27 August 2007

Part Two - Mark Warren Judge

TAG: 199604100076

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 1996
SOURCE: By Julie Zasadny The Journal Gazette

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.

20 August 2007

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


TAG: 199501160038
DATE: Monday, January 16, 1995
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


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.

17 August 2007

Something Special From Our Guys in Iraq

Everyone needs to see and hear this:


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.

10 August 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

01 August 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