I have good news and bad news. I was able to track down Mr. Hess and as I suspected, he no longer lives in NY and has retired to someplace warm. I spoke with him on the phone Thursday evening and did confirm that he is the man you are looking for. He went on to be a career Marine, retiring after 30 years in the Corps.
The bad news is that he has no recollection of the operation in question and your names meant nothing to him. He asked me not to share his contact information with anyone because he would like his privacy respected and in all honesty, doesn't think he can help you because he remembers nothing. I read to him all of the information that you shared with me and the general purpose of finding him and he seemed rather hesitant about the entire thing.
Having done this for many years, I can sense when I am intruding on someone's life and that is exactly how it felt to me. I hope you can understand my desire to respect his wishes. While I am respecting his wishes, I do have a card up my sleeve, so all hope isn't lost.
I have printed out the photos that you have of him from 'Nam and on Monday I will mail them to him, along with a note thanking him for speaking with me, sharing my contact information with him in case he changes his mind. There is an outside chance that when he sees the photos, something might trigger a memory and who knows - it is worth a shot at the very least. By cultivating his trust, I may be able to get somewhere with him.
I was elated when I found him - it only took me about two hours - and then quickly let down when he requested that I not share his personal information with you.
If I do hear from him, I will certainly let you all know. I am sorry this panned out like it did ... this happens sometimes.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am always more than happy to assist Vietnam Marines in any way I can - it is a way to honor my 2nd cousin.