Basic School 2-65 Class Reunion 

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Bob James' Story

Viet Nam War Story

BY COL ROBERT H. JAMES USMCR RET TBS 2-65 

AFTER BASIC SCHOOL I WAS STATIONED AT CAMP PENDLETON FOR A FEW MONTHS WHERE I JOINED 3/7. WE SHORTLY MOUNTED OUT FROM 
THERE BY SHIP AND LATER WE LANDED ACROSS THE BEACH NEAR QUI NOHN SOMEWHERE IN THE RVN ON OPERATION “STARLITE” .I DIDN’T 
KNOW WHERE THE HELL WE WERE FOR SURE UNTIL LATER. I WAS A PLATOON LEADER WITH EYES THE SIZE OF CANTELOPES. WE TOOK NO 
FIRE INITIALLY AS OUR MISSION WAS TO MOP UP. THE BIG BATTLE HAD RAGED AND MY FIRST VIEW OF COMBAT WAS OF MARINE CORPS 
ARMOR AND VEHICLES BURNING NEAR THE BEACH .BODY PARTS LAY IN THE TRAILS AND CORPSES OF CHINESE ADVISORS. ONE OF THE 
COMPANIES ON SHORE WAS LED BY A CORPORAL.THAT COMPANY WAS DROPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF A VC REGIMENTAL CP.GREAT INTELLIGENCE 
AS WAS THE NORM FOR RVN.   WE CHASED THE REMANENTS BY FIRE AND MANUEVER AND AIR INTO THE JUNGLE TAKING FEW CASUALTIES. 
EVERYTHING WAS BURNING DUE TO NAPALM STRIKES. CAN YOU IMAGINE SEEING  COWS CHEWING THEIR CUDS WITH BURNED, CAUTERIZED 
HOLES THROUGH THEIR MID BODIES THE SIZE OF BASKETBALLS?. I DID. WE LATER MOVED SOUTH TO CHU LAI.

IN MOVING TO CHU LAI WE DID ENTIRE COMPANY TRANSFERS BETWEEN BATTALIONS TO AVOID MASS ROTATIONS. I ENDED UP IN ECHO 2/4. 
THAT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME LEADERSHIP-WISE. MY FIRST BN CO THERE WAS BULL FISHER WHO LIKED TO SEND 
LIEUTENANTS WITH FIRE TEAM PATROLS. WE WERE WEEDED OUT RAPIDLY. HE WAS NOT THERE LONG.CHU LAI WAS LIKE A SPRINGBOARD TO 
OPS AND CONSTANT PATROLS TO PROTECT THE REAR WITH THE GEAR INCLUDING OUR PILOTS. THE WORST SITUATIONS WERE ACTING AS A 
REACTION FORCE TO RECOVER TROOPS OR CHOPPERS. ON ONE SUCH RECOVERY OPERATION MY PLATOON WAS SENT FIRST. DUE TO FIRE ON 
OUR CHOPPERS WE WENT BACK FOR THE REST OF THE COMPANY AS REINFORCEMENTS. YOU COULD SEE TREES AND BUSHES RUNNING 
EVERYWHERE. A FRIENDLY COMPOUND HAD BEEN OVERRUN. WE TOOK IT OVER AND LOCKED UP THE STRAGGLERS. AS NIGHT FELL WE KNEW WE 
WERE IN FOR IT. ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. WE TOOK FIRE ON ALL SIDES . MORTARS WERE FALLING ON US. AS I RAN TO THE CP FOR A 
MEETING ONE CAME IN , KICKED ME IN THE AIR AND I GOT UP CAUTIOUSLY WITH NO WOUNDS. THEN THEY BONZAI CHARGED IN THE NIGHT 
WITH HORNS AND WHISTLES. OUR FLARE SHIPS SAVED US. ONE LIEUTENANT IN THIS REUNION WAS IN HAND TO HAND ON HIS FLANK DUE TO 
EXCESS COVER ON HIS SIDE. THEY PULLED BODIES ALL NIGHT BUT WE HAD A PILEUP ANYWAY IN THE MORNING  WE CALLED THIS OPERATION 
‘RF’. IT IS NOT IN THE BOOKS.


MY LAST CO WAS L/COL P.X.KELLY.YES. THE EVENTUAL COMMANDANT. HE WAS THE BEST LEADER I EVER HAD ANYWHERE. WE MOVED TO 
DANANG. I WAS A SENIOR LIEUTENANT AND TOOK OVER ECHO COMPANY. WE HAD SOME AMAZING EXPERIENCES FROM MOVING THROUGH THE RVNS 
BEARING THEIR WEAPONS ON US WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT TO REACH THE MAG CP. THEY HAD REVOLTED AND WIRED THE AMMO DUMP TO BLOW. 
THAT IS ANOTHER STORY. SO WAS OPERATION “TEXAS”.. EVENTUALLY I WAS GIVEN MY OWN TAOR AND REINFORCEMENTS WITH TRACKS, 
GUNS, AIR AND THE LIKE. MY MISSION WAS TO SEE THAT THE GOOKS DID NOT MORTAR THE AIR FIELD AS THEY HAD EARLIER. WE WERE 
MOBILE AND BAD. IT IS INTERESTING THAT WHEN I WAS REPLACED BY A CAPTAIN AS I ROTATED(BUT NOT BEFORE), HE WAS LATER 
AWARDED THE CONGRESSIONAL MOH IN AN OPERATION TO THE NORTH NEAR THE DMZ. SEMPER FI


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