1st Battalion 1st Marines Vietnam
1965 - 1971
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:
47 Years Later - Reunion Reunites Hill 881 South Marines
John Kaper - Charlie Company
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 the 567 1/1 Marines and Navy Corpsmen KIA in Vietnam by dedicating our 1/1 Memorial at Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, located outside the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico.
"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 Bobby 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 from 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 had found several locations that had been used by NVA. On May 23,1968, the company was in the area again and found pits with mortar rounds still neatly stacked inside them. I have since learned that our artillery was going to “recon the area by fire”. All three platoons assembled on the side of the ridge facing Hill 881. Suddenly there was a series of loud explosions and concussions happening in quick succession. Three of our own 105’s had landed directly on top of our positions and seriously wounded at least nine 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 may have lost his leg and another looked like he was going to lose a foot. Unbelievably, he said that he was the Marine that looked like he was going to lose his foot. Luckily, he did not, even though he had other serious injuries. Unfortunately, his a-gunner lost his leg.
"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 and I have stayed good friends and in contact since that reunion. Semper Fi Marines.