The Khe Sanh Commanders

A CBA Special Archive Plate


The Khe Sanh Commanders were created and commissioned in 1987 and competed in the CBA Lucre League. This cosmic team is composed of Marine officers who fought in and around the Khe Sanh area between 1967 and 1968 during the Vietnam War.

This special archive plate contains:



Khe Sanh 1967-1968

In one sense, the battle of Khe Sanh in the province of Quang Tri in the country of Vietnam, remains a microcosm of the ambiguities so prevalent at the time, both in Vietnam and in the United States. From another perspective however, Khe Sanh represents unambiguously a sponge that soaked up too much human blood.

In 1968 soldiers of the United States Marines successfully defended Khe Sanh, repelling the North Vietnamese attempt to seize the base. But the North Vietnamese ultimately erected a monument symbolizing, ironically, its victory, when, weeks later American forces were withdrawn from the area.



The Team Roster


Breeding, E.G., Secondbase
Captain USMC
Echo Company Commander (2nd Battalion, 26th Marines)

Capt. Breeding and his men defended Hill 861A against attack between February 4 and 5, 1968. Breeding described the combat environment: " When Charlie got inside the wire it was just like a World War II movie with...knife fighting, bayonet fighting, hitting people on the nose with your fist and all the rest of that..." Seven Marines died in the battle; 35 were seriously wounded.



Vietnam War History Page

Brindley, T.D., Thirdbase
2nd Lieutenant. USMC
3rd Platoon Commander (India Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

Lt. Brindley led his platoon in an assault on entrenched North Vietnamese troops during the Battle of Hill 881 between January 18-20, 1968. Brindley was one of two platoon commanders who were shot and killed during the assault. (Lt. M.H. Thomas was the other platoon leader killed; see below). He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.


Buffington, N.B., Centerfield
2nd Lieutenant. USMC
1st Platoon Commander (Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

On January 2, 1968, Lt. Buffington led a group of Marines that confronted a North Vietnamese scouting party of six outside the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB). Buffington's men shot five members of this enemy team; one soldier apparently escaped. It has been reported in official Marine records as well as personal reminiscences that the dead members of the North Vietnamese search party included a regimental commander and some of his staff. This event was, to some extent, a wake-up call, for the soldiers at the KSCB.


"A war like the war in Viet Nam is as much a political war as it was a military one.
We won the military one, and lost the political one.
And because we lost the political one, we lost the whole war."

From: johne@ime.net (john boy) in a message posted to the newsgroup soc.history.war.vietnam on August 16, 1996.


Camp, R.D., Pitcher
Captain USMC
Lima Company Commander (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

Richard Camp wrote a book, Lima-6, about his experience commanding a Marine infantry company in Khe Sanh. In the introduction to the book, retired Marine Corps General R.G. Davis writes that Camp's book "portrays times in the Vietnam War at their lowest ebb. Instead of attacking the enemy we were on the defensive..." Earlier in his Introduction, General Davis blames the "eventual disaster" that was Vietnam on a too slow build-up of forces. He was there, he might be right. After a brief stint as a battalion assistant operations officer, Camp served as an aide to Davis. After Vietnam, Camp moved up the ranks in the Marine Corps, eventually retiring, after 26 years of service, as a colonel in July, 1988.



Vietnam War Gopher Site

Campbell, R.W., Pitcher
Major, USMC
Executive Officer (1st Battalion, 13th Marines)

January 21,1968 was a particularly active day of enemy artillery fire on the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The base was being pelted by 82mm mortar rounds and 122mm rockets. An ammunitions supply and fuel storage area were set ablaze. Nine Marines were killed, 37 were wounded. Major Campbell bravely went about the base collecting enemy artillery fragments which were then analyzed. The fragment analysis was used to develop an effective counter-battery barrage to help silence the enemy.


Caulfield, M.P., Pitcher
Major, USMC
Operations Officer (3rd Battalion., 26th Marines)

Promoted to Major in November, 1967 after commanding India Company (3/26th) at Khe Sanh, Caulfield was from New York City. Of Khe Sanh, Caulfield has said: "In the last analysis, Khe Sanh was defended because it was the only logical thing to do. We were there, in a prepared position and in considerable strength. A well-fought battle would do the enemy a lot more damage than he could hope to inflict on us." By 1989, Caulfield was a Major General in the Marine Corps.


In the last analysis, within the context of the Tet Offensive, I really don't see how you can call Khe Sanh a PAVN [People's Army of Vietnam, i.e. "the enemy"] victory. In the period of months afterwards, well, that's debatable. I don't see the PAVN dictating the change in strategic policy by American forces - rather it was the change in the domestic political scene. Certainly, Tet had a lot to do with that, so I will concede an indirect effect. But I think Westmoreland was living in a pipe dream about his Inchon type hook above the DMZ [demilitarized zone] and incursion into Laos.
From: tegtmeie@panix.com (John R. Tegtmeier), Co B, 3/21, 196th LIB and Aeroscout Company, 123rd Aviation Battalion Americal - 1967/1968 --- VWAR #190 CWL #123 in a message to the newsgroup soc.history.war.vietnam on August 16, 1996.


E. Kenneth Hoffman - Vietnam Portfolio

Dabney, W.H., Rightfield
Captain USMC
India Company Commander (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

Capt. Bill Dabney, a fearless leader of men during the siege of Khe Sanh is described by his colleague, Capt. Camp (see above) as "a big, naturally taciturn man, a Naval Academy dropout and Virginia Military Institute graduate who had served an enlisted tour in which he made sergeant. A superb leader of enormous personal stature, Bill's standing in the Marine corps was considerably enhanced by his marriage to the elder daughter of the Marine Corps' legendary beau ideal, Chesty Puller."


Dillon, J.W., Firstbase
2nd Lieutenant USMC
2nd Platoon Commander (Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines)

Lt. Dillon was commander of the Bravo Company 2nd platoon (1/26) on March 30, 1968, when Bravo Company avenged an enemy attack of February 25. One of the objectives was to capture an enemy trench. It took Dillon's platoon just 13 minutes to secure the trench.



Viet Nam Generation, Inc. Home Page

Eberhardt, W.L., Shortstop
1st Lieutenant, USMC
Executive Officer, Battery C (1st Battalion, 13th Marines)

During the enemy artillery barrage of January 21, 1968, Lt. Eberhardt assisted by his supply chief removed almost 100 "dud" shells from the base compound. According to an official Marine account: "For three hours, these Marines carried out between 75 and 100 duds and disposed of them, knowing that any second one might explode."


Foley, R.M., Infield
2nd Lieutenant, USMC
Executive Officer, India Company (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

During the battle for Hill 881N on January 20, 1968, Lt. Foley assumed command of India Company's third platoon after Lt. Brindley (see above) was killed in action.


Our books say we won, theirs say they won. We got a higher body count. Was that a victory? We said we would never abandon Khe Sanh. But we did, soon after the end of the siege. Snuck out under cover of darkness. The Communists made staying too expensive for the Americans. We could not supply it without great difficulty, even after Route 9 was reopened in April 1968. In the end Khe Sanh was a NVA base, not a Marine or even U.S. base. If I had to say, I'd say they won at Khe Sanh.
-- Peter Brush in a reply message to the soc.history.war.vietnam newsgroup, August 1996.


Fromme, H.F., Infield
2nd Lieutenant, USMC
1st Platoon Commander, India Company (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

On January 19, 1968 Lt. Fromme engaged the enemy near Hill 881N in a mission to recover important documents and equipment left behind from an earlier engagement. Fromme's 1st platoon came under enemy fire during the mission. According to accounts Fromme "deployed his men and moved among their positions encouraging them." He was awarded the Bronze Star for his valor. On the next day, Fromme led his platoon during another engagement with the enemy.



Khe Sanh Poem by James Scofield

Gilece, J.J., Catcher
Captain, USMC
Mike Company Commander (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

John Gilece commanded Mike company during the battle for Hill 881. On January 20, 1968, Gilece's company was heli-lifted to the engagement area and manned the perimeter of Hill 881S while Bill Dabney's (see above) India Company moved northward towards Hill 881N to seek out and attack the enemy.


Heath, F.J., Pitcher
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC
Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines

On January 16, 1968, Colonel Francis Heath's 2nd Battalion arrived at the Khe Sanh Combat Base and joined the 1st and 3rd Battalions. For the first time since Iwo Jima the three battalions of the 26th Regiment were operating together.


Marines who had fought at Khe Sanh, the men who had held the place by dint of bravery and resourcefulness, were furious that the combat base would be abandoned [ in June, 1968]. Some Marines with 1/26 [1st Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment] blamed Westmoreland for the withdrawal and were almost in open revolt...The truth may never be known, although the weight of the evidence indicates that Westmoreland intended to hold Khe Sanh indefinitely, Equally likely is that the seed for the withdrawal was planted by Maxwell Taylor and cultivated by Lyndon Johnson.
-- John Prados & Ray W. Stubbe, Valley of Decision: The Siege of Khe Sanh. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, MA.; 1991.


Hennelly, J.A., Pitcher
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC
Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 13th Marines

Colonel John Hennelly commanded the Marine artillery battalion (1/13) assigned to Khe Sanh. Given the tactical importance of artillery fire power during the siege of Khe Sanh, Hennelly's guns were a critical factor in the defense of the Base.



Tour Bus at the Khe Sanh Combat Base
by Peter Brush

Hoch, K.L., Outfield
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC
Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines

From June to August 1967, Colonel Kurt Hoch, described as an "older, balding, heavyset man" commanded the 3rd Battalion at Khe Sanh.


Jasper, N.J., Pitcher
Captain, USMC
Kilo Company Commander (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

Capt. Norman Jasper was the Kilo Company commander during the Battle for Hill 861. Kilo Company was defending the hill outpost on January 20, 1968.


In March of 1968, David Douglas Duncan came back and was interviewed by Mike Douglas on the Mike Douglas Show syndicated program. Duncan gave his view on Khe Sanh and the Marines there. The next day, the guest on the Mike Douglas program was Colonel Lownds who had been a commander at Khe Sanh. Now if you watched Mike Douglas one day you got one view of Khe Sanh. If you watched the next day you got a different view of Khe Sanh. David Douglas Duncan said it wasn't worth it. Colonel Lownds said it was worth it. What you get on television very often depends, not just what you see through your mind's eye, but what day you are watching, when you are watching, what point of view you get.
-- Vietnam 10 Years Later: What Have We Learned?: Remarks of Lawrence W. Lichty


Lanigan, J.P., Pitcher
Colonel, USMC
Regimental Commander, 3rd Marines

Col. John Lanigan was the regimental commander of the 3rd Marines during the 1967 "Hill Battles". On May 13, 1967responsibility for the Khe Sanh area was transferred to Col. John Padley (see below) and the 26th Marines.



Vietnam Pictures

Lownds, D. E., Rightfield
Colonel, USMC
Regimental Commander, 26th Marines

Col. David Lownds became the regimental commander of the 26th Marines on August 27, 1967, replacing Col. John Padley. Khe Sanh was Col. Lownds' first Vietnam assignment and he remained in command of the 26th Marines through the siege. His command of the 26th Marines ended on April 15, 1968. On May 23, 1968, Col. Lownds was in Washington, D.C. to receive a Presidential Unit Citation from President Lyndon Johnson on behalf of the 26th Marines.


Matthews, O.S., Outfield
2nd Lieutenant, USMC
Platoon Commander, India Company (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

A member of Capt. Dabney's India Company which defended Hill 881S, Lt. Owen Matthews played the bugle at the defiant flag ceremonies conducted on the Hill during the siege of Khe Sanh.



Return to Khe Sanh Combat Base--1993

Pipes, K.W., Pitcher
Captain, USMC
Bravo Company Commander (1st Battalion, 26th Marines)

On February 25, 1968 a platoon from Capt. Ken Pipes' Bravo Company on a mission to locate an enemy mortar position was ambushed and some 26 Marines were killed. This ambush was avenged by Capt. Pipes on March 30 when Bravo Company launched a "classic raid" and killed 115 enemy soldiers. Pipes was wounded during the fight and was awarded the Silver Star. Nine Marines were killed in action during the assault.


No 'healing',
no apologies,
no memorials,
nothing can possibly compensate for the damage done
and the pain inflicted....
The only thing we can possibly do,
twenty years too late,
is to try and tell the truth." -
Historian Eric Bergerud


Radcliffe, H.J., Leftfield
Captain, USMC
Alpha Company Commander (1st Battalion, 9th Marines)

Capt. Henry Radcliffe led Alpha Company during the battle for Hill 64 on February 8, 1968. Leading a frontal assault on the enemy, Radcliffe drove the enemy from the Hill outpost in 15 minutes.



"Home is Where You Dig It"
:
Observations on Life at the Khe Sanh Combat Base
from Viet Nam Generation: The Big Book 1994, pp. 13-16.
By Peter Brush

Richards, R.J., Infield
Captain, USMC
Huey Gunship Helicopter Pilot (Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262)

Capt. Bob Richards flew one of the helicopters that helped evacuate survivors of the Fall of Lang Vei on February 6, 1968. It has been reported that his helicopter was so overloaded that he was unable to gain the necessary altitude and so he flew at tree-top altitude back to the Khe Sanh Combat Base.


Roach, T.R. Jr., Outfield
2nd Lieutenant, USMC
2nd Platoon Commander, Alpha Company (1st Battalion, 9th Marines)

On February 8, 1968 an attack by North Vietnamese troops from the 101D Regiment of the 325C Division occurred around 4:45 am. The enemy was assaulting a Marine outpost on Hill 64 defended by a platoon from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. This platoon was led by Lt. Roach. The North Vietnamese troops quickly overran the northeast sector of the outpost. What followed is described in Valley of Decision by Prados and Stubbe: " Roach raced across the top of the hill and tried to organize his men, providing cover fire for surviving Marines who were wounded or trapped. Two or three squads of NVA [North Vietnamese Army] soldiers were already in the trenches...One North Vietnamese leaped up and shot Roach..." By 9 am a relief platoon from Alpha Company mounted a counterattack and repelled the enemy within 15 minutes. 21 Marines were killed on Hill 64, including Lt. Roach who was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously.



Chronology--U.S.-Vietnam Relations: A Chronology

Thomas, M.H., Catcher
2nd Lieutenant, USMC
2nd Platoon Commander, India Company (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)

Along with Lt. Brindley (see above), Lt. Michael H. Thomas was killed in action during the battle of Hill 881 in January 1968. Thomas has been described as a skillful and brave leader who inspired other men to be courageous. Because of the leadership of men like Thomas, the Marines were able to crack the enemy's defenses on the Hill outposts. But the cost was high. Thomas was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.



A Brother's Tribute to a Fallen Brother

White, W.J., Pitcher
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC
Commanding Officer, Marine Observation Squadron 6

Lt. Col. Bill White was one of three Marine helicopter pilots who designed an airborne delivery system of needed supplies to the soldiers at Khe Sanh. Making use of helicopters, the so-called "super gaggle" tactic accounted for the delivery of over four thousand tons of freight during the siege. In their history of the siege of Khe Sanh, authors John Prados and Ray Stubbe write: "Helicopters were an indispensable component of the team that won the battle of Khe Sanh."


I thought calling Khe Sanh "the most important base" was a lot like Little League parents calling it "the most important game." For THEM, sure. But for the kids and for baseball and for the future of civilization as we know it?
-- From: dawson@mozart.inet.co.th
Alan Dawson
Newsgroups: soc.history.war.vietnam
Date: 22 Aug 1996 08:26:53 -0400


Wilkinson, J.B., Pitcher
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC
Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion., 26th Marines

As battalion commander when a patrol was ambushed on February 25, 1968, Lt. Col. Jim Wilkinson took responsibility for the losses (26 Marines killed or missing in action). Wilkinson decided not to send another unit after the ambushed patrol. His decision was questioned, but it is reported that years later, he still believed he did the right thing. Wilkinson had commanded the 1st Battalion for over eight months and by mid-March he was replaced. Later, he became the executive officer for the 4th Marine Regiment.



I Keep It In My Heart And Wait For You

The Return To Viet Nam, 1996
By Timothy A. Duffie, USMC, Viet Nam, 1966-67

"Khe Sanh appears to have served the NVA's [North Vietnamese Army] purpose."
--General Earl Wheeler on March 27, 1968.

Wheeler made these comments to the 583rd Meeting of the National Security Council. (Source document declassified July 8, 1980)


Cushman, R.E., Jr., Field Manager
Lieutenant General, USMC
Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF)

General Cushman assumed command of III MAF on July 1, 1967. He was, in effect, the senior Marine officer in Vietnam. Prior to his service in Vietnam, General Cushman had a very distinguished career in the Marine Corps. From February 1957 through January 1961, he was the National Security Advisor to the Vice President, Richard M. Nixon. His disagreement with General Westmoreland over military strategy in Vietnam has been documented elsewhere. After Vietnam, General Cushman became a Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).



Glenn's Marine Corps Page

Padley, J. J., Coach (Batting/Firstbase)
Colonel, USMC
Regimental Commander, 26th Marines

Colonel John Padley assumed command of the 26th Marine Regiment on May 13, 1967. Padley had joined the Marines in February 1941 and was the Executive Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines during Iwo Jima. Padley's command of the regiment ended August 14, 1967, after the Khe Sanh "Hill Battles".


Hochmuth, B.A., Coach (Fielding/Thirdbase)
Major General, USMC
Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division

General Bruno Hochmuth was commander of the 3rd Marine Division in 1967. As such he was responsible for the Khe Sanh and DMZ areas in Vietnam. On November 14, 1967, the UH-1E helicopter General Hochmuth was flying in exploded, killing all aboard.


Walt, L.W., Coach (Pitching)
Major General, USMC
Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF)

General Lewis Walt basically disagreed with General Westmoreland's plans for defending the Khe Sanh area. A native of Kansas, General Walt was a highly decorated Marine having been awarded 2 Navy Crosses and a Silver Star during World War II. His command of III MAF ended June 1, 1967 when General Cushman (see above) became III MAF's commander.



Viet Nam Generation Index to Archival Holdings by Title, Part II

Bru Anha, Team Owner

A member of the indigenous Bru (whom the French called Montagnards), Anha was Eugene Poilane's illegitimate son and Felix Poilane's half-brother. Anha became the Deputy Chief of the Huong Hoa district and lived in the Ta Cong district. A commentator has provided the following description of Anha: " He is what I expected, an active personality, leader of a struggling people. Wore a white shirt with black jeans, shower shoes, and wearing a steel pot on his head, a flak vest with ammo magazines in its pockets."


Eugene Poilane, General Manager

Born in France in 1888, Monsieur Poilane first arrived in Vietnam in 1909. In 1926 he started the first coffee plantation in the Khe Sanh area.



Julian Bond's Vietnam Comic Book
Written and Published in 1967


Khe Sanh Memorial Baseball Field
Home Park

Capacity: 1,807



Party on The Mountain

Statistics


Officially the number of individuals killed during Khe Sanh related combat is a combined 1,807 (205 Marines; 1,602 enemy). [Reference: Capt. Moyers S. Shore, The Battle For Khe Sanh. USMC. 1969]

Unofficial estimates place the American casualty figures at 1,000 dead and 4,500 wounded. Estimates of enemy casualties span the range from 10,000 to 20,000 killed in action.


Khe Sanh Commanders

Season 1987 Record

         PITCHER             ERA     IP     R     ER   BB   K    W    L
Capt. Camp                   3.10   206     79    71  92   133  15    7
Major Campbell               3.73   186     90    77  84   124  12   10
Major Caulfield              3.80   187     96    79  61   120  10   15
Lt. Col. Heath               3.37   211     90    79  49   125  10   13
Lt. Col. Hennelly      .     3.22   207     86    74  67   118  14    8
Capt. Jasper                 3.95    98     47    43  35    47   7    8
Col. Lanigan                 4.40    90     46    44  37    50   1    6
Capt. Pipes                  3.60    90     39    36  35    59   3    6
Lt. Col. White               3.11   107     47    37  35    53   3    6
Lt. Col. Wilkinson           3.90    97     47    42  30    52   5    3
Total Pitching               3.54  1479    667   582 525   881  80   82


BATTER POS BA AB H HR RBI Capt. Breeding 2B 0.246 411 101 18 60 Lt. Brindley 3B 0.209 412 86 4 24 Lt. Buffington CF 0.237 393 93 12 42 Capt. Dabney RF 0.231 376 87 8 34 Lt. Dillon 1B 0.247 373 92 12 40 Lt. Everhart SS 0.255 365 93 15 50 Lt. Foley IF 0.253 359 91 16 57 Lt. Fromme IF 0.270 571 154 5 43 Capt. Gilece C 0.283 583 165 0 46 Lt. Col. Hoch OF 0.326 298 97 0 24 Col. Lownds RF 0.250 280 70 8 37 Lt. Matthews OF 0.258 275 71 1 28 Capt. Radcliffe LF 0.273 271 74 3 33 Capt. Richards IF 0.207 251 52 4 22 Lt. Roach OF 0.214 252 54 12 41 Lt. Thomas C 0.236 242 57 15 38 Total Batting 0.252 5712 1437 133 619

The Commanders competed in the Cosmic Baseball Association for three seasons (1987-1989) and despite poor attendance at home, achieved a certain amount of recognition for their prowess on the field, especially in pitching, and in the power hitting category. These marines launched over 125 homeruns in each season of their 3 seasons. The Commanders functioned as an instructional team for the Wonderland Warriors, a CBA Overleague team. After 1987, the CBA disbanded the Lucre League and the Commanders were assigned to the newly formed War In Vietnam League where they competed against three other teams.

Update Note: Two original Commanders are in line for promotion to the Overleague next season (1997). Col. Lownds and Capt. Camp were selected by the Warriors during the August Reactivation Draft.


"This statue symbolizes the hopes and dreams of America, and the real purpose of our foreign policy. We realized that to retain freedom for ourselves, we must be concerned when people in other parts of the world may lose theirs. There is no greater challenge to statesmanship than to find a way that such sacrifices as this statue represents are not necessary in the future, and to build the kind of world in which people can be free, in which nations can be independent, and in which people can live together in peace and friendship."
Vice President Richard Nixon, at the dedication of the United States Marine Memorial ("Iwo Jima Memorial"), November 10, 1954.




Many of the original members of the Khe Sanh Commanders served with the 26th Marines in Vietnam. The Cosmic Baseball Association would like to take this opportunity to honor the soldiers of the 26th and all Marines and members of Armed Forces everywhere. Their sacrifices shall never be forgotten.



The 26th Marine Regiment's first battle was at Iwo Jima during World War II. Created in January 1944, the new regiment arrived in Iwo Jima in February, under the command of Col. Chester B. Graham. In fact it was a group of soldiers from the 26th that first raised the flag on Iwo Jima. At 10:20 a.m. on February 23, 1944 five soldiers from the 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines raised the U.S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi. On March 5, 1946 the 26th Regiment was disbanded. The regiment was reactivated on March 1, 1966 under the command of Col. John J. Padley. Elements of the 26th arrived in Danang, Vietnam in August of that same year.


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1987 Khe Sanh Commanders- Special Archive Plate
URL http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/87kc.html
Published: September 5, 1996
Updated: March 15, 1997
LEXCH: January 27, 1999
Revised: May 9, 2001
Copyright © 1996 by the Cosmic Baseball Association

Email: editor@cosmicbaseball.com

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