What Began as a Patrol Ended Up Major Action
Casualty information from the Vietnam War is often classified and difficult to obtain, but after publishing the original story about PFC Rickey Marson a few weeks ago I continued to search. I finally discovered a brief field report describing how 24 US Marines and two Navy medics lost their lives.
Although the attack was planned for 1200, circumstances prevented the two companies from getting into position before 1400.
On commencement, Golf was attacking into the enemy’s line while Fox’s flanking attack from the north was able to roll up their line. The northern two-thirds of the enemy position was captured, with the NVA withdrawing toward the southern end of the ridge.
At that point, Fox was strung out along several hundred meters of the ridge line and Golf was not able to complete an uphill assault against the southern end of the ridge line before nightfall. Although 2/26 wanted to leave both companies in position through the night, permission was refused and once again the two companies withdrew to Hill 558, again forced to leave some of their dead behind. Once again,air and artillery fires blanketed the ridge line.
A battalion attack was planned for 10 Apr and executed as scheduled. When the Marines reached the top of the ridge line they met no resistance – the NVA had abandoned their positions and retreated into the jungles to the west.
What began as a patrol action had ended up as a major action which cost the lives of 26 Marines and sailors:
Golf 2/26, 06 May:
Cpl Edward A. McGrath, Astoria, NY
HM3 Russell W. Scarborough, Dunnellon, FL
Cpl James M. Trimble, Eureka, CA (BNR)
LCpl Manuel V. Romero, San Antonio, TX
Pfc Edward U. Masters, Winter Haven, FL
Pfc Anthony J. Pepper, Richmond, VA (BNR)
Pfc Robert G. Piazza, Merrick, NY
Fox and Golf 2/26, 07 May:
LCpl James R. Wells, Garden City, GA
LCpl Gilbert Wiley, New York, NY
Pfc Melvin L. Dolby, Osceola Mills, PA
Pfc Clifton Moses, Whitwell, TN
Pfc James D. Richardson, New Orleans, LA
Pfc Gilbert L. Zerbst, St Ignatius, MT
Pvt John F. Quattlebaum, Detroit, MI
LCpl John M. Snyder, Webster Groves, MO
LCpl William L. Yohn, Fresno, CA
Pfc Gilbert J. Adame, Colton, CA
Pfc Thomas J. Bayes, Bayside, NY
Pfc Allan J. Gaines, Tuscaloosa, AL
HN Roger M. Nelson, Sioux Falls, SD
With two exceptions the bodies of the Marines left behind on 06 and 07 Apr were recovered. Cpl James M. Trimble (Eureka, CA) and Pfc Anthony J. Pepper (VA), both of whom were known to have been killed in action on the 6th, could not be found. Their remains have not been recovered.