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3/27 Marines Vietnam 1968

REUNIONS

 

     

 

 OUR NEXT REUNION HAS BEEN SET FOR LATE AUGUST - EARLY SEPTEMBER 2015 IN MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN.  RON SCHANZ (H&S CO.)  HAS VOLUNTEERED TO BE THE POINT MAN AND WILL ARRANGE FOR THE DETAILS TO ALL FALL INTO PLACE.  MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW.   WE WILL CONVENE IN A HOTEL AT THE MILWAUKEE AIRPORT, PROVIDING EASY INGRESS & EGRESS FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE FLYING INTO TOWN  AND ALL UNIT FUNCTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE ON SITE.  MORE INFO WILL BE AVAILABLE AFTER THE FIRST OF THE NEW YEAR WITH OUR FIRST SNAIL-MAILING.  PLEASE KEEP TERRY RIGNEY UPDATED TO ANY ADDRESS CHANGES ...        WATCH THIS SITE FOR UPDATES.       

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May 1, 2014

To our members, families and friends,

The plans for the 2015 Reunion of 3/27 are well underway.  We will commemorate the 47th anniversary of the battalion’s deployment to the Republic of Vietnam in order to shore up American forces during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and to further deter the Communist threat in Southeast Asia.

DATE:  August 30th through September 2nd

PLACE: Best Western Plus Milwaukee Airport Hotel and Conference Center

            5105 South Howell Avenue

            Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53207

            Phone: 414-769-2100x0

Room Rate: Discounted to $82.00 per night plus tax

RESERVATIONS:

 

            Call 414-769-2100x0 and ask to make a reservation under the group block for “3rd Battalion 27th Marines” at a rate of $82.00 per night plus tax. After Friday, July 31, 2015, the special group rate is no longer available and any additional reservations will be at the standard rate. A major credit card will be needed to guarantee your reservations against no-show or late cancellation. You will be able to cancel your reservation without penalty if you call before 3:00 PM, the day prior to your scheduled arrival date. Make sure you get your cancellation confirmation number. At check-in, a picture ID and a major credit card will be required to guarantee payment of all charges. Cash payments are accepted, but a major credit card must still be registered at time of check-in.

 

You may get more info on the hotel facility by visiting their website, www.bestwesternmilwaukee.com.

 

Hotel amenities include: free hot breakfast buffet; free wireless internet access; free 24 hour airport shuttle; in house bar and restaurants; atrium, indoor pool, whirlpool and fitness center; in room coffee, microwave and refrigerator; guest coin laundry.  Our catered dinner auction and banquet will both be held in-house and adult beverages will be available. Note that Wisconsin Law prohibits smoking in any public building, workplace, restaurant or bar.

RV SITES:

There are several RV Parks in and near Milwaukee, so a complete listing here is not possible.  Two of the closest to the hotel are Oak Creek Estates and Whites Mobil Home Estates. Another one that is close to area attractions is at Wisconsin State Fair Park. The internet provides a complete listing along with pricing and location details

 

TRANSPORTATION:

The hotel is directly across the street from Mitchell International Airport Milwaukee just off of Interstate 94, and hotel shuttles to and from the airport are available. There is also a very large parking lot to accommodate vehicles and parking is free.

 

SHIRTS & CAPS:

We will have a design and price for you in future mailings along with an order form.

 

DINNERS & RESERVATIONS:

We will have menus, prices and reservation forms in a future mailing.

 

TENTATIVE REUNION SCENARIO:

Sunday, August 30th: Registration beginning at 12 noon, the hospitality suite will be open. There are no planned activities.

 

Monday, August 31st: Complimentary breakfast buffet begins at 6AM, prior to that a complimentary grab and go for coffee and pastry is available beginning at 4AM. The hospitality room will open at 8:30. There will be a ladies function sometime in the morning around 11:30, more information to come. The silent auction and a dinner will be in the evening.

 

Tuesday, September 1st: Grab and go, breakfast and hospitality room will be the same. The banquet will be in the evening.

 

Wednesday, September 2nd: Grab and go, breakfast and hospitality room will be the same. Early check out if desired or take in some of the area attractions.

 

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

Some area attractions to research for free time would be:  downtown Milwaukee Riverwalk; Brewery tours; Harley Davidson Museum; Milwaukee Art Museum located at the lakefront; Vietnam Memorial and War Memorial located at the Milwaukee Art Museum; Milwaukee County Zoo; Miller Park; Potawatomi Casino; possible activity at Summerfest Grounds; The Bunker (Vietnam themed bar and restaurant); VA Hospital grounds Civil War buildings. We will have information and directions for these available at check-in. We will also have information about a possible golf tournament in future mailings.

 

DONATIONS:

We are in need of items to be donated and brought to the reunion for our Auction Dinner.  This has proven to be a major source of needed funds for the unit over the past several reunions.  Anything you wish to donate will be appreciated, in particular but certainly not restricted to USMC related items.  Physically small items are more convenient for those flying to and from Michigan, but larger items are welcomed as well. The more valuable donations will be auctioned off by our enthusiastic Auctioneer, while most of the other items will go via Silent Auction during the course of the evening. 

 

DONATIONS of CASH: 

If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to do so, the unit can always use monetary donations.  Please send only what you are comfortable with.  We are trying to absorb as much of the expense of this reunion as we can which means some relief for our members.  Please send cash donations to Terry Rigney, 53442 Villa Rosa Drive, Macomb, MI 48042 and make your checks out to “3/27 MAR/RVN”.  Your donations are legally tax deductible under IRS Guidelines, and a receipt on 3/27 letterhead is available upon request.

Thank you for your attention and please begin your plans now to attend.  Watch the website for updates between mailings.  Please contact Terry Rigney with any address updates.

 Semper Fidelis!

The 3/27 Wisconsin Reunion Committee:  Ron & Gretchen Schanz, Pat and Debbie Fimon, Al and Tedda Ciezki

 Steering / Oversight & Finance Committee:  Andy Boyko…..Terry & Janet Rigney

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

45th Anniversary MICHIGAN REUNION...  APRIL 15 - 18, 2013...  WEBER'S INN, Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Reunion went splendidly despite a few showers, some windy conditions, and a little bit of snow. Outside. Inside, all we had to deal with was a six hours long power outage when  a tree limb fell on two power lines and put over half of the city without electricity for the entire afternoon of our first full day there. Friendships of up to almost half a century were renewed and new relationships were forged in bond.

Our Guest Speaker at the Banquet Dinner, Maj. Gen. William Henderson (Ret.) addressed the battalion with a relevant and timely address.  General Henderson was a Marine fighter pilot in I Corps during 1967 and 1968 and possibly supported us on air support operations as an F4 pilot and / or a Forward Air Controller. He retired as the Michigan Air National Guard Commander and from his civilian occupation as the Chief pilot for General Motors Corporation. Here MajGen Henderson delivers his address to the unit at the Banquet Dinner.

Watch this space for photographs of the reunion, as we have many to sort through and choose to share with our members.  Almost 120 Marines, family and guests including some Army personnel and Marines of other units in Vietnam attended, a fine turnout. Donations of time, energy, financial and merchandise assets made this reunion profitable enough to assure that the next reunion, whatever its location may be, will have enough to get a good start. We thank everyone who contributed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                               

WELCOME TO WEBER'S INN                                                        BONNIE GEORGE'S HOMAGE TO PAST REUNIONS                      YOUR FRIENDLY GREETERS, ROSE MALLON AND JANET RIGNEY

 

                                                                                                                                 

         Mike Stoppa captures the audience                                                                    Phrases we've all heard before

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 DOUG GRADY, MIKE CO. 3/27, GREETS GUESTS IN THE TRIPLE - DIGIT HEAT  AT THE HORSESHOE BAY RESORT

                                                    

                                                   

Our Guest Speaker, Michael Hagee, General USMC (Ret.), Commandant of the Marine Corps 2003-2007

                                                       

 Emcee Andy Boyko and former Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee at the banquet, Texas Reunion, June 2011

The 2011 Reunion was indeed a huge success.  Not a drop of rain and temperatures in the low 100's along with light humidity made for a very comfortable setting.

We were honored by a visit and a chat from former Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael Hagee, who was CMC from 2003 until his retirement in late 2007.

The next reunion is set for Ann Arbor, Michigan in mid April 2013. Please watch the Reunion and Home Pages of this website for updates, and watch your U.S. Mail.

YELLOW FOOTPRINTS AGAIN

Upon arrival at the Hotel at Horseshoe Bay for the reunion, arriving 3/27 Marines and their guests were (for once) requested to don the familiar yellow sweatshirt and the (unstarched) utility cover and stand for a photo.

David Bellamy

Bob "Doc" Callan

Ed & Pat Benavidez

Frank & Olga Cortez

Tommy Tubbs & Bonnie Donahoo

Dan & Jane Dreger

Jerry "Doc" and Jan Eicholtz

Pat & Debra Fimon

Ray Fisher & Amy

Tom Fuleky

Louie Contreras & Sharon

Juan "Speedy" Gonzales

Doug & Libby Grady

Dana & Janet Harper

Leo & Maryann Hand

Kenneth Henrie

Craig & Karrie Jenkins

David & Debbie Johnson

Bill & Gerri Janson

Ed & Nancy Langan

Gerald & Rose Mallon

Edward & Mary Mathis

Lupe & Olga Montalvo

David Moldenhauer

Roy & Dee Parr

George & Cordie Rostron

Mike & Bonnie Stoppa

Fred Steube

Mike Swagerty

Richard VanAtta

John & Margo Walker

Dale Westover

TEXAS REUNION FESTIVITIES CAUGHT ON FILM (Thanks in major part to Peter King's photographic genius).

Large and heavy Eagle Globe & Anchor donated for auction  (delivery guaranteed!)

Doug Grady preps the dinner guests for auction activities 

Viet Cong (National Liberation Front) flag captured by 3/27 on Go Noi Island 

Large EGA Fathead decal to be auctioned 

Fred Steube, Mortarman & Auctioneer 

Three 27 Banner 

Dinner preceding the auction 

Ceremonial Missing Man Table 

Honor Guard relaxing after presentation of the Colors 

The former CMC chats with the Color Guard 

3/27 Hospital Corpsmen Bob Callan & Jerry Eicholtz are honored 

The Second Semi-Annual Bob Simonsen Award is presented to George Rostron 

Dana Harper addresses the gathering 

Gen Hagee accepts his personal copy of "Every Marine" by Robert Simonsen 

Andy Boyko receives a special Thank You from the Reunion Committee 

General Hagee with Pat Benavidez 

The Hagees and the Parrs 

Janet Rigney presents Silke Hagee with a gift from 3/27 

Libby Grady with the General as Mrs. Hagee looks on 

Fred Steube is honored for his contributions to the reunion 

Andy presents a special Thank You to Libby for her outstanding committee work 

Andy Boyko, Dee and Roy Parr clasp hands as the banquet closes 

"...I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free." 

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3/27 Marines Reunion:  OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA  -  31MAY-5JUNE 2009

 The 2009 OKC Reunion is now history.  It was a close bonding experience between scores of 3/27 Marines and their families & friends. More than

 100 members of the 3/27 family enjoyed almost a week of camaraderie, remembrances, and the hospitality of our Native American friends.  We extend

 thanks to Blas Preciado for setting the wheels in motion, making this a uniquely memorable experience.  Thanks also to Fred Steube, whose energy and

connections with those individuals and organizations that were happy to help made the 'creature comforts' more enjoyable for us.

We enjoyed a Four-Diamond (AAA rating) hotel to the north of Oklahoma City proper.  The staff and management at the Waterford Marriott

went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and comfortable.  A hospitality suite was provided for socializing, and ample free time was set aside for

individual exploration of the OKC environs. 

A dinner followed by an authentic multi-Indian-nation Pow Wow was held in honor of the warriors of 3/27.  We witnessed many ceremonial rituals and

dances and we were even invited to participate in some of the more innocuous ones. 

The Banquet featured  as Guest Speaker local native and Marine LtCol. T.J. Hunting Horse, who presented an inspiring talk on what it means to be the

highest ranking Native American in today's Marine Corps. He spoke of  how it was growing up Indian and  how that experience segued into his

 role as a JAG attorney, and provided some insight into the proper use of seatbelts on a classic Chevy. (You had to be there.)

The three Navy Hospital Corpsmen present who served with 3/27 in Vietnam were honored with a token gift of a set of angel's hands, signifying the trust

and faith that we Marines felt under their medical care. Many thanks to Corpsmen Jerry Eicholtz (Co. M), Mike Lutz (Co. I), and Dave Watson (H&S).

 

Please watch this space in the near future for more info and photos of our latest get-together.

Should anyone who attended OKC have photos, stories or anecdotes to share, please forward them to your webmaster at trigney098@comcast.com.

 

                                                                                               

                                                                                 LtCol.  Theodore J. Hunting Horse, Guest Speaker

A corner of our hospitality suite...VC flag was captured on Go Noi 

Ed Cramm, Fred Steube, SgtMajor Robert Snyder, John Walker 

"Sgt. Grit" flanked by Fred Steube and Andy Boyko 

Captured NVA or VC hand drawn map of the Tu Cau Bridge area  

Tribal dance to honor the Warriors of 3/27 

Honor Guard presents the Colors at the Pow Wow  

Anticipating the Pow Wow  

Janet Rigney, Gerri Jansen, Bonnie Stoppa, and Dee Parr enjoy the hospitality  

Dale Camp,Terry Lynn, Ed Cramm, Al Ciezki  

India reminiscence  

                                                                                                               

(L-R) Keith Soukkala, David "Doc" Watson, Jim Ward & Barb, Art Riordan & Pat


            QUANTICO BARRACKS NAMED IN HONOR OF 3/27 MARINE  

PFC Robert C. Burke, posthumous Medal of Honor recipient, has been honored at USMC base Quantico, Virginia. 

Marines, guests  and friends of the 3rd Battalion, 27th Regiment  attended the dedication ceremony as an enlisted men's barracks was named in honor of the former member of India/3/27.  PFC Burke earned the nation's highest award in May 1968 Vietnam while serving on Operation Allen Brook.

The three stories of Anderson-Burke Hall contain 59, 452 square feet of living space for occupancy by 720 enlisted personnel.  The red bricked facility combines the former Anderson Hall, built in 1969, and Burke Hall, built in 1973.  Photos will be placed on this website, mainly on the Reunion Page since so many 3/27 Marines, their families and guests  attended that we now consider the dedication weekend a "mini-reunion".

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To read the story of Robert Burke please click on this link, PFC Robert Burke - Medal Of Honor ,  or visit our "History" page. 

 

ANDERSON - BURKE HALL BARRACKS DEDICATION CEREMONY

 

The 16May08 dedication of Anderson - Burke Hall at the USMC base, Quantico, Va., was so well attended by 3/27 Marines that it must be considered a "Mini - Reunion". Although unscheduled as such, it drew some three dozen 3/27 Marines, their guests and family members.  In recognition of this it has been decided that photos from this event will be posted here on the Reunion page.

                              

          Dale Camp, India Company 3/27, delivers the keynote address on Robert Burke's achievements & sacrifices.

        Anderson - Burke Hall is seen in the background. Dale's speech is shown here. (Photos continued after text).

On May 17, 1968, PFC. Robert Burke's company, India, 3/27, was pinned down by an estimated Battalion of North Vietnamese infantry. Robert aggressively assaulted NVA positions with his M-60 machine gun and did such a good job of suppressing fire that many Marines of India, including me, believe that he saved their lives.

If you read his citation you will have a clear idea of the courage, fighting spirit, and sacrifice he displayed that day. But there is more to a man than one day of his life. Before he was a Marine he was a small town kid from the Midwest. He grew up out in the country near Monticello, Illinois. Rode his bike to school. His family was large, he had 7 brothers and sisters and 5 half brothers and sisters. His father was a hardworking man who built fence for a living. Later as Robert grew up he learned a good work ethic as he built fence with his Father in the summer. That's hard work building fence! I know from talking to Roberts sister Marilyn that their mom and dad didn't have much money, so life was a little hard, but from what I know of her and Robert I think that their parents did a real good job. He had a girlfriend, Marcia, and a 56 Ford. Cars had a lot to do with Robert and the Marines. He had always wanted to be a Marine and wrangled the signatures to enlist when he was 17. While waiting for his date to go to boot camp, he and a friend were riding around drinking beer and had a wreck. Robert got caught. Ever heard Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA"? "Got in a little hometown jam. So they put a rifle in my hand." Well according to the story that Burke told Corpsman Mike Lutz, when he woke up the next morning with a splitting headache in the local jail there was an impressive looking dude with a crew cut and an outstanding blue uniform looking at him. "Son, I can get you out of here," the recruiter told him. Robert reported to boot camp immediately. After boot camp and ITR, he was trained for Motor T. When Tet 68 happened Gen. Westmoreland asked Pres. Johnson for more troops and the 27th Marines on Camp Pendleton started filling up their ranks with Marines from all over the base. In just a few days we went to the old El Toro Marine air station, LBJ came and gave us a speech and the whole regiment flew to Viet Nam together. Two days later we were in the bush.

May 17, 1968, is a day that a lot of us old guys here still think about every day. We were on Operation Allen Brooke in an area called GoNoi island. India was in the lead with Alpha 1/7 and Golf 2/7 behind us. We had just got out of one fight at dawn and were moving across a huge open field toward a dry river bed with heavy jungle and trees behind it. The village of Le Nam. The guys in the lead were hit real hard by a Battalion of NVA in bunkers as they got to the dry river bed and took quite a few MIAs and KIAs right away. Robert was near the front when this happened. There was a tremendous amount of fire coming from the tree line in front of us and Marines were being hit left and right. There was no cover. Marines were trying to dig in or run across the river bed. We were firing everything we had, to no obvious effect. My squad ran down into the river bed, scooped up a wounded Marine and tried to make it across. As we ran 3 of our 6 went down wounded. Where we ran across was right behind where PFC Burke was blasting away with his M-60 and Mike, Al, and I, believe that he kept us from being killed by the NVA. In the open field where most of India was they were getting organized but continued to be under a huge amount of fire and murderous sniper fire. The Company CO, Capt. Ralph was killed, followed by 1st Lt. Cummings, and 2nd Lt. Fiebelkorn. Lt. Thompson of 1st Platoon assumed command. PFC. Burke continued to pour suppressing fire into the NVA positions. At a time when almost all of us who had crossed the river were treating the wounded, staying behind the river bank, and poking our heads over the river bank to fire, PFC. Burke was up on top of the bank in an exposed position with his M-60. Like I said before I think about this every day of my life and I'm tormented by what I or we could have done different. I would have fired my weapon more. Tried harder to see the NVA positions. Maneuvered to take pressure off the guys in the open field. Here's the thing, the things that I dream about going back and doing are the very things that PFC. Burke really did. He made a big difference. Our Corpsman Mike Lutz had been wounded and he had "promoted" me to Acting Corpsman. A call came down the line, "Corpsman up" and I went down there with the Corpsman's bag. It was Burke, some of the guys had gone up on top of the bank and had pulled him back down after he was hit. He was still, we checked his wounds. He wasn't breathing. There was nothing we could do. The battle went on. We were rescued by our brother companies Kilo and Lima 3/27 who had been choppered in behind the NVA and fought their way through the enemy lines to help us. Nothing ever felt better. I talked to some of my friends who knew Robert to ask them what they remembered about him. We all agreed that he was a happy go lucky guy, fun, with an ornery sense of humor. He loved to fire that M-60 and anytime he had an excuse to fire it he really cut loose. He also had a little rebel in him and I remember once we had some down time, and I saw him throwing his bayonet at a banana tree. Well it looked like fun but I was afraid of getting in trouble for hurting some guys tree and not winning hearts and minds. Burke wasn't worried about that and we threw bayonets at that tree until we cut it down. We laughed and had a great time. He was a good guy.

I'm sure most of you have seen the movie "Saving Private Ryan." In one of the scenes the elderly Private Ryan has returned to Normandy with his family. After he finds Capt. Millers grave he's very emotional and he says to Miller, " I hope I've earned what all of you have done for me." Then he says to his wife, "Tell me I've lead a good life. Tell me I'm a good man." It always makes me cry because that's how I feel about Robert Burke and all the others who died so I could be here today. I owe those guys! They didn't get a chance to grow old, we don't know how they would have done. But, Our debt to them is, not to waste the lives they gave us and the freedom that men and women like them have given to this country. Every American has the same debt as Veterans do. Everyone! Don't waste your life, get out there and do something with it.

When I was given the opportunity to come here and speak about Robert I was honored. I've spent a lot of time thinking about him and what we went through. I wish things had been different for him but I will use his memory to make myself a better person. When I'm down or lazy, I'm going to remember what Robert did for me and try to live life to its fullest and I hope you all will.

Thank you, and Semper Fi.

Grady, Ciezki, Fisher, Lutz, Riordan, Butler 

Al Ciezki 

Bob Simonsen, George Rostron, Al Ciezki, Steve Easton, Cordie Rostron, Ernie Fitzgerald, Doug Grady 

Janet Rigney and the Richard Buchanan Family

Dale Camp

South Vietnam Medal of Merit is presented to the Burke Fanily 

The sister of Robert Burke, Marilyn Barnett, cuts the Ribbon to open the Hall 

Photos & MOH Citations in the Entrance Foyer 

Steve DeWitt, Dave Ellison, Chuck Spencer 

Plaques on Outside Entrance Wall 

Ernie Fitzgerald, Cordie Rostron 

Bill & Gerri Jansen 

George Rostron, Bob Simonsen 

Burke's Awards 

Seven of the 55 attendees at Friday dinner 

David Ellison, Terry Rigney, Bill Jansen 

Mike "Doc" Lutz, Andy Boyko 

A Visit to the Vietnam Memorial 

Terry Rigney, Nan&Bob Simonsen stand on the iconic footprints at the Museum of the USMC 

Marilyn wearing the pendant made from her Brother's Dress Blues Cover EGA 

 

Below you will find the writings of a participant at the Burke dedication. His insight is phenomenal and I'm sure that you will agree that it parallels the thoughts of all who attended.  Eloquently stated, this work must be given 'star' status within the realm of 3/27 lore.

The Dedication

16 May 2008

by Robert Simonsen

     Nearly 40 years exactly had passed for these former warriors as they traveled to the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia to honor one of their fallen brothers.  They came by planes, cars and even motorcycles from a cross section of cities throughout the United States including places such as:  Aztec, NM; Pisgah Forest, NC; Placerville, CA; Wildwood, NJ; Hixton, WI; Galena, KS; Yakima, WA; Newton, PA; Georgetown, TX; Salem, OR;  Macomb, MI; Bartow, FL; Englewood, OH; Long Island, NY; New Orleans, LA and Virginia Beach, VA.

     Most of them had been married (some more than once) and had raised families.  Although many are now retired, they had held previous jobs representing a vast diversity of work: businessmen, construction workers, salesmen, police officers, teachers, firemen, engineers and even career Marines.  Many had graduated with high college degrees while others had not even finished high school.  The bottom line is that they represented the heart and soul of America.

     These 60 plus year-olds included former ranks from Privates to Colonels.  They had all been Marines or Navy Corpsmen.  They represented all five companies (H & S, India, Kilo, Lima and Mike) from the 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines (3/27).   Most of them now had gray hair or were balding.  Although some could still fit into their old uniforms, most had added a �few� pounds to their waistlines and no longer looked like the �lean and mean green machine� of their youthful years.  Some limped and showed the physical effects of their old war wounds; others who suffered from deep emotional wounds were not as obvious.  If you talked to them you would learn of their many troubled years of suffering in silence before the demons finally erupted later on in life.  Post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is the name for it.  �All gave some, some gave all.�

     Advanced age has left many with various pains, illnesses and the limitations that might come with it.  The big joke is to compare how many pills one is now taking to help alleviate the various symptoms and perhaps provide a better life.  Several of their Marine �brothers� have passed away in recent years due to poor health or unfortunate accidents.  Although many will probably live another twenty years or so, mortality is once again facing them in their daily lives, as it did some 40 years ago in Vietnam.

     Some came alone; others with wives, girlfriends, children, grandchildren and friends.  Many who came had never seen or even knew the Marine being recognized, while others knew him intimately and were there in the Vietnam jungle when he was killed and earned the Nations highest award for valor: The Medal of Honor.  He was the youngest recipient of this Medal during the Vietnam War.  He was barely 18 years old and his name was Robert C. Burke.  He was raised in Illinois and represented the best that America had to offer in 1968.  He was a Marine and damn proud of it.  He lived life to the fullest and left this earth well before his time.  He was a �Gung Ho� Marine hero who saved many lives on a fateful May 17, 1968 day in a place only a few still remember: Go Noi Island.

     Dale Camp was appropriately selected to give a speech at the dedication, telling the brief story of Robert Burke.  Dale had been there that day and credits Robert with saving his life as he, Al Ciezki, and �Doc� Mike Lutz crossed a dry river bed under a tremendous volume of fire.  Twenty-one Marines died that day and scores more were wounded.  The unbearable heat also took its toll on the pinned down Marines.  Robert had aggressively provided cover fire with his machine gun and eliminated several enemy positions before falling to automatic rifle fire.  Miraculously, both Dale and Al were not even wounded, while Doc Lutz was hit severely in the wrist.  Dale had to take over for Corpsman Lutz and provided medical care to others as best he could.

     There were also several relatives of Robert who made the journey: sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins.  His younger sister, Marilyn, was the glue that had kept Robert�s memory alive and held the family together. She had attended two previous building dedications honoring her brother and was also in Washington D.C. in 1969 when Vice President Agnew presented the Medal of Honor to the family. She brought with her an album with pictures and other items concerning Robert�s life, which she graciously shared with everyone.  Dangling around her neck was a new necklace with a medallion that she just had made and centered on the medallion was Robert�s �Eagle, Globe and Anchor,� taken from his dress blue uniform cover prior to his burial.

     Marilyn, former 3/27 Marines Terry Rigney, Andy Boyko and Johnny Johnson, along with the Marine Corps representative, Madelon Farr, and several active duty Marines had all played important parts at one time or the other in putting the dedication together and reaching out to 3/27 Marines and family so that there would be a successful ceremony.  Hats off to them all!  Your efforts are all greatly appreciated.

     Robert wasn�t the only hero that came from this group of Marines.  Others who attended the dedication had earned the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star and other commendation medals.  Many had also received the Purple Heart for their �red badge of courage.�  It seems appropriate to quote from Shakespeare�s King Henry V play, �He, who shed his blood with me, shall be my brother forever.� All were heroes in their own right, whether it was recognized by a medal or not.  To be in harms way, thousands of miles from home on a daily basis, is one of the most heroic tasks that any person can undertake.  �Every Marine is a basic rifleman� is the motto that many will take to their grave.

     The former Marines had gathered together, not just to honor Robert and to see the new building which was being dedicated and was now adorned with his name on a brass plaque, along with another honoree,  James Anderson Jr., but also to honor the memory of the dozens of others who never came back home.  If you observed these men over the weekend, you would see strong handshakes, hugs, tears, laughter and every other possible emotion.  They talked of old times and new.  They tried to remember events which had slipped from their memory over the previous 40 years.  Although nothing formal had been planned, many joined each other in both large and small groups for meals, camaraderie and late night drinking, cigar smoking and the telling of �old war stories� (many embellished over the years). 

     Most found time to visit the nearby Marine Corps National Museum where their USMC heritage is proudly displayed.  There were important stops in the gift shop where they purchased Marine Corps memorabilia: mugs, shirts, hats, books, challenge coins and you name it.  After all:  �Once a Marine, Always a Marine!�  Another must, was a visit to the second level to the inside replica of the birth of the Marine Corps on November 10, 1775: Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  A cold brew or two were quaffed down by the thirsty veteran Marines.

     A few, who stayed on an extra day or two, went to Washington D. C. to view the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Some stood in silence in deep remembrance and others quietly wept over the name(s) of a remembered friend that had been etched into the granite wall.  One name may seem insignificant in the sea of 58,000 names but to the fellow Marine brother who had survived the war, the specific name(s) held an everlasting bond that could never be broken.  Marilyn, visiting the �Wall� for the first time in her life, wept at the sight of her big brother�s name.  She proudly kept saying to anyone around, �That was my brother.� Penciled etchings of special names were taken for keepsakes.  Marines don�t leave their dead on the battlefield nor do they ever forget those that made the ultimate sacrifice.  The names really do not need to be placed on a wall because they will remain etched in their minds forever. �Semper Fidelis � Always Faithful.�

======================================================================================================

               GULF COAST REUNION - GULF SHORES, ALABAMA, JUNE 2007

      

                                                                            REUNION PHOTOS           

                                                                               Gulf Shores, Alabama

                                                                                       June  2007

                                                                  

                                                      

                                             

                               SUSAN & ERNIE FITZGERALD, TERRY RIGNEY, ANDY BOYKO, GENERAL JOHN & HELEN TOOLAN

          Alabama Reunion Photos  (June 2007)                                                                       

Brig. Gen. Toolan and Marilyn Barnett                                                                       

Blas Preciado with Gen. and Mrs. Toolan 

Nan Simonsen as Banquet Auctioneer 

Some Lima Company Marines 

Reunion Cake for 3/27's 39th 

Andy Boyko, Mike Vanderhoef 

Mike Vanderhoef 

Pegi Prish, our gracious hostess 

Bill Prish, our host 

Bill Prish presents Certificate of Appreciation to Bob Rankin, Commander, American Legion Post 44, Gulf Shores  **(July 2007; added 19Dec08)

Keith Soukkala, Mike Stoppa, Ed Benavidez 

Roy Parr, George Rostron, Mike Stoppa, Keith Soukkala, Ed Benavidez 

Miles Keefe 

Marine Honor Guard at Banquet 

Roy Parr 

Paul Michael's "Agent Orange" Bike  (Paul perished in a traffic accident shortly after this reunion)

Paul Michael's 3/27 Motorcycle 

Dayton Reunion Photos (Oct 2005)

Fred Steube, Andy Boyko, MajGen. Bice, Gunny Recruiter 

Maj.Gen. David F.Bice  (Inspector General of the Marine Corps) chats with Tim Galvin

 

San Diego Reunion (2003)

At the San Diego Reunion ( Ed Benavidez, Blake Thomas, John Zalipski, Rich Buchanan, Miles Keefe, (kneeling) Keith Soukkala

                                                                                             

Recruit Tom Burke, nephew of  I / 3 / 27's Robert Burke -MOH - kneeling in utilities, front center.

 

Philadelphia, PA Reunion ( July 2000)

(Front) Matt Raible;        (Rear) Andy Boyko, Charlie Butler, Mike Ricci, Dennis Christy 

 

Hot Springs, Arkansas Reunion (1998)

3/27 Marines &  Honored Guests,  July 31, 1998

B. Simonsen, S. Monk, Domingo DeLeon, R. Fonseca, A. Ciezki, M. Lutz 

(Front) M. Raible, Mike Ricci, C. Butler, L & B Gostlin, (Rear) Tom Fuleky, M. Lutz 

(Front) M. Raible, Jack Lucas (MOH-Iwo Jima), Tim Davis; (Rear) Mike Clausen-MOH, RVN; "Doc" Ballard, MOH-RVN, A. Boyko 

Mike "Doc" Lutz 

Charlie Butler with Mustang Sally 

Johnny Johnson with Major John K. (Keith) Wells (Navy Cross), Iwo Jima author 

Chaplain Mike O'Neil, Jerry Kline, George Hight 

New Mexico Reunion (1996)

(Rear) D. Christy, A. Boyko, C. Butler, D. Camp, J. Thomas (Front) M. Lutz, R. Pelkey, Gayle Pelkey, Frank Cortez & Wife (Front) Matt Raible & Wife 

Andy Boyko, Dennis Christy 

 

Springfield, Missouri Reunion (1995)

The Crew 

Frank Cortez, Al Ciezki, Raul Fonseca, Fred Steube, Shelby Monk

 

Colorado Reunion (1993)

 

Switzerland, Florida Reunion (October 1991)

Florida Reunion  Tom Hanson, David Burns, Joe Thomas, Richard Pelkey, Ray Allison, Tullis Woodham, Andy Boyko, Chuck Spencer, Bill Gostlin;  Front:  Tim Davis, Mark Smith

At Florida Reunion 

Mars Hill, N.C., Reunion (August 1990)

Andy Boyko, Joe Thomas 

 

Lancaster, Ohio Reunion (June 1989)

Lower: Tom Hanson, Tim Davis; Upper: Bill Gostlin, Joe Thomas, Denny Christy, Bob Detty, Ray Allison 

Linda & Bill Gostlin, Sherry & Joe Thomas, Dennis Christy, Tom Hanson, Bob Detty, Tim Davis, Pat Allison 

 

Grinnell, Iowa,  Reunion (July 1988)

Ray Allison, Joe Thomas, Denny Christy, Gary Harlan

 

Irons, Michigan Reunion (August 1987)

 

Oceanside, California Reunion (1974)

A group of 3/27 Vietnam veterans from the Oceanside, California area met at a local restaurant for the first unofficial reunion.  Consisting mostly of retired and still active duty senior NCOs and Officers, little remains today as to exactly who attended or what was discussed.  Colonel Tullis Woodham (USMC Retired) was present and has submitted this information.

 

Miscellaneous Photos

Lima Co., Third Platoon Members  (Lima Co. only Reunion, Fla.)

Garland Sisco 

Rich Buchanan & Marlin Jackson - 2005 

                                    

                                    Closing of the 3/27 Reunion Banquet

                       It has been a past ritual and is fast becoming a lasting tradition that, at the close of

each 3/27 Reunion Banquet, all persons present rise, join hands, and sing along to Lee Greenwood's

 song "God Bless the U.S.A.".  Many people may not know the words to this patriotic American

favorite, so we have printed them and provided a link to the audio below.  Please enjoy the song,

learn the words, and prepare for a moving experience at the next Reunion in OKC.  We suggest

that you purchase a CD  of this song and practice at home or in your car until you'll be able

 to lead the group in song if asked   ( ... only kidding, Marines ) .                                              

    Please click the below link to access the audio of the song written below.  

  GOD BLESS THE USA

    By Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone

I'd worked for all my life,

And I had to start again

with just my children and my wife.

I'd thank my lucky stars

to be living here today,

Cause the flag still stands for freedom

 and they can't take that away.

And I'm proud to be an American

 where at least I know I'm free. 

And I won't forget the men who died,

 who gave that right to me.

And I'd gladly stand up

next to you

and defend her still today.

Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land

 God bless the U.S.A.



From the lakes of Minnesota,

to the hills of Tennessee,

'cross the plains of Texas,

from sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston

and New York to LA,

Well, there's pride in every American heart,

and it's time we stand and say:

That I'm proud to be an American

where at least I know I'm free.

And I won't forget the men that died,

who gave that right to me.

And I'd gladly stand up

next to you

and defend her still today.

Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land

 God bless the U.S.A.

And I'm proud to be an American

where at least I know I'm free.

And I won't forget the men who died,

who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up

next to you

and defend her still today,

'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land

God Bless the U.S.A.

 

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