Topic: Reflections

A mortar platoon is delivered to the battlefield by a CH-47 Chinook. Photo courtesy of the author.

The Day the Marines Asked the Army for Help, the Sun Rose in the West, and Hell Iced Over

Normally, the U.S. Marine Corps is the most self-sufficient of the armed services. On this day, they needed our help.
Mac, second from left, showing one of Ed Meagher’s men his shotgun.

Mac Was My Hero. I Never Told Him. I’m Sure He Never Knew.

William (Mac) McKissick was a technical sergeant responsible for the security of the northern perimeter of Tan Son Nhut Air Base north of Saigon, Vietnam.
A broken Bell OH-13 Sioux used to scout ahead of Huey formations.

‘Come Hell or High Water’–Rangers Caught in Urgent Fight, Flight to Save One of Their Own

It was June 1970, more than a month into the U.S. campaign in Cambodia and the expansion of the war in Vietnam. And sure enough, there they were.
Marvin Wolf, first row, second from left, in his NCO Academy photo. Courtesy of the author.

A Poncho, a Bayonet, and a 1943 C Ration Chocolate Against a Fort Lewis Snowstorm

I reconciled myself to staying put until daylight. I’d fasted every Yom Kippur since my bar mitzvah at age 13, going without food or water for more than 24 hours—so I knew that I wouldn’t starve from a day and a night without eating.
Ned Pugh began Underwater Demolition Team school in April 1963 along with 130 others. By the end of training, he was among the last 30 still standing.

No One Makes It Through Underwater Demolition Team Training, They Said. They Were Wrong.

I was mostly interested in Navy underwater demolition. I didn’t know much about it, but I loved Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt and wanted to be a frogman.

The Things We Borrowed–I Didn’t Set out to Be in Nonprofit Black Market Supply With Whiskey as Currency

Soldiers got what they needed in Vietnam, from cold Pepsis to American-made lumber to a three-quarter-ton truck, often trading with Jack Daniels.
When Covid-19 put an end to sanctioned jiujitsu aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Mario Snyder and his friends took it underground. Photo courtesy of the author.

Clandestine Combat, Quesadilla Bribes, and Operation Jiujitsu Underground

During Covid-19 restrictions, sailors found a way to beat boredom aboard the USS Ronald Reagan—with a clandestine jiujitsu club in the ship’s bowels.
Korat-based F-105s are prepared for a mission to North Vietnam.

I Learned That Loss Could Bridge the Divide That Separates Us

While pilots thought they were more important than the rest of us, their job—air superiority and ground attacks—was only possible with us.
“Ambulances held a unique and somewhat strange point of reference in the trajectory of my life,” writes Michael Jerome Plunkett. Stock photo.

If There’s One Thing That Keeps Me Up at Night, It’s All the Ways What’s Inside Can Betray Us 

As a Marine, Michael Jerome Plunkett trained for a job he never got to do. But it led him to work alongside life and death as an ambulance EMT.