Alan Green Remembers LZ Margo (conclusion)
The Best Weapons in the Marine Corps
"The best weapons in those gun pits, on LZ Margo, and in the Marine Corps itself were the troops, the PFCs and lance corporals and corporals, 19 years old most of them, brave as hell."
The mortarmen in the gun pits -- protected by nothing more than a few sandbags and a lot of wishful thinking -- responded to the shouted calls for fire with raw courage, their quick actions a testament to the countless missions we had fired together since Khe Sanh months earlier.
In the gun pits, there was no hesitation.
I saw hands come up above the lip of the sandbags, hands holding primed mortar rounds that were quickly dropped into the mouths of waiting tubes, the blast of the outgoing rounds a welcome counterpoint to the deadly fire we were receiving.
I saw men run for more ammunition, or to help out on another gun when their own had been destroyed, through clouds of black, greasy smoke and sprays of hot, jagged steel. I saw them at the very finest moments of their young lives, when they were called upon to do their best and when they performed deeds of valor without a second thought.
The NVA were clearly targeting the 81s, the one weapon that could suppress their fire. But the most potent weapons in those gun pits were not the 81mm mortars.
The best weapons in those gun pits, on LZ Margo, and in the Marine Corps itself were the troops, the PFCs and lance corporals and corporals, 19 years old most of them, brave as hell.
They were the ammo humpers who prepared the mortar rounds to fire, the assistant gunners and gunners and squad leaders who aimed their guns and fired them again and again and again while death and destruction were happening all around them. Those courageous men were the real weapons.
And they paid the price. Several mortarmen died in the battle, and many others were wounded. All were fighting when they were hit.
As the incoming eased, machine-gunners engaged troop movements at longer range, preventing them from massing. And Hotel Company -- with help from Golf Company riflemen -- beat back a fixed-bayonet infantry assault in hand-to-hand fighting.
Our battalion suffered greatly and fought back with every weapon it had.
But on that day, as death dropped down upon us, our best weapons were those brave young mortarmen who turned the tide of the battle of LZ Margo.
81s Platoon, BLT 2/26