Something Different #10

Another Marine in Iraq- Takes charge and saves lives…

The President of the United States

Takes Pleasure in Presenting
The Navy Cross
To
Marco A. Martinez
Corporal, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism while serving as 1st Fire Team Leader, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 12 April 2003. Responding to a call to reinforce his Platoon that was ambushed, Corporal Martinez effectively deployed his team under fire in supporting positions for a squad assault. After his squad leader was wounded, he took control and led the assault through a tree line where the ambush originated. As his squad advanced to secure successive enemy positions, it received sustained small arms fire from a nearby building. Enduring intense enemy fire and without regard for his own personal safety, Corporal Martinez launched a captured enemy rocket propelled grenade into the building temporarily silencing the enemy and allowing a wounded Marine to be evacuated and receive medical treatment. After receiving additional fire, he single-handedly assaulted the building and killed four enemy soldiers with a grenade and his rifle. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Corporal Martinez reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different #8 and #9

Two more Marines in Al Anbar- Sadly Captain Morel was a posthumous award; while Sgt Copeland was doing everything he could to save the Captain. No greater love…

The President of the United States
Takes Pleasure in Presenting
The Navy Cross
To
Willie L. Copeland, III
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism as Team Leader, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 7, 2004. Tasked as the Main Effort to lead a convoy to a Forward Operating Base, Sergeant Copeland’s platoon was ambushed by 40 – 60 insurgents in well-fortified and concealed positions near the province of Al Anbar. After observing a rocket-propelled grenade instantly crippling the lead vehicle and having mortar and machinegun fire disable his own, Sergeant Copeland led five Marines out of the heaviest zone under attack and made an assault across an open field. They continued the assault across a deep and muddy canal, working their way up to firing positions on the far side within hand grenade range of the enemy. The vigor of this first assault eliminated ten insurgents at close range while forcing other enemy positions to flee. During this valiant effort, his commanding officer fell wounded at his side. Unwilling to subject any more Marines to danger, he signaled others to remain in covered positions. While placing himself in a position to shield his wounded officer, he applied first aid. Without regard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Copeland stabilized, then evacuated his Captain to a safe area. He then conducted the withdrawal of his team from their covered positions through the use of hand grenades. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Sergeant Copeland reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

The President of the United States
Takes Pride in Presenting
The Navy Cross (Posthumously)
To
Brent Morel
Captain, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism as Platoon Commander, 2d Platoon, Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 7 April 2004. Captain Morel’s platoon escorted a convoy into the Al Anbar Province when 40 to 60 insurgents in well-fortified and concealed positions initiated an ambush. Witnessing a rocket-propelled grenade crippling his lead vehicle and while mortar and machine gun fire erupted, he ordered his remaining two vehicles to secure a flanking position. Captain Morel left his vehicle and led a determined assault across an open field and up a 10-foot berm, in order to maneuver into firing positions. The boldness of this first assault eliminated several insurgents at close range forcing their retreat. Observing his Marines pinned down from enemy fire, Captain Morel left the safety of his position and continued the assault, eliminating the enemy’s attack. During this valiant act, he fell mortally wounded by a withering burst of enemy automatic weapons fire. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Captain Morel reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different #7

Another Marine in the battle for Baghdad… Not his job to go get people, but it needed to be done and he did it!

The President of the United States

Takes Pleasure in Presenting

The Navy Cross

To
Scott C. Montoya

Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Scout Sniper, Scout Sniper Platoon, 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 8 April 2003. During the battle for Baghdad, Sergeant Montoya’s sniper team arrived within Company F’s position as they came under heavy small arms fire from a determined enemy force. He immediately encouraged Marines to deploy and return fire. Noticing a disabled civilian vehicle on the road in the line of fire and with complete disregard for his own life, he rushed forward amidst a hail of gunfire and dragged a wounded Iraqi civilian to safety. Returning to the front, he spotted a wounded Marine struggling to get off the same fire swept street, he risked his life to lead the Marine to safety. Returning to the front, he spotted a wounded Marine lying in the street. Ignoring the hailstorm of bullets, Sergeant Montoya rushed into the street for a third time to carry the injured Marine to safety. Sergeant Montoya returned a fourth time to evacuate an unconscious Marine. Returning to the front again, he dashed into the contested street and assisted a Marine to safety who had been dazed by an explosion. Sergeant Montoya ensured medical attention was administered and verified that evacuations were ongoing. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Sergeant Montoya reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different #6

Another Marine in Iraq- The point man- the most dangerous position in combat!

The President of the United States

Takes Pleasure in Presenting

The Navy Cross

To
Joseph B. Perez

Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism as Rifleman, Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 4 April 2003. While clearing near Route 6 during the advance into Baghdad, 1st Platoon came under intense enemy fire. As the point man for the lead squad and the most exposed member of the platoon, Lance Corporal Perez came under the majority of these fires. Without hesitation, he continuously employed his M16A4 rifle to destroy the enemy while calmly directing accurate fires for his squad. He led the charge down a trench destroying the enemy and while closing and under tremendous enemy fire, threw a grenade into a trench that the enemy was occupying. While under a heavy volume of fire. Lance Corporal Perez fired an AT-4 rocket into a machine gun bunker, completely destroying it and killing four enemy personnel. His actions enabled the squad to maneuver safely to the enemy position and seize it. In an effort to link up with 3d Platoon on his platoon’s left flank, Lance Corporal Perez continued to destroy enemy combatants with precision rifle fire. As he worked his way to the left, he was hit by enemy fire, sustaining gunshot wounds’ to his torso and shoulder. Despite being seriously injured, Lance Corporal Perez directed the squad to take cover and gave the squad accurate fire direction to the enemy that enabled the squad to reorganize and destroy the enemy. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Lance Corporal Perez reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different #5

This one you may actually have heard about… It was the only one that got any MSM coverage. It was also the first one actually released.
The President of the United States
Takes Pleasure in Presenting
The Navy Cross
To
Brian R. Chontosh
First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism as Combined Anti-Armor Platoon Commander, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 25 March 2003. While leading his platoon north on Highway I toward Ad Diwaniyah, First Lieutenant Chontosh’s platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades, and automatic weapons fire. With coalition tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone. He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, First Lieutenant Chontosh ordered the driver to advance directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy. He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, First Lieutenant Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack. When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, First Lieutenant Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers. When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different #3 and #4

One Marine E-7, one Sailor E-2…
Same battle, two different perspectives…

The President of the United States

Takes Pleasure in Presenting

The Navy Cross

To Justin D. Lehew
Gunnery Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism as Amphibious Assault Platoon Sergeant, Company A, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Task Force Tarawa, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 23 and 24 March 2003. As Regimental Combat Team 2 attacked north towards An Nasiriyah, Iraq, lead elements of the Battalion came under heavy enemy fire. When the beleaguered United States Army 507th Maintenance Company convoy was spotted in the distance, Gunnery Sergeant Lehew and his crew were dispatched to rescue the soldiers. Under constant enemy fire, he led the rescue team to the soldiers. With total disregard for his own welfare, he assisted the evacuation effort of four soldiers, two of whom were critically wounded. While still receiving enemy fire, he climbed back into his vehicle and immediately began suppressing enemy infantry. During the subsequent company attack on the eastern bridge over the Euphrates River, Gunnery Sergeant Lehew continuously exposed himself to withering enemy fire during the three-hour urban firefight. His courageous battlefield presence inspired his Marines to fight a determined foe and allowed him to position his platoon’s heavy machine guns to repel numerous waves of attackers. In the midst of the battle, an Amphibious Assault Vehicle was destroyed, killing or wounding all its occupants. Gunnery Sergeant Lehew immediately moved to recover the nine Marines. He again exposed himself to a barrage of fire as he worked for nearly an hour recovering casualties from the wreckage. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Lehew reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

The President of the United States
Takes Pleasure in Presenting
The Navy Cross To
Louis E. Fonseca
Hospitalman Apprentice, United States Navy
For Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Corpsman, Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, Company C., First Battalion, Second Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2 on 23 March 2003. During Company C’s assault and seizure of the Saddam Canal Bridge, an amphibious assault vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade inflicting five casualties. Without concern for his own safety, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca braved small arms, machine gun, and intense rocket propelled grenade fire to evacuate the wounded Marines from the burning amphibious assault vehicle and tend to their wounds. He established a casualty collection point inside the unit’s medical evacuation amphibious assault vehicle, calmly and methodically stabilizing two casualties with lower limb amputations by applying tourniquets and administering morphine. He continued to treat and care for the wounded awaiting evacuation until his vehicle was rendered immobile by enemy direct and indirect fire. Under a wall of enemy machine gun fire, he directed the movement of four casualties from the damaged vehicle by organizing litter teams from available Marines. He personally carried one critically wounded Marine over open ground to another vehicle. Following a deadly artillery barrage, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca again exposed himself to enemy fire to treat Marines wounded along the perimeter. Returning to the casualty evacuation amphibious assault vehicle, he accompanied his casualties South through the city to a Battalion Aid Station. After briefing medical personnel on the status of his patients, Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca returned North through the city to Company C’s lines and to his fellow Marines that had been wounded in his absence. His timely and effective care undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous casualties. Hospitalman Apprentice Fonseca’s actions reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions to the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Somthing Different #2…

Continuing the posting of Navy Cross citations from the Global War on Terror to recognize those Navy and Marine Corps personnel who went above and beyond in the performance of thier duties.



The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Britt Slabinski, Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL), U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism as Sniper Element Leader in Sea-Air-Land Team EIGHT (SEAL-8), for a joint special operations unit conducting combat operations against enemy forces during Operation ANACONDA, Sahi-Kot Valley, Afghanistan on 3 and 4 March 2002, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Citation: On the evening of 3 March, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski led his seven-man reconnaissance team onto the snow-covered, 10,000 foot mountaintop known as Takur Ghar, to establish a combat overwatch position in support of U.S. Army forces advancing against the enemy on the valley floor. As their helicopter hovered over the mountain it was met by unrelenting rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms fire by entrenched enemy forces. As a result of several RPG hits, a member of Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski’s team was ejected from the helicopter into the midst of the fortified enemy positions. The badly damaged helicopter conducted a controlled crash, at which time Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski immediately took charge and established security on the crash location until the crew and his team were recovered to a support base. At this point, Senior Chief Slabinski fully aware of the overwhelming, fixed, enemy forces over the mountain, but also knowing the desperate situation of his missing teammate, now reportedly fighting for his life, without hesitation made the selfless decision to lead his team on an immediate, bold rescue mission. He heroically led the remainder of his SEAL element back onto the snow-covered, remote, mountaintop into the midst of the numerically superior enemy forces in a daring and valiant attempt to rescue one of their own. After a treacherous helicopter insertion onto the mountaintop, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski led his close quarter firefight. He skillfully maneuvered his team and bravely engaged multiple enemy positions, personally clearing one bunker and killing several enemy within. His unit became caught in a withering crossfire from other bunkers and the closing enemy forces. Despite mounting casualties, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski maintained his composure and continued to engage the enemy until his position became untenable. Faced with no choice but a tactical withdrawal, he coolly directed fire from airborne assets to cover his team. He then led an arduous movement through the mountainous terrain, constantly under fire, covering over one kilometer in waist-deep snow, while carrying a seriously wounded teammate. Arriving at a defensible position, he organized his team’s security posture and stabilized his casualties. For over fourteen hours, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski directed the defense of his position through countless engagements, personally engaging the enemy and directing close air support onto the enemy positions until the enemy was ultimately defeated. During this entire sustained engagement, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski exhibited classic grace under fire in steadfastly leading the intrepid rescue operation, saving the lives of his wounded men and setting the conditions for the ultimate vanquishing of the enemy and the seizing of Takur Ghar. By his heroic display of decisive and tenacious leadership, unyielding courage in the face of constant enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Something Different…

In email and on some blogs, some folks are coming out with GOOD things our troops are doing… I made a comment on one blog about the number of Navy Crosses that have been given out during the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

I got a response that there could not have been 22 given out, we would have heard…

Yeah, right… Unless you are plugged into the DOD or military nets, you didn’t know.

Sooo… I am going to put up all the citations in honor of not only those who have received the Navy Cross, but all those who have served and died for our country.


The President of the United StatesTakes Pleasure in PresentingThe Navy CrossTo
(Unidentified Navy SEAL)Chief Petty Officer, United States NavyFor Services as Set Forth in the Following

Citation:For extraordinary heroism while serving with the British Special Boat Service during combat operations in Northern Afghanistan on 25 and 26 November 2001. Chief Petty Officer **** deployed to the area as a member of a Joint American and British Special Forces Rescue Team to locate and recover two missing American citizens, one presumed to be seriously injured or dead, after hard-line Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at the Quala-I-Jangi fortress in Mazar-e-Sharif over powered them and gained access to large quantities of arms and ammunition stored at the fortress. Once inside, Chief Petty Officer **** was engaged continuously by direct small arms fire, indirect mortar fire and rocket propelled grenade fire. He was forced to walk through an active anti-personnel minefield in order to gain entry to the fortress. After establishing the possible location of both American citizens, under heavy fire and without concern for his own personal safety, he made two attempts to rescue the uninjured citizen by crawling toward the fortress interior to reach him. Forced to withdraw due to large volumes of fire falling on his position, he was undeterred. After reporting his efforts to the remaining members of the rescue team, they left and attempted to locate the missing citizen on the outside of the fortress. As darkness began to fall, no attempt was going to be made to locate the other injured American citizen. Chief Petty Officer **** then took matters into his own hands. Without regard for his own personal safety, he moved forward another 300-400 meters into the heart of the fortress by himself under constant enemy fire in an attempt to locate the injured citizen. Running low on ammunition, he utilized weapons from deceased Afghans to continue his rescue attempt. Upon verifying the condition and location of the American citizen, he withdrew from the fortress. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Chief Petty Officer **** reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Courtesy of www.HomeOfHeroes.com

Another one bites the dust…

I believe the Mayor is the one on the right in the picture… Dead deer walking…
Kwame Kilpatrick and a former aide were charged Monday with perjury and obstruction of justice after prosecutors said sexually explicit text messages between the two contradicted their sworn court testimony. They were indicted on 12 counts…

The mayor responded, “This has been a very flawed process from the beginning,” Kilpatrick said at a press conference Monday. “I look forward to complete exoneration.”

Yeah, it was flawed cause it caught your ass…

Interestingly, none of the MSM identified Kilpatrick as a Democrat… Now if he had been a Republican… Hoo boy… probably in 72 pt type REPUBLICAN mayor…

Oh by the way, Spitzer was never identified as a Democrat either! But they sure as hell blamed a ‘Republican” henchman for ratting on him (as quoted in the NY Post 3/23/08).

The more I hear, the more I wonder why I even read the paper or listen to the news.

Oh yeah, another interesting little piece of news on the Billary, B Hussain front- Now BOTH of them are being accused of inflating their records within Congress! She’s being hit for NAFTA, FMLA, CHIPS and others.

It appears pretty boy got in front of the cameras and added his name to the list of Congresscritters who had, “Worked long and hard on this bill.” When in fact he merely walked up and joined the photo op!

The lying and hypocrisy are just amazing…

Both are now saying they will pull out of Iraq first, ignoring military advisers and the JCS…

He is some ‘background’ on B Hussien- Start with national security, Obama talked about invading Pakistan, a nation armed with nuclear weapons; meeting without preconditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who vows to destroy Israel and create another Holocaust; and Kim Jong II, who is murdering and starving his people, but emphasized that the nuclear option was off the table against terrorists – something no president has ever taken off the table since we created nuclear weapons in the 1940s.

Typical Liberal mantra- We will just talk to them and they will understand and agree to what we want… NOT!!!!

Next, consider economic policy. For all its faults, our health care system is the strongest in the world. And free trade agreements,created by Bill Clinton as well as President Bush, have made more goods more affordable so that even people of modest means can live a life that no one imagined a generation ago. Yet Obama promises to raise taxes on “the rich.” How to fix Social Security? Raise taxes. How to fix Medicare? Raise taxes. Prescription drugs? Raise taxes. Free college? Raise taxes. Socialized medicine? Raise taxes.

Uh… What happened to reducing spending? Balancing the budget- Oh I guess that is the tax raises… sigh…

Why is no one pointing this stuff out???

If my little ol’ dumb ass can read enough to find out, why can’t the MSM with all their reporters?

Voices from the past, and the rest of the story…

The following story was written by John Larson, one of the VP-4 pilots during our 1975 deployment. Even 30 years after the fact, it’s nice to know these folks made it and I ‘guess’ this counts as a atta boy…

I was not able to attend, so did not get the chance to meet the folks we saved. This was one of two groups of refugees we saved on that deployment, in addition to being off Saigon April 15th, and participating in the Mayaguez rescue from locating it off Koh Tang Island, to the morning of the Marines hit the beach. We were pretty busy for those six months…

On August 6, 2005, the VP-4 (Patrol Squadron Four) Association Reunion at Portsmouth VA hosted a very special event, the unification of former Vietnamese boat-people refugees and members of VP-4 Crew Two who found them in the South China Sea over thirty years ago on May 23, 1975.

Three months ago, one of the Vietnamese survivors posted a web site notice asking for assistance in locating the crew of an unknown U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft that discovered him and twenty nine other Vietnamese refugees precariously afloat in a small boat, 200 miles off the South Vietnam coast.

The VP-4 Association PAO (Public Affairs Officer), John Larson, determined that the flight crew that located the refugees was attached to VP-4, then forward deployed from NAS Barbers Point HI to NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. The Japanese merchant ship Alps Maru, which was located and vectored to them by VP-4 Crew Two flying a P3 Orion, subsequently rescued all of the refugees and took them to Kobe Japan. All thirty of the refugees immigrated to the United States, and have successfully established themselves and their families within both the Vietnamese and American communities.

11 of the original 30 Vietnamese survivors were in attendance at the reunion and six of the twelve Navy crew-members were also present: Plane Commander Claude Timmerman, Co-pilot Ben Francisco, Tactical Coordinator John Kennedy, Navigator Carl Stocks, 2nd Flight Engineer Webster Hayden and In-flight Technician Dale Poklington. Also in attendance were Commander Bill Broadwell and Commander Ted Rogers. Commander Broadwell was the commanding officer of VP-4 and, additionally, Commander Task Group (CTG) 72.3 at the time of the rescue. Rogers was squadron executive officer.

The survivors presented an overview of their escape and rescue with the following highlights. Right after the fall of Saigon April 1975, those South Vietnamese citizens who were associated with the government or the military, or had ‘helped’ the U.S. government or military in any way, were sent to “re-educations camps”. Also, there were economic retributions, private property was confiscated, and people were sent to re-settlement camps.

The new Vietnamese government had to approve any religion and whether former South Vietnamese citizens could attend higher education institutions. From 1975-1990, roughly 2 million former South Vietnamese citizens fled the country and many of them didn’t make it to freedom.

Of the group of 30 refugee boat people located by VP-4 Crew Two, three members had been imprisoned for being in the military or working for the former South Vietnamese government. Several families got together and sold whatever valuables they had at the time to acquire an old 30-foot wooden river cargo boat. They had no plan except to be rescued after they had reached international waters and the South China Sea shipping channel. No one had any seamanship skills; only one person had any mechanical skills. To avoid being recognized by the communist authorities, several families traveled by a family bus from Saigon to Go Cong, a coastal town about 70 miles away. Along the way, they picked up the others that joined them in their escape. There were seven families and a total of 30 people on board. They could not take sufficient amounts of supplies and food because this would raise the suspicions of the communist police and military. They used as an excuse ‘an across town wedding event’ as their cover to disguise their movements.

To further avoid suspicion, they used a sampan, a small passenger boat resembling a very large kayak, commonly used in the Mekong Delta, and met the larger escape boat which was anchored in the middle the river, a few miles upstream from its mouth. There was no covering for the group’s passengers on the sampan except for the small top over the amid-ship engine. On the second day of their escape, as they were leaving the coastline, they were detected by a communist coast guard boat that chased them for 20 minutes before turning back toward land. Later that evening, they encountered a severe tropical storm and the boat began taking on massive amounts of seawater. In order to save the boat from sinking, they detached and pushed away their spare outboard motor. The only navigation aids that were available to them, a Boy Scout type compass and a map from World Atlas, were washed overboard that night. The bad weather worsened and large waves completely covered their boat several times. It was just shear luck that the boat remained afloat because no one aboard had any seamanship experience. The boat’s self-taught pilot was washed over-board and managed to cling on the aft rail of the boat and climb back on board. The children aboard were inside the cabin that housed the engine and the adults were hunkering down in the exposed cargo compartment of the boat.

Although the boat was badly beaten up by the storm with the bow cracked and with water leaking in, they fortunately survived that perilous night. The next afternoon they spotted a fishing boat and steered toward it. It was a communist government owned fishing boat, but they were in a desperate situation, so the adults asked for help to save the children onboard. After intense negotiation, the adults agreed to give up all of their valuables (jewelry, watches, etc.) that they had brought along. The families were transferred to this fishing boat and stayed there for 3 days. The leader of the escapees was told that he should return with the fishing boat to Vietnam, but that would have certainly meant going to prison. So they had a choice to return or keep going and decided to continue their journey in their little riverboat. On day eight, they saw a big white merchant ship that slowed down for them. Everybody was excited that they might at last be rescued. They had pulled along side within 30-40 feet of the merchant ship and when one of them noticed the yellow hammer and sickle on the red background painted on the smokestack and realized they were approaching a Soviet ship. They turned around and speed away as fast as they could in the opposite direction.

This was the only time that any ship was willing to stop for them until the intervention of the P-3 Orion. They were now about 200 miles off the coast of Vietnam. Day 9 came with little more than five gallons of diesel fuel left and no food for a couple of days. Someone found a small bag of rice submerged in the water inside the engine compartment and they decided to use part of the wooden boat for fuel to cook this rice. Just as the rice was done, someone saw a small dot in the sky. They were all happy because they thought they saw a bird and that meant they were close to land. As the dot grew larger and larger the shape of a P3 Orion aircraft started appearing. The plane flew just a couple of a hundred feet over the boat and slightly dipped its wings on the first pass. Seasick and without food, the desperate crew was filled with joy when they realized that this aircraft was there to save them. On the second pass the, P-3 dropped a set of smoke markers. The aircraft then departed and about one hour later a Japanese merchant ship the “Alps Maru” arrived from the northeast.

The refugees were rescued and traveled aboard the Alps Maru to its homeport, Kobe Japan. They stayed there in an old monastery church as guests of an American Baptist minister for 5 months and then immigrated to the United States settling with sponsors in Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, and Louisiana. They learned a new language, lived in rental apartments and found jobs. The children grew up and went to many well known colleges/universities. They became teachers, doctor, dentists, engineers, a Naval submarine officer, computer scientists, and other professions.

They worked for the Navy, Army, the government, private industry, and for government contract companies. Some own their own businesses. The children, who were 3 to 14 years old at the time of the rescue, now have families of their own.

At the VP4 Reunion, the eleven Vietnamese survivors presented plaques to the VP-4 Commanding and Executive Officers and the Crew Two members present for saving their lives and giving them all a new start in the United States. They also presented a plaque to the current Public Affairs Officer of VP-4, LTJG Robert Ward, who was present for the reunion.

The VP-4 Association presented the survivors with VP-4 coffee mugs, VP-4 baseball caps, and made them honorary members of the VP-4 Association. It was an extremely moving event for all present as these former Vietnamese refugees finally met the navy aircrew who facilitated their rescue. Coming thirty years after the fall of Saigon, this meeting is symbolic of the joining of tens of thousands of the South Vietnamese boat-people that escaped the communist takeover of their country with the many U. S. Navy maritime patrol crews that searched for and located such refugees during Operation Frequent Wind during the mid-1970s.

I’m glad we were able to save those we did; thousands of others died trying to escape. From my point of view, there was no where else I would have rather been- Out on the pointy edge, getting things done and making a difference. The VP Navy has done a number of rather impressive things in both wartime and peacetime, but many of those exploits will never see the light of day due to security issues. I don’t regret a day of my service, nor the long hours and multiple separations…

I like to think in our small way, we made a difference in the world; and thankfully NEVER had to do our primary mission, which was to sink Soviet submarines.