Easter Sunday 1967


In 1965 - 66 the Marine Corps Command decided to introduce a Marine Squad usually consisting of twelve volunteers to live with a PF [Popular Force] platoon in a Vietnamese village and provide security and support for the villagers against the Viet Cong, thus was the begining of the CAC [Combined Action Company which was shortly renamed to CAP or Combined Action Platoon because the Vietnamse pronunciation of CAC meant a derrogatory term]. The concept of Marines living amoung the people was a sound one, it would enable the allied forces to deny the enemy a foothold in the rural coastal area's of Vietnam, considered the "bread basket" of the country.

Pacification of the local population was the goal Marines believed would ultimately be the downfall of the Communist insurgent forces and bring a stable form of government thus ending the war. Denying the enemy food and shelter would force his hand to engage in combat and ultimate destruction, or force him to retreat from the theater and his goal of domination. CAC L-5 was such a unit, nine young Marines and a Navy Corpsman volunteer's drawn from the men of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines who lived in the Vietnamese hamlet of Phuoc Thuan (1) and patrolled the area with the Vietnamese PF's from the village.

These units were supported by their parent organizations and the men were carried on the Company rosters until 31 January 1967 when an administative transfer of all CAP personel was made to Sub Unit #2, HQ Co., HQ Battalion (Rein), 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF as well as the Operational Control fell to their new Command. Thus the men of CAC L-5 left Bravo Company and became part of Sub Unit #2, HQ Co, with the exception of LCpl James Adrian Setter of Bravo Co who joined the ill fated patrol.

The Patrol and Ambush

On the morning of 26 March, 1967, at approximately 09:30H sixteen men left the CAC L-5 compound, to visit the community and administer medical help to the local population, only two survived their Med-Cap patrol.[ Med-Cap was a patrol which offered medical assistance to the local villagers, who for the most part lived without medical services in the rural communities]. Information as to time, route, and destination of a patrol was never shared with the PF's, this was a common practice by Marines in Vietnam for security purposes. The small unit consisting of nine Marines, one Navy Corpsman and six PF's began their march south and slightly west towards their destination of Van Thuan (3), a distance of approximately two miles, and thesite of two previous Med-Caps.

About an hours march from their compound, in the vicinity of Van Thuong (1) the patrol was ambushed by a numerically superior force of Viet Cong, estimated to be 50 or more in number. The Marines and PF's were raked with automatic weapons and machine-gun fire by the VC, the patrol returned the fire as best they could with small arms and M-79 grenades. Quickly realizing that they were vastly outnumbered, a desperate call for assistance in the form of artillery support was radioed to the 1st Bn, 7th Marines. A artillery salvo was fired immediatly to try and relieve the pressure the patrol was facing from the heavy volume of fire directed towards them by the attackers, but during the mission all radio contact was lost.

A squad from "Bravo" Company departed from it's combat base as reinforcement, and a platoon of Marines from "Delta" Company was heli-lifted just south of the ambush. By the time the friendly forces arrived in the vicinity of the ambush, the VC had melted away in the heavy brush leaving the dead and wounded Marines and PF's.

The Aftermath

The reinforcements found that from the 16 man patrol, 8 Marines were killed as was the lone Navy Corpsman and 5 of the PF's were also dead from the deadly ambush. All of the bodies were within 15 paces of each other and all had died from multiple fragmentation and gunshot wounds as well each man was shot in the head at close range after having being wounded or killed during the engagement. There were survivors, one Marine miraculously survived who was wounded having been shot several times in the back and neck; and the PF Platoon leader who somehow escaped the carnage with a wounded hand. The enemy had escaped with all of the patrols equipment and ammunition, leaving 8 of their own dead behind.

This Easter Sunday will never be forgotten by the men who survived, those who heard the cries for help, and those who recovered the living and the dead.

Patrol Members Killed in Action and where they are at Rest

PFC James Charles Batson USMC St Peter's Episcopal Cemetery Hebron CT
LCpl Robert Thomas Brinkley USMC Nashville National Cemetery Madison TN
PFC Clarence John Burley USMC Baltimore National Cemetery Baltimore MD
LCpl David Estrada USMC Ressurection Cemetery Montebello CA
LCpl Barry Francis Price USMC Mound City National Cemetery Mound City IL
LCpl James Adrian Setter USMC Evergreen Cemetery Brown City MI
LCpl Terry Dean Shauver USMC North Cemetery Lansing MI
HN Cyril Jeffrey Westly USN Manly Cemetery Manly IA
PFC Charles Henry White USMC Fairview Cemetery Renville MN

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