If you enjoyed this edition of Voices - please forward to others who may be interested.
SERVICE REFLECTIONS
OF A Marine VETERAN
Feb 2017

Pickard, Charles HM2

StatusService Years
US Navy Veteran (FMF) 1966 - 1970
MOS
HM-8404-Medical Field Service Technician/FMF Combat Corpsman
Primary Unit
1969-1970, HM-8404, SERE School/Brunswick, ME

Record Your own Service Memories

By Completing Your Reflections!

Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Profile Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

 
 

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Marine Corps?

 
Oct.,1968, Quang Tri,BAS, HM3 Pickard

I ran completely out of money while attending the University of Montana! I wasn't happy with my Major. I knew I would be drafted if I dropped out to earn some dollars! So, to fulfill my military obligation and get the GI Bill to finish college I enlisted in the Navy for 4 years. I didn't want Summer Camps and Reserve meetings so off I went for 4 years! I think I also needed to grow up!

I had a Medical Doctor in my family, that had some influence on my interest in the medical field. The losses of Marines and Corpsmen in 1967 probably insured most of the Corpsmen trained in 1967 would be serving with the Marines in 1968. Welcome to the 3rd Marine Division's 1968 Edition!

 

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

 
3M-Co. Anniversery Celebration-Carol and Doc

Boot Camp at Naval Training Center, San Diego, Ca., Summer of 1966.

Corpsman "A" School, San Diego, Ca.

Field Medical Service School, Camp Pendleton, Ca.

Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Oakland, Ca. Plastic Surgery Ward, Ward and Senior Corpsman

3rd Bn., 4th Marines, Mike Co., 3rd Marine Division, South Vietnam. Platoon and Senior Corpsman, Dec. 1967 thru Dec. 1968

Survival School, Warner Springs, Ca.

Naval Instructors School, NTC, San Diego, Ca.

SERE School, Whidbey Island, Wa.

Cold Weather Environmental School, Mt. Baker, Wa

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Instructor (9505), Whidbey Island, Wa. Classroom and Field Instructor.

I didn't make the service a career, because I wanted to teach at the high school level and raise a family in Montana.

 

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which were the most significant to you and, if life-changing, in what way.

 
Gun Crew attached to 1st Platoon, Mike Co.,3/4 -Quintana, Willie George, and Lowe

Yes, from Dec 1967 through Dec 1968 or basically the entire year of 1968. We operated throughout Leatherneck Square. All the Operations were significant!

Jan. 1968 was filled with NVA firefights and incoming. "Mikes Hill" was the kick-off of Tet of 1968 where we lost many Marines. Hills 552, 689, 471,542 we were subjected to a lot of incoming and casualties. Dai-Do, Khe Sahn, and Operation Robin-South - South of Khe Sahn all with a lot of combat and Marine and Corpsmen losses.

Cam Lo Bridge did allow us to perform some humanitarian deeds, as the locals would bring their sick and injured children and babies to the gate for Corpsmen to treat. I would bring bar soap to the children, so they could clear up many of their skin infections.

Many of the Marines and Corpsmen, that I got to be friends with were killed and wounded.

Everyone of them were significant to me. Some I could help and others I couldn't. Some of the wounds were so bad, that they were beyond medical help- life-changing to be sure!

Corpsmen who impacted me the most:

HN Cecil Belt- KIA on his first combat patrol. Nice guy and newly married. He was writing a journal, and wrote to his wife all the time. When I found out of his death with Lima Co., I almost lost it. All his hopes and dreams were gone. What a tragedy.

HM3 Larry Wells-KIA by artillery. He was dead when I got to him. I thought we were going to be good friends. I didn't even know who he was as I was working on him. When I found out he was dead, I moved on to the next Marine.

HN Maurice Cruz- WIA on Mikes Hill. GSW to the back of his neck and to his leg. I stopped the bleeding and carried him down Mikes Hill to a CH-46.

HM3 (3rd Platoon Corpsman) GSW to his leg. Mikes Hill. He was untreated all morning until I got to him in the afternoon.

HN Roderick- Cam Vu- Shrapnel wound to his head. Dressed his head and put him on a tank to return to Cam Lo bridge. On the way back the tank hit a large mine and blew all the wounded off the tank to the ground.

3/1 Corpsman unnamed at Dai Do- when we were lifted into the battle to help 2/4 and 3/1, I saw a shirtless disoriented troop crawling out of the bush. I went to his aid, and found him to be out of his mind. I checked his dog tag and discovered he was a Corpsman. We could not get a medivac to pick him up, because all Marine resources were maxed! After three pleas an Army gunship answered our calls, and stated they could pick-up one man. They landed, and I belted him to the machine gun and bulkhead. Never knew his name or what happened to him.

HN Cruse- GSW to the head (KIA) by sniper. He was dead when I got to him. We were getting to be good buddies.

HM2 Mercer- GSW to the head (KIA) by sniper. He was dead when I got to him. We saw a lot of combat together.

HM3 Don Ballard- Blast injury from a NVA Chi-Com grenade. Blood coming out of his ears, internal injuries, and shock. I treated him at the blast site, and carried him up the ravine and hill to the LZ.

We had been fighting all morning with the battle changing all morning with lots of wounded Marines. We met up trying to save the life of Cpl Planchon. As we were working on him, a NVA grenade landed at the feet of the Cpl. The blast blew his feet off but saved Doc Ballard and myself, as his feet took most of the blast.

We moved back to our fighting hole, and were only there a short time, when" Corpsmen Up" call came again. Doc Cruse and I ran down the hill. I was treating a new Marine, when Doc Cruse was shot by a sniper and killed. I finished with my guy and climbed back up to the fighting hole.

Shortly after I got back in the hole with Doc Ballard- the " Corpsman Up" call came again. Now it was Doc Ballard's turn. He ran down the hill into the brush, and it wasn't very long, when I spotted him moving very strangely from side to side. I ran down the hill, and knew immediately that Doc Ballard was in trouble. I found him to be in shock with blood coming out of his ears. I stripped him naked, and checked him out. He was in shock with blast injuries, internal bleeding. I treated him for shock and started an IV. I needed his medical supplies because I was totally out of Corpsmen supplies. As I was gathering all his gear, I discovered a large piece of grenade shrapnel in his Unit one bag.

I had a long way still to go. I carried him up a very steep ravine, and another steep area, to get close to the LZ. I put him on a Ch-46 and returned to my fighting hole. I didn't know what happened to him until I met up with him at a 3/4 Reunion in Seattle in 2001.

Editors Note: HM3 Donald "Doc" Ballard received the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 16th of 1968. His Citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HM3. with Company M, in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces. During the afternoon hours, Company M was moving to join the remainder of the 3d Battalion in Quang Tri Province. After treating and evacuating 2 heat casualties, HM3. Ballard was returning to his platoon from the evacuation landing zone when the company was ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army unit employing automatic weapons and mortars, and sustained numerous casualties.

Observing a wounded marine, HM3. Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. HM3. Ballard then directed 4 marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the 4 men prepared to move the wounded marine, an enemy soldier suddenly left his concealed position and, after hurling a hand grenade which landed near the casualty, commenced firing upon the small group of men. Instantly shouting a warning to the marines, HM3. Ballard fearlessly threw himself upon the lethal explosive device to protect his comrades from the deadly blast. When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other marine casualties. HM3. Ballard's heroic actions and selfless concern for the welfare of his companions served to inspire all who observed him and prevented possible injury or death to his fellow marines. His courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

 

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which one was your least favorite?

 
Whidbey Island, Wa,Cold Weather Survival Lecture

Naval Training Center, San Diego, CA. Instructor Training School was the best school I have ever attended. I was very motivated while attending that school, and was selected as "Honorman" of my graduating class.

My least favorite was probably Cold Weather Environmental Survival School, Mt. Baker, WA Snow and Rain don't mix when you are trying to survive!

 

From your entire service, including combat, describe the personal memories which have impacted you most?

 
2nd/Lt.Burns,-A-3.Leatherneck Square

"Mikes Hill", the kick-off of Tet 1968 was very memorable. We fought from daylight to dark, and were setting into our night defensive position when a 105 mm air burst flattened about 10 of us against the side of the hill! One Marine was hurt very badly and had lost a lot of blood. I stayed up throughout the night pumping IV's and Morphine into him until we could get him out in the morning!

The NVA attacked 3/4 at 0530 on the morning of Jan. 27th, 1968.with a reinforced Bn. There were only two Corpsmen from 1st Platoon on top of the Hill myself and HN Cruz. We were overwhelmed with casualties from the get go. The first group of four I got to were attached Scouts who were all hit by bullets. When I finished them, I slid down the Hill to a Sgt, who had a sucking chest wound. He was lying in a small fighting hole. The NVA had us zeroed in, and continued to shoot at us as I was trying to move him to the back side of the hill. An ammo humper saw my problem and came over to help. He no more got there, and he was hit in the leg with a bullet. We continued working up the hill under fire, when the ammo humper was hit in the back with a bullet. I stopped everything and treated both his wounds. The ammo humper saw his gunner get hit, and returned to the gun, and started firing. I got the Sgt. about half way up, when four Marines with a poncho came down the hill to help me. We put the Sgt in the poncho, and started up the hill. One of my helpers was hit in the butt, and two were both hit in the arm, A LCpl and myself were not hit.

The next guy I got to was a 1st Lt who was badly mauled in the groin area. I was trying to pump an IV into a casualty at about this time when the bottle was hit by a bullet. Several others were now showing up with multiple wounds. After completing treating, this group, I came upon HN Cruz, who when he left me earlier was hit in the back of the neck, and leg with bullet wounds. He was in bad shape, and I knew he needed an Emergency medivac, so I put him over my back and carried him to the LZ.

As I was returning the back side of the hill, I ran into a Marine Major, who took me into 3rd Platoon lines to tend to guys who were hit at 0530. We worked until about 1700, when we started putting bodies on 6x6 trucks heading for Camp Carroll. We were heading for our night defensive position , when the 105 airburst hit us. I carried a small notebook, that I logged all, that were hit service #.s, names, ranks etc. I think I put about 31 names in there for the 27th of Jan.

 

What achievement(s) are you most proud of from your military career? If you received any medals, awards, formal presentations or qualification badges for significant achievement or valor, please describe how these were earned.

 
Hill 552-Banks,Wells,Briceno, and Doc Pickard

I was awarded the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with bronze star) (Individual citation) I was recommended by two of my Squad leaders for a string of firefights we had survived, where we had a lot of KIA's and many, many WIA's!

I received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat "V". This was basically a tour ending Medal earned for my performance during 1968 with 3/4.

"Honorman"-Instructor Training School- Naval Training Center, San Diego-1969

Soochow Creek Medal-4th Marine Reg.Medal presented by 3/4 for help rendered in saving the life of my former Mike Co. Company Commander at a Reunion in Branson.

On Jan. 18th 1968, Mike Co was acting as a blocking force in the Marketplace area near Con Thien. We were told to get on line and assault a bunker complex. The NVA opened up with small arms and mortars. The mortars were hitting everywhere among Mike Co. I was crawling from one Marine to another treating each wound, when a Squad radioman took a direct hit with a mortar round that peppered him. As I was running to him, a round hit four feet to the side of me just as I was hitting the ground. I was wounded by this round. Another Marine and I were helping a wounded Marine to a bomb crater, when an AK round hit my helpmate in the leg. We were all pulled to the ground. We belly crawled to the bomb crater. After treating all that were wounded, I looked down, and saw I had been hit in the hand and right leg with shrapnel. I pulled the hand shrapnel out myself, but had to have help with my leg.

 

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or any other memorabilia, please describe those which are the most meaningful to you and why?

 
Biz and Doc Pickard- 1968

Probably the Cross of Gallantry, because I was recommended by my Squad leaders! We could never keep a Platoon Leader who was an Officer long enough to write up guys who deserved medals!

 

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

 
Doc Pickard,Doc Cruse, Sgt. Frigm,S/Sgt Daniels

Early on in my tour in Vietnam I picked out two Marines I thought had their stuff together and tried to emulate them. One of them I still see at 3/4 reunions and the other one has disappeared! I medically treated both of them and evac'ed both of them with wounds!

Cpl Phil Frigm was a Squad Leader with 1st Platoon, and performed this job until he was made our Platoon Sgt. On Hill 542 he was badly wounded. He was a very good role model for me, as I was soaking up everything I could by watching him. I was glad that I was the Corpsman, that was able to work on him, and help him to a Ch-46.

 

Please recount the names of friends you served with, at which location, and what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.

 
Sgt Bobby Jones, Mike Co., 3/4, 1967-68

Would like to make contact:

Sgt Bobby Jones

HM3 Dick Gordon

Have already made contact:

SSgt Bob Daniels

LCpl Fuzzy Lindberg

PFC I. C. Smith

HM3 Don Ballard

Cpl Phil Armigo

LCpl Dave Hatch

Cpl Paul Briseno

Sgt Phil Frigm

 

Can you recount a particular incident from your service which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?

 
PFC Smith,L/Cpl Gallagher

Funny events helped keep our sanity. Humor had its place, and when most events were grim and nothing to smile about. We found humor and funny events when we could!

Corpsmen were in charge of field sanitation, which meant we had to supervise "burning the shitters", when inside a defensive position. Those assigned had all showed up for the task except one PFC, who was a "no show". I called down to his Squad Leader, and then to the Platoon Leader to get this PFC to join his assigned detail. After waiting quite awhile, he trudged up the hill wearing his gas mask. He didn't say anything to anyone! He simply took his E-tool and opened the back of the "shitter" and pulled out the 1/2 barrel. He dumped fuel on the contents, and lit it. He stood back still not talking. When the detail was completed, he walked down the hill with his gas mask still on until he got down to the bottom. He took off his mask and continued to walk silently.

From beginning to end, he never said one word! I guess he didn't care for his detail assignment!

 

What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

 
HM2(Doc) Pickard,Survival School Classroom

After graduating with a BA degree from the University of Montana, I accepted a job with 3M-Co. I retired at age 57. My entire career was with 3M-Co. I retired in 2001, and moved back to Montana.

 

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

 
L/CPL Dick Murphy

3rd Marine Division Association-Life member

Military Order of the Purple Heart- Life member

3rd Bn., 4th Marine Reg. Association-Member

Marine Corps League-Member.

Marines-Together We Served-Member

Interaction with Marine Combat veterans- If one listened to them, one would learn a lot!

LCPL Dick Murphy- 1st Platoon. He was wounded at the battle of Mikes Hill, and saw a lot of action until he was KIA on June 15, 1968 by snipers. Survivors of the battle all signed the USA flag he carried, and sent it back to his family.We fondly referred to it as "Murphy's Flag.

 

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career?

 
FAETUPAC,SERE School,Whidbey Island, Wa

It forced me to grow up! It taught me how to adapt and improvise throughout my life both in business and personally!

After separating from the service with 3 years and 9 months of active duty, I moved back to Montana to resume college, and finish a degree. The Navy offered a 3 month early out program for Vietnam vets, and I jumped on it. I rejected going to Medical Service School, and an offer to work for Air America as a Survival Instructor. There was talk about a P. A. Program at the U of Washington, that I should look into, but I had my sights set on teaching high school in Montana.

After graduation, I entered the Business world, and used my teaching skills throughout my entire career with 3M- Co.

 

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Marine Corps?

 
3/4 Reunion- PFC Smith,Doc Pickard,Cpl Briceno,Cpl Gadberry,Sgt Frigm

Remember the oaths and vows you took upon entering the service and always remember the sacrifices those fellow veterans made before you!

As you progress through your Marine Corps experience, make sure you take full advantage of every duty station or task assigned to you. Learn from all your assignments, with a positive attitude, and this will pay benefits later on in your life's journey.

 

In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

 
TWS and the US MARINES

It has given me an opportunity to reconnect with fellow Marines I served with, and it has helped me put the Vietnam experience into some sort of perspective!

 
 
 

Get Started On Together We Served

Watch our video and see what TWS is all about
 

 

Connect with TWS On: