India Company had
completed an amphibious landing into Quang Tri. They searched the
beaches, coastal flat lands and had even crossed a bridge into
North Vietnam at one point during the early portion of Hastings.
As things heated up in the hills, they were lifted by helicopter
to the hilly area.
They were involved in skirmishes
including the creek bed incident on the 22nd of July
where 8 Marines were killed. In this skirmish, the Platoons were
making there way along a creek when the point was ambushed by NVA.
Tink was well back in the column during this skirmish and could
only hear the fighting.
On the 24th, the CO ordered
India Company to Hill 362 to establish a radio relay station. They
were already out of food and supplies. Tink and his A-Gunner, Dick
Weber, went so far as to take rice off of a dead Vietnamese just
The climb up the trail toward Hill 362
had to be done single file. The jungle was so thick there wasn't
room to carry his rocket launcher. So Tink and Weber were carrying
M-14s. They were in the 1st squad of Weapons Platoon.
As such, they were always assigned to 1st Rifle
Platoon. This was the Platoon lead by Lt. Williams, whose account
has been written.
Being the rocket men, Tink and Weber were
usually within the first 6 to 8 men on the point. And it was so on
that day. As they came up the trail, it suddenly opened into an
intersection of a well-traveled, wide trail. Tink and Weber looked
at one another, knowing this wasn't a good sign. Just then, three
NVA regulars came running from the left, along the trail. The
Sergeant ordered the men to drop their packs. The NVA turned and
ran back along the trail. Several Marines, including Tink and
Weber started down the trail after them. One or two of them were
killed but the third was taken prisoner. It was during this time
that the 2nd Platoon came up the narrow trail and took
over the point, turning right toward Hill 362.
2nd Platoon took the hill and
then continued on the trail, as reported in Joe Holt's account.
Once they got over the hill and onto the trail below, they began
receiving mortar and small arms fire.
When the fighting broke out, 1st
Platoon scrambled along the trail to the hill. Weber and Tink ran
to the hill and the first thing they found was Steve Kittle, one
of their friends, already wounded. He had a "million dollar
wound" as they called it, one that would get him sent
stateside. He was sitting up on a stump so they told him to take
cover. They went to the side of the hill nearest the trail and
began finding wounded Marines. Weber put down his M-14 so he could
begin dragging the Marines to the hilltop. Both Tink and Weber
continued to drag Marines out of the thicket to the clearing.
They continued with the rescuing of
Marines off the trail. During one of the rescues, Tink and Weber
were pulling a single Marine back up the trail, each having a
corner of the poncho he was laying on. As they backed up the trail
dragging the Marine, they didn't realize a large group of NVA had
formed right behind them. The next thing they knew, LCPL Richard
Pittman came running up the trail and, as he brushed past Weber,
began a volley of automatic weapon fire. Pittman's actions killed
"30 to 40" NVA's and saved the lives of Tink and Weber.
Had it not been for Pittman, both Tink and Weber would have been
killed at that time. Pittman was later given the Marine Corp Medal
of Honor for his bravery.
Despite the heavy small arms fire that
continued, both of them continued to return to the trail and
rescue Marines. Weber, on his last Marine was a bit slower than
Tink in getting to the hilltop. But Tink had gotten his Marine to
the hilltop and brushed past Weber on the way back down. They made
eye contact and Weber shook his head, indicating it was over. But
Tink gave him a look, that little "smirky grin" as Weber
called it, and went out of sight. On that hill, a Marine 15 to 20
yards away couldn't be seen. Weber never saw Tink again.
As soon as Tink was out of sight, heavy
incoming small arms fire began to come in like a
"hailstorm". There was no way to rescue anybody outside
the perimeter. In the afternoon, a mortar landed right in the
middle of the wounded on top of the hill. That mortar killed Steve
Kittle among others.
Dick Weber was wounded when a concussion
grenade detonated near him. His arm and shoulder sustained injury
and the stock of his rifle was blown off. He was airlifted the
next morning only to be told later that his best friend, "Arnie",
didn't make it.