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Thread: Speech from 3rd Bn, 26th Marines (Vietnam) Memorial Dedication

  1. #1
    Senior Member KB's Avatar
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    May 2004

    Default Speech from 3rd Bn, 26th Marines (Vietnam) Memorial Dedication

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=5][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2]via email from a friend.[/SIZE] [/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=5][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]A Battalion Remembers[/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]Comments by MajGen Matthew P. Caulfield, USMC (Ret), at the reunion of the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines (3/26), Quantico, 19 July 2008.[/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]All photos by Dave Powell [/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]>MajGen Caulfield was commissioned in 1958 and retired in 1992. He currently resides in Oceanside, CA.[/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]What a beautiful setting here at the entrance to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, gazing across the fields as the sun sets on to our country’s and Corps’ colors. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]I was prepared to reflect on the leadership of one of our commanders, LtCol John Studt, as many of you know, a truly great combat commander. He preferred that I not talk about him, which I was going to do anyway until yesterday.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]I visited three Marines in the Bethesda hospital yesterday. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]I received a call 1 week ago from the father of one Marine seriously wounded in Afghanistan. We had met a few years ago when I encouraged him and his wife to support their youngest son in joining the Marine Corps. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]He informed me that his son was en route from Afghanistan to a hospital in Germany with two of his buddies. The family had hoped that he would recuperate in a hospital close to Boston; instead they learned that he had just received the word that after treatment in Germany, he would be transferred to San Diego Naval Hospital.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]I passed on the information to the duty officer at I Marine Expeditionary Force and within hours was told that the Marines would go to Bethesda. By the way, the family was notified of his injuries by a cell phone call as their son was awaiting treatment in a field hospital. One hour later the father was called by the casualty assistance section from Quantico. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Among other assistance, the family was provided with an 800 number to contact their son during the evacuation and treatment in Germany. Later the family was provided an escort who arranged transportation from Boston to Bethesda and lodging at the hospital. As you know that is not the way your families were treated some 41 years ago. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]I learned that firsthand when my brother was wounded.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]
    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]The Marine Corps has made a lot of changes in the past 41 years but none as impressive to me as the way the wounded and their families are treated. Our Corps deserves a lot of credit for that. One thing that has not changed is the age of the Marines who do the fighting. The Marine I visited, LCpl Ryan Walsh, is 21 years old; the squad leader Cpl Austin Crockett is 22, and the machine gunner, wounded most severely, PFC Richard Weinmaster, is 19 years old.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]By the way, the Assistant Commandant was also visiting that day. It was good to witness how easily the Marines related to the Assistant Commandant. None of that “yes Sir, no Sir” rote. Instead, it was an articulate, two-way, respectful conversation in which the Marines mostly questioned the Assistant Commandant on future plans for their battalion.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Just before departing the hospital I mentioned that I was on my way to a reunion of Vietnam War Marines. Cpl Crockett asked what battalion, and I responded 3/26. Their interest shifted immediately, particularly when I mentioned Khe Sanh.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]The penetrating stare of Mike Company's Commanding Officer, 1stLt John T. "Tom" Esslinger. When the NVA made him mad, they paid for it![/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Many of you often wonder how what you did in Vietnam fits into a larger context than the view from a fighting hole. I know your guests tonight—wives, friends, children, and grandchildren—want to know what it is about you and your experiences in Vietnam that runs so deep. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]They wonder why, some 41 years later, you still got misty-eyed when you walked up to that wall yesterday and traced the names of your friends. I would like to tell them about you.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]You visited your memorial, as well as the memorials to World War II (WWII) and the Korean War. The WWII memorial contains quotes and refers to great campaigns; the Korean memorial pictures great men. Your memorial is about every single one of your brothers and, like you, remains mute. Scroll from the first name through the 58,195 single names and there is only silence. A single name, silence, and yet some say it is the most powerful war memorial in the world. You know it is.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]The WWII veterans have been named “the greatest generation.” Now we hear the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are the “new greatest generation.” What we have in our memorial are 58,195 single, silent names who know better. They respect and are inspired by those who went before and take pride in the achievements of those who follow, but they know—every single one knows—that no generation since the founding of our country is more deserving of the word “greatest” than your generation.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Let’s look at the record. The archives in the museum behind you attest to the greatness of those who served in all of our Nation’s wars. You toured the WWI, Korean War, and WWII exhibits. Compared to Marine casualties in other wars, your dead in Vietnam were five times—five times—the dead in WWI, three times the dead in Korea and, in terms of total dead and wounded, about the same as WWII.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]The infantry soldier in WWII served 40 days in combat. Tarawa was over in 72 hours, Iwo in 30 days. You served in Con Thien for over 30 days, followed by a 77-day siege in Khe Sanh. Given we didn’t have a rear area, a good case could be made that you served over 300 days in combat.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]As for the enemy, Marines never faced a tougher enemy than the North Vietnamese [NVA] soldier. How did you do? You never lost a battlefield engagement. Your 58,195 dead accounted for 1.2 million enemy dead. Those figures are unprecedented in any of our country’s wars. As a division commander in Desert Storm confided to me, “If the NVA were in those trenches, we would still be over there.”[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]When we celebrated our 192d Marine Corps birthday in Vietnam, we stood in awe when the names of the Argonne, Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, and Chosin were read. Today on our 233d anniversary, Marines around the world stand in respect when the names Con Thien, Khe Sanh, and Hue are read. Two out of three.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]You fought with WWII 782 gear, fought with a rifle that malfunctioned frequently, lived on rations from Korea, and paid for decent rain gear when a courier was able to find some while on Okinawa. The battalion arrived as a unit, but afterwards replacements arrived individually—no buddies, all alone until friendships were forged in battle. There was no rear, no place to train and to hone skills. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]We had to jury rig construction material from barbed wire stakes. Our battalion went to war without a parent division, was treated like orphans, and was assigned to whatever place was the hottest. We didn’t have a “rear area” like many other battalions. We were activated, did the war, and got deactivated. Just like our predecessors in WWII—they did Iwo and were deactivated.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]Threat of mortars and rockets were minimal during these weather conditions so troops would inspect and repair the wire damaged by errant external helo loads which sometimes were dropped outside intended landing zones, or by enemy rounds.[/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Let me describe one battle—Khe Sanh. Your battalion started the battle on 20 January with India Company engaging the forward elements of a division-sized force on the way to attack the main combat base and ended it on 14 April, Easter Sunday, when your battalion routed the enemy in a night attack on Hill 881 North. For 81 long days and nights you were totally isolated and cut off from other friendly forces. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Enemy artillery outranged the 155s at the combat base and the 175s in Camp Carroll. They fired at you from virtually impregnable positions in Laos that we could not attack. A fog frequently enshrouded your positions. On occasions the fog lifted from 1000 to 1200 hours; on other occasions it didn’t. What that did to the defender is extend disadvantageous nighttime conditions to three-quarters of 24-hour period. The ability to sense the approach of an enemy force was severely limited, as was resupply, which was totally dependent on air.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]You lived below ground in hand dug holes. With entrenching tools for the most part because you had precious few engineering tools or equipment. Construction materials for reinforcing positions never got down to you. Daylight provided no reprieve as movement above ground resulted in sniper fire and often mortar and/or artillery fires. Life in a hole in the ground with movement restricted had a toll. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]
    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Skin rashes were common. Bathing or even brushing teeth was prohibited by the shortage of water. On the hill positions all but the youngest Marines grew beards, as shaving was impossible. Clothes rotted and fresh uniforms were not a high enough priority. Rudimentary sanitation became a major effort. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Limited resources and the situation allowed only for the delivery of ammunition, food, and water, and even those items were in short supply. C-rations were often rationed to one-half a meal a day and water to one large C-ration cup per day. Rats were a constant irritant. Attracted to buried corpses and garbage from earlier battles on Hill 881S, the rats grew to enormous size and traveled in packs. Several of you were bitten and most experienced disruption to sleep by rats scampering across your bodies. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Your daily routine every day for 81 days was to live in a hole in the ground and emerge at night to a fighting position or listening post. More often than not you would spend the entire period of darkness on full alert; waiting for the enemy that intelligence indicated was certain to arrive on any given night. In all of this was the sure knowledge that the hill positions were untenable, and the combat base was indefensible. A determined assault, and the NVA always attacked with fierce determination, by a fraction of the enemy force disposed against you would be difficult if not impossible to repel.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial]Only enough water to clean this part of the anatomy. This Marine has been tentatively identified as Sgt. Steve "Scar" Scarborough.[/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]But you did repel them, again and again and again—day after day, night after night. In the end you went on to attack at night, viewed the enemy running from the objective at first light followed by a lone Marine shimmying up a burned out tree to fasten our Nation’s colors.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]After Khe Sanh you deployed to the 1st Division’s area of operations where you engaged in another kind of battle—on the night of your arrival when some of you tore apart the division’s Enlisted Club. We never even tried to determine who was responsible, but if you are here tonight, thank you. What you don’t know is that at the same time, your officers similarly were engaged in an altercation with several Australians and assorted others in the Da Nang Officers’ Club. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]The following morning the general summoned LtCol Studt, told him to pack up “his mob,” and move back into the field. The general’s sole concern, thank God, was the enlisted club. Anyway, that was the origin of your 57-day foray into the triple canopy.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]You jumped off for what you thought would be a 1- to 2-week operation. A battalion that jumped off with you returned to their rear after 2 weeks due to non-battle casualties. The triple canopy, leaches, rancid water, mosquitoes, body rashes, and a lot more went on for 57 days. I guess the general was really pissed over what you did to his club. By the way, not once in those 57 days did the enemy initiate contact. You fired first in every encounter.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]And how did you come home? Alone, without your buddies, nothing but memories of the greatest friends you ever had or ever will have. And something else. Let me read from what the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, Gen James N. Mattis, wrote to his Marines on the eve of battle in Iraq in March 2003.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]When I give you the word together we will cross the Line of Departure, close with those forces that choose to fight and destroy them . . . . [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]We will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist; we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam’s oppression. You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Save your courage with each other as we enter the uncertain terrain north of the Line of Departure. [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Keep faith with your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit. For the mission’s sake, our country’s sake and the sake of the men who carried the Division’s colors in past battles, who fought for life and never lost their nerve, carry out your mission and keep your honor clean . . . . [/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Demonstrate to the world that there is ‘No Better Friend’ No Worse Enemy than a U.S Marine.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Let me repeat, for “the sake of the men who carried the Division’s colors in past battles, who fought for life and never lost their nerve, carry out your mission and keep your honor clean.”[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]Gen Mattis was thinking about you. His Marines went to Baghdad and beyond knowing of your deeds. The Marines in Bethesda wanted to know more about you. Marines fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever the Nation calls because they know about you and can’t let you down. If that doesn’t define “greatness” I don’t know what the hell does.[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=3][*******#222222][*******#222222][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]It is only fitting that a memorial for your battalion will be located in Semper Fi Park, so as long as our Nation endures, future generations, inspired by your deeds, will aspire to greatness. The inscription reads:[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR][/SIZE]


  2. #2
    Zune Free At Last FlintHillBilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    Its a decent read, kinda lenghty, did this guy prepare a speach or sort? or was this just a bunch of comments put together as the article suggests?

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