This is in Memory of..
Anthony J. Mornia, Pfc.
United States Marine Corps
Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment,
1st Marine Division
KIA 15 March
* * * * *
David Pugh was a good friend, he came to Golf about
the same time I did. The night before he got killed we had shared some letters we had gotten from the world. What still sticks in my mind about David is his heavy beard, it's funny something like that would stick in my mind. Maybe cause most of us did not have to shave much probably is the reason that's how I remember him.
Another day in the life and death of a Marine Grunt.
David is also the one who I remember being winched up to the chopper strapped to the jungle penetrator stretcher and he went up before Tony.
Tony was a fairly new guy, a whop from New York, I mean just like the godfather, he was fluent in Italian. We got along from the start cause my home town is about 70% whop and I could understand a little of the language, I remember we always talked about the C-Rat spaghetti and how we could never figure out how come the guys liked it.
Third Platoon of Golf was at a fire base south west of Marble Mountain, it was a pretty good fire base and it had a small lake next to it. A small lake meant that you could get a bath every day if you wanted and you did not have to wait for it to rain.
The rest of the company was divided up, one platoon at the last guard tower leaving Da Nang and one platoon guarding a POW compound. The platoons rotated every couple of weeks and I had ended up at the fire base with 3rd platoon.
We had a real squirrel for a Co., he was a 1st Lt. who they sent to us for a couple of months until a new Capt. could take command. His nick name was the Weasel, and one look at his face you knew why. Again I mean not
to generalize but this was one officer that thought he knew it all, and enlisted were to be looked down on.
On the 14th of March I had taken a message from Battalion that a prisoner had given information of underground bunkers about a mile or so from the fire base. Well, on the morning of the 15th the Weasel decided to go out with two squads from third platoon. I went out with the temporary Company Commander Lt. Weasel.
We had gotten to the area where the underground bunkers were supposed to be and searched and swept the area all morning. Finding nothing, we were breaking for chow and the Weasel told me to write up a sit rep for Battalion.
A couple of us mentioned to the Weasel about being nervous breaking for chow right on the coordinates where the underground bunkers were supposed to be. We wanted to move to another location.
The Weasel said we did not find anything in 3 hours of searching and sweeping there must not be anything here, cause we did not find anything, so here we stay.
I had finished writing the sit rep, the Weasel had looked it and said it was OK, send it, he then said he was going to take a leak and wandered off
I was about half way through sending the sit rep when I heard AK's open up, they opened up *INSIDE* our perimeter. I glanced up from the sit rep to see two NVA Soldiers come out of the ground. I drew down with my 16 but could not shoot, cause if I missed, I would be shooting into my guys.
The NVA just popped out of the ground and sprayed the area with their AK's, we could not shoot until a NVA Soldier moved into the clear. My radio started up, I had been talking to Battalion when the shooting started and they had heard the shooting, Battalion wanted to know what was going on and where the Weasel was. I told them I had no idea where the Weasel was and basically gave them a quick sit rep, and said any kinda of arty support was out of the question cause we were mixed in with the NVA.
I remember about five minutes of this. NVA Soldiers just popping out of the ground, all one sided, their side.
I was on a little hill, not very high, and running up came Gary Belden with Tony Morina over his shoulders. Tony had been shot in the head and he was almost dead, I asked Gary to stay and cover me and Doc Beeman as I would get a medevac going. Doc Beeman, started on Tony and I started the calling the medevac with the gunfight still going on. A couple of minutes later Hillbilly brought in David Pugh. David had taken three AK's in the chest and stomach area, he was not too bad except for being gut shot. We watched Hillbilly start back and all of a sudden a NVA soldier came out of the ground 10 feet in front of Hillbilly. We raised our 16's but could not shoot as Hillbilly was between us and the NVA.
Hillbilly raised his 16 and it jammed. The NVA started to raise his AK and we thought Hillbilly was wasted. The next think we knew Hillbilly was running at the NVA waving his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs. The NVA froze trying to figure out what the fuck Hillbilly was. Hesitation cost him his life. Hillbilly
hit the NVA with his 16, grabbed his AK and shot the NVA with his own damn weapon,
God Dammest thing I have ever seen.!!!!
My radio came alive with a Swift bird checking in...
'Golf 28..Swift 27.. Swift 27..Golf 28. Have you insight 1 mile, vector 220 degrees relative. Also be advised Swift 27, the landing zone is HOT and not secure at this time.!!! Please be advised that I will need a jungle penetrator and stretcher and winch as there is not a big enough opening for you to set down in. No time estimate on secure landing zone, medevacs are EMERGENCY and close to KIA.'
Now I had not heard any gun birds come up on the radio and we did not have time to wait for them as Tony was almost gone and David was real bad. I figured that the Swift birds would orbit and wait for gun birds, just something a Grunt on the ground came to accept. But it made it safer for getting our guys out.
Just then the radio came alive again:
'Golf 28..Swift 27, If your guys could just hold their own, my gunners and Swift 22's gunners have a good fix on your people, I will hover over you and lower the stretcher.'
Man I thought this Chopper Driver is fuckin crazy, he's hovering over us holding about 100 feet and makes a big target. But then I thought I gotta stay below him helping with the wounded so I guess we were even.
I don't remember Tony Morina going up, he went first, but I remember watching David Pugh going up, AK rounds hitting the chopper thinking to myself the chopper is going to be shot down and crash on us. The chopper was really taking hits now and the driver pulled full pitch and banked away from us before David was inside that's the last I ever saw of David or Tony.
I later called NAS and inquired about David and Tony. NAS told me that Tony was KIA on arrival and David went KIA getting to the table.
A short while later the gunfight was over and I called Battalion to let them know what was going on and that I would file a sit rep shortly. Battalion wanted to know where the Weasel was, shit I thought, I had not thought about him much since this thing started. I told Battalion we had gotten separated in the gunfight and I had no idea where he was, but we would start looking.
Just after I got done talking to Battalion, up walks the Weasel. He said he went to take a leak and found a tunnel entrance. He just went inside without letting us know what he was doing and spooked some NVA. He said they all ran into other tunnels and when he heard us shooting he hid waiting until it was over.
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