PFC Rickey Marson Remembered by Fellow Marine

“I have your name tattooed on my arm.” – Jim O’Brien

At the corner of 23rd and Price Road in Pampa,Texas is the grave of Marine PFC Rickey Marson. A small military marker competes with thick bermuda grass to remind us a hero rests there. The dates on the sides of the dash say he died young (19) and has rested a long time (since 1968).

Rickey Marson was a party animal. After he finished basic training he came home on leave before going to Vietnam. I met up with Rickey at Caldwell’s Drive In one night and he asked me to go partying with him at the club in the basement of the downtown Pampa Hotel. I couldn’t believe they would serve alcohol to minors, but who was going to turn down a US Marine in the late sixties in Pampa? “Old enough to die . . . old enough to drink.” Right?

Well, maybe not, but he also was good friends with the female bartender. Rickey had a lot of good friends who were females. He was like a big brother looking out for his little sisters . . . and he looked out for them well.

He was proud to be a US Marine. He told me story after story of his training. He related how he was repeatedly asked “Why are you here, Private Marson?” and how he was expected to stand at attention and shout out as loud as possible “To go to Vietnam and kill Vietcong, Sir!”

Four weeks later he was killed in action.

Rifles rang out 21 times. The bugle echoed taps. An honor guard folded the flag with precision. His decorated body was lowered into the ground.

A few years later we lost the war.

They placed his name on a memorial in our nation’s capital. There, by proxy, we continue to salute him and the 58,177 others (as of 1997) whose names line those marble walls.

Caldwell’s Drive In is gone. The Pampa Hotel was closed and reopened decades later as the Schneider House providing assisted living to elderly.

Hero Marine Rickey Marson still rests.

I recently visited TheWall – USA, an online complement to The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  I searched for Rickey Joe Marson. Amidst many messages from friends and relatives who have paid their respect over the years I found one particularly touching.

“I was there with you that day 04-07-68. I was by your side when you slipped away. I think daily of you my friend. I have your name tattooed on my arm with in memory of. I will never forget you and that day.One day we shall meet again. Semper Fi my friend.- Jim O’Brien

Hometown hero Rickey Marson from Pampa, TX rests at the corner of 23rd and Price Road. His Marine friend Jim O’Brien wears his name.

Day is gone. gone the sun.
from the lake from the hill. from the sky.
All is well. safely rest.
God is nigh.

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About Marvin David Webster

I am an American. I was Born Under a Wanderin' Star. Since 2010 I have called the Philippines home.
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6 Responses to PFC Rickey Marson Remembered by Fellow Marine

  1. Pingback: Followup: Rickey Marson One of 26 Who Died In Assualt Attack | Born Under a Wanderin' Star

  2. David Webster says:

    Billy, I started to reply toyour post when I first read it last week, but I couldn’t find the words to say what I was feeling.  Like Harry Chapin says in one of his songs, “Sometimes words can serve me well, but sometimes words can go to hell.”I can’t think of any of our classmates that have seen war from the perspective you have.  Dewey and others have certainly paid their dues, but as a corpsman, armed with limited medical supplies, serving on the front lines and expected to perform miracles, I can only imagine what you experienced.  Many would not be able to write about it . . .keeping it locked up inside and eating away at their soul until the end.When I first read in the report above that two Navy corpsmen were killed I thought about you.  Thank you for your comments.

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  3. Bill Irvin says:

    In Viet Nam if you were with the Marines you had buddies. Some of your buddies became what we laughingly called, pardon the language, asshole buddies. You slept together, ate together, drank together, had sex together and covered each other ass. To many guys died stupidly and to many died later stupidly. Though I will give one thought about Viet Nam. The politicians lost that war not the men and women who served there. We were never defeated. Many of us still carry the scares both physical and mental but we never gave up or surrendered. We could have defeated the North Vietnamese if the politicians had let us fight to win. Oh, well, I hope maybe I explained Ricky Marson’s friend. Unless you lived it you can’t truly explain it. I found out that I could love and hate at the same time. I grew up real fast and had a buddy that is still alive and living in Philadelphia. I love it when the Eagles get clobbered.

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  4. How many roads must a man walk downBefore you call him a man? Yes, n how many seas must a white dove sailBefore she sleeps in the sand? Yes, n how many times must the cannon balls flyBefore theyre forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,The answer is blowin in the wind.How many times must a man look upBefore he can see the sky? Yes, n how many ears must one man haveBefore he can hear people cry? Yes, n how many deaths will it take till he knowsThat too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,The answer is blowin in the wind.How many years can a mountain existBefore its washed to the sea? Yes, n how many years can some people existBefore theyre allowed to be free? Yes, n how many times can a man turn his head,Pretending he just doesnt see? The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,The answer is blowin in the wind.

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  5. Patricia says:

    I just remembered that when the traveling wall came to Killeen TX back in the 70’s I made a special trip into the mall to find Ricky’s name and when I found it I stood for a couple of hours and cried, a cleansing I had needed for a long time. I read the names of almost all the soldiers on that wall and said a prayer for each of them and their families. Such a sad, sad time in our lives. And now 30 yrs later young men and women are still dying in wars that we wish we could stop. Reminds me of the song “Blowin’ in the Wind”.

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  6. Patricia Scott says:

    I had a crush on Rickey for at least 2 yrs before he left for the marines. We did a lot of partying back then and any time I needed him he would rescue me. His death his me very very hard. He was the first a many young friends I lost to Viet Nam. What a tragedy.

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