Marshall County In Viet Nam

Veterans of Marshall County,
written by the students of Mr. Gary Rider,
John Marshall High School, Glen Dale, WV.

DAVE EALY

By Keely Oelschlager, Bill Dorsey, Deanna Wayt, Gerri Hewitt & Jay Strope

The Vietnam War was a very controversial era in the respect of American involvement and the attitudes of the country at that time. For many of those who served, it was a devastating experience and one not frequently discussed. For others whose experiences differed, the opinions are quite different. Yet in all cases it is an experience never forgotten.

Moundsville resident Dave Ealy has never considered America's involvement in Vietnam as a mistake. Right or wrong, this war was like any war in the fact that the country was in it together. Looking back, he has no negative feelings or remorse toward his involvement. In many respects the whole experience allowed him to mature and view this country in a new perspective.

In the fall of 1966 Dave Ealy volunteered for the draft, requiring two years of service. Anyone simply drafted would have had to give three years of service. A year out of high school, Dave admittedly did not join for patriotic reasons, but more to satisfy a sense of curiosity. He received advanced infantry training for the Army at Fort Gordon, Georgia and soon afterwards was sent to a position in the MeCong Delta in Vietnam by the South China Sea. This area was known to flood twice a day at high tides and often the men would sleep in trees at night to avoid the water.

Dave was an Army Grunt, and his main duties were to walk patrols and protect certain areas, from an enemy not always visible, yet extremely fierce. The North Vietnamese soldiers were highly motivated and skillful soldiers with underground tunnels as part of their defense. Their knowledge of the land and guerrilla warfare tactics made the enemy a "sitting duck".; On the day Dave was injured, he remembers the attack and equates the American advance to a line of British soldiers walking into battle. The casualty rate was 80% and one out of every four Americans died. Dave was hit in the left arm with a piece of shrapnel. Because of the poor hospital conditions, Dave was able to leave Vietnam for treatment after having had four months of duty.

After a month stay in Tokyo, Japan, Dave returned to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC. He then reported to Fort Dix and trained others for Vietnam. The injury, which had scared him, forced him to grow up in terms of adulthood. Thankful he did not have to return to Vietnam, he today feels a great sense of respect for those veterans of WWI, WII, and Korea. In Vietnam, the military tour of duty lasted one year. In the other wars, the service lasted until the war was over.

Upon returning home, Dave did not experience any negative responses nor was he poorly treated. He feels that the people in this area hold him in higher regard because of his military service. It angers him to think of movie producer Oliver Stone who profits from poisoning young people with the negative exploits of this country. Dave believes America is the "... kindest, generous, freest country in the world," and Americans should be proud.


JON WYAT

By Kimberly Pavlina, Bill Dorsey & Chris White

On March 8, 1965, a stop was taken which began ground troop involvement in the Vietnam Conflict. Two battalions of United States Marines came ashore to protect the facilities at the Da Nang Air Strip which had suffered from Viet Cong raids. Only 3,500 men had landed, but by the end of the year the numbers were increasing rapidly. The United States knew that it could not pull out of South Vietnam. To do so would not only plunge the country into communism, but be a breach of faith that would reflect dealings with other Asian countries.

A little over one year later in September of 1966, Marine Lance Corporal Jon Wyat took off from California and flew to a stopover point at Guam, then Okinawa for three days, followed by a flight to Da Nang Air Base in the Republic of South Vietnam. He was then transported by truck approximately forty miles south to Chu Lai. While stationed at Chu Lai, Jon dealt mainly with communications and calling in artillery and air strikes. He also had on the job training in field wire and field radio.

Can you imagine being an 18 or 19 year old kid being transported to a foreign country or to a place you had never been before, and facing the possibility of losing your life? When asked what he witnessed , Jon Wyat replied, "There are two kinds of people you don't want to be. The guy getting ready to go home or the guy just getting there. They both make mistakes. The new guy doesn't know what he is doing and the other one is too cautious."

While trying to save your own life as well as the lives of others, determining the Viet Cong from the South Vietnamese people was a task in itself. Jon describes this by saying, "There are no differences between the two. You can't tell until you see them with a weapon."

During his tour in South Vietnam, Lance Corporal Wyat served in Operation Tippicanoe, and was stationed at Da Nang during the Tet Offensive. The tactics that dominated the years up to the Tet Offensive of 1968 included patrolling and ambushes as well as larger search and destroy operations such as Tippicanoe. While the numbers of wounded and dead Americans were rising, Jon was one of the fortunate ones. Can you imagine constantly fearing for your life? Lance Corporal Wyat experienced several moments when he thought he would die. Although sustaining minor injuries by flying shrapnel, he was never seriously wounded.

While in Vietnam, Jon had very few contacts with women in battle. The only time he came into contact with them was when he could attend a USO show. Drug abuse, a common problem today, was not a big problem where he was stationed: "A few individuals would use marijuana but in my outfit it was not a major problem."

Coming back to the United States in June of 1968, Jon had no problems with protesters, because he came back before the controversy started. He stayed at the Marine Corp Air Station for seven months at Cherry Point, North Carolina before coming home.

Upon completion of Lance Corporal Wayt's tour, he was awarded the Vietnam campaign medal and the Vietnam service medal. When asked how he felt, Jon replied with honor: "I feel proud to have served over there." While man is struggling to free himself, he retains his hopes and ideals. Once he has achieved the goal of destroying his oppressor, he in turn becomes a new oppressor.


Submitted by T. Vernon Anderson, with the permission of Gary Rider.


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