Third Battalion, Fifth Marines
(click on picture to enlarge)
This is an aerial of Camp Hansen, that is part of Camp Smedley Butler in Okinawa. I imagine almost everyone in the 1st MarDiv came through here before and after Vietnam. I ended up here in Casualty Company after spending about a month in the hospital at Camp Kue in southern Okinawa. CasCo is circled on the map. Anyone that came through here that had back pay coming, or who had recuperation time, was in that circle. This is also the area of the mess hall. For the "enjoyers of the finer things, such as gonorrhea", Kin Village is not far from here.
A better picture of Doc (posted 3/7/01).
This picture is of Doc Bowman, our platoon's corpsman. He was the bravest of the brave. I saw him shot three times in his side by an AK-47 burst going after a wounded Mike Marine on May 9, 1968. I heard he later won the silver star for this. He died as I was holding his head up to keep him from choking. I'll never forget before he died. He just looked up at us with a blank stare, trembled violently, and died. A true hero.
This is a picture of a Roman Catholic Church along Highway 1 @ March, 1968. I'm in the middle, Ronnie Williams (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) is to the right, and Willie Rivera (Patterson, N.J) is to the left. Willie had a bullet graze his eyelid on May 9, 1968, (talk about lucky). While we were getting medivaced, the first time it was tried, we were shot down from about 100' in the air. The helicopter flipped on it's side and I fell directly on top of Willie's leg. His leg was broken, and he never had to go back to Vietnam. I'll never forget the last time I saw him. The corpsmen in Danang put him on a litter, and he had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and he was smiling like some guy going to Valhalla. He knew he was through. He reminded me, not of Bogart in Casablanca, but like William Bendix in "Guadalcanal Diary". He winked at me and thanked me for it all. Willie, if you're out there, let me know. Ronnie was wounded toward the end of May, 1968, in some other operation they sent Mike on. (I was reccuperating at Camp Kue Hospital in Okinawa). Some gook threw a grenade at him. He got a collapsed lung and was sent home. Ronnie, if you're out there, give me a hollar.
P.S. Gosh at the junk on the Church walkway. Surely, we threw it in the trash. I think not.
This picture was made in Phu Bai. I was there waiting for a new pair of glasses, but that's another short story about a truck convoy wreck on Highway 1. I carried this Confederate Flag with me always (it reminded me of home). Debbe and Brad will recognize the other very easily. I don't know the other guys, but I'm pretty sure they were with H & S. We were all 3 sheets in the wind on 3 point something brewski. I'm the idiot with the grenade in my mouth. It was made in March, 1968.
This photo was made about 2 minutes before three Mike Marines, Terry Smith, Nathaniel Willingham, and Thomas Henry were killed by a command detonated claymore. The date was March 29, 1968, and this event is on our Wall. Terry was the best buddy I had at this time, and he was the first real friend I saw killed. It was all such a waste. All three were blown almost to bits. Terry was hit hard in the groin area. To this day I hate Lyndon Johnson with a passion for times just as this. In the hills behind us was at least one gook with his hand on a remote control. I wish we could have found him because I would have loved to stick a claymore in his mouth and push the button or whatever it took to set it off. What is so ironic in this picture, which is of me lying down exhausted and soaking wet after crossing a river, is that 99% of the time when I heard of a water hole, I was the first one there. I was always thirsty. I was just so tired, I had to flop down. In the background of this picture are Mike Marines resting. In this picture and the next, it really shows how camouflaged we were. You have to look close to see everyone in the picture. These two pictures give me goosebumps even today. This event will bring forth one of my short stories, because the events before and after remain etched in my feeble mind forever.
The VC or NVA guy that set off the claymore has to be in the upper middle left of the picture, because the waterhole is @ 25 yards to our left. Maybe I can zoom in one of these days and find him, or her.
I must have liked kids, even then. This was made in some ville on an all night search and destroy @ March, 1968.
I made this picture standing straight up at eye level. We were on some kind of search and destroy. Some Marines in Mike Company were ambushed in this mess by VC. We were all scared to death because we couldn't see 1' in front of us. I don't know how many of us were shot because there was plenty of gunfire. I was probably more scared in this stuff than anything I ever got in. This was a huge area. I also remember how I was afraid not only of the VC, but also of firing at each other, and there was plenty of that. This was taken around Hai Van Pass overlooking Langco Bridge and the South China Sea @ April, 1968.
This was made on Operation Houston @ March, 1968. This was the only time we operated with tanks and amtraks. Believe it or not, this picture was made about 1 minute before we got fired on by a helicopter. I remember we were told to shoot "the sonuvabitch" down if he fired at us again. We all had to take cover. We just guessed some gunner on the chopper just got trigger happy and was trying to scare us. He succeeded. Ford, from Miami, is on the left. He was head 3.5 launcher guy. I am on the right. This was the operation we flushed out some VC in the high grass and killed all we saw. This tank killed one with its 50 cal, and it messed the VC up.
Jerry Lomax's picture of Ronnie Williams with friend (except at night?), at Hai Van Pass, May 1968.
Jerry Lomax's picture of Mama Sahns w/daughters, Langco Bridge, This is the exact site where Mike Company went up on May 7, 1968.
Jerry Lomax, French Railroad Station, Hai Van Pass, May 3, 1968, after night patrol.
Jerry Lomax's friend "Sage", an M-79 guy holding a "trophy". A gung ho Marine who loved getting into scrapes. Near Hai Van Pass in Thua Thien Province on May 3, 1968 at an old French railroad station at the Pass overlooking the South China Sea. "Sage" was shot in the arm 6 days later, bullet hit the bone and he was in a lot of pain. If you know his name please let us know.
Truoi River Bridge along Highway 1, Thua Thien Province between Danang, Phu Bai and Hue, early May 68. Picture by Jerry Lomax. Top: Ronnie Williams. 2nd Row: Left, Sam Cole, killed from gunshot wounds a week later, two fellows from a weapon's squad (if you know them, email us). Bottom: From Left, name not remembered, Willie Rivera, Correa, and name not remembered.
Jerry Lomax and Ronnie Williams at Truoi River Bridge, May 1, 1968. Highway 1 is to the left of the picture. Ronnie was the M-60 guy and Jerry has the 3.5 rocket launcher. In the middle background is Hai Van Pass; in the background right is where Mike Company got hit hard a week later.