I was born and raised on a farm in Parma, Michigan, until I joined the Marines at the age of 17 and went to boot camp at San Diego. From there, went through BITS and AIT then got to Viet Nam the first part of January, 1968, just turned 18. Went to Khe Sanh directly after getting to Nam and joined 3rd Platoon (Lt. Jaques), Bravo Company, 1/26 Marines.
During the month of February, while I was already at Khe Sanh, my dad sent me my draft notice. Dang ARMY drafted me since I did not report to my local draft board for my 18th birthday.
I did various details such as filling sandbags, burning crappers, LPs, guard duty, etc. I had no idea while on my first sandbag detail, that I would get buried under a ton of debris. We were in the process of rebuilding a 106 MM recoilless rifle pit when we took a direct hit that buried all of us. Fortunately, none of us were injured or killed.
On one of my LP (listening post) details, I was out and the only contact with our rear was a strand of wire that was hand-held by a fellow Marine. We would tug the wire for a Sit Rep (situation report). During my watch the wire got tugged and pulled almost out of my hand. Talk about being scared shitless, I didn’t know what to do. I was too scared to pull on the wire so I just lay there until daylight. As I proceeded to crawl back in the daylight, I discovered my wire had been broken or cut (not sure which) and there were several footprints and mounds of dirt shoveled. It had been a night that the NVA had crawled in behind me and were in the process of digging a trench up to our wire. I am glad that I did not tug or pull on the wire, for it would have given my position away.
My first patrol will be one that I’ll NEVER forget. It was February 25, 1968, which became known as the Ghost Patrol. I have no idea how it was possible but I was not hit or wounded on it even though I found out afterwards that I went crawling and running through one of our mine fields from the opposite direction (from the enemy side) without touching off a round. I have lived with guilt to this day since so many of us died in the Ghost Patrol.
My next patrol was on March 30 (pay-back time).
I have turned my experience of combat into a positive, by contributing in other capacities.
I transferred from Bravo Company and went to S2 and worked with Kit Carson Scouts for the rest of my tour. We went on many patrols and ambushes in places I can’t remember and some I’m not willing to report about. On returning to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 1969, I did a tour in Gitmo Bay (Cuba).
After getting out of the Marines for a couple/three years, I joined the Air Force Reserve for the next twenty years along with being hired by the Federal Government. During this stint, I was activated for Desert Storm and got as far as Ft. Hood, Texas, before being deactivated.
While working for the Federal Government, I was transferred to a section for Emergency Essential Personnel due to my previous military experience. I eventually ended up doing four Southwest Asia tours to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. I worked for the DoD/DLA as a Customer Support Rep. I was tasked to train, supply and equip the local security forces, as well as supply and equip our own military including NATO forces. I was deployed there for just under three years.
I feel that God put me on this earth for a purpose and serving our Federal Government in one capacity or another was His way of keeping me on the straight and narrow.
Since I wasn’t allowed to go back overseas because of being diagnosed with skin and prostate cancer, I retired in June of 2010.
For the past few years I have been rebuilding my 1984 Corvette and have it almost completed. It is a 383 Stroker putting out just under 450hp. I enjoy hunting, fishing, cooking on the grill, camping, dates with my wife Debbie and enjoying all of our grandchildren (all sixteen of them).
John “Doc” Cicala
“Doc” lived in St. Clair Shores, Michigan when he enlisted in the Navy.
In the Marine Corps, the medical personnel who go onto the battlefield with Marines are United States Navy Hospital Corpsmen. Grateful Marines fondly call Corpsmen “Doc.”
“Doc” Cicala served as a Corpsman with Third Platoon, Bravo Company, during the Siege of Khe Sanh. At the “ripe old age of twenty-one,” he was the second oldest man in Third Platoon.
After a forty-four year career with Chrysler Corporation, “Doc” retired, but he didn’t like retirement, so he went back to work for Chrysler as a contractor, where he now works on specific problems where his experience pays off. He also trains Chrysler employees.
Besides still helping out with his old company, “Doc” is a “classic car nut.” His highlight right now is a restored 1967 Plymouth GTX
In early 1966, at the tender age of seventeen, Dan Horton enlisted in the Marine Corps at Wayne, Michigan. Dan said that at the time he was “lost and had nowhere to go.” His Marine Corps recruiters took him to his high school and tried, along with school officials, to talk Dan into staying enrolled, but Dan was on a mission.
He arrived at Khe Sanh in June of 1967 while Bravo Company was on Hill 881 South. Dan was a rifleman in Second Platoon and was wounded while on patrol outside the Grey Sector on March 21, 1968, during the Siege of Khe Sanh.
After Vietnam, Dan was stationed at Camp Pendleton in southern California and then in Washington, D.C.
After his stint in the Corps, Dan returned to Michigan where he had a long career as an animal control officer.
When asked about his time at Khe Sanh, Dan said, with a twinkle in his eye, “It is what it is, and that’s what it is.”
Dan Horton, a Marine every day of his life since entering boot camp, passed away on November 10, 2010, the Marine Corps’ 235th birthday.
We miss Dan Horton. Semper Fidelis, Dan.
I was 20 when I arrived at Khe Sanh and 120 when I left – but had not celebrated another ‘birthday’ while in country.
I enlisted from Blunt, South Dakota – where I was in the top 10 of my high school class (because there were only 8 in my class).
At Khe Sanh, I volunteered for nighttime ambush duty, was temporarily in charge of the Bravo 1/26 3.5 rocket section, was 60 Mortar Section Leader (my MOS), was designated as ‘protestant lay leader’ by Ben Long, stole firearms and ammo from Graves & Registration, stole socks and food from the supply tent. I killed, hated, cried – until I vowed to never have friends or feelings again.
Now – I understand God doesn’t waste pain – and my wife and I share the life-changing message of new life in Jesus Christ with business and military men and women. What we have learned gives us insight into some of what others have experienced – plus gives us the credibility to have some degree of access into their private lives. To accomplish this – I personally must stay very close to my Lord – otherwise I can easily revert to my old ways.
Ken Korkow was wounded in combat at Khe Sanh and received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for combat valor. The Governor of South Dakota named a special day in his honor – as South Dakota’s most highly decorated Viet Nam veteran.
With degrees in Agri-Economics and Business Administration, Ken’s career path led him to where he is today, the Regional Director of Christian Business Men’s Committee USA Heartland, serving Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.
He is a former member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; former president, Central South Dakota Board of Realtors; and former president, North and South Dakota Farm and Land Institute.
I was at Illinois State University in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, when I enlisted in the Marine Corps, and arrived in Vietnam sometime in the first part of May, 1967. Within a few days, I was sent to Khe Sanh. At that time I was 24 with my birthday being July 23.
When I arrived, I became Executive Officer of H&S Company and I think I worked in that position for about a month. On June 8, 1967, I became 1st Platoon Commander of Bravo Company the day before 1st & 2nd Platoons were in a firefight, and there were quite a few wounded. Both lieutenants were wounded in the firefight so the two platoons were combined for a while till more men joined us. I continued as 1st Platoon Commander till late January or early February when I became Executive Officer of Bravo Company under then Captain Ken Pipes. I remained XO of Bravo for a while after leaving Khe Sanh.
As a Platoon Leader we did a lot of patrolling and night ambushes. In July of 1967, 1st Platoon was reinforced with weapons, 60 mm mortar and artillery FOs. We were to check out 9 grid squares along Route 9. They told us that they were going to bring 155s up to Khe Sanh by Route 9. On July 21 we ran into what we thought was a battalion-size unit setting up to ambush along Route 9. I have read later that they say it was only a company. By the grace of God our squad in column up off the road in the thick elephant grass triggered them before we reached their ambush sight. We did lose some men but only a few compared to what could have happened.
I presently work with an international interdenominational Christian ministry called The Navigators. Navigators are people who love Jesus Christ and desire to help others know and grow in Him as they “navigate” through life. While ministering in Singapore for 16 years, my wife and I became accustomed to the Chinese culture. So today we work a lot with Chinese students at the University of Iowa.
I was born in Boston, MA, but raised in San Diego from the age of 10. I was 17 when I enlisted in the Marines, had just turned 18 in December, and arrived in Vietnam in mid-February.
There, I was a machine gunner stationed along the perimeter of the base, just inside of the smoldering garbage pit. I learned early on that if you wanted to avoid stirring the latrine barrels while the burning diesel fuel turned it to crust, look busy; field strip the machine gun down to a blanket of nothing but pieces. It looks daunting and they were uncomfortable asking me to leave that blanket of parts to go stir shit. Yippee!!
I have always been interested in working on and fixing old cars and classics. My current project is a ‘38 Ford Deuce Coupe that is in remarkable condition, but a ways from driving down the road at this point. If you were to ask my wife, she’d say it’s a piece of junk that I’ll never finish.
I have also spent a great deal of time, lately, on a 1990 Jeep Wrangler which I brought back to life. It is nearly bullet-proof, road worthy and fun to drive.
I also enjoy going on trips on my motorcycle, being alone with only my thoughts to keep me company. I’ve never enjoyed being a part of a group. I am very much a loner and enjoy being in charge of my own destinations and time schedule; it avoids conflicts.
As a youngster, Mike McCauley was hanging around the Boston Common when Boston Police Sergeant Haynes advised him to join the military. Mike took his advice and enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was nineteen.
Mike arrived at the Khe Sanh area in November 1967 when Bravo Company was into its second deployment on Hill 881 South, west of the Khe Sanh combat base. He served with First Platoon, Bravo Company, during his time in Vietnam.
He turned twenty the day the Siege of Khe Sanh ended on April 7, 1968. After his tour he returned to the States and over the years spent time in Massachusetts, Washington, DC, Maryland, Nevada and California before settling with his wife Ruth in the Seattle, Washington, region.
Mike spends his time doing woodworking and taking care of the family’s horses. When asked if he rides the horses, he says, “I’ve never ridden anything but a subway; I’m from Boston.”
Among other things, Mike is known among the men of Bravo for giving out sharp looking red (Marine Corps red) ball caps that say “Bravo Co. 1/26, Khe Sanh,” in snappy gold thread
Michael E. O’Hara
I was 19 years old when I arrived at Khe Sanh, and had enlisted in Nashville, Indiana.
At Khe Sanh I was a Grunt, and battled rats first during my break-in period before we got to the real stuff. I never cleaned the crappers, though. Not even once. I figured that one out right away.
I worked every day of my life 24/7 from the time I was granted a work permit. Mostly construction related before I began to build homes for my own business. I was 50 years old before I decided what I wanted to do. I wanted to retire and did just that. Now I just spend as much time as I can with my grand-daughters. Even that is coming to a close, though. They are, after all, little girls and they are really growing. Hangin’ with Gramps will become less and less a big deal.
I have done some stupid things in my life and a few good things. I have been accused of things I did and some I did not. But I know when they lay me in that hole in the ground in St Louis at Jefferson Barracks when my time comes, no one will ever say I was not loyal to my friends.
I am currently working on documenting the history of Veterans Affairs in my county, Brown County, since the Civil War. It is mostly about the different Veteran Institutions but it simply cannot be done without many personal anecdotes. One of my good friends who is getting short, as we used to say, is a WWII Vet. He was wounded serving as top gunner on a B-17. I used to buy bubblegum from him when I was a kid. By the time we were old hands in the VFW he confided how God-awful scared he was up there at age 19. You could see in his eyes what he was talking about. I knew that look only too well from my days at Khe Sanh.
Ken Pipes, Lt. Colonel, USMC Retired; The Skipper
“The Skipper” was 29 when he arrived at Khe Sanh at the end of August 1967, and turned 30 on October 19, 1967. Born in Bakersfield, California and raised in Tulare and Clovis, California, he attended grammar and high school at Clovis, then Junior College in Fresno, and graduated from Fresno State majoring in US History.
At Khe Sanh, Ken Pipes commanded H & S Company from September through November, then Bravo Company from December 1967 through April 1968. He was the Assistant Operations Officer from May until “I got back to Sharon and the boys in late Sept.1968. Dan was 18 months when I left and Tim was just 6 weeks old.”
Since retiring from the Marine Corps and Southern California Edison, Ken has spent 20-plus years as a Reserve Peace Officer Volunteer.
The Skipper is revered by the men who served with him. His courage, honor and respect for the men he led is the mark of a true leader.
Says the Skipper, “Last week I spoke to our Grandson, Connor’s Second Grade Class. He introduced me as follows: My Grandpa joined the Marines, got married, had two sons and got old. I guess that sums up a man’s life very succinctly. He hit it right on the money.”
Tom Quigley hails from Springfield, Illinois, where he was interviewed for Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor.
Eighteen years old when he went to Bravo Company in June 1967, Tom served as the senior company radio operator for Bravo Company’s commanding officer, Ken Pipes, during the Siege. After the Siege he went on to be a squad leader in Bravo Company.
After his service in the Marine Corps, Quig (as he is affectionately called by his Marine mates) was an independent automotive wholesaler.
Tom enjoys being a new grandpa and also likes to spend his time watching movies, bowling, target shooting and hunting on the farms in the Springfield area.
You can read more about Tom in an interview he gave to his local newspaper here.
I enlisted in the Marine Corps August, 1967 in Des Moines, Iowa where I had attended Des Moines North High School. I enlisted under the “Buddy Program” with my friend, Ed Olivetta, and entered the Marine Corps the day after my 20th birthday in September, 1967 and began my training.
I landed in Viet Nam around Feb 27th, 1968 at Da Nang Airport with my 0311 MOS designation as a rifleman. Shortly after exiting the Continental Airlines plane and passing the long line of Marines who resembled zombies more than the soldiers we were used to seeing, I was about to find out why they appeared that way.
You cannot be trained—and I am not sure how one could ever be prepared—for the actual horrors of war. I was handed a set of orders and told that I would be going to Khe Sanh and assigned to Bravo Company as a “replacement” for one of the many Marines who had been recently killed in an ambush just outside of their lines.
Upon arrival, I was assigned to Bravo Company’s 3rd Platoon. My assignment was a Claymore Mine bunker in the Grey Sector. I had a new Marine in this bunker with me the night of March 22nd when all hell RAINED SHRAPNEL down on Khe Sanh yet again. We were on “Red Alert 100%” due to reports of an all-ground assault on the base that night.
At some point it all became a blur to me, and still is even now. I know that something very significant happened to our Claymore bunker. The new Marine and I ran into the bunker where our squad leader was. We were told to go to another bunker in the trench where we could go off 100% duty and get some rest.
Next thing I knew I was above ground. EVERYTHING was in slow motion…smoke, shrapnel, I could see it all. And very clearly, people were yelling for CORPSMAN, CORPSMAN, CORPSMAN. Then someone asked me if I needed a corpsman. I said No! Then a Marine came up to me and in an instant, reading his eyes and at the same time wiping the sweat from my face, I realized what was obvious to him: It was blood, not sweat that covered my face. My utilities were gone from the knee down and blood was shooting out of a wound in my knee. I have been told by my friend who went to Khe Sanh with me (Ron Semon) that I was blown over 30 feet back of the trench line from the inside of a bunker. I still cannot imagine! How do you survive that?
I was taken to Charlie Med. I wish I knew by who, but I will never know that. I would love to thank those brave Marines who took me there during the HAIL OF INCOMING that was literally non-stop all that night. Years later I did meet Dr. Feldman, who helped repair my wounds, at my first Khe Sanh Veterans reunion in San Diego, where I was also reunited with our company commander, Ken Pipes, whom I have never forgotten.
I have been in the trucking industry most of my adult life, and have been a coach for the past 8 years. For the past 6 years I have coached girls’ basketball, and for 4+ years coached middle school 8-man football. This past year I was invited to assist with our high school’s varsity football team. I am blessed to have been very successful with all my teams.
I look at the flag at the start of every game, and along with everyone else take pride in all that she represents. But I ALWAYS look at her and thank first ALL THOSE MARINES WHO SERVED WITH BRAVO COMPANY AT KHE SANH AND THOSE WHO ULTIMATELY “GAVE THEIR ALL,” for it was because of them and all those other servicemen/women who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat that made it possible for our fine youth of today to have the opportunity, among other things, to participate in sports as so many of those MARINE HEROS did before joining the Marine Corps.
YES! I thank them every time, to give or to show them the respect they so rightfully deserve. I know how precious life really is, and just how important these last years of true innocence really are (middle school through High school).
Ken RodgersI was working on a core drilling rig in southern Arizona the summer of 1966 and bored with the heat and the prospects of my sophomore year at Arizona State University. My neighbor across the street got his draft notice and decided to try to get into the Coast Guard. His driver’s license was suspended so he asked me to haul him to Phoenix and the Coast Guard recruiter.
The Coast Guard had a long waiting list. We went to see the Army about my friend becoming a chopper pilot. We went to see the Navy after that. Across the hall from the Navy was the Marine Corps recruiter. While my friend discussed opportunities in the Navy, I went and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. That was in August of 1966. So many young men were joining up I had to wait until October to get into boot camp. I was nineteen years old.
I arrived in Vietnam in March of 1967 and went straight to the 26th Marines on Hill 55 southwest of Danang, where after a short time for training I went to 2nd Platoon Bravo Company where I remained until March of 1968 when I became the radio operator for the second platoon’s platoon sergeant. I survived the siege and left Khe Sanh on April 1, 1968.
After the Marine Corps I was: A sheet rock humper, in the sheep and cattle business, a Vietnam Veterans counselor, an accountant, a controller, a quality assurance officer, a real estate broker, a management consultant, a writer, a teacher and now, along with my wife Betty, a filmmaker.
When I enlisted, I was living in Oregon. My address was Portland, but I lived outside of there in the country, closer to a place called Scappoose, where I graduated.
I just turned 18 when I got to Vietnam. At Khe Sanh I was a grunt: did patrols, filled sandbags, and wrote letters home.
I am married and retired now. I fish, hunt and travel. I also volunteer at the county schools as a motivational speaker.
My speaking started when our son was a sixth grader. His class and sixth graders from other schools around here went to Outdoor School. There was a boy who was there in a wheelchair. It was being noticed not only by the high school counselors but also the teachers too, that nobody wanted to associate with him. The head teacher asked all the kids if anybody at their home was disabled and wouldn’t mind coming in to speak about this. I did, and have been speaking for over 20 years now.
It used to be called Outdoor School, but now it is called Welcome to My World Outdoor School.
Lloyd’s sage advice:
• Never quit; always keep trying; never give up.
• Show empathy and be aware that those with disabilities have feelings too.
• Remember, if something happens to you, what are you going to do?
• Just because a person is disabled doesn’t mean he’s “disabled.”
• Everybody has a disability.
Lloyd Scudder used to warble some mean ’60s tunes at the Khe Sanh Veterans reunions. He passed away in 2013, and will always be missed. He was born Nov. 7, 1949 and died in Portland, Oregon, on August 19, 2013. Rest in peace, Lloyd.
Peter WeissInitially Peter Weiss says he wished to follow in his father’s footsteps, so in 1966 he made a visit to the Navy recruiter with enlistment in mind. At that time, the Navy had too many men trying to get in as officers and according to Peter, “At the time I was wearing glasses.” The Naval recruitment officer told Peter, “Sorry, we have so much demand we are cutting off people that wear glasses. You can’t get in, but if you go next door to the Marines, they use bayonets and you just have to have vision to get you in close.”
In his interview for the film, Peter goes on to say, “I guess I always wanted to be in the Marines.”
Peter Weiss was twenty-three years old and lived in Plainview, New York, when he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he became an officer and was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines when he arrived in Vietnam in 1967.
In his tenure with Bravo Company, Peter Weiss was the platoon commander for weapons platoon and then for First Platoon. His final three months in Vietnam were spent as an intelligence officer.
Prior to his retirement in May 2012, Peter worked as a senior vice president at Toys R Us.
I was raised in Redlands, CA then moved to Carmichael, CA (Sacramento) when I was 16 years old. I volunteered and joined the Marines at 17.
I volunteered for and went to Nam at 18 years old, and I extended my tour in Nam so I had my 19th and 20th birthdays there.
At Khe Sanh I was an 0311, which is a rifleman. I was a squad leader of the finest men the Marine Corps ever had.
Now days I’m retired. I seem to keep busy doing odds and ends. I play golf when I can (and I use the term “play golf” loosely). I play cards each week with a great group of guys.
I also own and raise Koi fish and have for about 15 years. I have a 9,000 gallon pond (converted swimming pool). Sitting by the pond is very calming on those days when the world seems overwhelming.
All my fish are imported from Japan except for the ones I have spawned. I have world class fish that have been on the cover of Koi USA magazine and have won Grand Champion at Koi shows.
Dogs are a big part of my life also. We have two Black Russian Terriers and it looks like we have inherited a Pug. My wife Deborah has a business as an obedience dog trainer, so between the two of us, our lives always center around dogs and fish.