This is in Memory of..
Dunkle, Michael R. PFC
St Paul, Minnesota

United States Marine Corps
Golf Company, 2nd Marine Battalion
1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division

KIA 7 October 1968
41W 23

*          *          *          *          *

          Michael Dunkle was my first medevac that ended up a KIA, his medevac was undoubtably my strangest and utterly the most bewildering of them all...
          I was fairly new to Golf company, and I had been in country for only a couple of months.. As most people know being new had it's drawbacks in getting to know your fellow Marines, being accepted by your fellow Marines and being new I still tried to follow the rules. I only have a slight memory of Michael as a Marine but I will do my best to describe him.
          I remember Michael Dunkle as being a person who you kind'a wondered, just why in the hell he was in Nam. I mean, from what I remember Dunkle never shirked a patrol or was a slacker, he just did not belong there, he was out of his environment. I thought that seemed more at home being the clean cut boy next door not in the Marine Corps in Nam. My memories come from the short talk we had while I was getting his medevac info, he was from St. Paul Minnesota, I was from a small town in northern Wisconsin about 200 miles from there. So we talked of some places that we both knew.
          Golf company was working in Cam Sa I & II, located in central Quang Nam Province just south of the Marble Mountain area. The villages of Cam Sa I & II were in a desert area complete with sand dunes and cactus. Golf company had been patroling this area for a couple of days and around 1800 hrs the afternoon of October 6th we set in for chow. Now usually the Company would stay at the same spot until dark when we picked up and moved 500 yards to another location for the night. We usually left one platoon to find an ambush location to hit anyone who might move to where they thought we were earlier. Well we left 3rd platoon to the ambush and moved out to our night time location. What follows is my memories and recreations of radio transmissions of what transpired the evening of October 6th and October 7th 1968.

10/06/68 2200 hrs...

          'Golf..Golf 3..'
          'Golf 3..Golf..'
          'Golf.. Be advised that we have a man really acting strangely like he's sick or something Doc is checking him out.'
          'Golf 3.. Golf Please define strangely..'
          'Golf.. Doc thinks he is having a seizure or something.'
          I'm sleeping and one of the company co group is on radio watch and they now wake me up realizing that we may need a medevac. My call sign is "Golf 28" which meant that I was the lead radioman.
          'Golf 3..Golf 28 Has Doc determined if a medevac is necessary.?'
          'Golf 28.. Doc has not found any signs of wounds, we are stripping him to try and find visible signs of wounds. Please be advised he is thrashing around, moaning and groaning. We are afraid he will give away our position.'
          'Golf 3.. When everything calms down move to our position, any medevac will be from my pos. Has Doc classified your man to medevac priority.?'
          'Golf 28.. Doc does not know what to classify him as, no visable wounds, vitals seem ok. Doc does not think he is in real life threating danger for now. We don't know what to do..'
          I think to myself..shit..shit..what should I do, I ask our senior corpsman what to do, he's not quite sure either. We wake up the skipper and ask what to do..he's not quite sure either. We all think..fuck the medevac.. I switch the battalion radio over to the medevac frequency..
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf 28..'
          'X-Ray Golf 28..X-Ray'
          'X-Ray...X-Ray Golf 28, medevac over.'
          'X-Ray Golf28..X-Ray, What is your medevac priority..??'
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf28, Medevac priority uncertian, man is having seizures, shaking and moaning. Golf 3 Doc says he can not find visible wounds of any type, please advise.'
          'X-Ray Golf this is X-Ray.. please wait one..'
          Now I knew what was coming, the medevac radio operator does not know what to do and is asking the Watch Commander.
          'X-Ray Golf28..X-Ray Watch Commander, What is the man's condition now.?'
          'X-Ray Watch Commander this is X-ray Golf28, Wait one.'
          I grab the radio that is set on the Company frequency.
          'Golf 3..Golf 28..'
          'Golf 28..Golf 3..'
          'Golf 3.. what is the condition of your man.?'
          'Golf 28.. Doc says he has calmed down, he seems to be resting and his vitals are stable. Be advised we had to tie him up as he was thrashing and we were afraid he would hurt himself!'
          'Golf 3.. Are you sure he does not have any rat bites, snake bites or anything like that..??'
          I thought to myself, god damn it, find a fucking wound of some kind, so I could justify an "Emergency Medevac". I hated to call a Emergency Medevac unless it really was a Emergency. "Emergency Medevac" meant that the chopper would have to come out at night. If we got into some shit and Golf 3's guy was not really an Emergency I'd be in trouble. As I look back now I regret being a FNG as I had not yet had the balls to run a bogus medevac priority.
          'Golf 28.. Doc says he is clean of any wounds of any kind, we went over him from head to foot under a poncho with a flashlight..doc says his vitals are ok now, and he is resting quietly.'
          'Golf 3.. Tell Doc to have your man ready at first light, I will call a "Routine Medevac" for first light, advise me if his condition changes over night.'
          I grab the radio set to the battalion medevac frequency..
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf 28..'
          'X-ray Golf 28..X-ray..'
          'X-ray..X-Ray Golf28, Please classify my Medevac as Routine, to be run at first light.'
          I give battalion the coordinates, and Battalion assures me that a medevac bird will be on station at first light.

10/07/68, 0330 hrs..

          I am on radio watch my watch is from 0200 hrs to 0600 hrs.
          The radio call I still dream about...27 years later comes in...
          'Golf...Golf..Golf..this is Golf 3... "Emergency"..!!!!!'
          'Golf 3..Golf 28.. Your man gone Emergency..???'
          'Golf 28... Affirmative...Emergency.. Doc says his vitals have gone to shit, alert your lines we are moving to you to set up a landing zone.'
          I grab the radio set to the battalion medevac frequency..
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf 28.. Medevac..'
          'X-Ray Golf 28..X-Xay.. What is the clasification of your Medevac..??'
          'X-Ray..X-ray Golf 28, My Routine Medevac has turned Emergency. You have my coordinates..landing zone is secure..will identify landing zone with lit C-4 letter shaped in "F"..'
          'X-Ray Golf 28..X-Ray, Copy Emergency Medevac, will notify you of bird call sign and ETA..'
          I hear Golf 3 calling me over the company radio...
          'Golf 28..Golf 3, Almost at your position..doc says our man has gone worse than shit..doc wants to know if ya gotta ETA on the bird.??'
          'Golf 3.. Emergency Medevac ETA on bird..'
          Now the whole Company is awake..Skipper sends the Senior Corpsman and a security squad out to bring in Golf 3.
          Over the Battalion Medevac radio I hear, Battalion telling me that they have diverted a bird to my Emergency Medevac. A bird with wounded aboard and currently inbound to NSA, I have a ETA of under 5 minutes. I grab the battalion radio..
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf 28, I copy that..!!!'
          Over the Company radio I get the call...!!!!
          'X-ray Golf 28..Swift 12, Inbound 3 minute you have a visual on my lights..??'
          ("Swift" is the call sign of my medevac bird)
          'Swift 12..Golf 28, I have a visual, you are at my 10:00, landing zone is secure, will light up landing zone now.'
          a couple of minutes pass.....
          'Golf 28..Swift 12, I have your landing zone, landing zone is a "F".'
          'Swift 12..Golf 28, Roger that, come on down.'
          Bird lands, we load the man into the chopper, chopper takes off.
          'Swift 12..Golf 28, A thank you to you and your crew.'
          (I always did that..I thanked them)
          I round up the Golf 3 Doc..I had to know who the medevac was and details to call a sit rep into Battalion..
          An hour or so passes and it's starting to get light. I finish up the sit rep and I call Battalion.
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf 28..'
          'X-Ray Golf 28..X-Ray..'
          'X-Ray..X-Ray Golf 28, Sit rep to follow..'
          ...the Battalion radioman cuts me off and informs me that my medevac died before he made NSA. He was KIA, and to inform the Golf 6 that the X-Ray 6 wants entire Golf company to move back to the battalion area, no sit rep necessary at this time.
          We get to the Battalion area and are informed that a inquiry is to take place in regards to PFC Michael Dunkle's death, a board of inquiry is wanting to know why we did not medevac Dunkle sooner and why he had restraint burns on his arms and legs.
          Dunkle's medevac classification was explained by the Battalion radio logs and verified by the watch commander. I was informed that there were to be new medevac classification procedures, the Marine Corps was semi understanding about the rope burns, but the Marine Corps stressed that in the future with new medevac procedures no such measures will be taken.
          Later in my tour the Marine Corps new procedures will cost the lives of two of my fellow Marines.
          To this day, I have never gotten over Michael Dunkle's medevac and his death, the dreams of that night have stopped. I still can't figure out if I was to blame or if anyone was to blame, could I have done something different.
          We never found out what Michael Dunkle died from, snake bite, rat bite, seizures or some other unknown cause, we just never found out, to this day I don't know. The official listing for Michael on the Viet Nam War casualty data base is "Non-Hostile, Died of other Causes".
          That day I made a promise to Michael Dunkle and the rest of Golf Company. From that day on, I WILL HAVE THE BALLS to call the questionable medevac, Fuck the regulations, I will upgrade to a Emergency Medevac without hesitation.!!!!!! I will not lose a man again because of grey areas in medevac classification regulations...

Another day in the life and death of a Marine Grunt.

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