This is in Memory of..
Donald E. Fletcher, Pfc.
Mount Airy, NC.
United States Marine Corps
Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion
1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division
KIA 26 July 1969
* * * * *
I never knew any of these Marines except they were my fellow Marines and I medevaced them.
Another day in the life and death of a Marine Grunt.
Hotel was in *heavy contact*, they had no communications and most of the
Company was wounded, or killed. We had just gotten to the next ridge above
and to the south of Hotel.
There was arty landing so after I got the arty check fired, Batallion wanted
to know if we had coordinates for a new fire mission. I told them that the
mission was landing 1000 yards to the east of Hotel and was a bad mission.
We told them no fire mission as the guns were firing from the east and north.
If they missed the ridge where the NVA positions were, the rounds would land on either us or Hotel.
The NVA 12.5's and the 57's were slaughtering Hotel. Hotel was almost was barely firing and we could see the NVA forming to move down on Hotel.
Capt. Adams was meeting with the Platoon LT's and we formed a plan. We were to leave our 60 mortar teams (3 tubes) on our ridge with one squad. Our 60 mortars were to fire all their rounds on the ridge to try and get the 12.5's and the 57's. After firing all their rounds, the mortar teams were to move down to us. Capt. Adams split up the company into one Platoon center, one platoon right and one platoon left spread out 800 yards and move to Hotel.
Capt Adams had me start calling the medevacs and requesting as many gun ships as I could get. I called the medevacs requesting a at least 6 CH46's and all the Gunships they could spare.
We started to spread out and move down the hill, I remember only seeing the Gooks firing into anyone, they just kept pouring it on even though Hotel
was hardly fighting back. Golf's 2nd platoon and 3rd platoon were moving in the flanking position and I was with 1st platoon moving down to Hotel's position.
Capt. Adams gave the order for the 60 mortars to start working and, bless their sights, they got a few of the 57's off us. Our right and left flank platoons 60 machine guns started in on the 12.5's and we moved to Hotel.
From now on until we reached Hotel is a blur... Next thing I remember is the wounded and the dead. They were laying everywhere, some moaning, some screaming, some quiet. We did not have enough battle dressings. Even with using Hotel's battle dressings to treat the wounded, we were tearing up our tee shirts and whatever to tie up wounds. Golf's two flanking platoons were pushing the NVA back and I had the choppers come on station.
'Fuckin A.... medevac birds and *6 Fuckin Cobras*!!!! .....'
They were Marine Swift Birds, and the Gunslinger Cobra's came up first....
What follows is radio transmissions as best as I can remember...
'Golf..Gunslinger 21, please mark friendly positions'
'Gunslinger 21..Golf 28, I am having my two flanking platoons moving up the ridge pop smoke. Golf 28 is with the center platoon and I am marking with smoke now. NVA are on the ridge above us. My platoons have not reached the ridge yet. I will hold up my two platoons in place for you to work out. Please advise when you have friendlies spotted and start your gun run.'
'Golf 28.. Copy that, am seeing your smoke now, I have all three positions'
'Golf 28.. Cobras will attack from the south east and south west, flying over your position to the NVA positions....copy that...'
'Gunslinger 21...copy that....my 6 says Fuckin' Rock and Roll.....'
The Cobra's start their runs....damn'est thing I ever seen. The NVA turned their 12.5's and 57's on the Cobras... it really pissed the Cobra's off...
The Cobras were really gettin some....when the radio came alive again.... Battalion wanted to know what was going on, I gave an 'off the cuff sit rep' and asked for a arty mission. The arty mission was to clear a medevac LZ on the ridge at our backs. The mortar teams and the squad we left behind had caught up to us and arty missions behind us was ok. I informed the choppers what we were doing and the cobras switched their attack headings.
We had 6 Hotel KIA's, 50 Hotel WIA's to medevac.
The arty had fired their missions for about 15 minutes and I called a check fire to start the medevacs.
'Golf 28..Swift 24, is your LZ ready.????'
'Swift 24..Golf 28, as secure as we can make it for now, am popping smoke...'
'Golf 28..Swift 24, breaking orbit and coming in'
I watched from the LZ as the Swift Bird broke and started in, next thing I remember seeing was a 12.5 tearing into Swift 24....
The radio came alive again.....
'Golf 28..Swift 24, I am hit...hit bad and going in !!!!!!!!!!....'
'Swift 24.. we are moving a two squads to assist...good luck Swift 24....'
Swift 24 crashes and our squads move to them, the crew gets out and moves to us with the squads.
The radio comes alive again.....'
'Golf 28..Swift 21, did Swift 24 surrive....?????'
'Swift 21..Golf28, Swift 24 crew out, slightly wounded and moving to my position.'
'Golf 28..Swift 21, Gunslingers will work east to west, Swift 21 will come in to extract Swift 24 and as many of your critically wounded as we can.....'
'Golf 28..Swift 21 breaking orbit....'
Again the NVA open up.....
The radio comes alive again....
'Golf 28...Swift 21 hit and going in.....'
We move two more squads to the crash to retrieve the crew...The squads bring in another crew....
The radio starts again...
'Golf 28..Swift 29, Please be advised Swift Birds low on fuel. Darkness is coming and we returning home. The Gunslingers will be replaced on station until darkness. Good Luck Golf 28.!!!!'
Darkness comes, we have not gotten out the WIA's or the KIA's. We have 2 choppers down, two scared crews with us.
We start gathering up Hotel's ammo, weapons, what ever C-rats we can find. Our mortar teams find Hotel's tubes and 60 ammo and we get ready for a long night.
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