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March 30, 2011

March 30, 1968

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Former Marine and Khe Sanh veteran Tom Quigley recalls March 30, 1968.

Well here it is, 43 years later, the 30th of March. I can still remember as if it were yesterday that we, Bravo Company, saddled up at about 3:30 a.m. to go out and meet the enemy to get some revenge for taking out a lot of our brothers from 3rd Platoon on Feb. 25th.

I remember my radio strap breaking, and I told the skipper, “Oh, well, guess I’ll have to sit out.”

He didn’t share my humor, and just tied my strap to my cartridge belt. Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying.

We went out the wire in a pretty good fog that morning, After we got to our positions, the skipper gave me the word to pass on to our two lead platoons to fix bayonets. After being in Nam for over ten months, I had never been given that order, so I had to ask the skipper, “Do what? “

He repeated the order to fix bayonets, which I passed on to the platoon commanders. I started looking around, watching our grunts take out their bayonets, and I thought, oh shit, this is the real McCoy.

We first sent a fire team to check out a Y in the road, and just a little later it seemed like Charlie opened up with everything he had, then the chase was on. We went from bomb crater to NVA trench lines, where Charlie’s bodies started piling up everywhere, and not all dead, so being the good Marines that we were, we just helped them to visit their relatives in their happy hunting grounds.

I don’t remember how long we were in battle before our company command group got hit with mortars, but I do remember Lt. Norman yelling that Doc was hit, and right at that moment several mortars came right on top of us, killing Lt. Norman, who was right behind me, and wounded the rest of us.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, if it wasn’t for Capt. Pipes, and his skill and courage as Bravo Company’s commander, we could have lost our whole company. He stayed with the radios, calling in fire missions, even after being wounded himself. He knows he has my highest regards, and I am proud to call him my friend.

This goes out to all my fellow brothers on this day that we shall never forget, and the brothers we lost on that day.

Semper Fi

Tom Quigley

Tom Quigley was Captain Ken Pipes’ senior radio operator with Bravo Company during the Siege of Khe Sanh and was wounded on March 30, 1968. Tom lives in Springfield, Illinois, and still works part time in the automotive wholesale business.

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