Monday, July 16, 2007

South Vietnam, The American Waterloo: Lots Of Hoosiers Making Names For Themselves In Marine's 3d

October 25, 1966

Dong Ha, South Viet Nam--There are quite a few Hoosiers making names for themselves in the Marine Third Division. Among them are Cpl. Leonard J. Wilson of Lafayette, and Sgt. Robert Crumb of Spencer.

Wilson and his buddy, Cpl. Jerome F. Witt of Rockville, Md., teamed up to kill 11 armed guerrillas and wounded two others on Sept. 6 in a battle with the Viet Cong near Thu Bay.

Witt and Wilson, armed with Winchester rifles with telescopic sights, poured their fire into a surprised VC force at ranges of 500 to 800 yards. Both men were on a reconnaissance mission when they discovered a VC unit moving down an open road. Wilson and his partner took cover on a hillside overlooking the road, and waited for the VC troops to come in range. When the unit marched to within 600 yards, both men opened fire.

Their deadly accurate shooting so rattled the Viet Cong that many just stood in the road and tried to pinpoint the source of the withering fire. A few of the group ran to the rear, and others ran directly into Wilson and Witt's pinpoint shooting.

The two Marines reported firing only 28 rounds. Witt was credited with six kills, and Wilson, five. Each Marine also wounded a VC. The VC unit was suspected to be one that was moving from village to village, terrorizing the inhabitants and stealing all the food they could grab.

Sgt. Crumb is credited with leading a small group of Marines in an assault on a North Vietnamese machine gun nest and wiping the enemy out with a grenade before it could inflict casualties on an approaching Marine patrol. The recent action took place in the Dong Ha mountains, northwest of the Marine base.

While on a patrol with the Marines from the Third Battalion of the Seventh Marines, a young man raised up from the fox hole he was digging and said, "Hey, are you from the Star? I use to deliver that paper in Muncie."

The Marine identified himself as Cpl. Edward Layne, and said he was 21 years old. As we struggled to stand up on the slick mud on the hillside, Layne said he had been in the Marines 11 months and in Viet Nam four months.

He said he'd sure like his mother and father to know he was all right, just a little homesick.

About the only trouble he really admits to having is trying to grow a mustache.

While trying to to negotiate a way around the dirt piled up by a 1,000 pound bomb crater, a Marine captain reached out to assist. He was Capt Charles Ross of Danville, Ill., and he was graduated from Evansville College in 1960. He's been in the Marines since 1961 when he was commissioned, and in Viet Nam since June.

In nosing around the jungle camp, a Marine sergeant told another animal story which took place more than a week ago at the Dong Ha base camp.

It seems H Company of the Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, had taken a pig prisoner. They kept the porker as a mascot and named him Horrible, which earned them the nickname-"Horrible Hog Company." According to the sergeant, the pig was trained to do a variety of tricks, fed the finest of rations, and exercised regularly on a leash.

Then, H Company was called out on a three-day operation. When they returned, Horrible was missing. The entire company screamed for blood and conducted a diligent search for their mascot.

Neither hoof, snout, nor bristle of Horrible was to be found. It is suspected that either the Navy or the Air Force kidnapped "Horrible" and barbecued the evidence.

Before members of H Company could find the culprits and bring them to justice, they were sent out on another operation.

When H Company returns, there's a good chance there's going to be another barbecue, after the high jackers of Horrible are found.

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