enter Gen. Westmoreland. Now, Gen. Westmoreland, the supreme commander of all US forces in Vietnam, had different ideas. Army doctrine was developed during the Cold War and was designed to fight the Soviets in Europe in large scale battles.

The Marine Corps command resisted as far as they could go, but eventually had to adopt Westmoreland's strategy for fighting the VC and NVA in Vietnam. After all, the Army had one page in its manual on guerilla warfare.

The problem for Gen. Westmoreland was, how to draw the NVA out into large scale battles in the area near the DMZ. The tactic of roving battalions was his answer. The roving battalions became the bait to draw the NVA out into the large scale battles that Westmoreland wanted. Once engaged, the NVA could be destroyed by our superior supporting arms: planes, helicopters, tanks, artillery, etc. Gen. Westmoreland believed that if we could kill enough NVA the North Vietnamese would eventually quit. This is known as a war of attrition. This tactic might very well have worked near the DMZ, except for the fact that in early 1967 we allowed the NVA to start using the DMZ as a sanctuary from which to attack us. Once the NVA had artillery: rockets, mortars, and men in the DMZ, everything within a 20 mile arch became a sitting duck. That's why time spent near the DMZ was known as "time in the barrel", as in shooting ducks in a barrel.

By a strange coincidence, a war of attrition was exactly what Gen. Giap, the North Vietnamese commander wanted. He didn't care how many men he lost as long as he could bleed us. Sort of a slow death by a thousand cuts. It was the way he defeated the French and he believed it would work against the Americans. When President Johnson allowed the NVA to use the DMZ while it was off limits to the Marines, he played right into Gen. Giaps hands. The perceived advantage of U.S. supporting arms was negated as soon as the NVA was allowed the use of the DMZ.

Other factors worked against us as well. The weather, especially in the rainy season, kept our aircraft grounded. Tanks and other armoured vehicles could not traverse the terrain. The element of surprise was also on the NVA's side as they had us outnumbered and could choose when and where to make their fight. The area of responsibility of the Marines was too large for us to commit the needed manpower to the DMZ. Add to that the fact that we used a rifle that jammed all the time and could not be depended on and it's a wonder we could hold the line at all.

This is also why we followed unit after unit, fighting, bleeding, and dying over the same ground time after time. In the overall scheme of things it didn't matter as long as we killed more of them than they did of us.

This whole strategy was exposed for the failure that it was when Gen. Ray Davis took charge in early 1968. Bases were closed and moved back beyond the range of the nva's guns and no longer would infantry (roving battalions)
protect fixed installations. Under new leadership and fighting as a true mobile force, five NVA Divisions were destroyed in four months and North Vietnam was asking for a cease-fire.

None of what I have said should be taken as a failure of the men doing the fighting in the "barrel" to do their job. To the contrary, we were never defeated,even though fighting under almost impossible conditions. Anyone who ever spent time in the barrel can be proud of the job they did and the men they served with.

Semper Fi,
Bill Sellers
Golf 2/4 67-68

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dave Hamilton - A Fallen Hero

When Dave Hamilton was killed by on-rushing NVA forces, he was firing his M-60 machine gun. He, and Frank Foster, his gun assistant, never flinched in their duty to protect their section of the 2/4 perimeter. Even while being over-run by a determined enemy, Hamilton kept the rounds flying and the pressure on. Before being killed by an enemy RPG, Hamilton and Foster littered the field in front of his gun with numerous dead NVA soldiers. Undoubtedly giving members of Golf Company time to adjust and react. We'll never know how many Marines he saved by his actions the night of October 13, 1967.

For his courageous act under fire, Dave Hamilton was awarded the Silver Star posthumously. Personally, I think he should have been awarded the MOH, or at least the Navy Cross. And what about Foster? He stayed at his post as well. I don't recall Foster receiving any award. Do you?

I knew Dave, and can still recall his infectious, great big sense of humor. I never saw him in a down mode. Dave kept us laughing and our spirits up, and under those horrible conditions, that meant a lot.

Dave Hamilton will always be my hero.

Do you remember a Marine or Corpsman who fits in to this mold, and served during Operation Kingfisher?
Please write something and we'll get it in our blog.

Semper Fi,
Bob Bliss

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tribute to Kenneth Montone

I am writing this tribute to Sgt. Kenneth Montone to be published in an up- coming book about Operation Kingfisher, in Vietnam, September 21, 1967. The heroism by all the Marines that day would make the toughest of men wither and hide.

One of the six Medal of Honor Recipients of 2nd Battalion 4th Marines on that day was Lance Corporal Jedh Colby Barker, a machine gunner in Fox 2/4 under Sgt Montone's command. Sgt Montone was awarded the Bronze Star with combat V posthumously for going to the aid of several of his men before succumbing to his own wounds.

I first met Kenneth Montone after going through boot camp in San Diego. We were assigned to Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton, California. I remember he had an Anchor, Globe and Eagle tattoo on his chest (the Marine Corps Emblem). Wow! I thought, "I want one of those." I had already been through college and had a degree in accounting and was the blunt of many jokes by my fellow Marines. I think Ken saw this and came to my aid many times. We worked from daylight to dark most days running the hills around Camp Pendleton. He kept us together day and night as a squad should be. We worked hard and played even harder. I remember the night just before we were to leave for Vietnam, the entire squad met in a tiny bar across the street from the bus station in Ocean Side, California. We all got trashed that night. Little did I know I would spend most of my time in country with these 17 and 18 year old men.

We flew from the California El Toro Air Station to Hawaii, then on to Okinawa. We were in Okinawa several days to store our equipment and doing more training, giving blood, and going on leave in a little town. The cab ride the next morning was the price of admission after an entire night in the town. The Cliffs of over 700 feet on a single lane highway in a cab was a lifetime experience. We were all young and ready for what we thought was a great adventure, besides what could hurt us, we were Marines. I think some of the ones that had been in the Corps a while were a little more cautious. However, we never saw that in Kenneth, he was a Marines Marine. Even if he felt something, we never knew it. I will never forget landing in Da Nang in July. When they opened the doors of the air-conditioned plane, we could feel the nice warn 100-plus degree temperature and humidity. We were in Da Nang for about 3 or 4 days before we were assigned to our units. Kenneth and I were assigned to 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, the Magnificent Bastards, Second to None. Da Nang was a place if you were with any one whom you had gone to boot camp with, chances were that you were separated. We all made new friends that day, however there were a few of us that were assigned to the same units. That day we found out that we were bound for the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines at Camp Evans. I remember riding with Kenneth in a convoy North from Da Nang across so many rice paddies I could not count them. We arrived at this dusty compound called Camp Evans. It was kind of nice there looking back in retrospect; we had hot meals and cots to sleep on, even movies (Combat with Vick Morrow and Rick Jason). We would occasionally take a casualty from mines laid by the local Viet Cong, but nothing on a large scale like where we were going. We were there about 4 months.

We got our orders one day to board the trucks going North. I thought we were already north, at least enough to suit me. Even our Officers and platoon commanders were beginning to wonder where would we be assigned next. Well, from that day to when I left Vietnam, was any thing but pleasant. No more hot meals, C-Rations. No more cots, a poncho and the hard ground. No more movies, the only movies would be ones we may one day show our grandchildren about this place. Life had definitely taken a change for the worse. We were first at Con Thien, a Northern fire base.

On the way there we had a few self-inflicted wounds. The area changed from a dusty camp to dense jungle and the start of the monsoons. It would rain all day and night while we tried to sleep. Mud was everywhere.

It wasn't long until we were sent on our first big operation, called Operation Kingfisher. We were to clear the enemy from around the fire bases, which was no easy task. These guys were there and had dug-in positions, not easy to take when in open country. The morning of September 21st, 1967, the rain stopped. We were on line sweeping through a banana plantation around Con Thien when we were shot at by snipers. Then, as we advanced,we came under heavy machine gun fire so intense it cut down several banana trees and some bamboo. That was my first taste of Vietnamese soil. I could hear people getting killed that day, many of them friends. I was pinned down to the left side of where Kenneth and Jedh Barker was pinned down. We tried to surround them by going to our left and around where the fire was coming from. It seemed like every time we would go left, there was another machine gun. We eventually made it to a ravine where we thought we could make some progress. That is when it went from bad to worse. We were targeted by the enemy with artillery. It seemed like eternity while the rounds fell. The enemy was ordered that day to annihilate us to the last man and it felt like it. We were fighting back but was not able to hold much ground. Eventually, when it seemed like we would never get out, the shelling stopped and we started evacuating our dead and wounded. We were then told to get started back to our compound where we had fox holes dug. I found out later that a superior force of North Vietnamese Army reinforcements had been detached to finish us off. It was almost a month before we were re-supplied and had new troops. We went back and recovered the bodies of our fellow Marines on October 10, 1967.

I still remember Sgt Montone, Jedh Barker, as well as every one else that day. I thought, "That is what real courage is, these men laid down their lives to cover our retreat." I thank God for the Marines that I served with. We truly are the Magnificent Bastards.
Semper Fi,
Robert Mercer