I think its important to put a context to someone's death. We have however only a glimpse of the events, a microcosm of a larger whole. We can only report what we see and hear not what is being seen and heard by the rest of our comrades. So this is what I Jake Jacobs and Bill Peck recall happened on 10/27/67 the day LCpl Painter bought the farm not really what happened to him. LCpl Painter was with Delta Company while most of the KIA were with Bravo.
It Happened on Operation Granite, 25/10/67-06/11/67, a search and destroy conducted by 1 st Battalion 4 th Marines on hills 674 and 300 in Thua Thien Province, RVN. Lt John Dawson and I were the artillery FO team attached to Bravo 1/4 from Golf Battery 3/12. We were sweeping hill 674 early on the morning of 10/27/67 and had been ambushed several times by a small group that morning in a hit and run pattern. On the third ambush, we ran forward and dropped down between the point man and the company when the ambush was sprung by a large force on three sides. We were unable to all in an artillery strike due to air activity near our location, and huddled behind a rock outcropping as the ambush progressed on 3 sides with heavy automatic weapon and B-40 rocket fire. According to Marine Corps AA report, Granite lasted from 10/26/67-11/6/67 and resulted in 25 KIA in the field, 2 DOA at Phu Bai 3rd Med Bn and 110 WIA, 88 of who were medevaced. Fourteen were killed on Friday the 27th, at least one from all four companies, but seven were from Bravo, nine counting Corpsman HM3 Kenny Sommes and FO Lt. Dawson who were attached to Bravo from other units. There were 31 were WIA including me. The KIA in addition to John Dawson, 2nd Lt, 24 from Adrian MI, (who was awarded the Navy Cross Posthumously that day) were DAVID P BETTS, LCpl, Age 23, Seattle, WA
ROBERT M CARLOZZI, LCpl, Age 20, Wheaton, MD
DOUGLAS F CLEMMONS, Pfc, Age 19, Westville, FL
MICHAEL J FONSECA, Pfc, Age 20, Gardner, KS
WILLIAM R HACKETT JR, LCpl, Age 21, Chicago, IL
ANGUS L HARE, Cpl, Age 18, Sneads, FL
EDDIE L JAMES JR, Cpl, Age 20, Chester, SC
VERNE D JOHNSON III, Pfc, Age 19, Ogden, UT
CURTIS W PAINTER, LCpl, Age 21, Charleston, SC
MERRICK R PIERCE, LCpl, Age 19, Portland, OR
HARRY L SCHLEE, 2ndLt, Age 25, Williamsport, PA
KENNETH C STOMMES, HM3, Age 20, Cold Spring, MN
THOMAS F UHL, Cpl, Age 18, New York, NY
I exchanged emails with Sgt Tom (Jake) Jacobs who led a fire team in Bravo 1/4 that day. Dawson and I were out between the point man and our lines with the NVA machine gun ahead on the trail. Here is what Tom added to my understanding of that day. Jacobs: “I was with Bravo Co., 1st. Platoon on that day. I lost 2 members of my fire team running up the trail to get the machine gun. Merrick Pierce and Paul Betts and also my best friend, our Corpsman, Kenny Stommes. There were 4 of us running up the trail to get the machinegun. First in line was McClavey then Pierce then me then Betts. McClavey was a 2nd. Lt. and got shot in his left side. Pierce got shot in the left side of his head. The NVA across the ravine missed me but Betts was hit numerous times in the lower torso. Stommes was already hit in the chest a little below us and was already dead when we passed him. So, we must of been pretty close to you. As we lay on the trail another friend of mine, Vince Matthews from White Plains, N.Y. ran past us and shot 3 LAWS into the bunker around the dogleg to the right. Vinnie received the Silver Star that day. Also close to us was a Lt. (I think his name was Dawson) who was an AO. He also got killed and was close to our Captain who was wounded"
Peck "GySgt Bill Peck, who was in 3rd Platoon, added this, "I just reread what you and Tom had remembered and remember that , I think we (3rd Plt.) was tail end on this. Also the word being passed numerous times to move up and move back added to the confusion. I was carrying the M-79 and thinking the vegetation was so close to do any direct target shots so I lobbed the rounds into the ambush site like a mortar. We got the word that our arty and air could not get in along with the medevac chop's and we needed to move back down to the flat area just before we entered the mountains. "
Burke: “That machine gun had me pinned to the wall when your guys tried to rush it. The guys rushing the gun didn’t make it past me, and one fell right next to me with a gut shot. I talked to him to telling him not to move, telling him it would be alright. A few minutes later, a corpsman, Stommes then I guess, came out and dropped next to him on his knees and he was immediately hit. The grunt laid there for a few minutes then rolled himself back to the lines. I took a round through the hand trying to reach out to grab a dropped M16 (my 45 jammed), another through the femur sometime later, and a grenade fragment in the forearm still later. I have done a lot of research on that day from the USMC archives, Tom Jacobs recollections, and fragments of information from the wall. I now think that, a machine gunner who ran abreast of me (with the hot rounds dropping on my neck) may have been Cpl Thomas Uhl who won the Silver Star Posthumously. I recall seeing him spin around from getting hit. I was wounded and disabled that day, but alive to give some background as a tribute to those Marines died in combat on 10/27/67 for their brothers in 1/ 4.
Cpl Edward Burke