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L. E. McCartney: My Recollections of LZ Margo (continued)

Humping Back up to Margo

The next day, Monday, September 16, 1968, we humped back to LZ Margo to rejoin the battalion.


While out of food and water, I knew we had to cross a stream so I was looking forward to a good drink, as well as my filling my canteens.


However, the 3rd Platoon Commander, First Lieutenant Bruce Lewy, and the 2nd Platoon Guide, Sergeant Vince Griffith, were in the stream, water up to their knees, not drinking. They were moving us along, telling us to not drink the water since it wasn't tested and that there was water on the hill that they knew was good.


The hump up to LZ Margo was extremely difficult. Guys were dropping over from heat exhaustion and a few even had heat stroke.

1stLt Bruce Lewy led Echo Company's 3rd Platoon during the operation in the DMZ. Photo courtesy of Bruce Lewy.

PFCs Delon Hunter and Jimmy 'Bull' Durham, overloaded with their machine gun and equipment, went down from the heat. LCpls Reed and Daffin stripped their gear and carried them up the hill as others of us took their equipment.

Echo Company machine gunner PFC Jimmy "Bull" Durham, above, died in the mortar attack on LZ Margo along with PFC Delon Hunter and many others. Photo courtesy of the Virtual Wall.

By the time I got to the top, since I was overloaded with extra equipment, I too was experiencing the impact of the heat. Luckily, as I made it to where I broke out of the jungle surrounding the crest of the hill, two Hotel Company Marines wordlessly left their positions and carried me to their hootch, giving me shade and water. Two other Marines got the equipment I was carrying and brought it to me.


As I was sipping water while a 'Doc' was wiping me down, I heard Corporal Jeff Nelson, the 2nd Platoon Machine Gun Squad Leader, calling me. I tried to respond, but was weak, so the 'Doc' called out for me.


After checking and finding out I would be okay, Corporal Nelson took the machine gun and equipment and told me he'd be back for me.

As Cpl Nelson was leaving I heard LCpl Daffin calling. Nelson responded, indicating where I was. When Daffin got to me the 'Doc' put him in the shade, gave him water and wiped him down. After a few minutes Daffin and I left, thanking the Hotel Company Marines for their help. I want to thank them again. I will ALWAYS be grateful to them. Marines taking care of their own.


When LCpl Daffin and I got to our position, which was on the side of the gully cutting through the LZ and just about 20 meters from the water hole, we could see PFCs Hunter and Durham being helped by two unidentified Marines. It was only later that I would learn those Marines were PFCs John Donohue and Edward Cunningham, both of whom had just joined Echo Company when we returned that day; Donohue had left the United Sates 9 days earlier while Cunningham was overseas for only 7 days.


We began to dig in but the ground was so rock solid our e-tools could not penetrate it. We had to scrape the ground with the side of those shovels.

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