ďAt approximately 0130H, Marble Mountain came under heavy enemy rocket attack. The squadron suffered one (1) KIA and 41 WIAís from the incoming rounds. One aircraft was completely destroyed and four received limited damage.Ē
Cpl. Terry Lee Ecker was assigned to MAG-16 at Marble Mt. Air Facility just outside of Da-Nang. He was a Heavy Equipment Mechanic for MABS-16. On the INCIDENT DATE at approximately 0130 hours, the base came under heavy rocket attack. Cpl. Ecker who had less than 30 days left before discharge was 1 of 2 Marines killed. In your photo section of Pop-a-Smoke you have a photo submitted that shows 1 of the other huts that was hit by the rockets. I and Terry came to Vietnam in November 1966, being the only 2 Marines from our unit at Camp Pendleton to be sent over to Vietnam at the time. Semper Fi. Submitted by Don Nichols Jr.,, fellow Marine.
Michael J. Caller was a friend of mine. He and I were stationed together at New River and hung out together during training at Pendleton prior to shipping out to the exotic Far East. Mike and I and Larry Walker (HMM 361) had some good times together. Mike was a super nice guy!
When we all shipped out, Mike was sent to Okinawa instead of Nam. Not sure of his exact outfit, but think it was O&R. Apparently, the practice in Okinawa was to let one of the men fly into Nam to deliver parts every so often so he could collect a month's worth of combat pay. You only needed to set foot in country , even for a day, and collect.
I had only been in country a short time (HMM 363) and was working a detail: building revetments around the helos out of 55 gal drums filled with sand. One day up walked Mike with a big smile on his face! He had flown in and wanted to stay the night with me at Marble Mountain and then was to fly to Dong Ha the following day to see Larry Walker before returning to Okinawa.
We enjoyed a USO show at the club that night and I set up a cot in my hooch for Mike. At 0130 a rocket came through the roof. Mike was killed instantly with a piece of shrapnel through the heart ... his first night in Viet Nam. I think of him often.
Submitted by Dewey Steele, HMM-363, friend and hooch mate
I was stationed with Michael Jay Caller at the time of his death. We were part of H&MS 15, Sub-unit #1, stationed at Futema Air Base, Okinawa. We had a small training unit in Okinawa, supposedly to train pilots on the operation of the UH-34D. We had 5 H-34's when I left in late Nov. 67. We were flying into country to get our money tax free, hazardous duty, and flight time. Michael asked me if I thought the 1stSGT would let him go, as he had a great buddy he would like to see. I told him all he had to do was ask. The 1stSGT. cut him the orders and you know the rest. I have told the story of Michael Jay Caller many times since I got out of the Marine Corps and several before. Such a tragedy! Michael had never fired a round at anyone in his life. What a guy!! I made contact with his sister and a cousin about 2 years ago. They acknowledged and I havenít heard anything since. I still have their phone # and Addresses. To add to the irony of this story, I had a picture that I had actually forgotten, that spurred me even more as I had actually forgotten his name. He was only in the unit about a month or so at the time of his death. I don't remember him giving me the picture but not only did I have one but I had two! I wonder sometime how I came by having two. Neither picture had his name on it. Michael was special. We hit it off first thing!~ I often wondered what his folks must have thought, him drawing Okinawa instead of VietNam then get the word he'd been killed. Submitted by Ed Tatman, Unit Buddy Submitted by Ed Tatman, Unit Buddy
First Hand Narrative:
I was a Sgt.-E5 in the structure shop and hangar of MAG-16, H&MS-16, MMAF. People were assigned to a 30 day rotation of a reactionary platoon, as extra duty, which was put together to support the Grunts on the MMAF perimeter. The MMAF base was taking a lot of mortar and rocket fire during this time frame, as were a lot of other places. This was the build up to the 68 TET offensive.
I was the Platoon Sgt assigned to this platoon. Gunnery Sgt. Jim Buxton was the platoon Gunny. Gunny Buxton was also from the structure shop of H&MS-16 at MMAF. Cpl. Steel was also assigned to the reactionary platoon for this same 30 day period. As the rocket attack started, we all ran to our muster position for the Reactionary Platoon and I did a head count. It was then that I realized Cpl. Steel was missing.
I notified Gunny Buxton and ran to Steel's hotch to try and locate him. When I arrived, I just couldn't believe it. Steel had taken a 122 rocket straight on. At least it was quick. I have often thought of that night and Cpl. Steel's death.
He was a fine young man and a good Marine. As I recall, he didn't have very long to go before he rotated back to Conus. We all felt so bad for Steel's family and Wife. Semper Fi Marine.
SSGT. William R. Niblett, USMC, 1981978, 1961/1971 Submitted by William R. Niblett, Sgt, H&MS-16 structure shop
Comment on Incident:
Early morning rocket attack on MMAF - impact throughout MMAF base - Cpl R.H. Steele KIA in H&MS-16 Maint area.
Family Information - LCpl William White, MAG-16, wounded in attack:
LCpl William White, USMC (WIA) had just a few days left of his tour when the attack occurred. He suffered a severe head wound which left him a paraplegic. Like all Marines, he persevered, doing things others thought impossible for him. Although his active duty time was short, just over 2 years when he was retired as a Cpl due to his disability in March 1968 - "Once a Marine, always a Marine."
If any one remembers him from your time in Nam August 1966 - Sept 1967, or any other time with the Marines, feel free to contact me. He passed in October 2007. God bless you all. Submitted by Vearnetta "Nita" White, Widow of William White, wounded mechanic
Marines; tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of our loss of you. We still think of you often! Rest in peace! MARINES until forgotten! We shall remember and honor them at the setting of the sun and with the rising of the sun of the morning. They will not grow old as those of us that are left behind. Semper Fi! Unit mate of Michael Jay Caller, Aug. 27, 1967 Submitted by Ed Tatman, friend
I was with Comm. Company and our hut was The Zoo on the road by the beach. A 122 rocket hit one hutch over, buried in the sand and didn't go off. Our hut took shrapnel from one - I have some pieces that were embedded in the walls around the hut. Also a plastic patch with masking tape that everyone signed on the door where a big piece of metal came through.
We were moving so fast to get to our preassigned duty spots that we never really thought about what was going off - but when we came back and saw the buried 122 we just figured it wasn't our night - and the loss of guys down on the line didn't make it a happy moment either.
I have never had the honor since to be associated with a better group of guys than the MAG 16 wing.
I transferred in to H&MS-16 Avionics from MAG-11 in DaNang in January of 1967 and moved into 'The Zoo' near the beach and about 100 yards from the Sgt's Club. Bob Steele was one of the guys in my shop and also a good friend who lived in the same hootch. In April '67 I got transferred to HMM-363 and got ready to move up to Dong Ha. I gave Bob a lot of my personal 'comfort' gear as I couldn't take it with me and he moved into MY spot in the hootch, front right corner.
My tour was up in August and I came back down to MMAF to say some goodbyes before heading over to DaNang to rotate out. I spent some time at 'The Zoo', drinking, laughing and joking with Bob Steele, Dave Link (a crew chief I had flown with previously) and a few other guys I knew. I left for DaNang the next day and flew to Okinawa enroute home.
I didn't hear about the deaths of Bob and Link until much later. It has always bothered me and I think of the incident often. Submitted by Bill Dozier, previously lived in hootch with Bob Steele & Link
I was with Bob when he died. Bob and I had been working night crew as I remember and we had just come back from chow. I asked Bob if he wanted to stay up and shoot the bull but he wanted to hit the sack. He had just a few short weeks before he was to rotate. It was just a few minutes later that we were hit. The rocket hit were Bob slept. I watched his hand slowly close and the other person there with me (think he was a Corpsman) told me that's it. He is gone.
I have lived with the picture of it in my mind all my life. The same rocket killed another Marine who was in the tent next to Bob's on the other side of the tent row. I did not know him. It also wounded four or five other Marines in my unit. One of them, I think his name was Bob Dylan, was lying next to me. Three of them spent several months in the hospital but all survived. I remember that night vividly as I was laying in the sand, about 30 feet away, believing I was going to die that night. Submitted by Richard W. Mc Guire, MAG16 AVIONICS SHOP
I am Terry Ecker's baby sister. I know that being a great Marine was what he wanted most and formost. He (as well as his brothers) gave there life for the country they loved so each and every one of us can live in freedom. Please be assured that I will never forget those that have fought for my freedom, nor will I ever forget those who are fighting today or tomorrow. God bless each and every one of you.
For those of you who knew my brother, I thank you for helping him each and every day he was away from home. Submitted by Nancy Wolfe, My Brother was Terry Lee Ecker
I went to Seneca High School in Louisville, KY with Mike. We dated when I was about 15. Dating at our age was meeting at the show or going to a school dance. I had just moved to Louisville from Alabama. Mike, "Softy" as we called him was a terrific guy and so much fun. He came by to see me before he shipped out and I have clear memories of that day. Mary Michlick Houghton (a high school friend of Mike's) and I visited Mike's grave yesterday (August 28, 2008). It was the 41st anniversary of Mike's death. Mary sent me the link to this page so I could see what had really happened. Mike was a dear friend and I think of him so often. He had a gray spot of hair at the back of his hair line. Every time I think of him, I think of his hair. He was a sweetheart. Thank you for sharing memories. Submitted by Peggy Calloway Maze, high school friend
Posted Aug. 21, 2011----------Hard to believe this next Sunday (Aug. 28-2011) will make 44 years!! Just a note---some have not forgotten! Think of Michael often. Our paths crossed briefly in Okinawa and we hit it off from the start! Semper Fi! Submitted by Ed Tatman, Marine Buddy