Echo Grunts

From left to right Dave VanKavalaar, John Marlette, Mussleman, Wantz, John Streicher, and [Barney] Barnhouse.

Echo 2/7 Sweeps Que Son Valley

By Sgt. Leo Dromgoole


- Farmers in the rice paddies stopped their work and stood still beside their tools. Women wasjomg clothes near water wells dropped their chores and squatted quietly under the morning sun. The only sound coming from Than Dong Hamlet was an occasional baby;s cry.

The Marines of Company E, 2d Bn., Seventh Marines, 1st Marine Division , slowly made their way into the village of Thang Dong in the Que Son Valley, while most of the hamlet's 350 residents watched in mixed relief and puzzlement.

Capt. Charles H. Mulherin (Monterey, Calif.), Echo Co."s commanding officer, greeted the hamlet officials and, through an interpreter, briefly explained his mission. He and his men had come to Than Dong to keep the enemy out of the hamlet thus, denying him the many food

sources available there.

"This operation in itself is not unusual or unprecedented," Capt. Mulherin said. "But it is significant due to the fact that some of the bitterest fighting of the war has occurred right here around this hamlet." Mulherin was referring to Operations Union I and II conducted during 1965.

Echo Co. is working with Vietnamese Popular Forces (PF) soldiers in the area about 28 miles south of Danang, to stop the flow of foodstuffs and other supplies from the villages to the surrounding mountains where the enemy is hiding.

Besides conducting patrols, Capt. Mulherin's Marines will take a census of the hamlet's residents, animals and food stuffs. The company's Navy corpsman will conduct MED-CAPS (Medical Civic Action Program in each village and

hold morning sick call for routine ailments.

Working closely with the National Police and PF, Echo Co. is updating local force training in military tactics so these Vietnamese may provide security for the area.

For Hospital Corpsman Second Class Jose Torres, (Yuma, Ariz.), the company's senior corpsman, the labor just began when he and his fellow "Ben Casey's" stepped into the hamlet. Less than an hour after the company arrived Torres and his Navy "docs" treated more than 100 refugees living in a makeshift camp outside the hamlet perimeter.

"We don't expect much, if any contact with the enemy while on this operation," said Mulherin. "In fact, if we don't make contact with him, we'll know we've accomplished our job of keeping him out of the area and also keepin him hungry."

The above article is a reproduction of one as it appeared in the Stars and Stripes circa June, 1970.

Third Herd

The 3rd platoon of Echo Co. spent sometime on the ridge while the rest of the Company swept Happy Valley below.

Photograph's on this page were donated by Jeff Devilbiss who was a corpsman with Echo Co. 2nd Bn 7th Marines in 1969 - 1970.

Victor Vilionis

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