Saturday, May 23, 2015

This Memorial Day We Remember LCpl PHILLIP R. CURRAN from Columbus, Ohio




Philip Curran was killed in Vietnam 18 days before his 21St birthday. The first time I saw Philip was when he reported for duty at  Khe Sanh Combat Base, South Vietnam in May 1967.

The first thought that came to my mind when we met, was how in the world this little dude ever got in the Marine Corps!

 

He was only 4 foot, 11 inches tall and about 130 pounds . He got a waiver from his Congressman so he could enlist in the Marine Corps. During this time of the Vietnam War, the Military was taking anyone they could get and if they couldn't get them there was always the dreaded draft. It's not the physical size of a man, that makes him a man, but how much heart and guts you have. Philip was always being ribbed about his size, but he always laughed it off, he got used to it, even kind of liked it. We were on the perimeter together one night in a foxhole, I told him if charlie (viet cong) was over running us that he could find a "C" ration can to hide in, he got a laugh out of that.  I said the

 

V.C. would miss you, but the rats would have you for a snack. There was some big rats at Khe Sanh.  I believe there was an article written about Philip in Life magazine concerning his size and enlisting in the Marine Corps. I never saw it but Philip told me about it. As far as I can recall, his father was dead, his mother was alive and I believe he only had one sister, no brothers. One thing that really stands out in my mind about Philip was that he had a strong faith in God and the heart and soul of a Marine.

 

Philip never complained about anything, but he didn't like being at Khe Sanh, his best friend Leslie Martz had transferred to the Marble Mountain Marine air facility from Khe Sanh and besides that MMAF was a lot more secure area close to Da Nang. There were a lot of us that didn't like being there. Our unit was MAG-16 Forward, and our Headquarters was at MMAF, so we had to get in contact with them by radio or courier for almost everything. When I was promoted to Sergeant, the comm. bunker received a radio message that a LT. was flying by helicopter to bring me my promotion papers and stripes and for me to meet the chopper as soon as it landed. When the Huey landed I was waiting on it, the LT. jumped out handed me promotion papers and stripes, shook my hand, jumped back aboard the chopper and was gone, this took all of about 30 seconds. I told the rest of the guys, if one of the 105's or 155's cannons had a fire mission about the time the LT. was handing my stripes he would have had pee running down

his leg, we all cracked up about that, but the chopper was on a tight schedule.

 I recall the last time I saw Philip like it was yesterday even though it has been 33 years ago. He would be 53 years old now, but when I think of him the picture in my mind still sees him as a 20 year old Marine in Vietnam. He will forever remain young. I was waiting to hear from our unit at MMAF to authorize my request for in country R&R at China beach and Philip was waiting on his request to transfer to MMAF. Whenever we took in country R&R we reported to our unit down south, and there was one hootch we were to stay in until the date we were assigned to report to China beach R&R area and transfers were assigned to the same hootch. So we had to wait on space available before we authorized to come on down. As fate would have it, Philip and I got our movement approved at the same time, so we talked about how we were going to drink the EM club at MMAF dry. There wasn't any such thing as an EM (enlisted men's) club or any type of anything close ito it at Khe Sanh. The only thing we had was an old hootch where they handed everyone who wanted it, 2 hot beers every evening, un-less you had been assigned perimeter duty that night. But at MMAF the EM club had real cold beer and mixed drinks, so we were going to party down.

 That's all we talked about that day was COLD BEER. We were to bum a ride on the first chopper heading south the next day.

The next day the comm. bunker received a message from MMAF, only one bed available, only one man can come down, you make the call of which one comes down. I was Philip's Sgt. and knowing how bad he wanted to leave Khe Sanh, and knowing if I went he would have to wait several days or weeks before he would be able to go, because they had a bad habit down south of forgetting about us at Khe Sanh. I told Philip, got some good news and some bad news. The good news is there is a helicopter doing a mail run and was heading to MMAF after he stopped at our area, the bad news is that only one of us could go...Philip looked like a whipped pup after I gave him the news, because he thought that I was going to pull rank on him and be the one to go, But to his surprise, I told him to get his ass on the chopper when it was ready to leave. He got a stupid looking grin on his face, then a smile as big as Texas on his face, I said wipe that smile off your mug Marine and get back to filling sandbags until it's time for you to leave, I thought he was going to kiss me he was so happy.

 

Before Philip left he said to me "Sarge, I'm buying all beer you can drink when you get down south".  I said, "hope you got a lot of MPC", for you who do not know what is, its (military payment currency), looks like play money, nickels dimes, quarters, etc. is also paper. When the chopper landed we walked together where it sat down, Philp shook my hand and said remember when you get to come down, I'm buying all the beer, he got on the chopper, flew off, and that was the last time I saw Philip Curran................

 

Philip arrived at MMAF on the evening of August 27, 1967.  Early morning, 1:30AM on August 28, 1967 the VC (viet cong) launched a rocket attack on MMAF, with 140 mm rockets. One rocked exploded just outside the hooch that Philip and a few other Marines were sleeping in, everyone scrambled for cover in the bunkers. A few seconds later Cpl. Leslie Martz noticed that Philip wasn't in the bunker. He ran to the hooch were Philip was sleeping, looking around inside the hooch he saw Philip laying on his cot, went to shake him and that's when he realized that Philip was dead. A fragment of the rocket had hit Philip in the chest while he sleep, he never knew what hit him. I believe Forrest Holt was with Leslie helping to find Philip. Forrest Holt was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during the rocket attack later that early morning.

 

It was a few days later when I received word that Philip had been killed in the attack. At first your mind says it's not true, maybe some type of mistake or they got the name wrong. Once you sort it all out in your mind a lot of changes take place, you feel hurt, you feel anger, you want to do something for a pay back, but there isn't nothing you can do, you stay pissed, you cuss every gook and want to kill at least one or two just to get even, but there is not a damn thing that would bring Philip back. For weeks you still don't really believe it really happened. But as time moves on you accept the fact it did happen, you think about what his family and what they must going through.

 

Many times I have thought about, what if I had pulled rank on him and made Him wait, and went to MMAF myself and would have been in the same hooch sleeping on the same cot, because there was only one available, the one that Philip was sleeping in that night, it could have been me there dead. If that was the case, I hope that he would have made a memorial page like this one for me.....I have thought about him many times over the years and thought about the events that led up to his death, I believe we all have an appointment with death, only GOD knows the place, time and how it will take place. Until that time you may come close to dying, but if it is not your time to go you will live.

 

I think about what type of wife he would have had, how many kids he would of have had, and how many grandchildren he would have. What type of job he would have, etc. Philip was a very good artist, he might have been some type of draftsman, or professional artist, or maybe doing graphics for some company. We will never know what great things Philp and other young men who were killed in Vietnam could have accomplished if they had lived, no one will ever know, but we must never forget that they gave all........

 

Philip Curran was a Aircraft Crash Firefighting/Rescueman with MABS-16,MAG-16, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Vietnam. There was no place in Vietnam that was safe, you could be killed any place anywhere at any time no matter what your job was.......

SSgt. Montgomery, LCpl. Amiotte, OgdonUtz, Sgt. Forrest Holt rescued a chopper pilot that crashed at Marble Mountain, turned out to be General Pittman, USMC. Saving lives was all in a day’s work for these Marines, Sgt. Forrest Holt was received a Bronze Star Medal for his actions during the attack on Aug. 28,1967.

 

Found on this at