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© Copyright Michael Dan Kellum 2010
PFC / 1st Lieutenant USMCR 1967-71
1st Lieutenant Dan Kellum’s Vietnam Snapshots Books I & II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & “Docs” By Michael Dan Kellum  
Honor Platoon 1104 (author’s boot camp platoon) graduated December 23, 1967. Sitting,  L-R, Pvt. Jon King, top  Rifle Range score; Drill Instructors: Sgt. A. Flores, SSgt. M.R. Keeler and Sgt. H. Brimgentoff; and Pvt. W.J.  McDevitt, platoon guide. 1st row, L-R, Wolosonowich, Griffith, Bankston, Heany, G.W. Evans, Braddy, Ferlise,  Westlund, Hasse, Brewer, R.V. Johnson, Rodriquez, Lane; 2nd row, L-R, Speirs, M.D. Johnson, Isbell, M.P. Arnold,  Butterworth, Bush, Blankenship, Banks, Gushea, Schabeck, Boydston, Cisneroz, Mead; 3rd row, L-R, Reidel, Meir,  Tortorello, Pollard, Sparks, McAlpine, Raney, Scholz, Liddell, Kellum (author), Cate, Fuegel, Benson; 4th row, L-R,  Bolden, Hanson, Underwood, Broome, B.D. Edwards, Kirkpatrick, Bucher, Sorenson, G.H. Edwards, Clark, Gerhard  III, Broadstreet, Graham; 5th row, L-R, Morkunas, R.B. Evans Jr., Harbour, McCallister, Armstrong, Adams,  Thompson, Larson, Powell, Cover, Nieruchalski, Rehder, Smith and Wikoff. Not pictured, W.O. Arnold, Ferrara,  Jones and Lewis. (See Book I, Personnel, Platoon 1104, MCRD San Diego (Photo) for full names on this website).  (USMC Photo). See Chapter 4, Book I, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs" to see how recruits were  physically and mentally molded into Marines by DIs circa 1967. Or as our DI yelled at us from the get go, "Your soul  may belong to Jesus, but your ass belongs to me!"
MCRD San Diego's huge Grinder dominates the aerial view of the Boot Camp facility. Offices are along The Grinder  at left and bottom of the photo while the WW II era Quonset huts at right and top right housed the trainees. The  Receiving Barracks with the yellow footprints painted on the asphalt behind the 2-story building is at top left on The  Grinder. Note the "Hollywood" Marines marching in review on the parade grounds. The San Diego Airport is just out  of the photo at right as is the renowned obstacle course. Recruits west of the Mississippi River (the author's training  facility due to his being from Texas) were sent to MCRD San Diego while those east of the Mississippi went through  MCRD Parris Island in South Carolina creating an argument as to who went through the toughest training by the  toughest DIs. Hands down... DIs and the training was just as harsh and tough at both facilities. This photo was out of  the author's Platoon 1104 December 1967 graduation book and should bring "fond memories" of all the recruits who  matriculated through San Diego. This is where young men from polar opposite backgrounds in some cases, bonded for  life in a brotherhood known as the United States Marine Corps by completing the Spartan training at Boot Camp.  (USMC Photo) See the Boot Camp story from the author's point of view in Chapter 4, Book I, American Heroes:  Grunts, Pilots & "Docs." 
What would Boot Camp  be without pugil stick  fighting? This is where  all the buildup of testos-  terone and aggression  bubbling underneath each  man's surface can be  turned loose on a viable  target to the cheers of his  fellow platoon members.  
Above, left-right, either  Pvt’s. Glenn E. Cate or  it could be Steven R.  Liddell, Michael Dan  Kellum (author), Ralph  V. Johnson and David  T. Adams await their  turns at pugil stick  fighting against another  platoon's fighter. 
Bottom, the thrust or jab has been learned by the man on the left as he strikes a "killing" blow against his opponent's  head. This is the day one of our Platoon 1104 guys struck the outstretched leg of a man knocked to the ground in a  competing platoon and broke it. Note the impressive Obstacle Course in the distance behind the two young men.  (USMC Photo) See pugil stick story in Chapter 4, Book I, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs." Also, OCS pugil stick story in Chapter 6, Book I,  American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs."
As an Enlisted Commissioning Program candidate if you passed all the various  officer interviews at San  Diego/Pendleton or Parris Island/Lejeune, this is where you ended up in 1968...Officer Candidate School, OCS, (the  officers' version of enlisted Boot Camp) at Quantico, Virginia, along with college graduates and young men from other  programs. Our Combined Platoon Leaders Class lasted 10 weeks and concluded with our being commissioned as  second lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps. These are the barracks and platoon bays where platoon sergeants  and platoon commanders made young men into Marine officers. Many generations of Marine officers passed through  this "H"-shaped building holding four platoons, roughly 72 men to a platoon bay, at a time.  In July 1968 I awoke on  an  off  Saturday morning  to  someone  yelling,  "ATTENTION, OFFICER ON DECK!!!!" It was a full bird colonel sitting  on an upturned trash can  who reminisced with us for quite some time about his matriculating through OCS in that very  bay 20+ years earlier. We, indeed, were a part of Marine Corps history.  Older officers will recognize the old red brick  building from their time there and no doubt will have their own stories to tell as to what went on in that building. This  photo was taken in 1993 when the building was only being used by U.S. Naval Academy personnel coming down to  Quantico from Annapolis, Maryland for training.  A brand new 3- or 4-story (I seem to recall) building was built at the  far end of the Parade Ground to replace our old barracks. If only that red brick building could talk, the stories it could  tell.       See my OCS "adventure story" in Chapter 6, Book I, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs."
Second lieutenants from The Basic School’s 3rd Platoon, C-69 class: 1st row, L-R, Hjerstad, Harris, Horton, Helmick,  Henderson, Maguire, Hellins, Marshall, Larsh, Hempel, Hosea; 2nd row, L-R, Haseman, Hinson, Lassitter (KIA),  Law, Matthews, T.T. Long, 1stLt. Nullmeyer (Staff Plt. Cmdr.), Huth (KIA), Kelley, Harvey (KIA), Hayes, Jacobson;  3rd row,  L-R, Kennan, A.K. Long, King, McFarlane, Heatherman, Mack, Henson, Larson, Manes, Hively, Hexem,  Leach, Kupka (KIA); 4th row, L-R, Lohr, Kirk, G.B. James, Jacobs, Kinney, A.C. James, Hoycus, Majchrzak, Lakin  (KIA), Kelly, Kellum (author) and Hartsook. (See Book I, Personnel, 3rd Platoon, C-69, TBS (Photo) for full names  or initials on this website). (USMC Photo)                          See TBS training story in Chapter 7, Book I, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs."
Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st  Marines officers as of August 1970.   Kneeling, 1st Lt. Bob Fawcett, 1st  Platoon commander, '69 U.S. Naval  Academy grad, would retire a full bird  colonel; standing, Left-Right, 1stLt.  Roger Calderwood, 2nd Platoon comm-  ander and would later assume command  of Hotel Co., (I think he graduated from  one of the PAC-10 colleges and played  football in the line), went on to become  a Highway Patrolman in Boston,  Massachusetts.
1stLt. Michael Dan Kellum, Echo Co. Executive Officer, former 1st Platoon commander and would briefly assume  command of Echo Co. for a heliborne operation in December 1970; 1stLt. David Mize, 3rd Platoon commander, would  later serve as 2/1's S-3A then S-3 Operations chief, U.S. Naval Academy graduate in 1969, retired a 2-star general; and  Capt. Ted Hopgood Jr., Echo Co., 2/1 Commanding Officer on his third Vietnam tour, Texas A&M '65 graduate, retired a 2-star general and served as the 37th Commandant of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, 1996-2002.   (Photo by Bob Fawcett/Dan Kellum...we both had someone take the same photo with our cameras) 
1stLt. Michael D. "Dan" Kellum, Echo 1 actual,  left, and SSgt. Joseph E. "Joe" Strausbaugh,  platoon sergeant, 30, of Chillicothe, Ohio pause  to read The Longview (Texas) Daily News from  the platoon commander's hometown in April  1970.  The headline splashed across the front  page dated April 7, 1970 reads "Vietnam Battle  Situation Said Critical" involving a Special  Forces camp at Dak Seang attacked by the  NVA. The three men's photos on the front page  are the original Apollo 13 astronauts preparing  for their ill-fated trip to the moon April 11.  
(At the time we were shaking our heads to think  we had the know-how to put men on the moon  but we couldn't seem to find a way to defeat a  Third World country---MDK).
An emotionally charged May 30, 1970 Memorial Service at Camp Lauer honored 11 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine  Regiment Marines killed in combat over the previous 3 months. Five of those 11 were from Echo Co. that included  PFC Charlie Fraley, LCpl. Billy "Brownie" Brown, LCpl. Jack Lundell, LCpl. Emilio De La Garza Jr. and LCpl.  Robert Lynn Beaver. I was selected to read a biblical quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and found myself choking up  on the passage. The ceremony included words from the new battalion CO Lt.Col. William Groom "Bill" Leftwich  Jr., the chaplain and several Rear officers who were also given their selections to read from the Holy Bible by the  chaplain. Eleven Marines from the fallen Marines' respective platoons were selected to slowly walk out one at a  time as their man's name was called, square up on the sandbag in front of the cross, drive their M-16 rifle with  bayonet attached into the sandbag and slowly place their helmet on the butt end of the rifle. There were a lot of  Marines and Navy Corpsmen with tears in their eyes by the end of the ceremony as a bugler playing a haunting  Taps almost did us all in.  
PFC Charles A. "Charlie" Fraley, 21, of  Milledgeville, Georgia, point man for Echo  2-3, 2/1  in 1970, is the second name on the granite monument  outside the Baldwin  County Courthouse in his  hometown. Note the upside down American flag  flying  above the Georgia flag on the flagpole to the  right of the monument to the county's  fallen citizens  in the Vietnam War. I felt like Charlie's spirit was  messing with me  with the upside down flag as he  was one to always do the unexpected in Vietnam.  See Fraley's story and comments in Book I, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs" in Perspective Part I, Chapters 1, 16, 21, 24, 25, 33 and Perspective Part II.   Also, Book II, Chapter 16 and Epilogue.
                    This is 1st Marine Division Headquarters in Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1970.   It was also called Division Ridge. The open white doors with the red signs  over them denote the various G-1  Administration, G-2 Intelligence, G-3 Operations, etc. offices. This is where the cattle cars from the Da Nang  Airport deposited us upon our arrival. Note the Sea Knight helicopters on the LZ on top of the ridge.  
This Marine officer and I reported in to 26th Marine Regiment at the same time in January 1970. While powers-to-be  were deciding where they were going to send us, we marked time for a day and a night at their Regimental Rear. We  weren't issued weapons and were told if a siren went off or we heard explosions or gunfire in the night we were to  head for the trenches where there would be plenty of armed Marines manning the lines. I recall quite a bit of  illumination popping  over an open field in front of this trench line that first night. I did not sleep well and did not  feel comfortable being unarmed in a combat zone. That was the longest night I think I spent in Vietnam.  
This is 2nd Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment's Battalion Rear cantonment, known as the Rockcrusher. 2/26 was  starting to stand down to rotate stateside in March 1970 and this may have been one of the first companies in the  battalion to come back to the Rockcrusher. They are marching in the front entrance to the base. Note the height of the  towering mountains in the distance to the southwest. Approximately 50 miles to the west over those mountains was  Laos and the infamous enemy supply route known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  
This is the south ridgeline of  the horseshoe overlooking  the Rockcrusher.  A 106mm  recoilless rifle is in the   foreground and bunkers are  scattered along the road. A  No Man's Land is in front of  the bunkers and recoilless  rifle. It was suggested to me  that area was our minefield  after I had walked across it to  look at the drop off on the  other side. I walked back  across the "minefield" very  gingerly not sure if the staff  sergeant was telling me the  truth or playing a very bad  practical joke. 
Those tiny buildings below are part  of the Rockcrusher in the horseshoe  from the south ridgeline vantage  point. The tall peak in the distance  is down the road in front of our  camp. I had to walk to the top of  that peak to pay my H&S Co.  troops accompanied by another  lieutenant. He pooped out on me  about halfway up. Not sure how tall  that mountain is but I later referred  to it as Hill Good God Almighty! A  Marine company was up there just  off the hill on a ridgeline running  north and south. I walked through a  maze of zig-zag concertina wire at  the top of the hill where I found  two Marines sound asleep in a  bunker. I asked them if they were  supposed to be awake and they said  they weren't required to be awake  on daytime bunker duty. I then  asked them what would happen if I  had been an enemy patrol and took  over their strategic position.  
They confidently pointed to a very imposing Navy destroyer in Da Nang Harbor and said if that happened the  destroyer would blow the top of the mountain off. "And what happens to you guys if they blow the top of the mountain  off?" They sat there a minute then stared out at the destroyer with new respect and fear. I think I woke them up to a  realization. I don't believe they ever thought that scenario through to its logical conclusion. 
I took these photos of Cobra gunships taking off from the Marble Mountain  Air Facility sometime in 1970. Note the  protective structures for aircraft in the background across the airfield. It was like watching a fancy-smancy Corvette  drive by back home.
The photos above were taken by one of the author's  Marines with his camera at the Old Cau Ha Combat  base sometime in April 970. Capt. Ted Hopgood Jr.  is shown, above left, pinning a medal on one of five  deserving Echo 1, 2/1 Marines' utility jacket during  a medal ceremony. Author 1st Lieutenant Dan  Kellum is to Hopgood's right. Tall   Gy.Sgt. Willie  Williams is in the bottom left photo, furtherest one  to the right. Note the roof at ground level in the  center photo above behind the platoon formation. 
It appears that is the roof that collapsed on Echo Co.'s previous CO Capt. Vince O'Neill breaking his ankle when  the  rotor wash from a Sea Knight resupply helicopter blew the structure down on him and two radio operators injuring only  him. O'Neill would spend time in Japan at a hospital mending and come back to 2/1 as the S-3 and later Hotel Co. CO.  In the top right photo is the tower in the background where the author and another Marine spotted two women setting a  boobytrap in a break in a row of bushes leading to their village late one day. One of them became so nervous that we  were watching her set in the blasting cap that she accidentally tripped it..."Pop!" sending up a small cloud of sand. I  ordered an Echo 1 squad to go through a path in the wire we'd cut on night and caught one of the boobytrap setters trying to melt into the late evening exodus of  villagers to the strategic hamlet for the night. (Photos courtesy of  Michael Dan  Kellum) See O'Neill's accident in Chapter 22, and the boobytrap ladies' story in Chapter 27, Book I, American  Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs." 
In 2009 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Vietnam era Marines, gathered in  Washington,  D.C. for a reunion. From left, Cpl. Ron Robison, Echo  2, 2/1 mortar team leader;  Cpl. Don Youmans, Echo 1-1 squad  leader; and author Dan Kellum, Echo 1 platoon commander, later XO  and briefly CO. We were a few of the 1970 era 2/1 representatives to  the reunion. We were at the Iwo Jima Monument for a ceremony  celebrating the Marine Corps' birthday November 10, 2009. The  Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Conway and Gen. Pete  Pace were on hand to give speeches as well as saw the Marine Corps  Band and Drill team perform...very impressive. At one point a 1st  Sergeant in dress blues and a shoulder full of ribbons snapped a  salute on the three of us as he walked by. Youmans remarked in  surprise how he could have known I was an officer. I told him the  Marine didn't  know. He was saluting all three of us for our service  having seen combat in Vietnam. What a true honor he paid us...but  that's the Marine Corps for you...  paying tribute to those who went  before them... those of us who set the bar high for the next generation of Marines... generation after generation.                                                            (Photo courtesy of Ron Robison)