“Donut Hole” A Marine’s real-life battle in Vietnam during the 68 Tet Offensive. It was like Fort Apache, but in Vietnam.” Feb. 7, 8, 9, and 10 in a CAP unit called “Echo 4” or what I called the “Donut Hole.”
I was a young boy growing up in Detroit, distant to becoming a Marine. My father passes away at the age of 15, and to avoid the draft, I joined the Marines. My new father figure in life is the embodiment of what the Marine Corps stands for. I was a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, and a Civil Air Patrol cadet. Now, I was a Marine. I became a Marine Logistics expert, trained in Camp Le June, NC, and combat training twice at Camp Pendleton, Ca., Camp Le June, and then Okinawa. And Vietnam bound, I turn 21 on my 13-month tour in Vietnam. Surviving about 85 days of combat, here there and everywhere, I was short, with still, a few more weeks to go when Echo 4 came up and challenged my existence, one more time.
It is a story, not only for my beloved Marine Corp but also for sacrifices made by the Army trying to get to Echo 4. In a single day, the casualties were only second to Hamburger Hill in the northern I Corps area. Little has been written about it, but it is a War story that needs to be told. Valor was common, and the Vietnamese enemy had lost almost two battalions trying to take down the Da Nang airbase in early Feb. of 1968. From An Hoa, in Happy Valley, I was on my way back to Da Nang headquarters and then on to Hue when I got stuck at Echo 4. That battle that history needs to told.
This should be historical, but yet, a story of a witness that saw the trial and tribulations of the Vietnam War. A story about me and things I witnessed during my survival of that War. As a Marine, we are not political, but it will always be, death before dishonor, knowing the difference between right and wrong. Individualism is not allowed; teamwork is still our hallmark. But, with that said, sometimes I felt very much alone, always looking out for the other guy. So, I was an individual with teamwork always on my mind. And, if necessary, willing to die for them, as they are eager to die for me. In the heat of the moment, I was finding dry humor to make them laugh with me. Saying some stupid shit, and fuck was our favorite word.
I think the reader should get to know me first. My background, my beliefs, what I stand for, who I am as a person. It would be difficult to tell this story without that—the transformation boy to young man, to Marine. Again, the transformation of the Marine the man and the 13-month tour, to where they start telling you that only 3% of you will survive without a scratch. Near the end of my tour, the last month and a half, the TET offensive breaks out, and things don’t look so good anymore. And, relaxation at Echo 4 had just turned to shit, and I was only a few miles from my base camp. But, no, I wanted to relax and be with my friend Dennis Hammond and talk about Michigan and fishing. And go to the village and harvest some women and beer. Hammond wasn’t there, and he was at Echo 2 across the river. Bad timing, but it set me up with what takes place and battle history. Dennis was captured and died as a prisoner. This is documented in a book about the prisoners that survived the ordeal of capture in Vietnam. My friend Dennis would be one that does not survive.
There are a lot of books in that time frame of Feb 67 to March of 68. I have some stuff here that does focus on that event with a little detail. Remember, when you’re in the middle of the trees, it is hard, if not impossible, to see the forest. So, an overview of the situation would be for the reader and necessary for the readers. Chaos was everywhere. So, even I had to read things written about the places and times I was there and why things happened the way they did. So, yes, my writings will have been with references as to that time frame of the War and the way things were.
Author: Donut Hole