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Old 07-14-2010, 08:48 AM
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Default Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Personally, I'd give him the Medal of Honor, not the Court Marshal.





On January 18, 1969, Colonel William White, USMC, concluded an investigation into the possibility of charging Corporal Alvin L. Blackburn with the murder of 13 captured enemy soldiers in Vietnam.

The colonel's decision was to recommend the corporal for the Medal of Honor. (What happened next is unknown to me.)

Download the original pdf to see documents in this extraordinary case. The file includes: The recommendation by Colonel William W. White, and statements by Corporal Alvin L. Blackburn, Lance Corporal William E. Marcott, and Private Steve A. Kearns, all USMC.

Two of the documents are below. Both reveal an extraordinary story of heroism in the war in Vietnam.

Warning: The language is rough.

___________________

18 Jan 1969

From: Colonel William W. WHITE 031 562/9910 USMC

To: Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force

Subj: Investigation into the circumstances of the demise of 13 North Vietnamese Army (Regular) soldiers of 22 December 1968

Ref: (a) JAG Manual, par. 5017

Encl:
(1) Statement of Corporal Alvin L. BLACKBURN Jr. 23 13 039/0311 USMC
(2) Statement of Lance Corporal William E. MARCOTT 24 13 049/0351 USMC
(3) Statement of Private Steve A. KEARNS 24 84 625/0351 USMC

1. As required by reference (a), an investigation was conducted to determine the feasibility of bringing charges of first degree murder, 13 separate counts, against Corporal Alvin L. Blackburn Jr.

2. Follow-up patrols confirm the count of 86 enemy dead and five friendlies at coordinates 82514316. Ten enemy dead were confirmed at 70132921. The ten confirmed at 70132921 were in addition to two decapitated bodies and thirteen enemy forces; hands tied, blind-folded and gagged. Each one had one shot hole in the temple area. Calibre unknown.

3. Friendly casualties consisted of five dead, two wounded, and the miracle (explanation to follow). Lance Corporal MARCOTT, one gunshot wound to left thigh, numerous cuts and scratches. Private KEARNS, numerous shrapnel wounds in back, buttocks and legs in addition to scratches and cuts. Both men suffered from exposure and malnutrition. The team leader, Corporal BLACKBURN, had no visual wounds other than scratches, cuts, and abrasions over the entire body area. Medical examination revealed major concussions and severe internal bleeding; exhaustion, malnutrition and was suffering from shock. Medical records indicate a prior weight of 147 pounds after weight of 102 pounds. That this marine was alive is a miracle.

4. Statements from the soldiers who first came into contact with the Marines (soldiers were from sub unit of 1st Air Cav) validate the initial condition of the Marines. Corporal BLACKBURN was carrying Private KEARNS over his shoulder and had Lance Corporal MARCOTT on a stretcher made of two branches, belts and jackets. KEARNS and MARCOTT were not coherent. Corporal BLACKBURN was, at first impression, coherent; however, it became apparent that he was in some state of shock and. exhaustion. Extracts of the aforementioned statements on the condition of BLACKBURN are indicative: "piece of ground meat" "walking dead" "zombie".

5. The facts in this case are self-explanatory. (Refer enclosures) It is the undersigned opinion that to bring charges against this Marine would destroy what the Marine Corps and this Country stands for. It is further Recommended that Corporal BLACKBURN be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 December 1968.

Respectfully submitted,

W. W. WHITE

Colonel

United States Marine Corps

___________________

I, Steve A. KEARNS, make the following statement on my own free will fully aware of the consequences of false or incomplete statements:

I was a member of a seven man recon team termed DAGGER II. Our mission was to parachute somewhere forward of friendly positions and set up an ambush. We were to be heli-lifted out. The date was 21 December 1968. My team Leader was Cpl A. L. BLACKBURN 23 13 039 and had been my leader for six other missions.

We jumped on the right coordinates but dumb *ss Duke landed in a tree. Brutus (investigator's comment "Brutus" was an alias by which the accused was identified by his counterparts) had to climb up and cut him down and then he set us in. This was to have been my last mission before skying to the world and I was really shaking my sh*t. I was set in across from Brutus with Jack, Duke and John flowing left; and Mark, Spook, and Bill flowing right.

Brutus told us a whole f*cking gook company was coming instead of a patrol but, we couldn't call for an extract because the enemy was too close. Brutus told us to lay quiet and wait till he moved. I had a 12 gauge and two .38s but I wish I had a f*cking tank.

They must've been only an inch away before he stood up and he had the barrel of the BAR in this gook's guts and cut 'em in half. For about five minutes there was nothing but lead, sh*t and guts in the air. Bill and Spook were backing and blowing gooners left and right. Mark was firing bloopers from about ten feet and blew his own *ss to the deck several times. Duke was lying with a BAR and was cutting loose about b*lls high. I don't remember John or Jack. Brutus had a BAR screaming from his thigh and throwing grenades like candy at a f*cking parade. I thought maybe Brutus had cracked his marbles but he just calmly waded through the blood and sh*t shouting orders for us and melting his BAR.

I didn't see it, but Spook bought it and by that time Brutus had made it to where Spook and Bill was. The BAR was actually on fire so Brutus picked up Spook's 16 gauge and with his own K-Bar began kicking *ss and cutting throats. We didn't stick around to count but I figure he must've got 40 or 50 by himself. About 2 dozen of 'em threw guns down but Bill just kept blasting then before Brutus knocked his *ss down. There was only three of us, me, Brutus and Bill. I finished off the wounded and since the radio was busted and we knew reinforcements would be coming for the gooners we got out of there fast.

We marched for 13 or 14 hours before we stopped. It was my watch, I guess about 4 or 5 in the morning when they hit us. It only lasted a minute or so and all I did was keep shooting. I was so f*cking tired I could care less. Bill was hollering that his b*lls were blown off and two of the POWs had tried to run but the traps had blown their heads off. Somewhere, I don't remember when, I caught shrapnel in my back *ss and legs and the pain started coming on when Brutus got to me from Bill. He kept telling Bill that he would make a cute fagaot if he would get false teeth and a beard. I distinctly remember that cause Bill was b*tching that his b*lls were gone and Brutus was trying to make him feel better and for some reason I felt like laughing. I know it sounds crazy but I was laying face down about five feet from them and Brutus was holding Bill's b*lls and was calling him all sorts of dumb f*cking names trying to convince him that they were still attached. I guess I passed out because the next thing was Brutus standing over me trying to stop my bleeding.

It was hard to tell whose blood was whose since he was bleeding all over. Neither Bill nor I could walk and we still had 13 POWs so Brutus did the only thing he could. He had a choice, take the POWs out or us. I don't know what I would have done. Brutus just looked at Bill, then me, and I was really scared, more scared than when the whole company of gooks came at us, because he had blood everywhere and was shaking and his eyes. God, man, his eyes were white. I'm not sh*tting you white. Like a robot he walked up to each one and said "God forgive me" or something like that and shot each one in the head.

Then he loaded 2 shotguns, strapped them to each leg. He took off his clothes and ours to reduce weight. All he had was a belt a .38, 2 shotguns, 2 K-Bars and some ammo. He had used all of our first aid shit. He made a litter out of branches and belts and he alternated between carry one of us and dragging the other. We hadn't eaten for several days and I was flashing off and on but every time I woke up we were still moving. One of the last things I remember before waking up in the cross was staring at his back. I was lying face down on this stretcher thing, and seeing the dried blood caked over the straps on his shoulders.

Without b*llshitting, I don't think I could have done it. I owe him my life and so does Bill. If they burn him I'll be the first in line to waste the b*stards that try it...and that's no threat, that's a blood oath.

THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE ACCORDING TO MY MEMORY. IT CONSISTS OF TWO PAGES.

STEVE A. KEARNS

PRIVATE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

http://gunnyg.blogspot.com/2007/05/e...corps-war.html
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:26 AM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Great story - definitely MOH!

Here's a pdf including statements from Blackburn and Marcott
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:50 AM
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Title 4, Chapter 1 Sect 8

 
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Doh! My bad.

I first read this by reading the PDF but for the sake of putting it as a direct read in the forum, I found a text version. I see now that the 2 statements are missing in my version. Those 2 statements are definitely worth the read.
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:04 PM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Did they ever award the medal? These guys did what they had to do to survive. Nothing short of MOH material.
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by muleman View Post
Did they ever award the medal? These guys did what they had to do to survive. Nothing short of MOH material.

Good find BC.
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:08 PM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Great article BC , Thanks . Yes definatlly a medal at the very least .
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Old 07-17-2010, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

I hate to crap on anyone's parade, but this whole thing smells like a hoax. These are the reasons for this conclusion:

1) To my knowledge there were no parachute insertions of any Marine Recon teams in Viet Nam
2) I can find no independent verification of this story in any official archives
3) Even if true, the events described do not rise to the level where a MoH would be recommended
4) Extensive internet searches for all of the main characters in this story turn up only variations of the story itself - there are no other references to any of these men anywhere
5) A company of NVA regulars were marching through the jungle four abreast (???!?)

In my opinion, if this actually happened, Blackburn should have been raked over the coals for his lack of leadership abilities in getting his squad shot to hell for no good reason. The "statements" make it clear the point had already passed without detecting the Recons before Blackburn decided to cut loose with his BAR*; he could/should have simply let that vastly superior force pass rather than throwing his buddies into a certain meat-grinder. Anyone who has had any amount of combat experience would see this as suicidal behavior.

There are many other problems with this story, but these are enough to place this into the "hoax" category. Sorry.


*There are weapons discrepancies as well. BAR's did exist in 'Nam, but they were not exactly a favorite with Recons. They are hellaciously accurate, but they and their ammo are quite heavy, not a quality that would be appreciated by a fast reaction team like the Recons. And .38 revolvers? Please.

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Old 11-30-2011, 10:02 PM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

ALCON

Not sure if anyone is still reading thread this but I recently came across the story of Corporal Alvin L. Blackburn Jr. while doing research for Dewey Canyon. The documentation Of CPL Blackburn's pending UCMJ is in the Marine Corps Archives in Quantico, VA if anyone cares to verify its authenticity. I imagine, that is where the pdf versions of the file came from since it is identical to what is in the archive. I don't believe the Marines would keep this as a historical artifact if it were a complete fabrication. I could be wrong but I have found the Marines to be the most honorable of all of the Armed Forces (coming from an active duty Army Officer). Feel free to veryify yourselves. Amazing story.
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:08 PM
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Default Re: Vietnam war - Court Marshal or Medal of Honor?

Welcome Alcon.

Thanks for the input on this remarkable story
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