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Re: D 2/13 Marines,3/27 MARINES 1968 TU CAU BRIDGE
Posted by: Anonymous (in care of Uncle Bob) (ID *****9554) Date: February 23, 2006 at 07:45:33
In Reply to: D 2/13 Marines,3/27 MARINES 1968 TU CAU BRIDGE by Patricia (Walunas ) Mielke of 1009

After further reflection I think perhaps you have your wires crossed a tad. Unless I misunderstood your post, the only connection between Delta Battery and 3/27 is that they were both elements of RLT 27. Delta 2/13 was artillery support for First Battalion (1/27 at Hill 55) NOT Third Battalion (3/27 at Tu Cau). Foxtrot 2/13, also at Tu Cau, supported Third Battalion. When TET broke out, First Battalion was a BLT attached to First Marine Brigade at MCAS Kaneohe. Second and Third Battalion were at Camp Pendleton.

BLT 1/27 went over aboard ship - actually, three ships. USS BEXAR (APA-237), USS WASHBURN (AKA-108) and I’ve forgotten the name of the third (Delta Battery was on board WASHBURN - lovingly remembered by some of the crew and embarked troops as the "Wash tub"). Second and Third Battalions - 2/27 and 3/27 - were airlifted from MCAS El Toro to Danang on C-130’s.

Upon arrival in country, RLT 27 was attached to First Marine Division and broken up, with all support elements being assigned among their counterparts in the division: engineers to engineers, shore party to shore party, amtracs to amtracs, etc. Second Battalion (2/13) was placed under operational control of 11th Marines.

The operation at Ngok Tavok, known to us as DELTA X-RAY, involved firing H&I’s across the Laotian Border into the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Ngok Tavock was two or three miles from the “Green Beanie” (Special Forces) Camp at Kham Duc. Our contingent of DELTA X-RAY consisted of two 105 mm howitzers (towed) and about 40 men of Headquarters & Delta Batteries, 2/13. As I recall, there was a company of CIDG, with “Green Beanie” advisors and some Chinese Nungs with Aussies as advisors.

They tolerated our presence for about a month until 5/10/68, the day they “Evicted” us. There’s a saying amongst those who’ve been “down south”: “War is hell, but combat is a m*****f***** !” Ngok Tavock epitomizes it. We lost both guns (actually, we spiked them, to deny their use to “Charles”) and about 15 men. I caught the item in VFW Magazine about the recently-identified remains. One of them, an SF named Miller, had a brother, Doug, also a Green Beanie, who won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. Doug became a “lifer” and retired as a SgtMaj. He was a Contact Rep for the VA in Tampa Bay when he died of pancreatic cancer several years ago.

All but one or two of those KIA were from Delta 2/13. The others were from Headquarters Battery, 2/13, which shared the position on Hill 34. No one from 3/27 was involved at Ngok Tavak. The thing that really bugs me about those remains is: how much did these imbeciles in DC pay the communists for those bones? More "symbolism without substance." Also, another excuse for blowing taxpayers money - not to mention upsetting people unnecessarily: can you imagine how their families are reacting to this?

Of those remains, two - Cook and Czerwonka - spent their entire lives together. They were from the Boston area (Foxboro). They were born within a short while of each other; went through school together; enlisted and trained together, Hawaii and died the same day. Just a few days after we returned to Danang, Czerwonka’s brother showed up looking for him. He was in the navy, with NSA at Camp Tien Sha. He had about a month "in country" and he’d been looking for Paul since he arrived. Things happen.

Re Tu Cau. Whenever I hear it mentioned, which is rarely, I think of an FO, an E-3 named Nelson. Nelson hadn’t been in country long but he’d already been hit twice. The navy and marine corps had a policy. If you received three Purple Hearts or two "Forty-eights" (wounds necessitating 48 or more hours hospitalization) in the same tour of duty, you were shipped out of the country. (Depending on the severity of your wounds, you’d finish your overseas tour - usually Okinawa [the transient facility at Camp Hansen was packed with guys with Purple Hearts with Gold Stars all over them, just stumbling around doing little or nothing more than bumping into each other - which was all right by me]).

We all worked hard and played hard. One night at Tu Cau, a bunch - mostly from Foxtrot - were imbibing and it got a little heated. Nelson and an E-5 named Lamm got into it. Nelson was like a playful puppy - a playful Great Dane puppy. Lamb went into sensory overload and hit Nelson in the head with a pair of pliers - the handiest thing available. Nelson was bleeding like the proverbial "stuck hog" so it was a must that he be taken to sick bay.

In the interest of avoiding a lot of unnecessary paper work - not to mention saving Lamm’s gluteus maximus (and stripes) - in was agreed by all parties concerned, or witness thereto, that Nelson had been sitting on the five-holer (otherwise affectionately referred to as "the s******") and was struck by what was generally agreed to have been a sniper round. And that, all you kiddies who have been unaware and/or wondering for years, is how Nelson got his third Purple Heart (and his ticket out of country) and Lamm was spared the indignity and embarrassment (not to mention the pay cut) of being returned to the domain of the common snuffy.

Like I said, things happen. But all things happen for the good of those who love God and are earnestly deserving of a "huss."


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