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.
I was in Platoon 124 when JFK came to MCRD San Diego in 1963. We were at the Pugil Stick Pits where he came to observe. I drew the largest recruit in our platoon to fight. Pvt. Garner knocked me around the pit just a few feet from JFK. It was a sad performance on my part. That is me in 1968 in Leatherneck Square.
I came across a photo taken on the 191st Marine Corps Birthday, November 10, 1966 at the 1st Marine Regiment HQ compound about 10 miles southwest of DaNang. It has Col. Radics, front left and Lt Gen Nickerson, front right. I am on rear left and Cpl Rodriguez is in rear right. We were both assigned to S-2. I am also enclosing the menu.
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.
Several years ago I was asked to render the first salute to a 2nd lieutenant graduating from Army ROTC, University of Dayton, Ohio. As we were waiting the commissioning of other ROTC cadets, I decided to add some life to the ceremony. After my young 2nd lieutenant took the oath of office, I walked onto the stage, hand salute (my best), and in a very loud command voice said “SIR, Gunnery Sergeant Pederson, retired, reporting as ordered, SIR!” After the ceremony, an Army one star general (Ohio National Guard) said to me, “It was the best First Salute he has ever seen.”
In 1968 I was laying in a hospital unit..like a MASH unit..my left arm..leg and right arm were all wrapped in dressings..I had an IV hooked up…that night about 2 am we heard incoming mortar rounds coming in…two of the nurses came rushing in…one was wearing a helmet..flak jacket over a cowboys football jersey..and boots..she was only wearing pink panties and she had a m-16 with a full mag slung over her shoulder…the other nurse was dressed almost the same except she had mens green boxer shorts on…they both loaded me onto a stretcher and took me to a bunker and then stood guard holding their rifles at the ready…the nurses pulled out cigarettes and joked a little..this lasted about 2 hours…then a whistle went off that the coast was clear. The next day I was choppered to another unit…I never knew the names of those two nurses but out of all the memories of Vietnam in 1968…that is what I think about the most…they were both young like me…did they go back home..got married..had children..are they grandmother’s today…wish I could hug them and thank them.
I spent 18 months in the Marshall Islands on a security job, which included six months on Roi-Namur in 2018. I walked the battlefields there many times; it has a tour with signs that describe the invasion. I’ve also studied the Marshalls campaign and I operate a facebook group called “Marshall Islands: 4th Marine Div Roi-Namur & 7th Infantry Div Kwajalein.” This story basically matches my understanding of that incident, although I’d never heard or read that someone tried to warn the Marine who tossed the satchel charge inside. Regardless, it caused the highest casualties of the battle.
We were on the USS Okinawa LPH3 in 69 along with 2/26 (I think) floating up and down from the DMZ to Chu Li looking for trouble. We were using the old UH 34Ds to transport the grunts. After flight quarters were secured and after dark abuddy and myself would go up on the flight deck and swing our legs off the rear of the deck,sit and solve all the worlds problems. Right under us was fan tail and after dark the “dobbie” brothers would congregate there and do a few “Dr Feelgoods” and converse on an intellectual level. Now there was a door to enter/exit so EVERY time the door opened why a person had never seen so many fireflys flying off the fantail.The aroma would float up to us to the point we had to move (second hand “doobie”) …..Skip and I would laugh seeing all that good weed flying away and the cost. Full disclosure: Never smoked it period!…My drug of choise was alcohol.
I was sent to Army Ranger School in the summer of 1980 when I was a Second Lieutenant. While we had about 10 Marine enlisted in the class, I was the only Marine officer. During the 2 1/2 week-long second phase of training, we were in the mountains of north Georgia near Dahlonega and were flown to and from our missions by a squadron of Marine helos. While at Ranger School, it was common for the helo and c-130 crews to give the students some gedunk while in the air as absolutely nothing other than the issued daily c-ration was otherwise allowed.
When not in the field, we ate at the chow hall, and before each meal were required to do pull-ups. Being the only Marine in my squad ( we removed all rank during the training) I, of course, was very loud when counting off my pull-ups – ‘Marine Corps’, ole Dan Daly’, ‘Semper Fi’ and one more for ‘Chesty !’. We had no liberty, ate one c-rat a day while on our multi-day patrols and were always rushed through the chow hall when not in the field.
We lived in hard-sided squad tents, when not in the field, and the pilots and crew chiefs were billeted across a field in another area. After lights out one night, I stayed in the shadows and made my way to the tents where the crew chiefs were staying, told them I was a Marine Lieutenant, and asked them to get me a few 6-packs of beer to share with my squadmates. A Marine Sergeant quickly said sure, made his way to the Camp club, and came back with the 2 six-packs. He didn’t want anything in return- Semper Fi!
A few minutes later, I re-entered our squad tent, held up the 6-packs to 11 wide-eyed Army soldiers. Of course, everyone grabbed for a beer but I told them that first, they had to agree to do pull-ups for the Marine Corps in the morning. After a slight delay, all agreed!
In the morning, before chow, we lined up at the bars while our instructors were milling around. I saw some hesitation and gave them each a look and to my surprise, each of the soldiers from the 75th Rangers, 82nd, and 101st Airborne jumped on the pull-up bars and cranked out pull-ups for the Marine Corps!
I was ecstatic, while the instructors screamed in disbelief at my squadmates! I don’t think anyone gave up the reason for doing pull-ups for the Corps – it’s amazing what beer can do!
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.