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Russell Leeland Manly


I was born in California. I lived there until I was 16. When my Dad got a job in Indiana, that's when I moved to South Bend. I attended LaSalle HS. I was a member of the first graduating class in 1967. I played football & baseball. Graduated with honors. I attended IUSB for 1 semester but floundered. I had no direction or goals. So I enlisted in the Marine Corps.

I arrived at MCRD San Diego on 2 Feb 1968. Upon graduation & ITR at Camp Pendleton, I was assigned a 2531 MOS and went to Radio Operator School at San Diego. From there, since I graduated 3d in my class, I was able to go to Camp LeJeune, 2dMARDIV, 10th Marines. A few months later, I got my orders for Viet Nam. I arrived in Da Nang on 23 Dec 1968 and got to my unit, 1st AmTrak Bn, on 25 Dec 1968. We were located in the northern most area of South Viet Nam, just below the DMZ. In fact, our Bravo Co was a lookout post to observe & report any unusual/illegal activity in the "Z". I was attached to HQ company, which was on the south side of the Qua Viet River. Our main mission was to keep the mouth of the Qua Viet open. The river went from the Gulf of Tonkin and flowed to Dong Ha and beyond. Our Charley Company protected a refugee village located on the north side of the river. In addition to providing 24/7 radio communication for our S3 (patrol communication, messages from Bravo & Charley companies, artillery targets and naval gun fire) I was also on a regular rotation to be the radio operator for daily (or longer) patrols. These patrols were pro-active by seeking out enemy activity or finding villages that harbored VC or sympathized with the enemy. During these patrols, we would stay in a position overnight looking for unusual &/or unauthorized activity. Most of our conflicts with the VC occurred during these nighttime observations.

One of the most fearful and regular incidents we encountered were rocket attacks. Located just off the coast, in DMZ territory was Tiger Island. Evidently, since it was not on the mainland, NVA/VC forces felt they had the freedom to "militarize". However, US leadership considered Tiger Island and extension of the DMZ. Consequently, we could count on late night rocket attacks at least 3-4 (or more) times per week. They would last several minutes each. On occasion, there would be multiple attacks in a given night. The only protection we had from the rockets were the bunkers that were built right at the footsteps of our hooches. The hooches were nothing more that very large canvas tents built around a plywood floor foundation. Once the unforgettable sound of an incoming rocket was heard, 12 men in each hooch could be seen scrambling helter skelter directly for the bunker. Very scary, very nerve wracking. As could be imagined, we were constantly filling sandbags to reinforce every structure on our base.

1st AmTraks had the distinction of beacheading 9th Marines when Marines first got involved in the war. Therefore when US forces started withdrawing from in country, 9th Marines (and by extension, 1st AmTraks) were the first units pulled out. We left Viet Nam in late October 1969. I finished my tour on Okinawa.

Once back in the States, I was sent back to Camp LeJeune and served with several companies in 3d Bn, 10th Marines. After only 1-1/2 years of enlistment, I made it to E-5 sergeant. I'm pretty proud of the fact that my longest time in grade (2-1/2 years) was as an E-5. My last assignment before getting out of the military was Secret & Confidential clerk with 3/10. I left the USMC on 2 Feb 1972. From there, my new wife & I went to New Jersey to visit with my wife's sister & family. We then went back to the South Bend IN area. We lived with my wife's mother (a widow) until it was time to head to Purdue University. We both attended Purdue until she graduated in May 1974. Once that happened, I transferred to San Diego State University to pursue my degree in Broadcast Journalism. I graduated in December 1976. Unfortunately, I never got a job in that profession. I spent several years working various sales positions (wholesale foods, life, health insurance, annuities & mutual funds, trucking services, electrical lighting). I finally found a career in customer service for an RV manufacturer in Elkhart IN. After 25 years there, I retired in December 2015. Since then, I have been enjoying my retirement in Middle Tennessee.

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