5:49 | He was used to hot, humid summers, but when the door on the airliner opened in Da Nang, Tim Dunn felt like he was standing in front of a blast furnace. The Marines who came to pick him up were dirty and dusty and haggard looking.
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His relatives were all Navy, so when Tim Dunn got it in his head to join the Marines, he caught a little flak. The Navy recruiters had not seemed interested when he and his high school buddies visited the recruiter, plus he thought that, in the Marines, he would have more reliable guys around him.
It was shock and awe, by design. It was daytime when Tim Dunn arrived at the airport in South Carolina, but the bus to Parris Island didn't take the recruits there until it was night. More disorienting that way. The language and the volume coming from the DI's was shocking and eventually he realized why it was so harsh.
There were three Dunns in boot camp and the senior DI had dubbed Tim Dunn "Admiral Dunn." This became his name through the rest of his time there. Although he had never fired a gun in his life, he managed to score just shy of expert rating.
New Marine Tim Dunn had to get to the west coast on a standby ticket. He ran into Bobby Bridges, another Marine who had already been to Vietnam and who coached him on how to avoid getting bumped from the flight. His last stop before the war was in Okinawa, where you could get a last night on the town.
Hotel Company was the only unit at the outpost south of Da Nang on Highway 4. Marine Tim Dunn later learned that this was area was heavily contested when the French were there. There was a combination of VC and NVA forces active in the area.
There were a lot of booby traps where Tim Dunn was deployed south of Da Nang, both explosive and non-explosive. He was a Marine rifleman and one of his jobs was to mark targets with white smoke using a rifle grenade. They were looking for volunteers to train as snipers and it was decided that he would do it.
When he was "volunteered" to become a Marine sniper, Tim Dunn was sent back to battalion to train. They used a variety of older weapons but settled on a Remington with a walnut stock. That weapon was developed into the modern Marine sniper rifle.
The Marine sniper teams were sent to help rifle companies in the bush. Tim Dunn was one of these snipers and he recalls one mission in which he cleanly dispatched an enemy and caught flak for it from the platoon leader he was sent to help.
Marine sniper Tim Dunn had a variety of other duties while on base, including standing perimeter watch and joining the quick reaction force. There were no sniper operations at night. The night vision technology of the time was too primitive to be of much help.
Marine sniper Tim Dunn tells the story of an enemy sniper who was vexing US forces south of Da Nang. Everybody was looking for her but it was pure chance that did her in.
What's it like to shoot somebody 1000 yards away? Marine sniper Tim Dunn recalls his time in Vietnam, where the shooting conditions had what he calls "heavy air." You had to have the right frame of mind to operate alone in the jungle. It took more than just being a good shot.
As his rotation date approached, Tim Dunn went on one last patrol, which was, thankfully, uneventful. As he waited for transportation home, he began to feel remorse over leaving his buddies.
It was the first time any of them had seen a miniskirt. Tim Dunn was in a group that just returned from Vietnam. What had happened while they were gone? He didn't experience any hostility until he was out on the town with some buddies and they introduced him to a girl who said something totally unexpected.
After his Vietnam tour, Marine sniper Tim Dunn had 18 months left to serve. He was assigned to the 2nd Marines but they had no interest in using his skills in their sniper school. That puzzled him but he finished his service with no complaints and went to try his hand at higher education.
After he had been working as a sniper for awhile, Tim Dunn was getting a little salty. When he was sent to help out a company on an operation, he walked in and said, "Gunny, your troubles are over." When the sergeant looked up and he saw who it was, he snapped to attention.
Tim Dunn saw an ad in Leatherneck magazine about a gathering at a ship dedication. That started him on reconnecting with his Marine comrades at reunions, including one for his Scout Sniper unit. He has been back to Vietnam and reports that the people there are completely over the war and genuinely welcoming to Americans.
There was a clique in the Transportation Corps, says Frank Francois III. The old boy network determined which officers would be on the track for promotions, and they had decreed that there would only be one black general at a time in the Corps. However, his boss, Hank Del Mar, was having none of it.
The physical trials of Marine boot camp were not the first trials Bob Atkinson had faced. Poverty and an abusive, alcoholic father made the screaming drill instructors and the accidental injury just another link in a long painful chain.
In the officer's basic school at Quantico, every Marine officer is trained to command a rifle platoon, so that, no matter the officer's specialty, there is an ability to fight and win in combat. Frank Cox tells the story of his friend, Barney Barnum, who upon arriving in Vietnam, was immediately thrust into leadership and received the Medal of Honor for his response.
Still believing he was going to study electronics, Bill Acebes arrived at Ft. Gordon for the next stage of training. When he asked about radar, he was informed that this was the infantry and he was the radar beam. The last stop was jump training, where the sergeants "all came from hell. You could see it in their eyes."
Dick Dyer and Jim Thorne were in flight school together and they both were deployed to Vietnam with the 145th Aviation Battalion flying Hueys. There was a great need for pilots and every one of them practically had a helicopter strapped on.
The worst day in Vietnam for Bill Ray, who was with an engineer unit building roads, was the day three civilians were accidently killed in separate incidents. Other problems during that tour included potheads and a reluctant Sergeant Major. At least the VC left him alone.
Forward Air Controller Al Muller had some tense moments when he was confronted by a MIG during a flight. There was also some tension when he encountered a Special Forces soldier who offered him a drink from a skull, but not for long.
Rody Conway knew that it was a waste of time to be in the infantry and not go into combat, so he pushed to get sent to Vietnam. First was a six-week course on what to expect, like the fact that “friend” and “shoot” was the same word in Vietnamese.
Hugh Bell began his second Vietnam tour flying night surveillance missions over the midsection of the country, but he was then sent to Udorn air base in Thailand. His new mission area was Laos, where he was shot at constantly without result because the enemy gunners had no radar.
During Advanced Infantry Training, Dennis Haines remembers a problem with the bolt on the M-16 rifle. It would swell and stick. Fortunately, the problem was fixed before the rifles were deployed in the field.
Kenneth Moorefield remembers two incidents from his time as an advisor to a South Vietnamese unit that gave him a sense of the complexities of that war and its effect on the people. It was a struggle that divided families and provoked deep animosity.
Bruce D'Agostino took a temporary duty assignment in Saigon repairing teletype machines. The Air Force technician and his crew worked long days so they could have some free time. He used his to become a photographer, inserting himself into both government functions and battlefields. At the latter he learned firsthand the vagaries of the rules of engagement.
Having learned the Thai language and mastered radio school, Allen Robinson deployed to Vietnam where he was stationed on an intelligence ship, monitoring and transcribing broadcasts. When he was ashore, the Thai people were delighted to find a Westerner who could speak their language.
They tried to put fighter and test pilot Bob Titus in logistics, but he wasn't going to sit at a desk and order supplies. He managed to avoid that fate and went to his third war in Vietnam to test new planes in a combat situation. Once that was over, he extended with another unit and scored three MiG kills.