View Full Version : Vietnam-era Marines recall siege

02-05-07, 02:28 PM
February 5, 2007
Vietnam-era Marines recall siege


PALM BAY — Three former Marines who survived the Vietnam War’s Siege of Khe Sanh told American History students at Brevard Community College recently that the experience forever cemented them as “brothers.”

The three decorated men: Cliff Treese of Palm Bay; Philip Mineer of Fort Myers; and Ronald Shouse of Winston-Salem, N.C., said they are committed to keeping alive the memory of the 1,267 U.S. soldiers who died in the battle 39 years ago.

“Khe Sanh Marines are eternally bonded,” said Treese, who lost an arm in the fight.

The Khe Sahn Combat Base was a remote American outpost that initially came under sporadic attack by North Vietnamese forces in the spring of 1967, only to come under full-scale siege by January 1968. Eventually, American forces drove through to rescue the embattled Marines by April 1968.

Though credited as a military victory for the United States, the strategic significance isn’t fully understood today.

Some historians suggest the siege was a diversion preceding the Tet Offensive, others theorize the North Vietnamese planned to replicate previous military victories at Khe Sahn and attempt a knockout punch of American forces.

“It took a while for me to be able to tell some of my experiences from my tour in Vietnam, but now when asked, I do answer questions about it for the younger generation, for the simple reason that there is little or no information about the War in Vietnam in the history books,” Shouse said.

Treese was incorrectly listed as killed in action for three days, leading to a heartbreaking telegram to his family. Days later, he made a phone call telling his loved ones he actually survived.

He spent three and a half years in military hospitals.

The three decorated Marines were invited to the Palm Bay campus to speak by History Department Chairman and Associate History Professor, Laura Dunn. The vets spoke to the U.S. History II classes of instructors Patrick Richards and Joe Roberts. Both classes were filled with students who were not born when the Vietnam War took place. Most of the students however, were about the same age as the three vets when they fought in Vietnam — age 18.

Eighteen-year-old student Jacob Stonecypher of Palm Bay who attended the vet’s presentation in his morning U.S. History II class said, “I felt personally moved by their presentation and I have a lot of respect for these men. It’s cool that they are reaching out to the younger generation to help us understand what it was all about and what it was like actually being there.”

“I didn’t realize all that went on in that War and how many soldiers were killed until these three Marines spoke to us,” Alicia Glass, 19, of Palm Bay said, adding, “Nor did I realize how young the Marines were who fought in Vietnam.”

“It probably influenced my decision as to what part of history that I will do my term paper on,” Josh Tuchman, 19, of Palm Bay said, adding, “Their presentation was really interesting and I really want to learn more about it.”

Tuchman’s history instructor, Joe Roberts, said he was only 13 at the time of Khe Sanh, but noted that the battle was “legendary in the Marine Corps’ history.”

He said he remembers being personally entrenched and very interested in what was going on in the Vietnam War, remembering the media coverage of it, and that he especially paid close attention to it during the five years leading up to his being eligible for the draft. “The war had wound down by that point, but I know that it had such an effect on me that it probably led me to became a history buff,” he said.

Roberts’ U.S. History II class viewed a 44-minute History channel video called “The Battle of Khe Sanh” that chronologically documented the 77-day Siege of Khe Sanh and featured in it photos and commentary by Treese.

Then the class had the opportunity to ask questions of Treese and his two Marine comrade buddies as well as view up close the many Vietnam artifacts and personal photo albums the Marine trio had brought. Treese, Mineer, and Shouse will be attending a national Khe Sanh reunion this July 2-8 taking place in Washington, D.C.


02-06-07, 12:48 PM
All the Marines who were there for the hill fights and the siege are a very special breed of Marines. I was by Khe Sanh in early 66. To me that area of Vietnam is one of the prettyst(sp) on earth. God bless them all.

02-07-07, 02:24 PM
One of the best sites for a collection of stories about the Seige at Khe Sanh are posted by one of the heroes of Hill 881S (although he won't tell you he was a hero), Capt. Bill Dabney, now Col. Dabney, Retired.
Visit his website for some outstanding information about the heroes who fought there. http://www.hmm-364.org/warriors.html.

02-09-07, 10:03 AM
My company, Echo 2/1 was lifted into Khe Sanh, spent time in trenches, then we lifted out to a hill, lost few buddies, walked for days around in the hills, still remember the shelling and hunting

02-09-07, 12:33 PM
The Blue Foxs were outstanding. Read about the mitest cpl. on 811S

02-09-07, 12:40 PM

Dave Coup
02-13-07, 11:46 PM
I was in Boot Camp, nearing graduation when the Siege started. One of the things I'll never forget was one of the Drill Instructors telling us about it.
Still makes me stand a little taller just knowing I was/am part of an organization that produces the kind of young man who was at Khe Sahn.