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By V.I.Stone

A story of three young men that became United States Marines

It was August of 1967, I was 21 when my two buddies came to my mother’s rented house in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  It was after the workday and we planned to have a few gin and tonics on my back porch.  The two showed up with smiles on their faces and I knew something was up! While having our cocktails, they asked me if I would like to know what they did today.  The war in Viet Nam was really heating up and we had all seen the fighting on the evening news.  They announced that they joined the United States Marine Corps earlier that day.  I fell from my chair and screamed “you’ar gonna get killed”.

We had always talked about being Marines together.  As this was heavy on my mind, I considered my future.  I had been to three years of college and had no money to return for my senior year and my employment at the RC Cola plant paid me less than a dollar per hour.  I joined the Marine Corps the next morning.  Early September the three of us, Virgil Stone, Duke Watts and Bert Jeffries flew to MCRD San Diego to become what was known as “Hollywood Marines”.

Thirteen weeks later, boot camp ended and we got our MOS assignments. Watts was 0811 artillery, Jeffries 0311 and Stone 0311, basic infantry “grunts”.  After final training for our jobs in the Corps, we were all sent to different units in Viet Nam.  Watts shot fire missions from Dong Ha, Jefferies and I became grunts in 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines.  The three buddies had little contact after that.

After six months in country and heavy contact with enemy, I gained experience and rank, then got wounded and sent to Japan to recover.  When I returned to finish my tour I was re-assigned to Echo Company 2/5 where I met Patrick Lisi, your website host.  We fought side by side for the next 7 months in the Arizona Territory west of An Hoa.  As the months rolled passed, Pat and I became great friends and had each other’s backs through many Operations and many missions.  With only days left to complete my tour of duty, I was informed by our company commander, Capt. John Woggan, that James Herbert Jeffries, my best childhood buddy, was killed in action near Khe Sanh and that his parents had requested me to escort his body back to Arkansas.  This was one of the hardest tasks I have had in the USMC and one of the greatest traditions of the Marines!  No Marine lost in battle goes home alone.

When I think back about leaving Echo Company and Pat Lisi still in the bush with months to go in his tour, I still get very sad.  The United Sates Marine Corps was the best thing that happened in my life and gave me the self confidence to do anything!

Duke Watts is well and home in Arkansas.  I am retired and living in Arkansas and Pat Lisi and I are still close friends and Marine buddies. Pat, thanks for this website from me and all men that served their Country in battle!

Semper Fidelis

Virgil I Stone, USMC

 

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