Mike & H&S Companies
Third Battalion, Fifth Marines
Veterans of the Vietnam War
GENERAL MARTIN L. BRANDTNER
First, please accept my sympathy in your loss. I remember Pat as a wonderful, soft-spoken, gregarious guy who always had a kind word for everyone. And also as a very able Marine Platoon Commander, possessed of enormous talent and courage.
The fact that he was awarded both the Silver Star and Bronze Star and very high Vietnamese decorations for heroism in combat speaks volumes. Particularly since he earned it early in the Vietnam War when medals were extremely hard to come by. Medals are always hard to come by in the Marines, as we are very wary of allowing inflated commendations to creep into the system, but early in a war, there is a very conservative aspect to awards because people have no standard by which to judge. In Pat's case, the heroism was so obvious as to overcome any doubt about the merit of the awards. The Silver Star is the third-ranking medal for heroism behind the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, and is not worn by many. It is a coveted medal, worn with great pride by its recipients, and held in the highest esteem. Pat was probably the only young officer in his battalion to receive that award.
Pat served with me in Company "B", 1st Battalion, 4th Marines in Kaneohe Bay Hawaii in the early 60s prior to Vietnam. He was an outstanding officer, well-liked and highly respected. He had no vices, and possessed a generous nature that endeared him to his troops. He was a good friend.
My good luck was in having the privilege to know Pat when we were youngsters. I lost track of him after the war. I stayed on in the Corps, and he went on to other pursuits. It is no surprise that he led a most successful life in the private sector. No doubt he was a great husband and father.
You might attempt to find more "official" information by contacting Headquarters, U. S. Marine in Washington, D.C., but the bureaucracy may not be able to respond in time.
I hope this has been of some help. God bless you in your mourning. Perhaps the knowledge that Pat is in a better place will give you and his other family members some solace.
Martin L. Brandtner
Scot answered this letter with the following:Sir,
Your response was most uplifting and will be forwarded to Pats sons immediately.
You might be interested to learn that Pat returned to Vietnam in the early fall of 1968, as a captain and commander of Mike Company, 3/5, based out of An Hoa. From 9/68 through 3/70, he guided his men through Operations Meade River, Taylor Common, Muskogee Meadow, Pipestone Canyon, Durham Peak and various other counter-insurgency operations in the Hue/Phu Bai area. The majority of his company was KIA on 3/3-5/69 attempting to take Hill 315 during Taylor Common. He and his men spent three days trying to recover three dead comrades that were ambushed while scouting the trail to the top of the hill. One man was recovered, but circumstances forced the decision to leave two of the fallen soldiers behind. Pat never forgot that, although he fought on for another year in equally difficult circumstances.
I was a young teenager at the time. Todays youth look to Michael Jordan and see a hero. I looked to my uncle and saw one. As I now research his service history, my reverence and respect grows by the hour
Should you have further comments or think of any additional methods for researching Pats service history, I would be most grateful.
The General's answer:
How ironic to learn at this time that unbeknown to each of us, Pat and I were in the same regiment at the same time on the same operations, fighting in different parts of the battleground. At the time, I also was a captain, and CO of Company "D", 1stBn, 5th Marines operating out of An Hoa. We all took part in the same operations, and were daily in heavy contact with mainline North Vietnamese Army units that were well-equipped, well-armed, and fierce fighters. Virtually every Marine in my rifle company was wounded at one time or another, many several times. We had a pact in 1/5 -- as I suspect they had in 3/5 -- that if you could walk away from a wound, no matter how many times, you only declared one Purple Heart. If you got two that required MedEvac, you were sent home; three under any conditions also got you sent home. Given that Pat extended his tour into 3/70--an additional six months, he had that dedication.
The battles and operations you cited were some of the most intense and decisive in the war, although not heralded like shorter, more visible battles like Khe San and Hue City. Having gone through them myself, and being wounded numerous times, I can tell you that your uncle went through some rough times. Clearly, as I said in my first note, his decorations speak for themselves.
The Marine Corps Historical Branch at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. has the official archives of the 3rd Bn, 5th Marines. They might have something you can draw from in a hurry.