I served with Kilo Company 3/26 on hill 861 during the siege of Khe Sanh. Those were some tough days for the Marines in the hill fights,but to be fair, the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force who served at the Combat Base proper got their share of BAD DAYS!!!
Serving with the Marines was a great honor. I wanted to be a Marine from the eight grade,but in my Senior year, I fell in love with medicine, and after many walks alone up and down my block, I made my choice to join the Navy as a Corpsman. That was July 1966, and by December of 67 I landed at the combat base. The day I flew up to 861, I was warned to stay away from Rocket men, and Machine gunners!!! I asked why, and was told "they are the first the enemy tries to kill in a fire fight"!! When I landed on the hill, and was taken down to the trench line, here comes a mortor round and lands up the hill a few feet away. When the dust cleared, a skinny dirty Marine sticks his hand out and says "Hi my name is John Snowder, and I'm a rocket man"!!! Well misery loves company, so I stuck close to John. The next guy I meet is Mike Bradbury, who also was a "rocket man"! My bunker ended up between rockets and machine guns. Can't tell you why, but that is how I spent the Siege. John and Mike are still close friends to this day.
My hardest time was when a Marine was beyond my help! I felt I had failed some how. You didn't need to know a name, they were Marines, and they were my family, my brothers! If you have never been in combat, it is hard to explain, but the proudest days of my life were spent with the Marines at Khe Sanh!!
Doc Jim Thomas