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.