This is in Memory of..
Larry D. Hoch, LCpl.
United States Marine Corps
Golf Company, 2nd Battalion
1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division
KIA 5 May 69
* * * * *
Another day in the life and death of a Marine Grunt.
Company was still at the Leprosarium, we were getting ready to move to the 1969 spring operations where the Marine Corps were going to take Go Noi Island. I have briefly mentioned this night in Capt. Adams' "In Memory".
It had been relatively quiet at the Leperville, almost boring, and tedious with the daily patrols. That night Capt. Adams had gone to Da Nang to a going away party for some of his friends at MAG 16. Third platoon was out patrolling and had set up for the night in Cam Sa.
As I remember, just after dark they moved about 500 yards from where they had originally set up. I feel that it was this move was what got them in trouble that night. A POW told the story that a main force NVA battalion with 82 mortars was moving to attack our battalion area. The NVA scouts had pinpointed where 3rd Platoon had set in for or the night and the NVA were going to move around 3rd to position themselves for battalion. The NVA had their mortars set up and had sent the main force to move into position to attack the Battalion area.
What the NVA had not counted on is that 3rd Platoon of Golf had moved right into their path. I remember hearing from Golf 3 when they detected the first movement. They wanted to know if there was a lost Marine patrol in their area because they had figures on their starlight that had flack jackets and helmets on. I told them I did not have any word of a lost patrol but would check with Battalion.
I was talking to battalion when I got a call from Golf 3. They said that the figures were 75 meters from them and still moving towards them. I told Golf 3 that Battalion had not answered me yet but at 50 meters set off a red pop up. I would tell battalion that to tell all the companies that we think we have a lost patrol and a red pop up would identify friendlies.
I had still not heard from Battalion when Golf 3 radioed they were setting off the red pop up. That pop up barely opened when all hell broke loose. I could see the green tracers flying everywhere and hear the AK's. A couple of seconds later the NVA must have turned their mortars around cause I could hear the mortars start working it sounded like there were 10. I started calling Golf 3 and could not get an answer. That was always my worst fear, losing the radio. Without it you could not help whoever was in trouble.
By now I had 1st platoon and 2nd platoon on the berm at the Leprosarium and the four tanks we had with us were cranking up. Battalion started calling asking for Capt. Adams (Golf 6) and trying to find out what the hell was going on. As I wrote earlier, we covered for Capt. Adams all night.
I still could not get Golf 3 on the radio and Golf 2 was in the process of getting saddled up to head out for a reaction force. I had radioed battalion to tell them that I had lost contact with Golf 3 and that Golf 2 was getting ready to go out for a reaction force. We felt that with the 4 tanks the NVA would not hit us and if they did we had plenty of fire power with one platoon and 4 tanks.
Battalion came back and said to hold Golf 2. They were sending out their reaction force, a reaction force of cooks, clerks, etc., etc. (now no REMF bad mouthing here ok...)
I said Golf 3 was about 500 meters from us, and they were over 2,000 meters from battalion so we should go cause we were closer. Battalion would have nothing to do with that. Their reaction force was going out.
Unknown to Battalion, Golf 2 moved out anyway. I went with them carrying the company radio and Mike Bojanowski carried the Battalion radio. The battalion radio came alive with calls from the Battalion reaction force saying they were lost. They wanted Battalion to shoot some illumination rounds so they could get a fix.
God, I have no idea of time, but I remember two more calls from the Battalion reaction force saying they were still lost. I finally got a call from Golf 3. I did not recognize the voice on the radio and assumed that Doug Ward, the Golf 3 radio man, was hit. Whoever it was on the radio was asking for medevacs. I asked how many were down, and he answered just about everyone.
I had Mike Bojanowski start calling the medevacs asking for 4 birds giving an estimate of 20-30 wounded. Mike had just finished calling the medevacs when Battalion called saying to send out Golf 2. The reaction force was turning back. By now I think we were within a couple of hundred meters from them. I had gotten a good fix on the mortars and had a fire mission going on them. The NVA mortars had pounded the hell out of Golf 3 and they quit when our 81's started in on them. The firing around Golf 3 had all but died down and we were almost there. The next thing I remember is moving into where Golf 3 was, and seeing something I will always remember. Everyone was hit to some degree.
We had 4 KIA, 20 emergency WIA'S, 15 or so that would have to be flown out and walking wounded.
The choppers came on station and came in, most of Golf 2 was providing security so the chopper crews got out to help. There is a story in our 2/1 Book that James McAlluey wrote. He was one of the wounded that night. He talks about the Pilots getting out to help. I don't remember that but everyone has their own memory.
We filled all 4 choppers. We put over 50 guys on those choppers and the walking wounded moved out with us back to the Leperville.
My memories of Lafe, Tony, Tex Ramsey and Larry are real clear.
Larry Hoch, well he had the nickname of "The Hulk". He was a big burly guy and somewhere he has gotten decal's of the Comic Book Character "The Hulk".. he would stick them everywhere...
Tex Ramsey, well I remember his voice, damn just like the westerns, deep and with a slow whiskey drawl. He had this big straw cowboy hat. He said it was his lucky one, his parents sent it to him, guess his luck ran out that night.
Lafe, well we called him "The Miner". He came from a long family of West Virginia coal miners. Lafe always got on everyone's nerves, he had this high pitched whinny voice.
Tony Jones, he was called "Jonesy". Jonesy was black and could sing just like Smokey Robinson, beautiful voice.
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