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

Gary Daffin's Luck Runs Out

There was a slight rise to the ground and the round impacted on the side away from me, so the mound of earth absorbed the blast headed in my direction. I sustained minor injuries, mostly from rocks dislodged by the explosions.

 

Lance Corporal Gary Daffin was not as lucky. A large piece of shrapnel hit him in a spot not protected by his flak jacket or helmet.

 

He just stood there, teetering, dead on his feet.

I managed to grab Gary before he fell, his blood pumping on me as I laid him down.

 

I remember thinking he really had shared his last meal with me, the last meal he ever ate.

LCpl Gary Daffin died while running to aid Marines injured in the mortar attack on LZ Margo. He was 18 years old. Photo courtesy of his cousin Sarah McKay.

A Marine is trained to always be ready to take over for the next senior in the chain-of-command if the senior Marine goes down. That's what I did. Recognizing a Marine looking at the water hole from the hill on the other side of the gully, I called to him to send help and I redirected to the water hole.

 

I found PFC Durham had already succumbed to his injuries. So had a Marine later identified as Eddie Cunningham and I heard a Marine later identified as PFC John Donohue gasp his last breath.

As I turned to LCpl Spiller and PFC Hunter, PFC Grover Longnecker arrived on the scene and immediately tried to assess and assist Hunter while I tried to do what little I could for Cliff Spiller. Unfortunately, more 'incoming' impacted near us, so we both fell across the bodies of the men we were trying to help. Amidst the explosions I heard PFC Longnecker groan as he was wounded, as were Spiller and I. However, again my wounds were relatively minor.

As I was frantically trying to think of what to do next, Corporal Hilary K. 'Pete' Schroeder, a Squad Leader in the 2nd Platoon, arrived. Immediately behind Corporal Schroeder was First Lieutenant Jeffery J. Lloyd, the 2nd Platoon Commander and the 2nd Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sergeant Juan O. Sanchez.

Fortunately, due to the remarkable counter battery fire from the battalion's 81mm mortar platoon, along with the 60mm mortar sections of the four companies, the enemy weapons, some of which were on the LZ that Echo Company had just left, were silenced and the 'incoming' stopped. So the four of us were able to assist Longnecker and Spiller.

 

Sadly, by the time help arrived it was too late for PFC Hunter.

 

As we tended to the wounded we set up a defense, since I had seen and pointed out an enemy probe at the end of the gully to Corporal Schroeder. The Echo Company Executive Officer, First Lieutenant Larry D. St. John, arrived, directed the defense and evacuated the casualties.

(c) 2019, DMZ Rats of Battalion Landing Team 2/26. All rights reserved.