Carl King

I served 1 tour in Viet Nam. While there, I was in Hotel Company 2ND BN 1st Marines. I held positions as Platoon Commander, and Platoon Sergeant in the 1st Platoon as as Platoon Commander of the Weapons Platoon


4 Feb 1968 to Oct 22 1968


1st Platoon Command Post


I departed the States from beautiful California in late Jan of 1968. I spent my last evening there with Jim Rogers who had been a Drill Instructor with me at MCRD San Diego.  We had a few drinks at the Marine Memorial Club in San Francisco and he took me to the airport.

The flight to Okinawa was uneventful.  The stay in Okinawa was short.  Just enough time to store sea bags , get my shots up to date and sign any important papers. I was supposed to fly to Viet Nam on a commercial jet but the air Field in Da Nang was getting hit with rockets so they decided to fly us in on C130’s.  Definitely  not the same ride.  Loud, uncomfortable and long!

We landed without incident and got to see a number of destroyed planes and other things alongside the runway that had been hit by rocket and mortar attacks.  So, maybe being in Viet Nam is not such a good idea.

Once on the ground and out of the aircraft, the next stop was the administrative section where I was assigned to my unit.  I was lucky enough to get 1st Marines. From there, I got assigned to barracks to wait for transportation to my unit.
My first night there proved to be exciting. The base got hit with rockets and machine gun fire.  I had no weapons and had no clue as to what was going on.  The only thing I could do was watch the pretty tracers and hope that I got through our first night without getting hit.

Fortunately, it was not long before I got a flight to Phu Bai where the 2nd BN 1st Marines had its headquarters.  Upon arrival, I was taken to the Regimental Sergeant Major for assignment to a unit.  Initially he was going to send me to Charley Company, but when I found out who the company gunny was, I begged him to send me anyplace but there. (The Gunny and I had been Drill Instructors together and I knew that I did not want to serve under him.) The Sergeant Major heard my story and sent me to Hotel Company. Sometimes, things work out.

At the Hotel Company office, I was assigned to the 1st Platoon and sent to supply where I was supposed to be issued my 782 gear (pack, poncho, weapon and the other things one needs to function in the field) I say supposed to be issued because most of what I needed was not there and some of what they had was bloody and torn. I was issued a pistol but no magazines or ammunition.  When I asked for the missing gear, I was told I would get it when I got to Con Tien where my company was located.  I was not a happy camper.

While I waited for transportation to Con Tien, The NVA opened the Tet offensive.  Hue City got hit very hard.( the base at Phu Bai is very close to Hue City) I talked to a number of Staff NCO’s who were hauling supplies up to the Marines fighting in the city. (Charley Company was one of the units heavily involved in the house to house fighting.) It was a true slug fest.
My transportation to Con Tien was a truck convoy.  I still did not have ammunition or magazines for my trusty 45 cal pistol. Going through Indian country with nothing to fight with was not my first choice.

I arrived at Con Tien with no problem and joined my platoon.  Lt. C. V Taylor was the platoon commander and was a sharp, experienced officer. I was happy to draw him as my boss.

The Lt. and I shared a bunker so we had some time for him to brief me on the troops and let me know what he expected of his platoon sergeant.

My first night there, I inspected the line and asked questions of the troops about their defensive position.  I found that most of them did not know what the Final Protective Line was. (It is a line where each Marine is supposed to fire his weapon when a specific signal is given.  The FPL signal is given only when the enemy is about to overrun the defensive positions. It is very important that every Marine know the signal and the line he is fire down. It creates a wall of fire that the enemy has to get through  in order to reach the defensive positions.

When I got back to the bunker and told the Lt what I found, we agreed that we would hold school the next morning.  About  two hours later, the Lt. asked me if I was awake and I said I was. He said he was scared to death that something would happen before we got the problem fixed. I assured him that we would get the problem handled the next morning.

The next few days, I held some classes, had the men test fire their weapons so I could see how well they handled them, and in general got to know my subordinate leaders. I sensed that both the Lt. and I were comfortable.

On my 12th day in country, we headed out for my first operation outside the defensive positions.  To read about that experience, go to Our Stories and see my piece called “First Fire Fight”.


Con Tien
Khe Sanh
Cau Viet
 POW Compound
Tu Cau; Quang Nam Province


Operation Scotland, Khe Sanh, 21 January and 8 April 1968
Operation SCOTLAND II in Quang Tri Prov. 25 April to 21 June 1968
Operation ACOTLAND II/c in Quang Tri Prov. 22 June to 6 July 1968
Operation NAPOLEON SALINE II in Quang Tri Prov. 7 July to 19 July 1968
Operation KENTUCKY in Quang Tri Prov. 19 July to 21 July
Operation NAPOLEON SALINE II in Quang Tri Prov. 21 July to 23 Aug. 1968


Operation against Communist Forces, DaNang, Quang Nam Prov 24 Aug. to 24 Oct. 1968
Counterinsurgency Operations DaNang 2 July 1968 to 25 Jan. 1970

Yes, Twice

Bronze Star with Combat V
Purple Heart with star (2 awards)
Good Conduct with 3 stars
Combat Action Ribbon
Drill Instructor Ribbon
Expert Rifle
Expert Pistol


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