Courage Under Fire

Article by Pete Mecca

More than one Leatherneck would agree, it’s befitting that a young man from Montezuma chose to join the United States Marine Corps. The month was November, the year 1965, the man: Eli Fobbs.

“I remember basic at Camp Lejeune,” Fobbs said. “Back then the Corps didn’t play around. They’d insult your momma, sister your wife; shoot, those guys would bust your nose and scare you to death. It didn’t take me long to believe I’d joined the wrong organization.”

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Hill 200 or 250

I was the the officer in charge of Hill 250 from January 1969 until September 1970. 1st Recon was sent to the hill to provide security for the IOD and my men and I, in that order. We had thermite (sp?) grenades strapped to the IOD. Our job was to destroy it should we get over run. The IOD (Integrated Observation Device) was my responsibility. I remember the dozer being brought to level some high ground adjacent to our hill.

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A Walk Through Memory Lane

Here’s a short walk through memory lane for those of us that were at MCAF Marble Mountain on 28 October 1965… Ron Jennings and George DeChant were both wounded in the Ready Room (Operations?) Tent by a Sapper. Our Corpsman (actor Tab Hunter’s brother) was blown up in the MedEvac bird and a few more squadron mates were killed or wounded. I have a sh-t pot full of colored slides with better shots of the whole scene including dead Charlies stacked in trucks with some missing their faces. They patched Jennings up in Japan (Yokuska) with humorous tale about his “adventures” in the Ville… Last photo was leftover Charlie grenades.

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My old buddy “Tex”

Sgt Grit:

My old buddy “Tex” Keyes told me this story. Tex and Sandoval, aka Tex for they were both from Texas, went out with a line company. They were the TAC team with one carrying the large radio and the other with a case of C-Rations and water on his pack board. He said they landed in a hot LZ with shrapnel flying all over. Tex said they manage to get into a small hole with neither able to move very much. Soon Sandoval asked Tex to feel his backside because it felt wet. Tex said he felt the wetness and determined it was water. He told Sandoval you got hit in the butt and it is bleeding real bad. Tex said Sandoval got real quite and did not say anything else. When the fire lifted and they got up Sandoval found out it was only one canteen had been hit he chased Tex all over and said he was going to kick his butt. Tex went to Bangkok on R&R and brought a pet snake back to the Rockpile but that is another story. That is picture of me and Tex at A-3 in 1968.

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Roi Namur, WWII

Many times things didn’t go as planned during Invasions of the Islands in the South Pacific for the Marines. One such incident was at Roi Namur in the Kwajalein Island group. Roi Namur was the target of the 4th Marine Division in the Battle for Kwajalein. There isn’t many references to this so you’ll just have to rely on the memory of an Old Marine who got the story from one of the Marines who landed on Roi Namur, later information of this was given reference to in articles and stories of the Invasion.

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CO’s Demands

I’ve written before about my tour in Korea but I didn’t mention much about my job as Base Photographer.

I took some photo’s of damaged and ruined equipment for the Ordnance Officer. The pictures came out so good the CO asked me to be the base Photographer (We had none at the time). I was issued a Graphic, complete in the box with all the accessories. I had to beg, borrow or steal film, Developer and Paper, never having enough for the CO’s demands. We finally got a Marine Corps Photog, an Old Hand with WWII experience. I was kept on the job until the Photog was ready to let me go (meaning I had all the cr-p jobs). Here’s a photo of me with one of the Interpreters down town looking for stuff to shoot and supplies. “Note the Herring Bone Twill Dungarees” and Sergeant Stripes painted on sleeves.

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Tiger Tale Quang Tri 68

“Corporal Reeves! Get your gear and follow me” the Gunny said as I hung sleepily onto a dream I was having of cool mountain streams, awaking to Gunny Randall’s course Drill Instructor’s voice out side my squad’s earth bermed hooch at Quang Tri Combat Base. Home of the Third Marine Division, Republic of Viet Nam. I had injured my back falling out of a helicopter into elephant grass on a nameless hill near Khe Sanh. I was not hurting much now so the Gunny had made me the commanding officer’s driver and radioman. I went over to the motor pool with the Gunny. Gunny Randall was a tall thin hillbilly from Tennessee who had joined the corps to escape the poverty of the hill county back in the forties, he had served in the big one WWII and Korea, now he was in “This Azshole of the world” to hear him tell it. He was always cussing, the war, officers, the politicians and scum-sucking civilians. But never his beloved Marine Corps! The Gunny was what we called “Old Corps” or “Lifer”, Gunny was one of the good ones as far as a lifer could be.

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