Sgt. Kenneth Altazan

Marine Medium Helicopter Sqn. 364

Quang Nam, Vietnam

Award: Navy Cross

On May 9, 1969, Sgt. Altazan serving as the crew chief on the lead aircraft of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned to extract more than 10 Marines that were heavily engaged in combat with the North Vietnamese Army. While originally planning to land the helicopter twice to rescue the injured, the aircraft immediately came under heavy fire and scattered the wounded Marines. Undaunted, Altazan directed his crew to extract the dispersed Marines from five locations, touching the helicopter down each time. At the second extraction location, Altazan saw a Marine evacuating a casualty get shot and fall to the ground. He ran to them, lifted one onto his shoulder and grabbed the other by the arm and began to haul them to the helicopter. In the midst of his rescue effort, an enemy bullet hit the Marine he was carry causing all three to hit the ground, injuring Altazan’s knee. Altazan got up and continued to carry the Marines to safety. Landing the helicopter at the fifth zone, dangerously close to the enemy’s position, Altazan noticed another Marine casualty in the distance. Again, Altazan jumped out of the helicopter. Running out of time and in significant pain, he pulled off his heavy body armor and ran to the Marine. Upon arrival, he discovered two wounded Marines. He pulled one over his shoulder and dragged the other by his belt approximately 30 meters to the safety of the helicopter. For his heroism, Altazan originally received a Silver Star. His award was recently upgraded to the Navy Cross. (Photos courtesy of Jim Reed, Bill Feig) read more

Laziness in Comms

So being in comms, I picked up on the “laziness”. Not like that really exists in the Marine Corps, but you know what I mean, if you were in comms. So being the especially lazy-not-lazy “Small Computer System Specialist” I was, in the late 90’s, I set out on a mission to make my payload for an upcoming mission especially small. Being that I was the only 4066 [IT person] on the tasking, I knew I had to hump my own gear. Weeks before this OP, I started installing Windows NT 4.0 onto laptops to become our “servers”. It worked great,even without USB support, I was able to recreate our stack of servers with laptops! Think back to how large servers were in the 90’s. They were not thin and sexy by any means. Which meant they also were not light weight and required a two person lift for each one. After I loaded up the three laptops to replace three full size servers, added in the other network equipment I needed plus cables, I was able to fit everything into one case [which did require a two man lift; but I could drag it around].

Once I arrived at the location to setup comms, I had things up and running fast. I had already bench tested everything, all the way down to the cables. The only problem was we didn’t have communication with the outside world yet. Being a subordinate command, I waited for the comms above us to get things working. After several hours, the Major in my command suggested I go up to the parent command comms and lend a hand. Feeling like a lamb to slaughter, I bounce on up there to offer some help. Marines are ruthless against an enemy and an internal questioning of another Marine can be seen as a threat as well. So with my smooth attitude and decent smile, I pop into the comms van of the parent org. Me, being “just” a Lance Corporal [who passed on CPL promotion while on this OP so my LT could pin me on] I offered to help. There was a female CPL at the console of their router with several [higher ranking Marines] looking over her shoulder. I knew I could never get my hands on that keyboard [as that was her world {not a sexist thing; just an IT thing} and not mine] I guided her through the commands to get things up an running. Satisfied that comms were flowing again, I ducked back out of their van and headed back to my command.

I never mentioned who I was, who I was with or anything. Would be really cool to run across others from that same Operation Purple Night/Steel Night, up in 29 Stumps [29 Palms] which occurred every year at the same time.

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1969 Mystery

On july 11,1969 Fox 2/5 2nd Platoon got a new Lt. at 6 pm late afternoon. He met with a Squad leader and several others before we set out on a 6 click nite move into the Phu Nuans as a blocking force for another Op. Just as we reached our objective the Lt. stepped on a box mine and was traumattically wounded less than 12 hours after coming to us. We who survive have tried to find out his name for years. We learned that he came to us from 81 Mortars at Phu Loc 6,and that his Father was a Navy Admiral. Another Lt. from Golf was KIA on that same hill moments later. It was a mine field and old bulldozed arty base hill 24 I think. As he left the field alive instead of KIA we have not been able to find out who he was plus not having a name to search is a problem. His stork is out there and if you know it please reply. Thanks

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“Flood” and “Air Raid”

“This story is a repost from 2011”

When at Camp Matthews for our rifle qualifications our Senior DI, after our adventure on Little Agony, which resulted in only 10-12 making it to the top (with their seabags), decided we needed a few new commands when marching to chow.

The first was “flood”. When this command was given all sh-t birds were to get to a higher point so they wouldn’t drown. Two or three trying to climb a palm tree was not lots of fun. Then there was “air raid”. This required the same birds to seek cover in a ditch, etc. Of course there were none in evidence when this command was given. Many drowned and more were killed in the air attack.

Of course neither was a real marching command in any manual. But when I was recommended for meritorious promotion to corporal our top had the Gunny and my platoon Sergeant quiz me about effective rates of fire of weapons and close order drill commands. There’s a command to let troops break ranks, while marching, without saying: “squad, platoon, company halt”. Now when ask what this command was; I could only think of was it’s not flood, but maybe, which I said “air raid”. The Gunny almost fell off his chair he laughed so hard. My platoon Sergeant just smiled. They were both in on this little set up. There is such a command, I later learned. It’s “GAS”. I did get the promotion.

Art ’53-’63…1/9 3rd…1/5 1st

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Capt. Eddie Ray (at time of awarding)
1st Marine Division
Kuwait, Feb. 25, 1991
Award: Navy Cross

During the early morning hours of Operation Desert Storm, an Iraqi mechanized division counter-attacked elements of the 1st Marine Division in Southeastern Kuwait … During the ensuing intense ten hour battle, Capt. Ray repeatedly maneuvered his Light Armored Vehicle Company in harm’s way, skillfully integrating his Light Armored Infantry weapons, reinforcing TOW’s, and AH-1W Attack Helicopters to decisively defeat main Iraqi counter-attacks. Leading from the front and constantly exposed to large volumes of enemy fire, Ray led swift, violent attacks directly into the face of the vastly larger enemy force. These attacks shocked the enemy, destroyed 50 enemy Armored Personnel Carriers, and resulted in the capture of over 250 Iraqi soldiers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

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Veteran’s Day Parade 1989

As a freshly minted private home on leave from Parris Island, I attended the local Veteran’s Day Parade in Utica, New York with my step father and mother. Since none of my civvies from before I went into the Marines, I went in my Class A’s. After a while, a group of veteran’s from the local American Legion were marching by and one gentleman, a Korean War US Army veteran waved me over. He wanted me to march with them. I politely declined as I was just fresh out of boot camp, but he insisted. I felt honored and after a couple of minutes of him and his fellow veterans encouraging me to join them, I did, marching along those brave men for the rest of the parade. Even today, it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you to all who have served. You are my heroes. Semper Fi.

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Montford Point Marine

Thanks for this story and your experience of meeting this extraordinary gentleman and Marine. My, Montford Point Marine story.
In 1969, I joined a police dept. here in Ga., and became friends with the only Black Sgt., with this agency. This Sgt. was one of them, which became known as “The original 9 “, the first Black officers hired in Ga. Later, as Marines will often do, start talking about our Marine past. I learned He Sgt. White, was in the group of the first Marines at Montford Point.
This Marine is still alive. I believe he’s 98.

Original Montford Point Marine Celebrates 90 Years of Life
White made Marine Corps history as an Original Montford Point Marine; one of the ‘Chosen Few’ who served at the segregated Montford Point Camp during WWII during the years 1942-1949. During a time when racial tensions were high and segregation was commonplace, Mr. White volunteered to serve in the Corps, integrating the service branch; an act which would later prove not only historical but legendary.

We Are Family

Like Many Marines, I look back on my years in the Corps with best of memories. I graduated from The Citadel, Class of 1964, attended Officer Candidate School, and had a three year obligation. However I extended a 4th year to remain on sea duty, a 5th year to serve in Vietnam, and a 6th year as B Company Commander, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD, Parris Island. I was deployed out of country 4 out of 6 years.
I left the Corps to pursue a career in the Maritime Industry, and relocated a total of 11 years, with little time to reflect on my time in the Corps.
And then several years ago, by chance, I met a US Ambassador and Montford Point Marine. For those that don’t know Marine Corps history, they were the first African Americans to integrate the Marine Corps at the start of WW2, and then trained separately at Montford Point, NC.
The Ambassador has led a lifetime of achievements and accomplishments, starting as a young Marine on Guadalcanal, and is still running like there is no tomorrow.. He credits his good fortunes in life largely to our Marine Corps, who taught him those valuable lessons that the Corps taught all of us, starting with hard work pays huge dividends.
We recently visited MCRD, Parris Island, where as guest of the Commanding General, the Ambassador was the PRO, or Parade Reviewing Officer for a Recruit Graduation Parade on this last April 22nd.
And several weeks ago, we were guests at the vessel commissioning of the USS Frank E. Petersen, DDG-121, in Charleston, SC.
The vessel naming was after our first African American General in the Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Frank Petersen, as well as our first African American Marine Corps Aviator.
Also present, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and one of the Ambassadors long time friends, retired Marine Major General and Medal of Honor recipient, Jim Livingston, and of course the great Mayor of Charleston, John Tecklenburg, and Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.
The Congresswoman is a graduate of the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel, Class of 1999, and the daughter of Army General Emory Mace, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, and also a Citadel Graduate.
Our US Military has no better friend in our nation’s House of Representatives than Nancy Mace.
As the Ambassador’s acting Chief of Staff, a Marine Officer, and decorated Vietnam Veteran, I have the honor of planning his trips, and setting up his itinerary. At 96 years old, the Ambassador has no intention of slowing down.
Google Ambassador Theodore R.Britton Jr, History Makers.
The Ambassador is a reminder that the Marine Corps never leaves us, and We are Family. Semper Fi

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My marine corps story

I spent 9 months in electronics school, learned how to study, spent one year in the field, six months in Vietnam, returned stateside and was an electronics instructor for a year. After 3 years, two months and six days I got out a sergeant E5 and went to college on the GI bill. I met the girl I would marry while in the Corps and we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last year. While I got a biology degree in college, it was my electronics training that got me my first job that would be my career. The Corps gave me a wife, the tools I needed to get through college, and a 40 year career.

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Marine with class and big heart.

I was at my Medical Board, Lakeland AFB in Texas in 1995. The was a van full of men and I was Only female. We pulled up to the flight terminal and this Marine about fifty stuck out his arm and said wait= you heathens! There is a lady here!He lifted out my bag even though he was walking with a limp. Till this day I remember that Marine. So yes all these years later i remember sweetly this nice kind Marine classy to the Core(“Corps”)and how he made me feel . We are not broken men and women soldier but a spear sharpened by our experience to teach the next generation! On the other side of physical and metal suffering we served a country we love day and night. Honor does not take a day or hour off it is true and steadfast.Though my hair is gray I am still able to remember this kindness. A new Movie Says ,”People try to forget a lot but they never forget kindness.”

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