John J Josefczyk (Ski), Lawrence Plummer, Ben Drake, S/Sgt. King, Lt. Meale
1st. Lt. C.V. Taylor
1st. Lt.. Taylor, Born in Johnson City, Tennessee, and I was raised in Michigan. I was attending East Tennessee State University in Johnson City when, for no earthly reason I can think of, I decided to join the military.
Recruiting offices were in the post office and as I walked in the door, a Marine Gunny in dress blues grabbed my arm and pulled me in his office…the rest is history. Christmas 1965 in the old, wooden squad bay (DI put a red ribbon around one of the squad bay support posts – just like home). Made Pfc. and honor man at Parris Island, then to Pensacola, Fla. for Communication Technician school. Made Cpl.
The CO took a liking to me and decided I should be an officer. I was sent to OCS at Quantico, as a 0311 infantry Officer. I graduated June 1967, and then I was off to the lovely beaches of Viet Nam, about July or August or 1967. Spent the night at the airfield with F-4s roaring all night, which didn’t help you very much to enjoy any attempt at a good nights sleep. That morning, I took a truck (6x6), to Quang Tri, and then to 2nd Bn., 1st Marines. The Bn. Cdr. told me where 1st Plat was, and I walked over to where he had directed me to be in order to find them. I found about a dozen raggedy-ass Marines sitting around a hooch and asked them where 1st Plat was? They said, “This is it.” They had just returned from operation Medina and were somewhat under strength.
I had the Platoon for about 6 or 7 months from about August of ’67 through Jan or Feb ’68. I had them at Quang Tri, Con Thien and a little while at Khe Sahn, where I took over Hotel Company, maybe Feb or Mar ‘68. Had the company on the night march out of Khe Sanh, and for a while at Mai Tse Tai up on the Cua Viet River. Maybe two months, like March, April, and May ’68. I became Bn S-4 for last month or so – I remember embarking the Bn out of Mai Tsi Tai and back down to Da Nang. Just a few weeks in Da Nang and I flew out to the states.
I stayed in the Corps after Viet Nam and served as Company Commander, H&S 1/5, S-3 for 2/5, CO, MarDet, USS Ticonderoga for 2 years, Instructor in the Leadership Department at Quantico, Pacific desk officer in Plans Division at PP&O at HQMC, Training Division at Quantico and retired as a LtCol from Quantico in 1991 (26 years).
I have been the assistant director of a police academy here in Fredericksburg, VA since 1991. I get a lot of Marines getting out at Quantico who come down here to train as cops. And you know they are our best students!
Married, no children and have a 50 acre registered Black Angus farm in King George, VA… So if you know anybody wants to be a cop or wants some of the finest beef around, I’m the man to see!
1st. Lt. Sam Meale
1st. Lt. Sam Meale joined the 1st Platoon of Hotel Company, as Platoon Commander, in August of 1968. He left Hotel in December 1968, when he was reassigned to 2nd Battalion First Marines HQ where he worked in the Battalion S-3 as assistant to Major Taylor the Bn S-3.
When 1st. Lt. Meale joined Hotel Company, it was located in the Cau Viet River Area, about six miles South of the DMZ, along the coast of the South China Sea. The Company was settled in an area that looked like an island, surrounded by dried up rice paddies. The island, rose above the rice paddies about 8" to a foot.
The part of the island Hotel Company occupied was at the west end of a long shaped peninsula about three hundred meters in length. It was about one hundred and fifty meters wide, at its widest point. At its most western point, was a grave yard situated with large mounds of dirt and some cement walls about 8" wide and about a foot tall, surrounding ¾ th.'s of the mound or statue. It was a good place to be if we took any incoming rounds. There were plenty of niches located everywhere near by to get down in or behind. Once Lt. Meale was introduced to the Skipper of Hotel Company, Capt. Philip T. Jones, he met the other platoon commander's and members of his new CP. Group. They consisted of his Platoon Sergeant, the Right Guide, and Weapons Platoon Commander, and the senior Corpsman for Hotel Company, along with his squad leaders.
Lt. Meale himself didn't look older then 18 years old, let alone anyone who had been old enough to graduate from college. He very young looking for someone that was about to hold the job and responsibility he had just inherited. It was very easy to mistake him for just another young Marine, never imagining he was a Platoon Leader and an Officer in the Marine Corps.
Lt. Meale was a smart new Platoon Commander, and he looked to his most experienced Platoon Sergeant, S/Sgt. King, for advise and ideas how to efficiently keep the platoon running as smoothly as it had been. We spent about a month and a half in the Cau Viet Area, running Operations into the DMZ, and keeping our own AO, (Area of Operation) clear from NVA or any VC. Lt. Meale caught on fast,
Lt. Meale's toughest job was to keep the morale of the Platoon up. Fighting a guerrilla type war is the most difficult thing there is to do. The area was flat; hill 10 was a big hill. The 10 on the map stood for being literally 10 meters high from sea level. We were operating in squad size patrols, but the squads were under strength the entire time Lt. Meale was our Platoon Commander. Rather than a squad of 13 men with a Sergeant as squad leader, our squads were lead by PFC’s, and Lance Corporal's, who only had the strength of 6 to 8 men at the most my entire tour of 13 months, which was long after Lt. Meale had been transferred to Battalion S3 in Da Nang. On top of everything else, it was the rainy season and we were always walking in water, morning, noon and the worst part, night, when you slept in the cold freezing rain, huddled together with other squad members, just to keep a little warmer for the few hours of sleep we'd get. The high ground was booby trapped and the low ground was under water. Not a good place to be.
Lt. Meale was an excellent leader who cared for his men. He managed the platoon well and did everything possible to keep causalities to a minimum. He was and is well respected by those of us who served under him even to this day, 32 years later in our lives. Lt. Meale didn't make the Marine Corps his career. When we finally were able to find him, he was in Milan Italy, and was the head of the DEA there. That's a job which demands exceptional skills, that we all know where he started gathering those important skills, in Hotel Company 2/1, 1st. Marine Division, from August through December of 1968.
Then in 1968 at work
Now in 2,000, doing a different type of work
In January 1968 S/Sgt Carl E. King joined Hotel Company 1st Platoon. Prior to being sent to Vietnam, he was a Drill Instructor stationed at San Diego Recruit training Facility, in sunny Southern California.
Enlisted Marines (active or former) never forget the names of their Drill Instructors. They may not remember the name of their civilian bosses or even remember what teacher had most influenced them. But their Drill Instructors, they remember. These are the men who took them from being a civilian to being a Marine. These are the men who taught them instant obedience to orders; these are the men who put them through living hell for 12 weeks. Knowing this, you will better understand not only why S/Sgt King received and held the attention of the men he lead in combat but also was given the respected nick name "The Boss" by his troops (but never to his face).
When "The Boss" was along, we were confident that no matter what we got into, he would be able to get us out.. Those days then and now are still precious to us and to anyone alive who was fortunate enough to serve under him.
He served as Platoon Sergeant and as Platoon Commander for the 1st Platoon for most of his tour in country and just prior to being wounded for the second time as Weapons Platoon Commander.
His leadership and combat skills stood out, not only to his men, but to the officer corps of Hotel Company, who recommended him for a battle field commission. He was commissioned 2nd Lt shortly after returning to the states and went on to retire as a Major.
We the Marines who had the distinct and proud honor to have served in combat with Major Carl E. King USMC Ret. without hesitation bestow the highest of honors any Marine can receive throughout his career, the title of "A Marines Marine" and we say to you "Boss" well done Sir, may you always wear it with pride. This honor comes from the troops of Hotel Company 1st Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division 1968.
Receiving Plaque from troops, Nov. 09, 1997
Replica of plaque presented with actual inscription
Cpl. Lawrence (Dallas) Plummer was the right guide for 1st. Platoon, Hotel Company who joined Hotel Company way back in 1967. In August of 1968, the early part when this was taken, the picture, Dallas had earned the prestigious honor of being the Platoon Right Guide, or third in command. He'd definitely seen the best part of the war, having been through Con Thien, Khe Sanh, and all through the DMZ and surrounding areas of it. But Dallas as he was affectionately called by those who knew him as a leader of men, knew he was well suited for the right guide position.
There are a couple of insignificant aspects that come with the job like making sure all grenades and resupply of ammo and munitions are received by all squads equally through out the Platoon.
Today, Dallas is married to a beautiful young lady, I hope his wife won't find out from reading this, just kidding of course. He made it to our Reunion 2000, held in San Antonio, Texas. He's a bit older looking but still in as good a shape as he always was. Looking forward to seeing you gain Dallas at the next reunion, there is still a lot of stuff we didn't get a chance to catch up on but I know we will. God Bless you Sir and Semper Fi. for you are the pride of Hotel Company.
Top left to right: Arthur Bowman, Jay Vincens, Nate Solomon, Jim Pennington, Benny Belt, Fred Lynch, Bobby Hingston.
Mike Donovan, Tony Seiber, Malcolm Creelman, McDonald, Mike Roebuck, Fletcher, Royce Heinze.
John Green Jr., Tom Ellingberg, Peterson, Chase Bagley, Tony Caluchi, Mark Hathaway, Johnson
1st. Squad's photo shown above was taken up near the DMZ (so-called De Militarized Zone, a weird name for the most militarized area in country) in early August of 1968 when Hotel Company's then new Skipper, Phil Jones, was absorbing the replacements after Khe Sanh. Not all of us completed our tour of 13 months and 20 days, (if your orders arrived on time). From the above group, we lost Arthur Bowman, when he stepped on a 105 mm. foot trap booby trap on September 10, 1968. Nate Solomon was the Squad Leader, who completed his bush tour shortly after Arthur's mishap, and platoon Sergeant Carl King had Jay Vincens put aside his transfer to Echo 1st. Bn. Recon to take over as 1st. Squad Leader until early December 1968 (the skull and paddles logo on Jay's cowboy hat reads "Swift-Silent-Deadly"). With a company at around 35 - 40 % of authorized strength, Hotel went on to very aggressively "do more with less" under the leadership of Skipper Phil Jones for the remainder of 1968.
Hotel first platoon's work on advanced individual training in small team operations was started by Carl King in Khe Sanh to make sure anyone could take over any squad or the platoon anytime, when the seniors get hurt. This produced a core group of seasoned "bush fighters" tested under fire as leaders irrelevant of rank. Late July 1968, our new Skipper, Capt. Philip T. Jones, picked Carl King's group to expand on Capt. Jones' "trainers of trainers" concept, where five-man "Killer Teams" with Scout Snipers attached to us would peel off from the platoon and maneuver away from the main group to take the fight to Charlie in his own turf using Charlie's own tactics, ten times worse. Jay was assigned to 1st. Squad as Trainer, with his fire team serving as the training unit on special tactics, radio coordination of artillery and aviation even in the dark without notes, and just plain creating wreckage on the enemy at massive levels for days and nights at a time. Jay taught Fred, Benny, and myself, more information concerning guerilla tactics between July and the end of Sept., than anyone thought possible to accomplish, then expanded all of it when he took over as Squad Leader September through December. As violent with death and destruction the many incidents, to this day Jay is proud we never lost a Marine KIA thanks to the ongoing training and aggressive combat tactics. 1st. Squad also managed to get everyone equipped with the best Recon and Special Forces gear and weapons "contributed" by units far and wide across the area of operations. We even had a jeep for a while.
Jay was Squad Leader and Killer Team Trainer and Commander until an emergency Red Cross medevacked him home to deal with a terminal illness in his family. Fred, then myself, took over as the Squad Leaders and Trainers until I left at the end of my tour as acting Platoon Sergeant of 1st Platoon, in June 1969.
We did our jobs as combat Marine's and risked our lives to protect each other. As aggressive as we were, medals were never in our mind just staying alive and teaching new Marines how to do the same and make Charlie sorry he was facing US Marines. Marine infantry respect their own, though, and Jay nominated Freddy, Benny, and me for Silver and Bronze Stars in 1968. Without telling him, we grunts nominated Jay for separate incidents for the Silver Star and when my father who was then a Marine officer visited Vietnam in 1968 and heard about a fire fight in October, he had Fred and me nominate Jay for the Medal of Honor. But the paperwork got lost at the company office and never made it to the Skipper. Thanks to Skipper Phil Jones and SST. Carl King, Freddy, Benny and I got our medals in 1998 as they found out about the goof up and moved heaven and earth to take care of their Marines. Fred, my father and I also re-submitted Jay for his Silver Star, MHO, and at least four Purple Hearts, and Skipper Jones and Carl King endorsed Jay for the Navy Cross in 1998. But as of this writing (September 2000) that is still being processed.
Each of Hotel Company's squads had outstanding combat Marines, along with hairy incidents which occurred. This is a brief look at 1st. Squad, from the middle to end of 1968. A great group and I am proud to have been one of them.
This picture was also taken just South of the DMZ area, called Cau Viet. It is located along the Coast line of the South China Sea, about six miles south from the DMZ itself.
Mike Donovan was their Squad Leader, until he rotated to go home in early September 1968. Tony Seiber became the new Squad Leader for Second Squad, but was not one new to the job of his responsibilities. Tony had been seasoned in areas like Khe Sanh, Con Thien, 880 North & South, and even at Hue City during "Tet". He had one heck of a resume for the job if you asked anyone.
Tony was seriously wounded during a "Killer Team" operation, on the evening of September 18, 1968. He was attacked with an overwhelming size of VC and NVA, wounding Tony in the head on the opening bursts and explosions. PFC. Williams, also severely wounded, dove on a Chi Com Grenade, saving four of the people in the position, while loosing his own life. He later received the Medal of Honor for his selfless actions.
Malcolm Creelman who took over the rest of the team, received a Silver Star, by calling in gun ships and evacuation helicopters to rescue the remaining team from the ensuring forces, and even getting one seriously wounded and three KIA Marines to safety, before another "Killer Team" was able to take enough pressure of the enemy off them. This action combined with the other "Killer Team", kept any further enemy were capable to inflict further damage to either the choppers coming in, or to the medevac performed that eventful evening.
Malcolm was latter medevacked home from wounds, and to find out what else went on, read the new stories that will appear in the index soon.
This Third Squad picture was taken with this set, all taken by SSgt. Carl King in the Cau Viet River Area. This area was approximately six miles South of the DMZ (De Militarized Zone). Third Sqyad had at this time John Ellinburg or " Stretch" as we called him for short.
Stretch was a competent "Marine Warrior" respected from both inside and outside his own Squad and Platoon. He was a tall one from the South, not exactly sure which state he actually hailed from, but from his six foot four or five inch size, they grew them big in his area. Stretch also weighed quite a bit less here in Vietnam then he would have if still back in the States due to illneses, heat, and general climate here in Vietnam.
Stretch got hit really bad when we moved down South by a sniper that was aiming in on my nose when Stretch decieded to stretch his legs and took a full force hit in the left shoulderblade. That was a ticket home for stretch after many long months of recooperation in Military hospitals and the VA system. John Green Jr. took the squad over in ealy or late September or August of 1968.
Third eventually became my squad in 1969 and few times between being acting right guide and Platoon Sergeant and then going back to Third Squad where I eventually left to go home in June 1969. I always had First as my original and personal squad, although I trained some excellent Marines to take over Third squad when I left it as it was taken over by quick learners whose smarts exceeded their youth in Vietnam.
Buckley, Duke, Pruitt, Huey, Bastor, Quinn, Pete Hutchinson, Marquis, Brantner
No bragging is intended here. 30 years later, as we look back, we realize we served with a good group of guys, who, together, earned a goodly number of individual awards. We all realize that the credit goes to our drill instructors who taught us how to be instinctive Marines and without their training we would have hesitated instead of instinctively jumping into a hole. We also realize that the credit goes to our ITR or AIT instructors who taught us how to apply that instinctive to certain combat principles. And we realize that the credit goes to the Platoon Sergeants, squad leaders and fire team leaders who took us, raw from the states and taught us to be a "bush" Marines in the bush. Lastly, we realize the credit goes to the men with us at the time we accomplished the act that we have been honored for. We all realize without the support of our fellow Marines we could not have accomplished what we did. So please Know that these medals are placed here, not to honor ourselves, but to honor those Marines who made it possible.