THE END OF COMBAT?!?

Yesterday was 29-March the date in 1973 “That the last combat troops left Vietnam.” Our local VFW was having an event to commemorate that day. My friend and I decided to go.We are not members of that post but, all veterans and the public were invited to attend.They had refreshments and music but,not much else.It was more of a meet and greet.We were listening to a guy that was talking to a group of young people and I heard him comment that the last casualty occurred in March 73′. My friend JJ looked over at me and shook his head as to say “let it go” but I couldn’t .I waited for an opening and ask if he knew how many names are listed on the WALL after 29- 73′? I told them “at least 83 maybe more.I ask if he knew about the S.S.Mayaguez He said he did but thought it happened in Korean water.I said “No it was actually Cambodian water.” 41 Americans were killed including 18 Marines and Corpsman (3 of the Marines were executed by the Cambodians) Ask the families of those killed or wounded after the so called “End of Combat”. What they think.His response was that more would have died if we would have stayed I agreed and, we left it at that. jj and I also left! NEVER FORGET!! SEMPER FI!! Harry

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26 thoughts on “THE END OF COMBAT?!?”

  1. This is a great story. Glad you all decided to let it go but, more people need to be educated as to what happened.

  2. Don’t forget the two Marines who died at the Embassy gate during the Evac. Their bodies were left behind and only repatriated after negotiations with the NVA. I was offshore at the time with the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Oklahoma City CG-5.

    1. I was part of a “ghost” platoon that was inserted by the CIA into Saigon on April 25, 1975. We were 1st blt, 9th marines, charlie co, 3rd plt, 3 marine division. I was in the back of the embassy compound in the early morning hours of April 29, 1975 when these two embassy marine guards were killed. They were about 50 yards away from me at first, then they moved a couple of blocks away to another post when they were hit by a rpg rocket fired by a NV soldier. I learned their names a year later, Cpl. Charles McHahon and Lcpl, Darwin Judge. I also heard in the news that Sen. John Kerry and Sen Edward Kennedy from Mass. when to Saigon to recover their remains and bring them home.

  3. Let’s not forget all those that have died from their injuries, physical, mental and emotional they received as a result of their service.

    1. I never will forget the people that died or suffered after the war. That is a different topic for another day.We all lost something in that war. SEMPER FI BROTHER!! Harry

  4. I returned from my third tour in Vietnam in 1971 and went to the SNCO Academy at Quantico Va. in 72 or 73 I met with the 08 monitor and he said you came back when he did from Vietnam so it was two years and time to go back for another tour. Fortunately the war ended for us other then the Vietnam “Frequent Wind” operation which I was also on.

  5. I have noticed more documentaries are finally acknowledging the Mayaguez incident and Frequent Winds. While the politicians of the day claimed the war ended March of 73, the truth is it didn’t actually end until after the USS Mayaguez May of 75. While I don’t advocate getting into a big argument with the uninformed, politely correcting them is in order.

  6. I was BLT 1-4’s naval dental officer on operation Fortess Journey, I was with Alpha Company on board USS Durham LKA-114 on April 4-5 1975 when we picked up 3,500 refugees, more than ANY other US Navy Ship. We clearly saw shore fire nothing fired at us. I gad a detachment of corpsmen who gallantly gave aid and allow us cleaned up wounded and injured. When we left Phan Rhang the LST USS Newport dilly dallied and left hurriedly 30 minutes later after coming under fire from a column of NZA tanks. I personally was credited with 27 days in a hostile fire zone. We were also involved in Eagle Pull, Frequent Wind, and the SS MAyaguez recovery. Our Delta Company (Capt. Walt Wood) and Bn XO Maj. Porter raised the US flag over the Mayaguez. I draw a distinction between myself and full tour guys who ate dirt and survived but am proud to have served on a good humanitarian mission with the USMC. In 2003 I was finally awarded the Viet Nam Service Medal.

    1. Retired Col. Ray Porter is a very active member of the Koh Tang/Mayaguez Veterans Organization, http://www.kohtang.com. In May of 2013, when the last of the remains from Koh Tang were buried in a common grave at Arlington Cemetery, I was staying at the Crossroads (old Hostess House) at MCB Quantico to attend the funeral. Ray came and picked me up to drive into DC for the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown on Sunday, which allowed me to get my bearings in the area. Later, I rented a van and hosted the family of LCpl Andre Garcia (KIA 5/15/75) for the funeral. Andy was my TTY tech and was attached to ANGLICO aboard Knife-31 for the island assault. We all went to the Globe & Laurel Restaurant in Triangle for dinner that evening. Ray co-hosted with me for for the dinner and he is a very gracious and honorable person. I am glad to say the I know him. Semper Fi!! Edd Prothro

  7. This story brought back a memory. I reported to MCRD San Diego 8/9/77, platoon 3094. We had a recruit in the platoon who was really squared away and knew his stuff. I don’t recall his name (I can close my eyes and see his face, but names fail me at times). The drill instructors recognized his abilities almost immediately and appointed him platoon guide. He often spent the little free time we had (about an hour a night) helping other recruits in areas they were having trouble. Some time around the end of first phase two MPs showed up with the Company CO and he was escorted out of the platoon area with all his gear. Scuttlebutt was that he was one of the Marines that survived the USS Mayaguez “incident” and he loved and missed the Corps so much he tried to sneak back in by going through boot camp again. At graduation he was at the end of the reviewing stand wearing lance corporal chevrons with service stripe in full dress greens with ribbons and badges. May be my imagination but it seems we held our “eyes right” during the pass in review just a little longer than would have been required so he could sort of be included. Don’t know what happened to him after that but I hope he was allowed to remain on active duty.

  8. I have always thought of the Mayaguez “incident” as part of VN war, I thought I have read a history of the action, and the three Marines who were executed, were an M-60 crew that was mistakenly and sadly left behind,I may be wrong. In any event it was an action of the VN war,and I believe the Marines who were KIA in that action ,thier names are on the Wall. But as I get older , I think your Buddy was right, “let it go” , correct the uninformed,but we all lost Brothers,may they rest in peace. One of my platoon mates in 2nd Marines was KIA In 1967 with the 7th Marines ,and we used to have a saying, they will be 22 forever. RIP. Semper Fi.

    1. Hey Gunny! The last 41 names on “The Wall” are from that day.(12-May-1975).Well stated comment Gunny Semper Fi Harry

  9. I was there when the big skedaddle took place. The last casualties occurred during the evacuation of the Embassy in Siagon . To this very day I don’t know how to react to people thanking me for my service . I remain conflicted about Vietnam and I still greive for our brothers who fell . This is the most I have ever said about my feelings on the war it just back to trying to change history ; cant be done. Semper Fi.

    1. So do I Bill, so do we all.. none of us that got spit on when returned knows how to react except to say quietly Thank You and walk on.

  10. For more information on the Mayaguez Incident, visit our web site, Kohtang/Mayaguez Home. We have reunions, and you can contact the vets that were there, and much more. Semper Fi Brothers.

  11. There are still casualties from agent orange which was used in that war. What about the people that are suffering from the toils of war?

  12. Last two Marines killed were Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge. MSGs detailed to Tan Son Nhut airbase, killed in rocket attack 29 April 1975. Semper Fi

  13. I will never forget those who were there and pray that the rest of America will not either. I lost some friends and consider all that served their a friend. Brave Men and Women’ Semper Fi

  14. March 29, 1973, I had been rotated back home from having been aboard the USS Okinawa LPH 3 from March 72 to July or August 72 before going to finish tour at MCAS Iwakuni Japan. I actually guided the C5A’s carrying the troops to the refueling areas at Iwakuni. Then when I got back to the world, I was at NAS New Orleans with the 4th MAW working with the reservists at Belle Chase. Re-enlisted and got my choice of duty as instructor at BASHEL MAG 29 MATSG NAS Memphis, Millington TN. In 75 we heard the news of Mayaguez and all of the instructors were chomping at the bits as we all had served over there to get back, but it was not to be. SEMPER FI Brothers and Sisters…

  15. I was part of Operation Frequent Winds on the USS Vancouver (Hotel Battery 3/12 ) and seeing the south Vietnam people with no place to go but to the ships waiting (no country). The ones that came in there little boats setting them on fire so they could be picked up. All this left an impression on me of what it would be like to not have a country. Thank God we have a country and men that were willing to stand and fight and even give there life so we can live free and have a country. SEMPER FI

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