L. E. McCartney: My Recollections of LZ Margo (continued)
LZ Margo: A Lifetime Impact
While I knew Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/26 had taken a horrendous number of casualties on September 16, 1968, it was only after I was aboard the hospital ship that I learned the BLT was hard hit again later that afternoon and once more the next day. In the aftermath of the battle I learned just how many casualties the BLT sustained.
While Echo Company was hardest hit and many men I knew were killed or wounded, BLT 2/26 had 21 Marines killed and 135 wounded during the first barrage. Then during the second barrage that same day the BLT lost another Marine killed and 11 wounded. So in two barrages on the afternoon of September 16, BLT 2/26 lost 22 Marines killed and 146 wounded; 167 men, 15 to 18 percent of the BLT's authorized strength depending on the number of attachments.
Dad's Memories of LZ Margo, the article Kelly Dilley-Anton shared based on her father's private communications, is the single best personal account of what happened at LZ Margo I have ever read. Jim Anton's comments are most insightful and far more comprehensive than mine since he was there the whole time and I was evacuated on the last helicopter to leave after the first barrage on September 16th.
Kelly gave us a gift most precious. She captured the range of emotions; from the fear induced by the exploding mortar rounds, to the smell of burning cordite and seared flesh, the helplessness of not being able to directly engage the enemy to stop the bloodbath, and the simmering anger, the rage, many of us felt. An anger I still feel to this day.
LCpl Jim Anton was severely wounded on LZ Margo. Photo courtesy of Kelly Dilley-Anton.
Knowing Corporal 'Pete' Schroeder as I do I have no doubt the look on his face Kelly describes was the justifiable anger of a taciturn man fighting to maintain his composure for the sake of his Marines.
Like myself and so many others, Schroeder was angry at the decisions that put us in that hell hole. That Jim Anton misinterpreted Cpl Schroeder's anger, as I misinterpreted the look on the face of another Marine that day, is easily understandable given the mayhem.