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1st Battalion 1st Marines
Vietnam 1965 - 1971

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This site is a memorial to our fallen brothers and to the veterans in the 1st Battalion 1st Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division from 1965 - 1971 who served in Vietnam. 
We would like to invite all veterans to join us at our next reunion:
Our Stories:
47 Years Later - Reunion Reunites Hill 881 South Marines
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John Kaper - Charlie Company

John Kaper

Bobby Butler

My name is John Kaper and I attended my first 1/1 Marines Vietnam reunion in August 2015 at the Radisson Hotel in Washington, D.C. I was really looking forward to the reunion, as I was hoping to meet some of the Marines that I had served with in Charlie Company, as well as other 1/1 Marines. It was a wonderful and emotional experience visiting with other Vietnam veterans. That particular reunion honored 1/1 Marines KIA in Vietnam by dedicating our 1/1 memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

"When I saw all the photos, it was like a flashback"

One of the most popular events of the 1/1 reunions is the company luncheons, where members of the same companies get together. It is a time to reunite with Marines you served with, and meet people who shared the same dirt, rain, mud and experiences as you. At the Charlie Company luncheon, one of the Marines, a man named Bobbie Butler, who just happens to be our Battalion Chaplain, brought a big photo board with pictures of Hill 881 South. They showed members of 2nd Platoon moving out and off Hill 881 South as well as the surrounding hills and jungle. When I saw all the photos, it was like a flashback. They were so vivid, and brought back so many memories. It was like I was there yesterday.

"One of the 105’s landed only feet away from my squad"

I commented to Bobby Butler, who was in 2nd Platoon (I was in 3rd Platoon), that some of the photos showed the ridgeline that paralleled our hilltop on 881 South. The ridge was approximately 1500 meters west of our position and the NVA constantly fired mortars at us from the backside of the ridge. Periodically we would run patrols out toward the ridgeline, and on May 23,1968 we had a full company size operation to clear out the mortars. We had sporadic contact with the NVA that day and cleared out the mortar pits on the backside of the ridge. We found the pits with the mortars still neatly stacked inside them. About noontime all three platoons assembled on the side of the ridge facing our hilltop and took a break. Naturally we were all spread out to cover all directions as we had NVA around the area. Suddenly there was a series of loud explosions and concussions happening in quick succession from incoming. Our own 105’s had landed directly on top of our positions and seriously wounded at least 9 of our Marines. Most were from 2nd Platoon. I was a squad leader with 3rd Platoon and we were right next to 2nd Platoon at the time. One of the 105’s landed only feet away from my squad. Thankfully it was a dud. Didn’t go off.

We rushed over to 2nd Platoon to help with the wounded and get the medevacs going. I told Bobby Butler that I remembered one Marine had lost his leg and another looked like he was going to loose a foot. Unbelievably, he said that he was the Marine that looked like he was going to loose his foot. Luckily he did not, even though he had other serious injuries.

"I met the Marine who I had helped"

Forty-seven years later at the 1/1 reunion in Washington, D.C., I met the Marine who I had helped put on a chopper to get airlifted off that hillside. It was an unbelievable experience, one that I will never forget. Bobby Butler and I have stayed good friends and in contact since that reunion. Semper Fi Marines.