Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Meet the Men,Vietnam War

July 16, 2014

Something of Value

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bravo Company 1/26 came off of Hill 881 South on July 10, 1967, and went into battalion reserve at the combat base, first at the west end and then into the trenches on the north side of the perimeter. Bravo stood line watch, ran patrols, listening posts and ambushes for the next ten days.

On July 21, Mike Company, 3/26, engaged elements of the North Vietnamese Army northeast of the base and suffered five KIA.
If I was aware of Mike Company, 3/26’s casualties, I don’t recall. When units got hit around Khe Sanh I usually went into a funk; scattered, not focused on cleaning my rifle or gathering the rest of my gear in case we charged into the maw of battle. I would flit from task to task, smoke a Camel, clean part of my weapon, grab some grenades, smoke a Camel…I don’t recall doing any of these tasks.

View  looking down on the Quang Tri River Valley where Route 9 ran. Photo by John Corvus

View looking down on the Quang Tri River Valley where Route 9 ran. Photo by John Corvus

On the same date, another Mike Company—Mike 3/3—was also out in the vicinity of Mike 3/26 and they, too, took casualties; 11 KIA. Again, I have no memory of that event or the edgy fear that probably gnawed at the back of my brain as I tried to stay focused and not look like I was afraid.

Also on that same day, Bravo 1/26’s First Platoon was out east of the combat base patrolling down Route 9 when they got ambushed. Three men were killed on that patrol: one 81 MM forward observer with H & S Company, 1/26, and two men from Bravo’s First Platoon. Some of the men in our film BRAVO! were on that patrol.

As soon as Second Platoon, my outfit, got the word about First Platoon being ambushed, Sergeant Michael Dede came down the line and told us to gather our gear.

I shared a bunker with a salty Marine who had come over to Bravo earlier in the year from 3/26. He was a short-timer. I do not recall his name. At that moment, he was teaching me how to play Back Alley Bridge and as we played our cards, he was cleaning out my pockets. We were playing for money—Military Payment Certificates—because, as he told me in his clipped Boston accent, if you weren’t committing something of value, then you wouldn’t be at your best.

Dede told us to get ammo, grenades, poncho liner, and other gear we’d need for a helicopter insertion in support of First Platoon. My bunker mate sat back and grinned, and as I tried to gather my gear, flitting like a mosquito from one item to the next, he cajoled me to keep playing the game since there was no guarantee we’d be going anywhere.

I recall him saying, “You know how it is. Hurry up and wait.”

So as I got my gear together and rumors of death and combat circulated like demons among the men of Second Platoon, he collected more and more of my MPC.

Finally, Sergeant Dede came down the line and told us to assemble on the air strip and await choppers to transport us out to assist First Platoon. My bunker mate was so short he didn’t have to go. I can see him, right now in my mind’s view, leaning back on his rack, smiling, his big red mustache and his disheveled shock of red hair implanted in my memory. He was counting my MPC.

We sat on the air strip in the sun. It was hot and we were nervous. Some of us talked incessantly. Some of us didn’t say anything.

I don’t know that I thought about it then, but I think about it now. Something of value. Some MPC in a game of Back Alley Bridge. Some casualties out on Route 9. My young life available to what…be wounded, killed, captured, honored? Something of value, like the lives of those 19 Marines who died in our TAOR that day, and the wounded men, too, whose names we don’t put up on monuments.

Finally, the helicopters arrived and we loaded up and away we went.

Michael E. O'Hara during his interview for Bravo! Photo by Betty Rodgers

Michael E. O’Hara during his interview for Bravo!
Photo by Betty Rodgers


On the screening front, BRAVO! will be screened at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois on July 24, 2014. Sponsored by American Legion Post 758, this event begins with registration at 5:00 PM. The film will be screened at 5:30 followed by a Q & A session with Co-producers Betty and Ken Rodgers, BRAVO! Marine Michael E. O’Hara, and Echo Company, 2/26’s Tom Eichler, the president of the Khe Sanh Veterans Association. Complimentary snacks will be provided and there will be a cash bar with beverages of your choice.

The program will end at 8:00 PM. Reservations are required. To reserve your seats please go to the Eventbrite registration page @

Please note, this event is business casual: no jeans, no denim, no shorts; shirts must have collars.

If you would like to host a screening of BRAVO! in your town this fall or winter, please contact us immediately.
DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information go to

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at It’s another way you can help spread the word about the film.

  1. I was on that patrol led by Lt. Ben Long, along with my good buddy Bruce “T-Bone” Jones. Iwas point for 1st,squad. We were on a 4 day mine sweeping patrol, and we were ambushed the 3rd day out. I think that’s when they thought the 175 howisters were coming to Khe-Sanh, but they ended up going to Camp Carroll.
    Lt. Long did a tremendous job in directing fire, and reduced our casulities to only 3 Kia’s, and 5 Wia’s, since we had ran into a reinforced rifle company. First time when we set up later that night, I got to see the awsome power of puff the magic dragon.
    Tom “The Quig” Quigley

    Comment by Tom Quigley — July 16, 2014 @ 1:35 pm
  2. I was the 81’s Forward Observer Radioman on that patrol. With me was Sgt. Joe Castillo(Fresno; California) who had just returned from 30 day leave in the “world”; his reward(?) for extending another 6 months in Nam. He was teaching Gilbert Wall(Browning, Montana) to become the 81’s FO attached to Bravo/1/26 and this was to be his LAST patrol with Bravo before he was going to the rear for a more safe duty assignment. The night before while camped on a hill above Route 9; he had said; “I’m not going to make it out of here (predicting his death the following day). Gilbert and I tried to cheer him up by saying something like “Ahh Joe you are outta here man”. But he couldn’t allay his fears. When the ambush was sprung on us along the road we were behind the CP group and immediately called in a fire mission. When we couldn’t see our WP(white phosphorous) round land; we moved up around a bend in the road and a sniper team took all three of us out_ 1,2,3! Joe was killed instantly by a round through the chest, Gilbert took a round through the top of his shoulder that blew out his left lung and I took a round in the throat. Immediately they fired an RPG that hit us with shrapnel blinding me in one eye and also my other eye causing my vision to blur. We huddled together in a clump of short grass along the road as they continued to fire at us. Eventually Gilbert and I were med-evaced and we both flew of to Khe Sahn Combat Base. That was a sad day for Gilbert and I because we had known Joe for almost three months and we thought he was finally going to make it to the rear. Gilbert and I returned to Bravo at different times and we became the permanent FO Team with Bravo.
    Bruce “T-Bone” Jones

    Comment by Bruce Jones — July 17, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL