Over forty-six years after the fight, Marines Joe Cordileone and Robert Moffat of Mike Company, Third Battalion, Third Marine Regiment are finally being recognized for their actions in combat at Hill 881 South on April 30, 1967. Cordileone has been honored with a Silver Star and Moffat with a Bronze Star.
On April 30, 1967, while Cordileone and Moffat were fighting for their lives and the lives of their comrades, Bravo Company, First Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marine Regiment, the subject for the film BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR, was operating southwest of Danang around Hill 55. Bravo Company and the rest of the First Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines moved up to Khe Sanh in early May of 1967 where they would remain through the Siege of Khe Sanh.
Even though the Vietnam War has been extensively chronicled through a variety of media, the voices and actions of individual veterans of the Vietnam War were muffled for decades, due in part, to the American public’s ambivalence and downright hostility towards the conflict and by association, the men and women who fought it.
When I returned home from Vietnam, my parents picked me up at the airport in Tucson, Arizona and immediately took me to a Mexican Food restaurant where we were joined by my best buddy and his fiancé. While we dined on enchiladas and rellenos, I started telling them what the Siege of Khe Sanh was like. They would not look at me. I remember seeing the overhead light reflected from my father’s balding head as he kept his face buried in his meal. I understood right then, that to talk about the war in Vietnam was something that made people uncomfortable. They didn’t want to discuss it, or they didn’t know how to discuss it.
But now forty-some odd years later, instead of slowly emerging, the individual stories from the veterans themselves are beginning to flood as the men and women who fought in Vietnam get recognition for a job well done in a war that was very unpopular.
A hearty Marine Corps OOOHRAH to Marines Cordileone and Moffat.
You can read more about the awards for Cordileone and Moffat at http://m.utsandiego.com/news/2013/sep/20/marines-khe-sanh-silver-star-medal/.
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