26th Marines Association

Chairman's Message
Public Membership Roster
2022 Reunion General Information
Annual Meeting Minutes 2006 to Current
Forms for Membership, Registration, Banquet, etc.
Photos of Past Reunions and Nam Photos
Association Member Distribution
The Association "SCUTTLEBUTT"
Buddy Search Postings
Veteran Websites and Phone Numbers
In Memoriam
26th Marines Association Officer History
Pictures of the Past and Present


26th Marines Association
Association "SCUTTLEBUTT" also Buddy search messages



Our 2022 Reunion is all set... (see details on our website, 26thMarines.com), rather than have our banquet meal at the hotel as we normally do, we will have the banquet at the Globe and Laurel Restaurant, near the Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, VA., Friday night at 6:30 pm.




One of our 26'ers has passed on.  His name was Steve Radcliffe.  Steve served with 1st platoon, Golf company and served in 1968-69.  

I just received the notice from his wife, Carol about a week ago.  Both Steve and Carol attended our reunions.

See obituary at:


Sonny Hollub
26th Marines Association



I just talked with Mary DeLong... Mike DeLong, a 26'er who served with us in Nam, is her husband.  Mike was resting... due to lack of sleep the last few days.  Their son, Jason DeLong, age 45, passed away 11-02-2021.  Jason was a US Marine as well.  Preparations for the funeral are bieng made and will be posted on this site when complete.  The phone number on our Public Roster, is correct.


My condolences and prayers are with Mike and Mary without ceasing.  Sonny Hollub 



2021 Annual Reunion in San Diego, California... 


We are attempting to set up a reunion in San Diego, California


At this point, the MCRD will not allow public attendance to graduations.  Many hotels are not doing group arrangements either... but some project they may start in the summer. 


At this time, it appears that the late September time frame will be our best bet.  Please do not pay for anything other than annual dues until plans are finalized.  A few have paid their 2021 dues and thanks to those who have.


 Keep your eyes on the website for plans as they develop.  If the COVID rebounds we may have to abandon this effort and plan for 2022.


Paul L. Johnson 

Just received the following from 26'er Member - Gary Ross regarding Paul L. Johnson.

Gary B. Ross

10:16 AM (4 hours ago)
to Sonnyusmc@gmail.com
Sonny -
Not sure if you are the right person to send this to or not, if not please send to whomever within our organization.  Many thanks!!

I just learned of the passing of one of our brothers:  Paul L. Johnson.  Paul passed away on 11-14-20, Moscow, Idaho.
Paul was a member of "I Co., 3rd Battalion, Hill 881 @Khe Sanh.  Not sure if he was a member of our 26th Marines organization or not.

Stay healthy - Semper Fi.  Gary Ross, F/2/26


October 26, 2020


Final arrrangements for 26'er Jim "JC" Kobliska... 


As you all know, JC was a member of our association and he passed away October 14, 2020.  Pat, JC's wife, was diagnosed with covid just after his death.  She has been quarantined since until she received a negative test.

Pat notified me Jim "JC's" obituary is posted on https://www.hagartywaychoffgrarup.com/obituaries/James-Clarence-Kobliska?obId=18730597#/obituaryInfo .  There will be graveside services Wednesday.  See the following:

"James Clarence Kobliska, 70, of Elk Run Heights, died October 14, at UnityPoint Allen Hospital .

He was born March 3, 1950, in Waterloo, the son of Clarence and Merle Foreman Kobliska. He married Patricia Smith on December 15, 1979, in Waterloo.

James graduated from East High School and served in the United States Marines during the Vietnam War. He was employed as a welder at John Deere for 30 years.

Survivors include: his wife Pat of Elk Run Heights; two brothers, Jeff (Deanne) of Evansdale and John (Denise) of N.C.; two sisters, Carol (Jim) Kanehl of Milwaukee, Wis, and Merle (Steve Christensen) Kobliska of Minn.

Preceded in death by his parents.

Graveside Service: 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, October 28, at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Full military rites will be conducted by the Evansdale Amvets Post 31 assisted the Marine Honor Guard. Hagarty-Waychoff-Grarup Funeral Service on West Ridgeway is in charge of arrangements. For anyone attending the service please wear a face covering."

The Association has sent a spray to JC's service, from all his "26th Marine Brothers".

Pat Kobliska's contact information:

Home phone - 319-234-4201
Cell phone - 319-269-3777

Mailing address:
Pat Kobliska
128 Sunset Lane
Elk Run Heights Iowa 50707
United States  

Thanks and Semper Fi,
G H Sonny Hollub Jr.




October 14, 2020


Final report on 26'er Jim "JC" Kobliska...


As you all know, JC was battling kidney cancer, bone cancer and lymph node cancer.  Sunday morning, the attending nurse at his home, decided due to extremely low blood pressure, to send him to the hospital.  JC had fluid in his lungs and an attempt was made to remove that.  In addition to all his ailments, he was then diagnosed with Covid-19.

Wednesday he was put on a morphine drip and provided comfort care.  I received that message from Pat, JC's wife this afternoon.

I called at 5:45 pm and she and his brother had been allowed in the room, but Pat said he had been just sleeping.  I asked Pat if she could put me on speaker phone... and she said she could.

When she had it on, I began to call out to JC... and he began to respond the best he could... I told him all his 26'er Brothers were thinking and praying for him. 

Everytime I said something he would respond with a grunt or acknowledgement to my comments.  He was actually excited to hear my messages about his Brothers.

I sang the Marine Corps Hymn to him... to which he responded with more grunts and noises... I then sang the Lord's Prayer to him, one he and I often prayed together... again JC grunted with seemingly excitement.

I closed by saying, if you don't make it Brother... I/we love you and also told JC if he sees Walter... tell him hello and we miss him too.

Pat was most appreciative and thanked me for singing and praying with him.  She said he almost came back alive... he had not said much of anything all day.
Pat notified me shortly thereafter, JC passed at 7:05pm.
I will post any other details as they may occur.

Semper Fi,  
G H Sonny Hollub Jr.




October 12, 2020

Bonnie... Wife of member Doug Gundermann, having health difficulties


sonnyusmc <sonnyusmc@gmail.com>

8:32 PM (0 minutes ago)
to me, bcc: BAKUKU, bcc: jatkinson, bcc: Frank, bcc: dennis, bcc: skipper861a, bcc: ronald, bcc: Hugh, bcc: mrcowan, bcc: Mike, bcc: DUNCAN, bcc: Earl, bcc: foradioman, bcc: rafons48, bcc: tom, bcc: Greg, bcc: James, bcc: Walt, bcc: Douglas, bcc: Bill, bcc: Tom, bcc: Quinn, bcc: David, bcc: Walter, bcc: me, bcc: Steve, bcc: kajonessr, bcc: Donald, bcc: ronjkirk63, bcc: Doc, bcc: onemomk1950, bcc: Harvey, bcc: ashesgrainb, bcc: relee4110, bcc: ROBERT, bcc: Ray, bcc: robertmain, bcc: Dan, bcc: Connie, bcc: Mike, bcc: Larry, bcc: L, bcc: Macdonald, bcc: Lawrence, bcc: Walt, bcc: Steve, bcc: renfro, bcc: tprizutti, bcc: blackbudd6, bcc: Gary, bcc: dennisneil, bcc: Richard, bcc: stumpseminar, bcc: Linda, bcc: Kathy, bcc: ladejt@yahoo.com, bcc: Tom, bcc: ulinski4, bcc: John, bcc: Margo, bcc: Pat, bcc: trae7a
Received the following from our member 26'er and board member, Doug Gundermann.  Bonnie is his wife and attends most of our reunions along with their two children.  You can contact Doug or Bonnie at:
Email:  doug@gtaair.com
Phone:   214-773-6329
Home: 14155 Hay Meadow Drive, Dallas, Texas 75254
From:  Doug Gudermann
Last Wednesday I called 911 as Bonnie was feeling really bad. She was admitted to hospital and X-ray showed a lot of fluid around her heart as well as cancer back. 

Thursday morning they put in a drain getting 350 cc. Friday morning they attempted to remove the drain but it got stuck. Doctors had never seen this before. Very painful for Bonnie. 

Monday morning she had surgery to remove the drain. (Pericardial window for those that want to google it). I brought her home from the hospital today. 

She is feeling much better today but very weak. We should find out more over the next few weeks.

Had a flight to Chicago 2 weekends ago and very much enjoyed a visit with Chuck. Still flying a little part time when I have the chance.

Miss all you Marines. Hated to miss New Orleans. Semper Fi to all of you. And JC, left you a couple messages. Hang in there brother. Feel free to call when you can.

Sonny, please feel free to pass this on to all our members and call me anytime. Hope to have an update in a few weeks.



PS - 10-12-2020 Doug advised in a text, "Just talked with Doc today.  Starting Chemo Wednesday.  Feeling much better."


October 5, 2020


Member in bad health... UPDATE on 26'er JC Kobliska

26'ers - Just wanted to let everyone know, Jim “JC “ Kobliska, is in really bad health.  JC has attended every reunion since joining ... and has really supported our association since.

Talked to his wife, Pat yesterday.  JC has had various tests, including the biopsy and PET scan.  The report is he has stage 4 kidney cancer, bone cancer, and lymph node cancer. 

He is undergoing treatment and asked that I tell all of you, he has saved all your messages received, wishing him well. 

He was most appreciative and said when he gets to the point he can talk on the phone, he plans to call everyone... but asked me to make sure you all know how much he appreciated your messages.  Pat said each message lifted him up a bit... which was a welcome relief for her.

She makes sure he gets all messages left on his home and cell phones... which she says and as JC said, really brightens his day. 

If you can, give one or both of the numbers a call and leave a message... or send him a get well card.  Pat will make sure he hears the messages. 

JC’s contact info is:
Home phone - 319-234-4201
Cell phone - 319-269-3177

Mailing address:
128 Sunset Lane
Elk Run Heights Iowa 50707
United States

I will update his condition, as it develops.

Thanks, Sonny Hollub



September 24, 2020

Member in bad health...

26'ers - Just wanted to let everyone know, Jim “JC “ Kobliska, is in really bad health.  JC has attended every reunion since joining ... and has really supported our association since.

Talked to his wife, Pat today.  He has lymph node problems, a mass on his kidney, one in his neck, one on his thyroid and perhaps a couple in his lungs.  

She makes sure he gets all messages left on his home and cell phones... which she says brightens his day.  If you can, give one or both of the numbers a call and leave a message... or send him a get well card.  Pat will make sure he hears the messages. 

JC’s contact info is:
Home phone - 319-234-4201
Cell phone - 319-269-3177

Mailing address:
128 Sunset Lane
Elk Run Heights Iowa 50707
United States

He's having a biopsy done on 9-28.  Then a Pet-scan after that.  I will update his condition, as it develops.

Thanks, Sonny Hollub


July 17, 2020


Re: 26th Marines 2020 Reunion UPDATE


26'ers  - After inquiring with the general membership and receiving suggestions to postpone our Annual Reunion until 2021, the board decided to postpone until 2021.



The 2020 San Francisco reunion thus, is cancelled due to the Covid 19 virus.



We will keep our eyes on this thing until 2021, then proceed from there.


Thanks to those who responded and those who have paid their dues for 2020.


Thanks and Semper Fi,

G H Sonny Hollub Jr.


 July 5, 2020

Re: 26th Marines 2020 Reunion



As many of you know, the COVID 19 virus has been crippling for reunions this year.  I had already lined up a hotel in San Francisco for July… but was able to reverse that at no cost to our Association.


We all mourn the loss of our good Brother Marine Walter Heim who passed earlier this year.  The board voted unanimously to fill Walter’s position with Doug Gundermann.


The board will decide about July 15, 2020 to do one of the following:


1.    Reschedule for a time in October 2020 or,


2.   Postpone until 2021.


Some groups have decided to do one or the other.  It seems the virus is making another surge in our Country now.


While the board has the authority to make this change, it would be nice to get your input.


Email your choice to sonnyusmc@gmail.com … or call 512-825-4730 and leave a message… and those thoughts will be considered when the board decides.


To those who have paid this year’s dues… thanks.  For everyone else, the membership form is attached and please submit your dues.  Do not pay for anything other than your dues or donation at this time.  Other fees will be collected if we decide to reschedule for October 2020.


Thanks and Semper Fi !!

G H Sonny Hollub Jr.



26th Marines Association - 2021 - Membership, Registration, and Banquet Forms


Annual Membership Dues $45.00 - (Due January 1, after March 15, $50.00)



Member Last Name:




Middle I.





Spouse Last Name:




Middle I.





Email Address:






Street Address:










Public Roster Posted on our website -

 Circle one:     Yes      or       No  


Roster Nickname:



Unit served with -

Reg./Bat./Co./Plt. :


Year (s) served in Nam/WWII:






Reunion Registration Fee $25.00 per person - (Due July 1, after July 15, $35.00)



Member Last Name:




Middle I.




Spouse Last Name:




Middle I.




Guest Last Name:




Middle I.




Guest Last Name:




Middle I.




Guest Last Name:




Middle I.






Reunion Banquet Fee $50.00 per person - (Due July 1, after July 15, $55.00)



Member Last Name:




Middle I.




Spouse Last Name:




Middle I.




Guest Last Name:




Middle I.




Guest Last Name:




Middle I.




Guest Last Name:




Middle I.







1.      Members not * up to date on their membership fees, will not be allowed to attend Membership Meetings or vote on Membership matters.  All dues in arrears were forgiven at the 2013 Annual meeting. *Up to date is defined as all annual membership dues since 2014 or the year you joined, whichever is the most recent, as voted for in the 2006 Annual Meeting to maintain our financial integrity.  Remember, if you are a member, you need to pay your dues even if you do not plan to attend.


2.      Please complete all names and addresses as you want them reflected on either the public (listed on our website) or private roster.  Please include complete mailing addresses with zip codes and current email address. 


3.      Please complete the above "Annual Membership Dues" form and mail to: 26th Marines Association, 340 Humphrey Dr., Buda, Texas 78610.


4.      Make checks payable to 26th Marines Association.











 Board replaces Walter Heim 0311 - Echo


The board voted unanimously too replace Walter's board position with Doug "Gundy" Gundermann 0311 - Golf, effective 5-7-2020


While Walter came home with our Colors in 1970, Doug went over with our Colors in 1966. 


Doug has attended most of our reunions since becoming a member and often brings his Wife, Son and Daughter as well.  Doug was wounded twice and was in Nam 1966-1968.


G H Sonny Hollub Jr.

Board Chairman/Treasurer  



 Update on Walter Heim:


As many of you know, our Good Brother Marine Walter Heim passed away in January 2020.  While several of us were monitoring the plans for his burial and the funeral home was committed to letting us know when the burial would take place, they failed to do so. 


Walter was buried about 2 weeks ago (about April 24, 2020) according to the funeral home director.  In, that the state of New York, has been hit with so many deaths, it is understandable how this oversight took place.  More information will be posted if it occurs.


G H Sonny Hollub Jr.

Board Chairman/Treasurer  



Walter Heim's final arrangements (still in progress):



On Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 1:16 PM sonnyusmc . <sonnyusmc@gmail.com> wrote:


Board et al... Just an update.  We are making good progress regarding Walter's final arrangements.  

Tomorrow the head of the ME office will return from vacation and hopefully resolve this for us.

I will keep you posted.


G H Sonny Hollub Jr.
Board Chairman/Treasurer 


Update on Walter Heims passing: 


Members/Marines... I just talked to Heather (Walter's neighbor).  Thus far no findings by the Medical Examiner.  They have found a couple of names and are investigating those for potential familial contacts.

She did tell me he had been complaining about his hip recently, and had lost some weight.  But he had not reported anything abnormal to her.

She will provide any new information as determined and I will reciprocate with her.  I will update as updates are available. 

G. H. "Sonny" Hollub, Jr.
340 Humphrey Dr., Buda, Texas 78610

26th Marines Association
Board Chairman & Treasurer

United States Marine Corps

Life Member - Semper Fi 


I am sad to report, Walter Heim has passed away.  I have been looking for details now, but have no further information regarding his passing.  For those of you who are members, Walter was our Sgt. of Arms and handled our Hospitaliy Suite each year.  



His neighbor sent an email advising of his passing as follows:


"Good Afternoon All, 

My name is Heather and I am Walter's direct next door neighbor.  

There is no easy way to say this and I am sorry to have to pass along this news like this, but unfortunately Walter (Heim) has passed away. 

Upon the due diligence of the Police to find another way in, after reaching out to local hospitals and looking for a family or relative that might have had a key, the police ended up breaking into his house last week upon my insistence that it was not normal that I had not seen or heard from him, and they found him in his bed.  

The Medical Examiner has his body right now and they are supposed to reach out to the Marines, but I want to make sure Walter get's a proper Military Service/Burial if someone can reach out for me or can put me in touch with a contact, I will be happy to do so myself.  

Please reach out if you have any insight if he has any family or other friends that need to be notified or if you have any questions. 

My deepest condolences, 

Heather R."


As I recall, Walter had one brother and one sister... but I do not have their contact info.  I have not been able to talk with Heather (she only provided an email address), but did email her to call me.


If any of you knew of his kin, please let me know.  After Bill Hoffman passed (Bill and Walter were both single) I admonished Walter to establish a contact, relative or friend.  While he never told me anyones name, perhaps Heather was who he designated to contact our association.


As I find any information, I will post it here, on our FB page and send to all emails I have on file.


Thanks and Semper Fi, 

G H Sonny Hollub Jr. 



Frank Booth, long time member of our 26th Marines Association, also one of our officers, reported his Dad, Charlie K. Booth, passed away.

The service will be held at Hopewell Baptist Church, Hopewell Church Road, Taylorville, Mississippi, on February 8, 2019, at 11:00am.

Charlie Booth is located at the Young Funeral Home, 218 Pine Street, Taylorville, Mississippi 39168.  See http://youngsfuneralhome.net/2019/02/04/charlie-k-booth/

My condolences to Frank and his Family on this loss.

Frank's number is 770-598-2233, if you would like to call him.

G H Sonny Hollub Jr
26th Marines Association



Pictures from our 2018 Reunion in Savannah, Ga.

Posted pictures from this year's reunion in Savannah, Ga.  Additional pictures will soon be loaded on to our website.  Quinn did a great job taking pictures this year and his efforts are most appreciated.  I think when he refers to 1998 below, these actually are of the Tuscon reunion in 2003.  Our first reunion was in 2002.



Hi Sonny,

I have uploaded the reunion photos to FLIKR. Here are directions to view and download.

Go to this URL address:


On the Flickr page:

1. Click on Album cover photo
2. Browse and find your images
3. Click on image for larger view
4. Select Small, Medium, Large, or Original for download
5. For BEST printing ability  - select original size (about 10MB) - This will allow for a print size of at least 11x14

Let me know if you still wish to have me load to your website.

BTW, I also have images for the following years:  1998, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2017

Meanwhile, I'm working on the best way to transfer all images from 26thMarines.ORG to your site. I have quite a few.

Semper Fi Brother!



New Member Keith Jones, wants to attend this years reunion in Savannah... but can only do it if he is able to room with someone.

Keith Jones
1/26 Alpha June 69 - May 70 (due to 3 Purple Hearts)

No special needs...
Keith Will attend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and split the cost with anyone who can use a room mate.  You can contact Keith or Sonny if you can do this.


Received the following info from Bobbie Jo Henry, SSGT USMC 1967-1970, Wife of Corpsman Doc Timothy Stephen Payer...


HM2 Timothy Stephen Payer of the 26th Marines passed on June 4, 2016.
I met him in April 1968, on his return to stateside from Viet Nam.
I learned that he was a Corpsman and was at Khe Sanh, Hue, Quan Tri, and Pleiku.
We were married at the old church at MCB Quantico December but divorced several years later in California.
He subsequently lived in the Pittsburgh, PA, area; remarried; had two children and four grandchildren.  He also worked with the Pittsburgh Fire Department, I believe as an EMT.
He is interred at the National Cemetery of the Alleghanies, Bridgeville, PA, at the columbarium in Section A, Wall 18, Site B30.
When I knew him, Tim was a quiet man, with strong convictions, courageous, and determined.
May he rest in peace as he is missed but remembered for his devotion to family, friends, and community.
Please feel free to share my comments with any one who may be interested.
Thank you,
Bobbie Jo Henry, SSGT
USMC 1967-1970



Good afternoon Sonny,

I hope you are doing well today.

I am writing as a friendly reminder that per your contract, your cut-off date to reserve rooms at the Embassy Suites is August 21, 2018. If there are any individuals that wish to reserve rooms at your group rate, please let them know that they have five weeks left to do so.

If you have any questions, please let me or Shannon know. J

Enjoy the rest of your day and talk with you soon!

Best Regards,

 Janie Henderson  |  Sales Coordinator

Hampton Inn & Suites  Embassy Suites Savannah

603 & 605 West Oglethorpe Avenue  |  Savannah GA 31401

Direct 912.721.0579  |  Fax 912.721.0594



I recieved this story from an electrobuddie (by email)... "who found it on the internet, of one of the officers at Khe Sanh and events there, and events much later.  But I think it's a great story that others might like to read. Capt. Dabney passed on to final muster six years ago, but his example of Marine leadership is timeless."


A bit of Vietnam battle history... 

Capt. Dabney of Hill 881S


The following is unattributed, but much of it is in Bill Dabney's own words...

Capt. Bill Dabney, a fearless leader of men during the siege of Khe Sanh is described by his colleague, Capt. R. D. Camp in his book, "Lima VI" as "a big, naturally taciturn man, a Naval Academy dropout and Virginia Military Institute graduate who had served an enlisted tour in which he made sergeant. A superb leader of enormous personal stature, Bill's standing in the Marine corps was considerably enhanced by his marriage to the elder daughter of the Marine Corps' legendary beau ideal, Chesty Puller."

Colonel William H. "Bill" Dabney, USMC (Ret), 70, was presented the Navy Cross on April 15 in Lexington, Va., at Virginia Military Institute, his alma mater, Class of 1961. It would be the last and most senior medal of many other medals for valor Bill Dabney has received since enlisting as a buck private in 1954. Yet those who know Dabney say the medal is not about him. For Marine officers, it can never be about them, but rather about those whom they lead. The veterans came, 37 of them, from across the country to VMI, to once again honor a man who led them by example and stood by them for 77 harrowing days on a hill called 881 South in Vietnam.

Virginia Military Institute is nestled in the Shenandoah Valley well above the Virginia fall line. It is a long way and a long time from an off-ramp of the Ho Chi Minh Trail known as Khe Sanh, and Hills 881 North and South. VMI and Vietnam are pungent memories. The former recalls the pleasant musk of gray uniforms, white belts, polished buckles and shakos on parade while the latter is of dust-caked helmets and tattered uniforms stinking of one's own filth while hunkered down in the laterite clay between burlap sandbags.

Hill 881S: The Marines there burrowed deep on Dabney's orders, which essentially admonished them to dig, dig, dig to make the trenches deeper. Sleep by day and dig by night. He promised: "I will report the first man I see without his flak jacket and helmet!" His men later would say, "Thank God he made us do it." It had become accepted as a truism, between shovels of clay, "There are only two ways to get off this hill: flown off or blown off."

They were strong, tough men of "India" and "Mike" companies, 3/26. Surrounded by the communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA), they daily risked life and limb for each other. They were so tough they took their R&R at Khe Sanh Combat Base, and they improvised not only to survive, but also to leave an indelible memory of pain on those enemies who would be fortunate enough to survive. The Marines took an unrelenting and brutal pounding and with cool efficiency provided what help they could to other Marines also under siege at Khe Sanh four miles to the east. And in doing so, they inspired others from all U.S. forces providing support in one form or another to the beleaguered garrison at Khe Sanh.

One reason for their tenacity was their "Skipper," Captain Bill Dabney. At 33, he was a well-muscled Mustang who mastered small-unit tactics and creatively commanded an assortment of trench-filthy leathernecks standing up against hordes of NVA infantry and sappers looking to make Khe Sanh another Dien Bien Phu and Hill 881N another Battle of the Little Bighorn. The Marines, however, were neither the French nor the 7th Cavalry, and they boasted when Dabney wasn't in voice range, "Ya know, the Skipper's Chesty's son-in-law," referring to Marine Corps legend Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC (Ret), winner of five Navy Crosses.

They had dug in since 26 Dec. 1967 on Hill 881S and Hill 861 (more than a mile east), regimental outposts that had been seized from the NVA in bloody battles the previous spring.

North Vietnamese Army replacement units had been spotted coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They'd made a left somewhere near Lao Boa, a Laotian ghost town, and Co Roc Mountain, whose formidable cliffs were shrouded in clouds and mystery. Then the NVA units would simply disappear and it became exceptionally quiet.

That was until a Marine reconnaissance team walked into a platoon-size ambush near Hill 881N on 18 Jan. 1968. Dabney sent a platoon from India Co to recover equipment abandoned by the recon team. The platoon ran into what was estimated to be at least a company of NVA.

His interest piqued and antenna up, Dabney knew he needed to quickly head off whatever the NVA were planning. He requested to make a company-size reconnaissance-in-force to Hill 881N about a mile away.

Mike Co, less one platoon, was to hold Hill 881S while India left the knoll and fanned into the jungle below and between the two hills. India Co pushed north and ran headlong into an NVA battalion doggedly marching south. Dabney had forced the cover and shrouds of mystery to come off the NVA, and the bullets, grenades and mortar rounds flew. By nightfall regimental commander Colonel David E. Lownds radioed "India Six Actual" (Dabney's radio call sign) to break contact and get back up 881S. Dabney's men were fighting the battalion that was walking point for two NVA divisions preparing an attack on Hills 881S, 861 and Khe Sanh.

The area erupted into firefights, artillery duels and close-in aerial bombing brought on by a Marine regiment under siege.

"During the entire period, Colonel (then Captain) Dabney's force stubbornly defended Hill 881S, a regimental outpost vital to the defense of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. Following his bold spoiling attack on 20 January 1968, shattering a much larger North Vietnamese Army (NVA) force deploying to attack Hill 881S, Colonel Dabney's force was surrounded and cut off from all outside ground supply for the entire 77 day Siege of Khe Sanh."

As the senior officer, command of Hill 881S and the Marines on it fell to Dabney. Initially it made for crowded conditions with approximately 400 Marines and corpsmen. In addition to India and Mike companies, there were two 81 mm mortars, two 106 mm recoilless rifles and three 105 mm howitzers from Charlie Btry, 1st Bn, 13th Marines. At times, casualties reduced that number to about 250 Marines and corpsmen. Capt Dabney remained with his men through it all, always observing and counting ways to kill his enemies.

"Enemy snipers, machine guns, artillery, and 120-millimeter mortars responded to any daylight movement on his position. In spite of deep entrenchments, his total casualties during the siege were close to 100 percent. Helicopters were his only source of resupply, and each such mission brought down a cauldron of fire on his landing zones. On numerous occasions Colonel Dabney raced into the landing zone under heavy hostile fire to direct debarkation of personnel and to carry wounded Marines to evacuation helicopters. The extreme difficulty of resupply resulted in conditions of hardship and deprivation seldom experienced by American forces."

"Thank God for Marine air," wrote Dabney for the Web site "The Warriors of Hill 881S." Dabney's call sign was India. He recalled the following transmission with the CH-46 helicopter pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 "Purple Foxes" (whose call sign was "Swift")." 'Swift, India. You're taking rounds above your blades!'

" 'India, Swift. Roger.' The pilot maintained his hover, holding the ramp against the hill. Five casualties aboard now, then another burst from the NVA twin .51s [caliber machine guns].

" 'Swift, India. Hits in your right engine!'

" 'India, Swift. Roger.'

"The pilot continued to hold his hover. The engine started smoking. Another burst. This one hit the deck beside the ramp, catching a stretcher-bearer in the leg. The crew chief jumped off the ramp and pushed the stretcher in, then dragged the wounded bearer aboard. One more emergency wounded to go. We got him aboard, and my HST [helicopter support team] man waved the 'bird' away. (Two of the priority medevacs [medical evacuations] had been stretcher-bearers and had remained aboard. The remaining four and one permanent routine medevac could wait for the next helicopter to arrive at the hill.)

"Just as the helicopter began to move away from the hillside, a couple of rounds from another burst of .51s went through the Plexiglas above the pilot's head. I didn't call.

"Figured he knew about that! The bird limped away, down toward Khe Sanh, black smoke trailing from the right engine.

" 'Swift, India. Thanks.'

" 'India, Swift. Welcome, Anytime.'

"He meant it too! Damnedest feat of pure guts, superb airmanship I'd ever seen! And so it went for 77 days."

As hills around Khe Sanh go, 881S stands out. Any activity, especially that involving helicopters, was noted by everyone in the area. To make matters worse, landing zones tended to be crowded.

Approximately 20 to 30 Marines were forced to work exposed to fire during helicopter operations. "Given volume and accuracy of mortars," Dabney wrote, "we often took more casualties, sometimes multiple."

According to Dabney, "As incoming got more frequent and more accurate … helos picking loads up were at greater risk, and loads themselves were often damaged by shrapnel. We figured out that the NVA tended to leave mortar tubes registered wherever they'd fired the last round, so we switched zones often."

Dabney says "Super Gaggle," a unique logistical support tactic devised by the First Marine Aircraft Wing, contributed to the survival of his Marines and the accomplishment of their mission.

"We grunts had a problem, but the zoomies came up with the solution. It was brilliant! In the first four weeks of battle, six birds were downed on Hill 881S alone, along with a bunch of WIA [wounded in action] aircrews (I don't know how many, since they reported casualties separately). We lost 100 plus KIA [killed in action] or WIA getting them in and out. In the seven weeks after Super Gaggle started, zero birds were downed (although a few were hit by antiaircraft fire), and we had perhaps 20 WIA and zero KIA during resupply. Wow!"

Super Gaggle operations, according to Dabney, required the Marines to register all their mortars on known or suspected AA sites. "At about 10 minutes prior [to helicopter resupply missions, the Marines on 881S would] fire all mortars with white phosphorus (WP) rounds on NVA AA sites. Four A-4s [Skyhawk attack jets] would then attack mortar-marked sites with Zuni rockets. Two more would then drop delay cluster bomb units (CBUs) and high-drag 250-pound bombs in valleys north and south of the hill. Then they would drop napalm along both sides of the hill about 75 to 100 meters out to discourage NVA who would lie on their backs and fire up into the bellies of birds with their AK47s." Finally, two more would lay a WP smokescreen on either side of the hill.

This gave Marines on 881S about two minutes in which helicopters could "land, deliver, pick up [and] get out. What amazed us was that it always worked, even the first time.

"My guess, based on knowledge of Hill 881S casualties both before and after Super Gaggle, is that it saved 150 to 200 casualties and perhaps half a dozen birds."

A special bond developed between the Marines on Hill 881S and the aircrews of HMM-364 and HMM-262, who were the primary source of resupply and only link with the outside world. Dabney said his Marines "knew the Purple Foxes and other helo folks also cared."

Aircrews tried on one occasion to get in several gallons of ice cream. It took awhile and Marines waited until dark because of enemy fire to retrieve the supplies from the landing zones. By then most of the ice cream had melted and the containers were punctured with shrapnel, indicating the aircrews took fire trying to deliver their gift. Although Dabney's Marines didn't get to enjoy the treat, they appreciated the thought. "More than once we watched a crewman lean out a window to toss a bundle of magazines into the zone. We loved them, especially Playboy ."

"During the 77-day siege, we never called for a 'routine' medical evacuation. For us to subject the CH-46 crews to unnecessary exposure was not an option."

When Dabney recalled the bravery of the helicopter crewmen, he also remembered the Shore Party Marines serving as HST. "I have always thought of them as my HSTs. They did, as a matter of routine, what would have, in any other circumstances, been deserving of many heroic awards. I do not recall any medevac, resupply or external load hook-up where the zone was not 'hot.'

"The antiaircraft rounds were always whipping by and the 120 mm mortar rounds were often 'on the way,' and they knew it, yet they did their duty till the bird was gone, then ran like hell and dove into the nearest hole. (I often thought that the way they stood, with their backs to the NVA guns as they guided the helos in, was a superb gesture of disdain.)"

"Nevertheless, Colonel Dabney's indomitable spirit was truly an inspiration to his troops. He organized his defenses with masterful skill and his preplanned fires shattered every enemy probe on his positions."

Dabney recalled the reality. "Our time spent on the hill always seemed a bit surreal, as if we were TAD [temporary additional duty] on another planet.

"I had no rank insignia (not a good idea to wear around NVA), hadn't bathed or shaved in three months. My flak jacket was so worn the plates were falling off, and my trousers were so rotten they'd split at the crotch. I was indecent."

Dabney needed some way for the troops to identify him from a distance, so he didn't wear the camouflage cover on his helmet. "Figured that if I needed camouflage on my helmet, we were all in deep kimchi . We were all a bit scrawny [and] couldn't have passed the PFT if our lives depended on it (PFTs didn't exist then, anyway), but we could hit the deck and roll faster than any other Marines still alive."

It was a hill that was constantly slammed with ordnance and an always-looming threat that an enemy massed in force would, with fixed bayonets, come across the wire. In the meantime the Marines kept busy "ducking rounds, running CAS [close air support], working birds in daytime, pulling in loads, improving defenses and standing 100 percent watch from midnight till dawn 'cuz that's when NVA was likely to attack. Troops did most of their sleeping in daytime. It not only kept them under cover, but saved water and thus birds, since they weren't working in the heat of the day.

"It took a full external load per day just to get us enough water to drink, cook and clean wounds. I took some heat for troops not shaving, not much. No way was I going to ask the Purple Foxes to take those risks so we could look pretty."

Some smart-thinking artilleryman at Dong Ha came up with the idea of filling 155 mm howitzer canisters with water. The canisters were strong and were not likely to burst if dropped. "If rounds hit nearby, we'd lose a few, but most would still be full when we went out after dark to clear zones (too dangerous to clear them in daytime)."

One of Dabney's corpsmen suggested using empty canisters for excrement. "Fill 'em up, screw the top down tight, and pitch them off the hill. That way we didn't have to go through the hassle of getting diesel fuel up and burning excrement cans every day. Wasn't long before another Marine suggested that the last man to use the 'commode' before it was completely full be required to place a grenade, spoon down and pin pulled, into the canister on top of the excrement, screw the top down tight and pitch it off the hill, which was steep. The canister would bounce a good distance down. Every once in a while, late at night, we'd hear an explosion and screams from down below."

When the morale took a drop, one private first class wrote a letter to his pastor back home. It started "Operation We Care," which resulted in an abundance of "We Care" packages arriving at 881S.

"We also received gin and vodka in plastic baby bottles. A note from one donor, a Korea veteran, said he remembered what a little 'joy juice' could mean to front-line troops, and that he'd used plastic baby bottles because they wouldn't break with rough handling. I recall one load of incoming mail; several days' worth, where letters and packages were riddled with shrapnel and soaked with whiskey from a broken bottle in one of the 'We Care' packages. (Chocolate chip cookies soaked in bourbon weren't that bad.)

"There was a deli in Wantaugh, N.Y., that sent us neat packages including whole salamis, other smoked meat and 'joy juice.' "

Dabney explained the "juice" wasn't a problem because "with 250 to 400 men, even large packages had only enough for about one sip per man. Morale did improve because troops realized folks back home cared."

Morale-boosting events weren't limited to actions by the people back home. It started in February and continued every day. "Three Marines would race from the bunker to a 15-foot radio antenna. Two of them would raise our nation's colors, then stand at attention, while the third sounded a rusty rendition of the 'Call to Colors' with a battered bugle. We were never without volunteers for this ceremony. They were proud of themselves and our flag and were willing to get shot at to raise it.

"At night this process was reversed as we retired the colors. Often the retired flag was folded, packed and shipped to the family of a Marine slain on the hill. We had a substantial stockpile of flags sent to us by people all over the country."

"He also devised an early warning system whereby NVA artillery and [rockets firing] from the west were immediately reported by lookouts to the Khe Sanh Combat Base, giving exposed personnel a few life saving seconds to take cover, saving countless lives, and facilitating the targeting of enemy firing positions."

Riflemen burrowed in on the crest of Hill 881S could, through eyes bloodshot and raw from dirt and fatigue, see and hear North Vietnamese artillery and rockets coming up from the hills and valleys of Laos and the Demilitarized Zone. The big artillery rounds going over sounded like squirrels running through dry leaves.

It is an eerie emotion watching large artillery rounds flying overhead. There is awe and much fascination that such large objects can be hurled so far and so accurately. There is death, not some apocalyptical horseman, but the real knowledge that death is riding a rocket and that lives may in seconds end for men who are remarkably like you and only want to live and do their duty.

"For what it is worth, the folks in the Khe Sanh COC [combat operations center] never realized how the NVA artillery was emplaced and employed," Dabney would later comment. Hill 881S had been chosen as a regimental outpost for sound tactical reasons. From the hill, Marines could observe the NVA gunners shoot off their rockets, usually in sheaves of 50 firing simultaneously from several sites toward Khe Sanh. This permitted Dabney's Marines to give the main base about a 10-second warning to sound the alarm and for the Marines there to take cover. While unable to suppress the rockets because of their sheer volume, Dabney's Marines could and did take countermeasures. Dabney had noted the NVA regularly used the same sites over and over, so he employed his mortars and 106 recoilless rifles against them "at night" while they were setting up, sometimes producing secondary explosions.

"Colonel Dabney repeatedly set an incredible example of calm courage under fire, gallantly exposing himself at the center of every action without concern for his own safety. Colonel Dabney contributed decisively to ultimate victory in the Battle of Khe Sanh, [which] ranks among the most heroic stands of any American force in history."

In the end, Khe Sanh and its surrounding outposts were no Dien Bien Phu or even the Alamo. The North Vietnamese, pummeled by artillery and air power, abandoned their siege. Khe Sanh had earned its own place in American history.


I think you will enjoy reading the account of Bill's being presented with the Navy Cross at his alma mater...

Thirty-seven years later, Dabney watched VMI's brigade of cadets pass in review before him. Lieutenant General H. P. "Pete" Osman, Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, who as a company grade officer had served with Dabney when he was a major, presented the Navy Cross, saying, "Well-deserved, if maybe a couple years late."

LtGen Osman also said that Dabney is a positive man who "still sees the glass as half full."

Dabney stood to address those who had traveled or been mustered to honor him. He introduced the VMI cadets to 37 fellow Marines who had served with him on Hill 881S. As they stood up in Jackson Memorial Hall (named for Civil War Confederate LtGen Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson), Dabney said of his men: "These are the citizen-soldiers of the '60s who fought against the same general [Vo Nguyen Giap] who overwhelmed the French at Dien Bien Phu. And [it is these men] who, by enduring, triumphed. It has been the greatest honor of my life to have served with these men in battle."

The cadets of VMI, a school that embodies military discipline and the tradition of the citizen-soldier, and has for more than 173 years graduated some of the nation's best military officers of whom Dabney is one, listened.

"Many of you will lead the citizen-soldiers of this nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. You will find them, as I did, awesome in their courage and determination."

Later they all talked long into the night and heard of other men such as Second Lieutenant Thomas D. Brindley, Corporal Charles W. Bryan, 2dLt Michael H. Thomas, who earned Navy Crosses, and Cpl Terry L. Smith, who earned the Silver Star, all posthumously on Hill 881S, all "awesome in their courage and determination."

You may also enjoy Bill's address that day...

Over the years, I have reflected on the performance of the Marines who defended Hill 881S during the Siege of Khe Sanh.  There were many bad days, a few good ones and an occasional uneventful one, but the chief characteristic of the situation in which the Marines found themselves was its constancy.

There was never a climactic day or event.  Rather, from 21 January through 17 April 1968, the threat to life and limb remained essentially unchanged. The dangers were greatest during helicopter operations because those offered the most lucrative targets to the enemy's gunners.  The potential for catastrophe, however, was greatest at night or during the frequent foggy weather when we could not see to detect the enemy's approach or to bring our massive supporting fires to bear against him.  That potential took a psychological as well as a physical toll.  To stand in a trench for eight hours on a given night without relief, in total darkness, in a fog so thick that even a magnesium flare could not pierce it, all senses focused on detecting any sound, any smell, any hint of movement to the front, was trying in the extreme to the Marine required to do it.  To require all hands do so nightly for three months was to stretch the limits of resolve.  Early on, a  Marine approached the company gunnery sergeant tentatively in the trenchline one ink-dark night.  He was nervous and ill at ease, but said he felt a duty to speak out. The gunny assured him that he could speak freely, to which he replied that he was loathe to admit that he knew what it smelled like, but that he'd been smelling pot in the wind coming toward the trench line from the north, and that the smell was getting stronger.  Relying on his instincts as to the location of the source, we fired over one thousand rounds of mortars and mixed-fuse artillery..  We were not assaulted.  There was never thereafter any reticence to report observations or hunches.

We all knew that if the North Vietnamese assaulted there was no possibility of reinforcement or withdrawal. Aside from the preplanned supporting fires, we were entirely on our own.  The Marines had daily opportunities to take the measure of their enemy.  He was brave, he was disciplined, and he was not suicidal, so they knew that he would assault only when he was reasonably confident of success, and with adequate strength  They were aware that both neighboring positions had been penetrated by assaults. They also knew that if wounded, they would be evacuated to a medical facility only when and if the weather broke and the helicopters could fly - that there was little their Corpsmen could provide save comfort and some morphine to ease their pain.

Every man has a psychological limit, and a few broke - a very few.  Even those men tended when they broke to manifest it by aggression rather than by withdrawal; to charge out through the defensive wire armed to the teeth, determined to destroy the enemy single-handed, or to become fatalistic and take irrational risks.  A few were weak in contrast to their comrades.  Command intervention was rarely necessary in those cases, for their fellows Marines seemed to sense the solution appropriate to the individual; be it persuasion, example, or, in extreme cases, physical correction, and even the last was only as direct as was required.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice was useless in the circumstances.  A company commander was limited to fining a Marine one week's pay or withholding two weeks', or to restricting him for two weeks.  Since most men had not been paid in several months and all were surrounded by quintuple concertina wire and a North Vietnamese Army regiment, those penalties bordered on the absurd.  Any meaningful punishment required that the offender be removed from the hill to appear before the battalion commander at Khe Sanh or, for the most serious offenses, before a court-martial convened at some remote rear area base.  All hands knew that both Khe Sanh and the Da Nang brig were infinitely safer than the hill, and there were even two or three who actively sought courts-martial.  To refer them for such and therefore to send them off the hill was exactly what they wanted so was not an option.  It was also unnecessary.  The staff non-commissioned officers were superb at correcting those few quickly and privately with traditional methods, and the offenses were never repeated.  The troops were equally effective at correction, as when a replacement or returnee from treatment for wounds would bring marijuana or some other drug back with him. He quickly discovered that his fellows would not tolerate drugs on the hill.   Their lives depended utterly on the alertness and acuity of their comrades, and their response to those who had or used them was immediate, violent and wholly effective.

Although the siege was contemporary to the peak of racial strife in America, there were no racial tensions on the hill.  On the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, a black NCO asked that the flag be flown at half-mast for a day.  He was told that his sentiment was understood and shared, but that the flag was both critical for morale and a gesture of defiance to the enemy, and its lowering was therefore inappropriate.  He agreed, withdrew his request, and volunteered for the flag raising detail the following morning.  It did not take long on that hill for a man to determine the worth of his trench mate, and once he did, all other considerations became irrelevant.  I have heard it said that no environment involving Americans can exist without racial tensions.  I disagree.

Heroism was routine.  The helicopter zones were always "hot", and given that the enemy's weapon of choice to attack them was the 120mm mortar, deadly.  Most dangerous were the medical evacuation missions  It took time to carry badly wounded men from cover to the helicopter and then return to cover, and the mortar rounds were often already announced as being "on the way".  Yet there was no occasion when men had to be ordered to carry stretchers. To the contrary, it was often necessary to restrain too many men from lending a hand and exposing themselves unnecessarily.  A Marine had his foot blown off, and by the time the Corpsman got to him, he had lost considerable blood.  The Doc, exposed and under fire, was determined to save him, but because of weak pulse and low blood pressure, could not find a vein to start an I.V.  The man had given up and was moaning weakly in self-pity.  The Corpsman slapped his face violently and repeatedly, provoking such anger in the man that his adrenaline kicked in, whereupon the Corpsman found a vein and saved him.

There were moments of humor.  A Marine manning an observation post had a spent rifle round ricochet up from the ground and hit the bottom button of his fly.  The button happened to be resting against the head of his penis.  The button absorbed the impact and there was no penetrating wound, but within an hour of his being hit, his penis had swelled to the size of a salami and his testicles to the size of tennis balls, both turning a deep purple.  A radio conference with a physician down at Khe Sanh established that his wound was not life-threatening and therefore did not justify an emergency medical evacuation with the consequent risk to the helicopter.  The physician stated that he could do little more than ease the pain, which the corpsmen on the hill could do as well, or amputate, which the Marine would probably not want, and he said that the swelling would eventually subside.  For the next several days until we landed a helicopter for a more serious casualty and could get him out, the Marine wandered the trenches disconsolately in helmet, flack jacket and boots, walking like a drunken cowboy to avoid any contact with his injured parts.  The jokes of his comrades - about his future prowess, his potential attractiveness on R & R, the fashion statement he was making - were hilarious, albeit unprintable.

There was also frustration.  The lack of a secure means of communications between the hill and Khe Sanh meant that we and the base had to be guarded in what we said, since we had to assume that the enemy was listening.  For us on the hill, that meant that although we could report enemy activity, we could not report our analysis of it, nor could we report the shortcomings of supply, support and communications that constrained our tactics.  In several instances where the needs were critical and immediate we transmitted in Spanish, and sometimes even in song.  The inability of the base to send secure messages to us was even more limiting.  We were, after all, the regimental outpost, and we found ourselves, by the nature of the campaign, in the midst of the enemy.  We rarely got any feedback either to our frequent reports of enemy activity or describing the successes that resulted from those reports.  This was critical to us.  The troops observed and reported at considerable risk to themselves, yet the most frequent question they asked was, "Hey, skipper, are we doing any good?"  That lack of positive reinforcement was both frustrating to the officers and destructive of the troops' morale, irrespective of the tactical justification for it.  One night in mid-February, sensors detected enemy units marshalling to attack the hill in overwhelming force.  The regiment fired a massive and prolonged artillery barrage to break up the attack, but we were never even told the attack was coming because the very existence of the sensors was so highly classified. 

We were probably as ready as we could be to repel it in close, but we also had ample indirect fire weapons and ammunition to slow it at a distance had we been told it was imminent and from which direction it was coming, and we had a far more intimate knowledge of the terrain that the enemy had to negotiate than did the regiment.  It was as though we had been sent to detached duty on another planet.  We were ignorant of virtually everything that was happening beyond our own little world, and the troops felt that ignorance keenly.

The troops would occasionally capture NVA soldiers, either because they surrendered voluntarily or because they blundered into our lines inadvertently in the night or fog.  Initially, we reported those captures immediately to the base, which promptly sent a helicopter up to get them.  We assumed that the value of the POW justified the risk to the helicopter and to ourselves in getting him out.  We also assumed that the captives were from the units surrounding us and therefore had information of immediate tactical value to us.  After two or three instances of sending prisoners down and getting no feedback from their interrogation, we began delaying our reports of capture a few hours so we could interrogate them ourselves.  Most talked willingly, and our two Marines who had been to Vietnamese language school could, although a long way from fluency, learn enough to help us with targeting and tactical dispositions.

Personnel accountability was a nightmare. Turnover in the trenches approached ninety percent, which meant that many men were virtually unknown to their fellows, and the restrictions on movement imposed by the enemy's fires meant that the personal interactions normal in a unit were often impossible.  Replacements would be dispatched from the rear, get hit while still on the inbound helicopter, remain aboard, and be evacuated to a medical facility.  Our rear would insist we had them when we had never seen them.  One Marine managed, through bad luck, a total of two day's service in Vietnam.  Although we were careful to record every man who boarded a helicopter so that if it was downed we'd have an accurate manifest, we were sometimes thwarted.  In one instance, a stretcher bearer from a platoon distant from the zone was hit in the helicopter as he put down his stretcher and was retained aboard by the crew chief.  The helo immediately launched and flew directly to the hospital ship offshore. In the confusion typical of a zone under fire, exacerbated by the fact that the original casualties had resulted from hits in the same zone and that the chase bird had landed unbidden within a minute to pick them up before we had time to organize the zone, he had not been missed, and his name did not appear on the manifest.  We carried him as missing-in-action for two weeks until a platoon buddy received a postcard from him, with a return address of St. Alban's Naval Hospital in New York, describing what had happened and asking him to secure his personal effects.

Thirty-eight Marines or Corpsmen died on or near the hill and nearly two hundred were wounded, not including aviation casualties whose numbers, being reported separately, were unknown to us.  Seven helicopters were shot down, yet we never called for a medevac that didn't come, weather permitting.  None of these losses occurred in a single pitched battle, but rather in discrete incidents scattered over the course of the siege.  Incoming was constant, and although we learned to cope with it to a point, a lucky round in a trenchline or active medevac zone was just as deadly in April as in January.  Through it all, the troops did their duty.  They stood their watches, flew their aircraft or serviced helicopter zones, manned outposts, engaged the enemy and raised the flag as zealously at the end as at the beginning.  They were never asked to stand back-to-back against the flagpole with fixed bayonets, but rather to endure.  By enduring, they triumphed.  They were magnificent!

(Refusing a microphone, Colonel Dabney addressed those in attendance with a strong voice that reverberated throughout Jackson Memorial Hall as follows:)

Will those who served on Hill 881 South or flew in support of it, and those who are here to represent the men who died doing so, please stand and face the audience.  (39 Marines and one Navy Corpsman sitting in the front rows of Jackson Memorial Hall stood and faced the capacity crowd of approximately 1,200.  Immediately thereafter, all remaining guest stood and applauded the Warriors until Colonel Dabney had to gesture for silence.  The Warriors remained standing as Colonel Dabney continued) Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, these men standing before you, and the Marines and Navy Hospital Corpsmen, living and dead, whom they represent, are the men who, for 77 days at Khe Sanh, held the hill and poured hot steel on a determined enemy.  The same forces under the same general besieged Khe Sanh as had overwhelmed the French at Dien Bien Phu.  At Khe Sanh, they were faced by these men, and they quit and faded away.  These men did their duty and endured - Stonewall Jackson would have called it resolve - and by enduring, they triumphed.

It is the greatest honor of my life to have served with these patriots in battle.  I wear this decoration only symbolically, as their commanding officer.  It is these men who earned it.

Gentlemen, we salute you! (The Warriors took their seats to another rousing round of applause.)

Will the VMI Corps of Cadets please rise. (All seats remaining vacant after invited guests were seated had been occupied by cadets.)

Our generation - these men who just stood before you - came home from war to a nation not much disposed to honor the nobility of their service.  Today, as Pete said a few years late, you gave us our parade.  Thank you! (Audience and Warriors applauded the cadets)

Many of you will soon shoulder the responsibility of command leading the citizen soldiers of your generation.  Eight of your number have already given their lives in the cause of freedom in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Should you be called upon to take America's patriots in harm's way, you will find awesome, as I did in my time, their courage and determination.  The experience will become the signal moment in your lives.  We wish you God speed, and we salute you. (Another round of applause with the loudest and most robust coming from those 40 men in the front rows of Jackson Memorial Hall.)

The official party departed the stage with Colonel Dabney again in his wheel chair assisted by his wife Virginia.  He stopped in the center isle of the hall next to those first front rows, and once again in a voice heard throughout the hall said, "Follow me men!"  And once again they did.

(Michael F. Cullen, a Lance Corporal who served in the 1st Platoon of India Company later said, "We would have followed you to Iraq through the gates of Hell!")




Song - Welcome Home, Long Overdue



Hurricane Harvey's hit on Houston area... 

I have many relatives living from Port Lavaca to Port Aransas, which is where Harvey hit Texas first.  They all suffered some damage and are in the process of making insurance claims and getting things back to normal.

Greg Freeman is one of our members who lives/has properties in the Houston area.  

I have been calling Greg daily, if not more, and will continue to do so.

I have confirmed he has insurance for both, his vehicles and home... for at least one of his properties.  I think he owns a couple more places in the Houston area and some of his kids/Gkids, live in one... while the other lot is empty and he indicates his other places are high and dry.

I talked with Greg again this morning and he asked me to let every one know he is fine and feels fortunate to have less damage than most in the Houston area... and his insurance adjuster is there at this time.
Once again, Greg, having not called some guys who have called him, asked me to email and post that he is OK and again, considers himself lucky, considering what damage he has incurred... and if he needs help... he will let us know.



 Warning... Notice... We are running low on available rooms at our group rate, for the Las Vegas reunion. 

 As of 6-29-17 we have the following number of available rooms at our group rate:

August   9, 2017 -   5 available,

August 10, 2017 -   5 available,

August 11, 2017 - 14 available,

August 12, 2017 - 14 available,

August 13, 2017 -   5 available,

August 14, 2017 -   5 available, 

August 15, 2017 -   5 available. 

Please make your reservations as soon as possible.


Searching for anyone who knew Amber Clare's Dad, Ed Clare.  Following is her message.  .


"Looking for anyone here who might have served with my dad.

He was 2/26 and spent time in Charlie, Echo and Fox Co. (67-68 or maybe 68-69) His name is Ed Clare."


 Send response to sonnyusmc@gmail.com



The website has been updated regarding this years 2017 Reunion in Las Vegas.  We had a few problems with making reservations, but as of this morning, 4-24-17, you should be able to use the Hotel Registration Phone number 800-750-0980 or the web link below to make reservations.

Book your group rate for 26th Marine Association Annual Reunion August 2017


Also see 2017 Reunion General Information on our website www.26thMarines.com 



The 3 cities selected for the 2018 Reunion are Savanah, Georgia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and New York City, NY.  Reports will be made on each city and will be posted here and provided at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.  We will select one of these three for our 2018 Reunion.  The first report is made by Board Member Ray Maillet for New York City as follows:
New York City:By Board Member Ray Maillet
1.  Airports:               a.  JFK  John F Kennedy handles mostly international flights.
                                    b.  LGA  LaGuardia handles mostly domestic flights.
                                     c.  EWR  Newark handles both domestic and international flights located in New Jersey.
2.  Hotels:         Most of the hotels that I viewed were priced upwards of $200.   Many to choose from, restaurants and bars within most of the hotels. 
3.  Tours:           1.   Most popular, Metropolitan Museum of art, about $125.
                                    2.   Ground zero tour, 911 memorial, about $110.
                                    3.  Niagara Falls.
                                    4.  DC.
                                    5.  Statue of Liberty tours, 3 to 5 hrs, About $30.
 6.  Other NYC sights - https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g60763-Activities-New_York_City_New_York.html
4.  Food:         Everything.
5.  Weather:  As reported by Accu Weather,  average temps for Aug. are 83/68.
Savannah, Georgia: By Board Member Frank Booth


Savannah Offer, Historical Tours, Riverboat Cruises, Museums, Civil War Walking Tour, Dolphin Magic Tour , City Market, River Street, Tybee Beach , Hearse Ghost Tours

Savannah Military Base- Hunter Army Airfield, Us Air Force office

Restaurants In Savannah, Seafood, Chinese, Steakhouse, Mexican restaurant, barbecue, Japanese, Cafe's

The Lady & Sons Restaurant Home of  Paula Deen

Savannah top 5 best hotels with Military Discounts

1. Eliza Thompson house
2. Savannah Marriott Riverfront
3. Double Tree
4. The Thunderbird Inn
5. Hampton Inn
 Milwaukee, Wisconsin:By Board Member McDonald Peoples

Milwaukee Information

The airport in Milwaukee is the General Mitchell International Airport

Link to Mitchell airport: http://www.mitchellairport.com/

Lots of hotel in the downtown area and near airport: Hiltons and Marriotts and others at reasonable prices: http://visitmilwaukee.bookdirect.net/#/lodgings?checkin=20170409&checkout=20170410

Milwaukee borders the 22,300 square miles of Lake Michigan. The lake actually touches 14,200 square miles of Wisconsin. The Milwaukee RiverWalk spans nearly 3 miles along the Milwaukee River, taking you through downtown Milwaukee.


Getting around the Milwaukee area is just as easy as getting to it. Many of the city’s most popular attractions and a wide variety of restaurants are within easy walking distance, with local transportation options abound.



GO Riteway

GO Riteway is one of many transportation services in Milwaukee.

Buses run throughout downtown Milwaukee, including shuttles to summertime lakefront events. For more information on Milwaukee County Transit, please visit ridemcts.com.


Taxi fare from airport to downtown hotels is approximately $25 each way. Convenient, low-cost airport shuttle services are available 24 hours. Find local transportation services.


Uber and Lyft both operate in Milwaukee. Enjoy your first Uber ride free (up to $20) with the code VISITMKE.


Milwaukee’s bike share system makes it easy to travel quickly between the eleven docking stations located at major downtown locations.


During the summer months, visitors can ride on an old fashioned trolley with Milwaukee’s “Hop ‘n Shop, Wine ‘n Dine” route featuring stops at downtown’s major points of interest. View the trolley map (PDF) to find your nearest stop.


For more information on parking in downtown, please visit parkmilwaukee.com.


Coming soon! The Milwaukee streetcar will start construction in late 2015/early 2016 with full operations expected to begin in 2018. This convenient route will connect some of Milwaukee’s most popular neighborhoods and attractions and run directly past the Wisconsin Center.

  Scroll down for past Scuttlebutt entries...
  Scroll down for past Scuttlebutt entries...

  Scroll down for past Scuttlebutt entries...


 Message from Sonny Hollub regarding our Bill Hoffman.  I just confirmed this morning via Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Long Island City, NY, Bill passed away 8-22-16.

26'ers... Many of you knew and may have served with William "Bill" Hoffman in the 26th Marines, in Vietnam.  Bill was on the original ship(s) that transferred the 26th to Nam.

As indicated, I have verified with Thomas M. Quinn & Sons, that it was our Bill who passed away on August 22, 2016.  The 26th Marine Association Annual meeting was August 19, 20 and 21st, 2016... So Bill was with us until the reunion was over, then passed on.

I personally signed the guestbook as follows:

"Condolences to the family of William "Bill" Hoffman.

Bill and I served with the 26th Marines in Vietnam. He was on our board of directors, 26th Marine Association, and served for years as our Public Information Officer.

As a fellow Marine, friend and member, Bill will be sorely missed.  Feel free to contact me.

'til we meet again Big Brother, Semper Fi!!"

This Guest Book has been kept online until 9/23/2017 by Thomas M. Quinn & Sons.  You can sign the guestbook at:


According to their website, I was the first to sign publically (1-24-17).  Please go to the site above and send your condolences to his friends and family... let's make a good showing for our Brother Marine Bill !!


Message from Sonny Hollub - Doc Charlie Klotz called me today and advised he has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease. 

His doctor says he has between 3 months and 30 months. 

 Knowing Doc Charlie, he will easily make the 30 month time.  I asked if I could post it on the site and he said yes.  You can look him up on our Roster on our site.  Both numbers are listed there.  It is probably easier to call his cell.


Message from Sonny Hollub... I have eliminated my land line number 512-312-4168.  My only number is my cell number 512-825-4730.  I have attempted to make the change to all pages on the site.  Sorry for not changing this earlier. 


Great poem from a fellow Marine who served with HQ Comp, 26th Marines Radio Relay Plt. 1967!!

The Marine's E-Tool


It let him dig a fighting hole,

To keep him safe and sound,

And when they found a Cong they'd killed,

It put him in the ground.


The sandbags that he filled with it,

Are more than you can count,

The bunker that it helped him build

Was perfect for guard mount.


Then came the night they breached the wire

And tried to lay him low.

It split three heads in hand-to-hand

Each with a single blow.


And now he keeps it in his trunk

In case a need arose

To shovel snow or hide a corpse,

Or should he meet new foes.

--Robert A. Hall--



Major Earle Breeding: Ruidoso says goodbye to decorated Marine... http://www.ruidosonews.com/ruidoso-news/ci_28622687/major-earle-breeding-ruidoso-says-goodbye-decorated-marine

Major Earle Breeding, Jr., United States Marine Corps, retired, died Friday morning, Aug. 7 in Albuquerque at the age of 82 in the Veteran's Administration Hospital. Major Breeding, and wife of 62 years, Patricia, have been Ruidoso residents for more than 17 years.

Born Dec. 17, 1932 in Washington, D.C. to Dr. and Mrs. Earle Breeding, Sr, Earle attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia and joined the Marine Corps at 19 years of age.

His military years in the '50's and 60's sent him across the world and far away from those he loved. After serving two tours in Japan and Okinawa, Major (then Captain) Breeding was given the Vietnam command of 200 troops in Company E, Second Battalion, 26th Marines, Third Marine Division. He remembered his first moments in-country before heading to Khe Sanh. After getting squared away, he was taken to Colonel David Lownds who was finishing a briefing of what was expected in the days to come. Lownds stated to Breeding, "We will hold Khe Sanh at all costs, won't we, Captain Breeding?" Breeding replied, "As long as Echo Company is here, Khe Sanh will hold." And for seventy days in the early months of 1968 hold they did, against horrific conditions and all odds.

David Douglas Duncan, WWII Marine veteran and a photojournalist at the time, has preserved these moments in several published books. "War Without Heroes" contains a section devoted to Hill 861 A and Breeding's fighting men.

Breeding's service earned him two Purple Hearts, a Navy Commendation medal with V for Valor, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and a Silver Star which states, in part, "By his courage, extraordinary initiative, and unflagging devotion to duty at great personal risk, Major Breeding contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit's mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

After Breeding arrived home, he spent time in a military hospital to treat the effects his service in Vietnam had left. Eventually he retired from the military and was recruited personally by J. Edgar Hoover to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation a try, serving for 20 years as a Special Agent. During and subsequent to his time with the Bureau, he also worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Major Breeding and Pat moved back to Pat's home of Roswell to retire, where he worked occasionally as a private investigator and conducted background checks for governmental agencies. Seventeen years ago, they moved to Ruidoso where the Major volunteered his time at Fort Stanton among other pursuits.

In April, 2012, Major Breeding became the focus of Lincoln County, New Mexico Resolution 2011-36 which gave honor to the Major's service for his country. County Commissioner Tom Battin, now Mayor of the Village of Ruidoso, presented the Resolution to Major Breeding in the presence of several of the remaining members of Echo Company at a Ruidoso reunion.

The Major met for coffee regularly with a group friends and fellow retired servicemen for more than ten years at various locations including the Ruidoso Roastery, Zocca Coffee and Sacred Grounds to discuss politics, current events and to share their insights. Discussions were often lively and each left with broader perspectives than when they arrived.

Major Breeding is survived by his wife Patricia of the home, daughter Cheri Breeding and her husband, Harry "Skeet" Winthrop of Kauai, Hawaii, and daughter, Martha Breeding of Los Angeles, California In lieu of flowers and a memorial service, the family asks that interested friends donate to the Humane Society of Lincoln County, a 501(c)(3) at P.O. Box 2832, Ruidoso, NM 88355 (www.hslcnm.org) or phone 575 808-8424. Checks may be addressed to HSLC



Update on Major Earle Breeding...


From: Reyes
Sent: Saturday, August 08, 2015 12:06
To: Lawrence
Subject: Re: Passing of a Beloved Marine
Just spoke with Pat.  She is still in Albuquerque.   She is there with Cherie and her brother.  Earle did not suffer.  He got to the VA and was his usual self flirting with the nurses.  About 20 minutes after arriving a blood clot took him.  It was fast and unexpected by everyone..  She said the VA was great.

He did not want any funeral or any fuss made over him.  The family will take him back to Ruidoso and spread his ashes on the mountain.  I remember him telling me exactly that is what he wanted.

So Sandi and I are not going right now to see Pat.  We will wait until we return from Savannah and check on her at that time.   She may know more of what she will need after all this sinks in.





Just in... From a 26th Marine Association Member, Lawrence McCarthey, regarding one of our long time 26th Marine Association Members, Earle Breeding:

  On Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 9:38 AM, Lawrence wrote:

Just got a phone call from Joe 'Cisco' Reyes telling me the Skipper, Major Earle Breeding, passed away last night.  Don't have any other information @ this time.  Cisco and his wife Sandi are on there way out there today and will update us as necessary.  God Bless him.  He is one (1) extraordinary Marine.  May he rest in eternal peace.    ~~ Semper Fidelis!!! . . . Larry McCartney
AS more information develops, it will be posted. 


Just got the notice Mike and Mary Delong's Daughter passed away.  See note below and site for the obituary below that.

FUNERAL SERVICE..........for Lara will be Monday morning , Nov 3rd , at the Methodist church , 415 South Hamilton St. in Marissa Illinois. visitation from 9am -10am and service at 10. The family will then take Lara to Girard Illinois to be laid to rest with family. Thank you to everyone for being such wonderful friends.


Mike and Mary's contact info is as follows:

delong5715@yahoo.lcom, marydelong86@yahoo.com

618-295-2297 or 618-781-7991

402 S. Bess St., Marissa, IL. 62257
On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 7:52 AM, Earl Blount <earlblount5@gmail.com> wrote:

Sonny - Trying to find an old buddy.  Last saw him in Phu Bai the day before the Bn went to Khe Sahn.  He was the Bn Supply Chief - MSgt  Jack Dukas or Doukas - never remembered the spelling.  Just wondering if someone might remember him.  Any info would be appreciated.

Earl Blount
USMC (ret)


On Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 6:20 PM, George Crawford <delta126pltsgt@gmail.com> wrote:
Ken Frier is writing a second book about combat in Vietnam.  His first book was a great story.  He is looking for Vietnam Stories to include within his story of conflict in Nam.  The story  takes  place from 66 to 70 about the Delta 1/26 Marines, credit to be given to each writer of the stories.  Anyway Ken says he can work with you guys via long phone line, emails or textThe story with Delta 1/ 26th. Regiment forming at Camp Pendleton Calif, to the decommission of the 26th Regiment back to Camp Pendleton California.  If any or all Delta 1/26 Vietnam Company Marines would like to be contacted please send me a email with all contact information needed for follow up.  The Author will be working directly with each Marine... Looking forward hearing from you Marines.  I'm open to any suggestions.  That I can forward to  Ken Frier.  All stories will be considered.
Top Mallini please forward this to your 190 Group.
George Crawford, 2nd. Platoon Sergeant delta 1/26 67-68
Not as mean, not as lean, still a Marine till Death.
Semper Fi.
"I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me". Phil 4:13



 At the last years reunion 2013, those present at the 26th Marines Association Annual meeting, voted to forgive all dues in arrears.  This is a one time event and the rule of 2006 continues to apply.  See dues form footnote on the forms page. 


Marie Townes has notified me that Mike Townes, died Thursday January 9, 2014.  He will be buried in Middle, Tennessee at the Veterans Cemetery in Nashville.  Graveside services will be held January 14, 2014 at 2 PM.
According to Marie, Mike had gone in for a routine stint (he had two others) and unexpectedly died on the table during surgery. 
Marie's contact information is:
Cell 731-608-2447       
Home 731-736-2121 
82 University Cove
Jackson, Tennessee 38305

Thanks, Sonny Open-mouth smile

G. H. "Sonny" Hollub, Jr.
512-312-4168 or 512-825-4730
340 Humphrey Dr., Buda, Texas 78610


 Found and submitted by Bill Hoffman under Mail Call in the Leatherneck... search for anyone knowing a 26'er

* Debbie Muellner, P. O. Box 14, Wyoming, MN 55092, dkmuellner@gmail.com

Looking for anyone and would like to communicate with anyone who served with or knew her brother, PFC Gary L. Kunshier, who was KIA in Quang Tri Province, RVN, on October 4, 1968, while serving as a rifleman with 2nd Plt., Golf Company, 2nd Bn., 26th Marines.


Great Article about a group of Marines who joined together in 1968... partially narrated by our own Larry Plager, 2/26, Echo, 2nd. Plt. 1969

Eye On Olympia

The Evergreen State Platoon, 40 years later…


In 1968, 80 young men from Washington state stood in their white shirts and thin black ties in the echoing state Capitol and listened to then-Gov. Dan Evans praise them, the Marine Corps’ new “Evergreen State Platoon.”

By evening, they were on their way to boot camp in California. Many ended up in Vietnam.

On Saturday, 40 years to the day from that hot summer afternoon, about two dozen of the men returned to the Capitol to rekindle old ties and pay their respects to those who never came home.

The men, some with their wives, gathered Saturday afternoon at the state’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of Washington’s war dead are carved into a stone wall. Half a dozen of the names belonged to platoon members.

Here’s a slide show with photos from 1968 and today (some narration completed by our own Larry Palger, 2/26 Echo, 2nd Plt., 1969

Here’s the print story.


Celebration Letter from Executive Director Harvey Lang

February 20, 2012


Ten years!  Yes this year will mark the tenth anniversary of the 26th Marines Association. 

It’s hard to believe that in September of 2001 the Nashville Cat and I met for the first time in over thirty years and began our quest to find everyone.  When we started, I told the Cat we had slim to none chance of doing this, “A snowballs chance in hell” to be exact.

This project started as an attempt to find Echo, Third Platoon, but the further we went the more Marines we found or found us from different companies and different times of service in Nam.  This did not matter to the Cat or I… our feeling was we are all Marines.

After hours and hours of time on the Cat’s computer and my buddy Jimmie McCants computer and enormous telephone bills we had succeeded.  We began talking about the first reunion:  the when, the where, and the hell how… this is going to happen.  We made the decision for our first reunion in Tunica, Mississippi in May 2002, Operation LZ Memphis was underway… the rest is history.

At that reunion in Tunica we as a group voted to establish this Association.  We have had our ups and downs, the first few years we were not well organized.  We had our share of financial problems and at times internal turmoil.  But through all of these problems we remained a unit.

In July of 2005 in Chicago, we made some hard core decisions, became more organized and established some rules of order to become financially stable.

Some say that I am a bit hard core about dues.  But dues and donations are the life blood of any organization.

Since the reunion in 2006 at Reno, Nevada, the Association has grown into an organized unit.

We have a web site that is second to none, our annual meetings are run in a businesslike manner, and we are financially stable.

So, you still think that hell can’t freeze over?  Well then don’t tell it to a Marine, because the next thing you know “That Marine will be in a snowball fight with the devil himself”.

Semper Fi,

Harvey “Lang Fang” Lang


 May 11, 2011 

26’ers - I am sad to report, Lt. Ken Williams died in November 2010.  Ken’s email was bouncing back and his last number was no longer in service.  I did a search and got a new number. 
I called it and Margo’s (Ken’s Wife) voice indicated I had the right place. I left a message and she called me tonight and provided the sad news.  She will send me the date and any details she feels comfortable with and I will forward it as soon as I get it.
I had been in communication with Ken during his struggle to keep his leg after his auto accident a few years back.  Even talked with him in the hospital after he had the leg removed.  Ken was feeling better not having to constantly fight the infection in his leg and was excited about coming to this year’s reunion.
Ken always was thankful to have PBD (Paid by donation) by his name on our dues log, during those tough times.  He would always tell me to pass along thanks to those who donate to help our Brothers when we are down.

Margo is still a bit shook up about the loss.  If you care to contact her and give your condolences, her email is mta1404@yahoo.com and the new phone number is 770-777-0404.

SF Sonny
November 21, 2010 

Harvey Lang called and advised his and the 26 Marines Association long time friend Jimmie McCants (Jimmie and his Wife Sandra have made all but two of our reunions) passed away November 18, 2010 from liver cancer.
Jimmie was very useful with his computer savvy in helping set up our first reunion in Tunica Mississippi, and since has been our “computer” connection with Harvey. 
Although he never served in any of the armed forces Jimmie served our association very well with his help, loyalty and attendance.  He was in good health until about two weeks ago.
He fell and hurt his shoulder and had gone to the doctor.  His feet later swelled excessively and they did a cat scan and found a spot on his liver.  They did a biopsy and it revealed it was cancer on November 15, 2010… he passed away three days later on November 18, 2010. He will be missed by us all.  His Wife Sandra can be reached at 575-542-9847 or mccantsj@hotmail.com .
Jimmies funeral services will be Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 10:00 at the First Baptist Church in Lordsburg, NM… with graveside services following:

Services will be held at: 
First Baptist Church PO Box 128
332 E. 3rd Street, Lordsburg, NM 88045

(575) 542-3783

Local Flower shop: 
The Cottage House313 Main Street
Lordsburg, NM 88045-1910

(575) 542-8880

Jimmie and Sandra’s Mailing Address is:
P. O. Box 155 Lorgsburg, NM 88045

Thanks,  Sonny - 512-825-4730 or sonnyusmc@gmail.com