8:31 | In Vietnam, Regimental Commander Lawrence Snowden saw the dirty part of the war operating down in the Delta. Later, working at HQ making bombing assessments, he began to realize the aerial assault on the North was not working.
Keywords : Lawrence Snowden Honolulu Hawaii Pacific Fleet Vietnam Marine delta 7th Regiment South Vietnam Army South Korean Marine chopper helicopter ARVN booby trap VC Viet Cong village Pacification Program rice kimchi MAF Marine Amphibious Fo
Lawrence Snowden’s family dentist would regale him with tales of his Marine Corps service and invariably finish by telling him that it would be too tough for him. The young Snowden took this as a challenge.
After a stop at Camp Lejeune, newly commissioned Lieutenant Lawrence Snowden was sent to Camp Pendleton to help put together the new 4th Marine Division. His was the first unit to train at Pendleton.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
On Saipan and Tinian, Lawrence Snowden discovered huge green flies and poor use of artillery. He also had a profoundly moving experience when he heard soft crying coming from a pile of bodies.
Marine Captain Lawrence Snowden learned two things made Iwo Jima a valuable prize for the Allies: its position halfway between B-29 bases in Saipan and Tokyo, and the fact that it was, legally, a part of the Japanese mainland.
During the difficult landing at Iwo Jima, company commander Lawrence Snowden dove into a bomb crater for shelter and found Sgt. Leonard Ash there with a gruesome wound.
Lawrence Snowden was told that the campaign for Iwo Jima would take maybe 5 days. Instead it was 36 long, bloody days and when the flag was raised, no one in his unit stood up and cheered. That Marine would have been a dead Marine.
Iwo Jima was a unique battle in that the victors suffered more casualties than the defeated. Marine Captain Lawrence Snowden says that you came to feel that like it wouldn't happen to you, and that spirit enabled the men to reach their objective.
Lawrence Snowden knew that the machine guns on the wings of the Zero could not be aimed at him, so he stood up in the bomb crater he was using for cover and waved to the pilot of the low flying plane.
Lawrence Snowden was wounded on Iwo Jima and discovered that the policy was to not return any wounded troops to the battle. He wanted to return to his men and persevered because he knew there was always someone around who could change policy.
Aboard a troop ship, Lawrence Snowden found out what it means to be a union chef when he had to finish cooking his own eggs. Then he reveals the reason he loves sardines.
Captain Lawrence Snowden was transferred to the 3rd Marine Division on Guam, where he readied for the expected invasion of Japan. The commander was Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine, who had a reputation as a “tough cookie.”
Lawrence Snowden points out that the lasting effects of WWII go far beyond the fighting. The makeup of America’s labor force was forever changed, as women stepped up, and provincial attitudes were swept away.
Lawrence Snowden was one of only 95,000 active Marines when war broke out in Korea, drawn down from a force of over 500,000. His superiors wanted him to stay in his planning role, but he pushed for a transfer to the action.
During the Korean War, Lawrence Snowden visited postwar Japan for the first time. During a train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo, he became aware of an essential truth regarding wartime enemies.
Lawrence Snowden had a long and varied career as a Marine officer, but the most important lesson on leadership, he learned as a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant at Camp Lejeune. His men were not there to serve him. He was there to serve them.
Upon leading the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Myron Harrington had to help conduct an attack on the citadel in Hue City, Vietnam. This is the story of how he and his men charged the tower, which took longer to accomplish than expected.
Willard Womack gives his account of the Battle of Ap Bac, a significant turning point in the Vietnam War. It begins with him hitching a flight to Saigon to pick up the pay for his outfit. Detoured on his way back to his base, he saw a group of men listening intently to a firefight on a radio. Part 1 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
There were 87 men on some high ground surrounded by Viet Cong and Marine helicopter pilot Bill Cunningham had a problem. There was only room for one ship at a time to land in the tiny landing zone they had hacked out of the bush. It would be one at a time so he spiraled down for the first load. Then he felt like a sledgehammer hit his leg.
After the column was devastated by an NVA ambush, wounded Americans were scattered in the darkness. After his captain heard one such group calling for help on the radio, Freddie Owens joined a patrol to find them, guided by a gunshot every few minutes. Once there, medic Daniel Torres volunteered to stay with those who couldn't move and protected them through the night with medicine and a machine gun.
As the American advisor argued with his Vietnamese counterpart over the radio, Willard Womack, an Army pilot stuck in transit, could hear the frustration mounting. The battle of Ap Bac could not be won with these tactics. Eventually, the evacuation was made and, weeks later, several of the aviators involved hitched a ride to Saigon for a night of carousing. Pt 2 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
They were hunkered down after fierce fighting when the call came from "Ghost 4-6." It was a group of wounded men who had pulled themselves together after the ill fated march to LZ Albany and were lost in the dark. George Forrest sent a patrol to find them, and in an incredible act of bravery, medic Daniel Torres stayed through the night with them and saved many men. Captain Forrest still had to write a gut-wrenching letter to the mother of a missing soldier. Part 3 of 4.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
Willard Womack was nervously awaiting the news of what happened to the helicopter carrying some of his friends who had just participated in the Battle of Ap Bac, a crucial turning point early in the war. They had come though that unscathed but were now missing. Decades later, he received an email that brought the memories flooding back. Part 3 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. He also encountered a nun with an AK-47. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
After joining the army, Reed had no idea what was in store for him next. At this point, no one had even heard of Vietnam. Here he remembers what it was like to be part of the first division to be sent there, and tells of many important men he remembers from his unit.
On a sweep through a rubber plantation, the South Vietnamese unit made contact with the enemy and the fighting became fierce. American Advisor Nat Robb fell behind with one of his men and he had one thought. This was it. It was be killed or be captured and he knew which it would be.
In his early years, John Reed had a bit of a difficult time with his family. His brother was very aggressive, but luckily that showed Reed how to stick up for himself at a very young age. His father was also at war while he was growing up, so he had a bit of exposure to the nature of the military before joining himself.
After traveling around a lot post-returning from Vietnam, Harrington actually went back to the country for his second tour. This time he was an advisor, and the war was very close to an end. In addition, he shares some final thoughts about the war and for future generations.
Once the Tet Offensive was beaten back, Nat Robb was on a Saigon highway with the South Vietnamese unit he was advising when he saw a funny sight. The first supply trucks that were allowed to move after the massive attack had an interesting cargo.
Myron Harrington grew up with a very loving family, including a father who was a World War I veteran, and knew from a very early age that he wanted to go into the military. Before he did so however, he took a number of classes at a few different schools for training.
One of the men that Reed was with had a .45 Auto handgun, which was one of the only guns left that had any ammunition in it. Reed remembers that he had to know how to use his gun like it was second nature, and how that helped him in his Viet Cong approach. Part 4 of 4.
American Advisor Nat Robb did not run the South Vietnamese unit, but he controlled the fire support that sustained it. He spent his entire tour in the field with them except for a couple of leaves. He wonders if the way the Army rotated troops in and out of the war was the best way to fight it.
Here Myron Harrington talks about what happened after the intense battle of Hue City in Vietnam. They had a brief rehab period to compensate for all the lost men and heavy casualties. Harrington was thankful that he was still alive after all of that.
As a Citadel graduate, Nat Robb had a good chance to make a career of the Army, so he took the commission. After a tour in Germany, he got the assignment to Vietnam. Once there, he was reassigned as an advisor to a South Vietnamese unit, something he was disappointed in, at first.
When he saw the weapons the Vietnamese infantry had, American Advisor Nat Robb thought he was in World War II. M-16's were on the way but, in the meantime, the untested unit had to fight. There was little activity at first, but it was just a matter of time.
Due to his network of friends and colleagues, Lt. Harrington was able to find himself taking over the Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. This unit was heavily trained and ready for combat, which really helped in the long run.
After running low on men and ammunition during his mission by the river, Reed and his men were in a very bad place. In addition, the VC had just blown up a bridge, and soon after Reed was caught in the explosion of another bomb from a jet. Immediately, he took shelter as best he could, but was still ultimately affected by the blast. Part 2 of 4.
Nat Robb got to know the efficiency of different weapon systems when he called in fire support to the South Vietnamese unit he was advising. He would work his way through various types of artillery until he got to what worked every time, big bombs from the air.