Dog Tag Return (conclusion)
And we also presented a dog tag belonging to Lance Corporal Clifton Spiller of Echo Company, who died of mortal wounds he received on LZ Margo, while protecting another Marine with his own body.
“The shelling concentrated first on the crowded waterhole. [PFC Larry] McCartney and Lance Cpl. Gary R. Daffin of 2nd platoon were caught in the open. ‘We had only a small depression scooped out and Gary rolled right into it,” said McCartney. ‘I rolled in on top of him. We could hear the rounds walking right toward us.
“Amid the explosions, the pair watched Lance Cpl. Clifton Spiller running toward the waterhole to aid Pfc. Delon Hunter and three other severely wounded Marines.
“’Spiller picked up Hunter and started to leave the area when more rounds came in,’ said McCartney. ‘He dropped to the ground, covering Hunter with his body. A shell exploded close by, wounding him.
“Daffin jumped up and bolted to help Spiller, telling McCartney to go for a corpsman.
LCpl Clifton Spiller, Echo, 2/26, an American hero.
But as the two headed in opposite directions, a round landed between them.
"Daffin absorbed most of the explosion. McCartney was hit in the face, arms, legs and buttocks.
“Gary was dead before he hit the ground,’ said McCartney... ‘A lot of what hit me was not shrapnel but broken rock.’”
These were awful events, seared into our memories by hot metal with jagged edges, and the deaths of men to whom we never got to say goodbye.
Remarkably, the Dekrygers found Spiller’s dog tag as well, bent from the impact that claimed his life.
Spiller's tag shows the impact of the explosion that mortally wounded him. Photo courtesy of Tim Dekryger.
And now they have a home too, held close by Montford Point Detachment #158 of the Marine Corps League until Clifton Spiller's kin can be located.