By Cpl. Gordon Duff, USMC 0311
Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Squad
First Bn., 26th Marines (Battalion Landing Team)
9th Marine Amphibious Brigade
1st Marine Division (rein)
FPO San Francisco, California 96602
This is for you sending me snail mail half a century ago. I would have been operating in Elephant Valley from Firebase Six Shooter, a base camp made of 3 tents and lots of barbed wire which we saw on rare occasions. It was always better to be out in the field than back there, burning shitters and visiting our handful of frightened “lifers.”
Those I was with then, all but a very few dead and long in the ground, some for almost 50 years, will always be my family.
The war, now that’s something else. Every single one of us knew then it was all a crock of shit. Our unit motto, from Cpl. Karl Foster:
“The Marine Corps is a festering pimple on the asshole of my sanity”
Typically this was engraved on Zippo lighters with a unit insignia on the other side. I didn’t smoke though if someone can’t tell you what a “ten-pack” is, they weren’t in Vietnam.
I loved the Vietnam war, I loved combat…when we weren’t being slaughtered…and miss many of those I was with every day. Others, well you can’t love everyone.
Most of us never wanted to come home, we knew then, so long ago, what was coming. Vietnam was a lesson, the best teacher of all time, a slaughter that destroyed a generation of Americans, devastated a nation and opened the door for a political takeover of America that has culminated in what we see today.
Special memories for Bill Eckard, double amputee and close friend who survived to raise a family and live a short but productive life including time as a board member at VT and exec with Veterans Affairs. Long story there…heartbreaking.
Larry Williamson, from Columbus, Ohio, killed February 20, 1970. We spent a year together and he was always a joy, even an inspiration from time to time. Missed.
Somewhere out there, LCpl. Eddie Lee Harris, perhaps the toughest of all Marines, somewhere in California, Arroyo Grande perhaps? Alive and well?
So many other names. Those that survived, like Karl Foster, died young. Foster killed in 1971 on his 650 Yamaha, drunk driver. We had matching bikes.
Endless names and faces but all shared one ideal, hatred of the war, recognition of the utter corruption of the military-industrial complex and loyalty to one another.
Some bigger than life characters, Master Sgt. Miller W. Scott, our only “real” lifer, a Gary Cooper clone.
During my 25 plus years of writing on military and veterans issues, the most rewarding with VT and the great staff there, I have benefited from a history education unimaginable during my university days….years….as I ate up endless subsidies, GI Bill, Voc Rehab and even a stipend from the (redacted).
Then I was immersed in veterans, some like John B. Harrison, World War I. Most remembered with Jim Hooker, a Pork Chop Hill vet and alleged CIA recruiter, who died mysteriously in 1976, a good friend.
So many forgotten, Dave Mead who broke the Japanese Naval codes before Midway, another friend or Paul Varg.
A Googling will show them all erased from history as with so many others, erased or as today, smeared, Google and Wikipedia. Funny, they don’t know how funny but I do. I laugh and laugh. In fact, I laugh all the time, it is hard to stop sometime.
Truth? Thus far our study group hasn’t found a single just war in the past 2000 years, that’s “truth.”
If you can think of one, let us know. Good luck with that.
As for those who fight them, whatever side you are on, you have brothers.