From Vietnam War

Marine recalls Iwo Jima years after WW II battle

Sgt. Gary Hoffman of Englewood, Fla. who spent time in the Marines half a lifetime ago, contacted me a while back. He’s a Sun reader who likes war stories. Consequently he looks at my column from time to time. More importantly the old Marine e-mailed me a story he liked. I liked it too, so…

Gene Kopec of North Port received 3 Purple Hearts fighting in Vietnam

Three times Gene Kopec of North Port was wounded while fighting in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. He received three Purple Hearts and took part in the Battle at Khe Sanh. Here North Vietnam Army regular troops and Vietcong guerillas went head-to-head against American and South Vietnamese soldiers along the Demilitarized Zone in the biggest…

Jim Laurent worked in spy business and White House 24 years

Jim Laurent’s 24 years of service in the U.S. Air Force was shrouded in secrecy. He was a high frequency radio communication expert who spied on the Russians, kept the radio equipment running in the SR-71 “Blackbird” spy plane and spent more than five years working in White House Communications for three presidents.

Everett Charles ‘had no peers’ as skipper of PBR gun boat in Vietnam

Everett Charles of Vizcaya Lakes mobile home park in El Jobean skippered a PBR (Patrol Boat River) that prowled the Upper Saigon River hunting for North Vietnam Army regulars and Vietcong irregulars moving enemy supplies into South Vietnam. He made 216 combat patrols as captain, plus an additional 89 patrols into enemy territory as an…

Gunnery Sgt. Ernie O’Brien served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam

In his dark blue Marine dress uniform trimmed with red piping, wearing white gloves and a white hat, Ernie O’Brien of Port Charlotte, Fla. stands ramrod straight at 87. He looks as if he could hit the beach at Guadalcanal, as he did more than 65 years ago. His silver mustache adds a touch of…

Richard Cook fought with the Seals in Vietnam

Richard Cook looked the part with his short cropped hair, weathered face and ramrod-straight military gait. The old salt would fool no one. The real giveaway was the navy blue shirt with five rows of campaign ribbons complete with six battle stars on his chest. Underneath, embroidered in gold, it read: U.S. NAVY. Down the left arm of his long-sleeve shirt were the names of seven Vietnam cities. Even more interesting, also embroidered in gold, were four more lines of words in gold that read: “CAN’T TELL YOU.”

War dogs – ‘Prince’ was his protector in Vietnam

Dan Byrd lived an idyllic life growing up as a kid on Longboat Key off Sarasota, Fla. half a century ago. In those days, he hunted rabbits on the key with his .22-caliber rifle while his mom and dad ran the bait shop and hamburger stand on the south end of the New Pass Bridge…

Love and War in Vietnam and elsewhere

Col. Ivar Svenson, United States Marine Corps, was in charge of plans and operations for the III Marine Amphibious Force headquarters unit stationed in Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1968. Ann Byerlein was head nurse of the intensive care unit at Da Nang Provincial Hospital in May of that year, during the height of the…

Elliott‘s military intelligence unit protected supply base

Paul Elliott was trained as a Russian linguist and military intelligence agent and when he went to Vietnam in 1966. He had to use those skills and more to ferret out saboteurs trying to sneak into Camp McDermott — the main supply base for the 1st Logistical Command that provided American forces with most of…

Vietnam POW presents prison garb to Military Museum

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Sunday, April 15, 2007 Capt. Luis Chirichigno was piloting an Army Cobra attack helicopter high above a couple of low-flying observation copters eight miles south of Duc Lap, South Vietnam, on Nov. 2, 1969. What happened next would make this Peruvian-born American chopper pilot a POW for the next…

He flew ammo, food to Marines under siege at Khe Sanh during Vietnam War

Lt. Fred Buckingham flew his C-130 “Hercules,” four-engine transport plane to Vietnam just in time for the North Vietnamese Army’s siege of the Marine base at Khe Sanh, the biggest single battle of the war, and the enemy’s massive Tet Offensive, where every major city and many American military bases were attacked in a countrywide…

He survived Battle of Ripcord with 101st Airborne in Vietnam

Dale Tauer of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a member of the 1st. Battalion, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division–The Screaming Eagles. In July 1970 he fought on a hill top in The Battle of Ripcord, the last major battle involving Americans in Vietnam’s A-Shau Valley against the 324th Division of the North Vietnamese Army.

Marine survives near fatal wound from VC machine-gun in Vietnam

“Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division was a black flag outfit. We were a skull and crossbones unit comprised of assault hunter-killer teams. We took no prisoners,” Charles Shaughnessy, who saw considerable action in 1968 in Vietnam as a 20-year-old Marine corporal and squad leader, said.

John Krusinski Sr. manned quad .50s on the DMZ in Vietnam

John Krusinski, Sr. was a 19-year-old draftee who grew up in the Chicago area and went to war in Vietnam in 1967. He was a member of the Army’s 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery, G-Battery station at a base camp in Dong Ha, along the DMZ separating North and South Vietnam. He spent a year being shot at or shooting at other people.

Combat engineer in Vietnam recalls the lighter moments in war

Gordon Quick, who lives off Burnt Store Road south of Punta Gorda, Fla. near the county line, served in the 588th Combat Engineer Battalion in Vietnam in 1965-1966. His unit was under command control of the 1st Infantry Division—the “Big Red 1” with division headquarters and the support command located at Tây Ninh.

Brig. Gen. Neil Kennedy provided flying gas station in Vietnam and for SAC

Capt. Neil Kennedy flew a KC-135 jet tanker in Vietnam War and continued to pilot the same flying gas station for the Strategic Air Command after the Southeast Asian war. He retired in 1991 as a brigadier general after 32 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force National Guard and moved to Calusa Lakes subdivision in Nokomis, Fla.

He flew POWs out of Hanoi at end of Vietnam War

Second Lt. Russell Ogan was returning from a fighter sweep over the Battle of the Bulge flying low and slow because of the weather, in “Gloria May,” his P-47 “Thunderbolt,” when his fighter took a direct hit from enemy ground fire.

Behind enemy lines in Vietnam

John Rambo has nothing on Mark Bills. The Venice, Fla. dentist was once a member of an elite, secret Army Special Forces group dropped behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War.

He helped CIA depose Diem regime

Lt. Col. John Dyer had no idea the planeload of .50-caliber machine-gun ammunition he flew to Tonsonnhute Airport in Saigon was part of a CIA plot to topple the Ngo Dinh Diem government in South Vietnam.

‘Black Lions’ faced death in Vietnam

The ”Black Lions” were looking for a fight. The battalion had been on a search-and-destroy mission for more than a week. Now the men of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division were exhausted from chasing the Viet Cong through the jungle 50 miles north of Saigon.

He fought Viet Cong in jungles of Vietnam

From the looks of him you’d never know Rufus Lazzell is a highly-decorated Airborne Ranger with two wars under his belt. He is a little guy with a matter-of-fact attitude who doesn’t spend much time talking about his military exploits in Korea or Vietnam decades ago.

Clyde Lassen, Medal of Honor recipient

Lt.j.g. Clyde Lassen’s Medal of Honor commendation On 19 June 1968 Lt. j.g. Clyde Everett Lassen, a member of Helicopter Support Squadron 7, Detachment 104, Republic of Vietnam was serving aboard USS Preble (DLG-15).