17 Apr 2005
Grover was born in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Dickson. He attended schools in Waco, Houston, Brownsville and Dallas. He enlisted in the USMC the first time in 1957 from Midland and served 4 years. He separated in 1961 and his family were still living in Midland, Texas. He worked for Southwest Chemical Company in Midland from 1961 until 1965 and then transferred with the company to New Orleans, met and married his wife. He then re-enlisted in the Marine Corp from New Orleans.
He began his tour in Vietnam in August 1965 and had served 13 months, took a six month extension in Vietnam, and came home to Midland on leave. He was killed in a fire fight with the V.C. on November 11, 1966 in the Quang Tri province. He was buried with with full military honors in the New Hope Cemetery in Athens, Texas.
He is remembered by the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Midland, Texas.
From a PBVVM representative,
Billy M. Brown
04 Aug 2006
Thanks to Fran Adair Bethea of the Henderson County Genealogical Society and Grover's brother, Arlen Dickson of Midland, Texas for their help in my research of Grover.
Grover was born in Fort Worth, Tx, his parents divorced and his father was left with responsibility of raising Grover and his younger brother, Gary. This was during the World War II years and Mr. Dickson worked in a dairy and drove a Greyhound bus. While working for Greyhound, he met and married Marjolie Jackson of Athens. Marjolie became the only mother that Grover and Gary knew. Two brothers were born after the war, Arlen in 1946 and Ronny in 1947.
The family moved quite frequently as Mr. Dickson was then in the employ of Cabell's Dairy (a division of Southland Corp), now known as 7-11. Mr. Dickson would set up new operations to support new convenience stores for an area and then move on. The family lived in Athens (the Brownsboro community), Dallas, Houston, Waco, Midland and in Florida.
When Grover was 16, he and a buddy quit going to school and took off on an adventure running around the southeast. When he came home, his father was not happy with him and Grover pressed his father to help him get into the Marine Corps. According to Arlen, with a doctored birth certificate and his father's signature, Grover entered the Marine Corps in 1956 at age 16. Arlen stated Grover was actually a year younger than the official Marine Corps records. Grover completed his four year hitch at age 20, separated from the Marine Corps, but remained in the Marine Reserves.
Grover worked all over Texas, living in Midland and working for Southeastern Chemical Company. He lived in Houston and worked in that area. He met and married Elaine, a woman with three small children. The family moved to New Orleans, where Grover was working on the shipping docks for Halter Marine Shipping. He was not happy with the work opportunities, and the Marine Corps was building up forces for Vietnam. Grover was given a chance to re-enlist with a bonus at his former rank in the Marine Corps and be given credit for his active service and reserve time for pay. With a wife and three small children, he elected to do so, re-enlisting in New Orleans and he volunteered for Vietnam.
Grover went to Vietnam in August 1965 and served a tour as a squad leader with K Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines; he extended his Vietnam service requirement by six months. At the time, his company was in Okinawa restaging and returned to Vietnam in October 1966.
When the unit returned to Vietnam, they had an AO near the "Rock Pile" and Hill 400 in the Quang Tri Province. A Washington Post foreign correspondent patrolled with Grover and his squad and filed a story published November 8, 1966. On November 11th, Grover's company was involved in a operation to route out the NVA who were occupying key positions on Hill 400. During the operation, Grover's company walked into an ambush. Grover's platoon commander and several men were hit by a machine gun fortified in a bunker area. Grover's actions were documented in his Navy Cross citation.
The December 1966 issue of the Leatherneck Magazine, which came out after Grover's death, contained an article written by Grover on the need to properly train infantryman on the use of the M-79 grenade launcher.
Grover is buried in the New Hope Cemetery in the Brownsboro community of Athens, Texas. His parents were living in Midland, Texas at the time. His wife Elaine was presented the Navy Cross and his Purple Heart in ceremonies in Houston, Texas in May 1967.
Grover's younger brother Gary drowned in a boating accident in 1971 and his father passed away in 1982; both are buried next to Grover. His mother lives in Tyler, Texas and brother Verlan splits time between Midland and his place in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. His brother Ronny lives in Houston.
Grover L. Dickson, Navy Cross; Hubbard Don Cobb, Distinguished Service Cross, PSG, U.S. Army (also buried in Athens, Texas); and 1Lt Robert M. Snell, U.S. Army, Distinguished Service Cross, of Lamesa have recently been recognized by the PBVVM for their service.
From a PBVVM representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762
This article appeared in the Washington Post on November 8, 1966:
Patrol Probes 'Street Without Joy'
CAM LO, South Vietnam - In a valley as emerald green and peaceful as Ireland, a battalion of American Marines broke camp and headed for high ground. They carried 70 pounds of gear in packs, and moved down into a draw, sloshed across a stream, and up again to a plateau.
But Marines Find 'Charlie' Illusive
By Ward Just - Washington Post Foreign Service
The plateau would put them within range of mortar fire from Mutter Ridge, the tangled bombed-out ridge that contains Hills 400 and 484, the hills for which the 3rd Battalion, Fourth Marines fought a week last month.
Those hills were later deemed not worth occupying, so the "three/four" Marine Fouce ("Mutter was its call sign) moved off them and back into the Marine base area at Dongha. The 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines took its place.
This is the area dominated by the "Rock Pile," the 800-foot high mountain that guards the junction of four valleys. Looking north, a ridge called "The Razorback" is to the west and the plateau is to the east, the Mutter Ridge is directly north, with a valley in between.
NOT EVEN SNIPERS
There is no enemy fire now, not even a sniper round. Friendly mortar an artillery boom each night but the targets are ephemeral. The Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Pappy DeLong, is an advocate of patrols. So his men patrol.
Corp. Grover Dickson, a 29 year-old squad leader from Houston, took 20 men Sunday afternoon and went in search of 23 persons who were traveling down Route Nine, Bernard Falls' "Street Without Joy," just five miles to the south. They might have been refugees or they might have been the enemy.
Dickson left a wife and three small children to re-enlist in the Marine Corps, and now he says he is older than his platoon sergeant. The men, he says, are lean and mean.
They have been in Quangtri Province only three days, after more than a month in Okinawa reconstituting the battalion which was badly hit during its tour in the priority pacification areas near DaNang.
One private, or "grunt" as the Marines call their enlisted men, has been in Vietnam for 11 months averaging about one patrol a day, and can count on the fingers of one hand the times there was enemy contact, apart from the booby traps and mines.
This patrol is no different: two dud mortar rounds found, a set of footprints inspected, a tiny bombed ut church searched, and a long inquiry on whether or not a tree on a ridgeline was a Communist watching the movement of the squad.
Dickson placed the squad in a field just below Route Nine, where e 23 suspects were meant to come through. Machine guns were placed east and west, and the grenadier south and riflemen north. Then Dickson radioed his company commander asking to investigate. The patrol moved forward.
There were not 23 Charlie or of anybody else, and in 90 minutes the patrol was back at the battalion command post. The corporal, the colonel, the major, and other expressed regret that there was no action. In ten days, they promised, there would be some and it would be wise to be around "Three/Three" then.
November 8, 1966
Eight days later, there was another article in a different newspaper:
MIDLANDER KILLED IN ACTION
Grover L. Dickson, a 27 year old Midland Marine who "felt like doing something worthwhile," has become the city's first fatality of the war in Viet Nam.
Marine Corporal City's First Viet Nam Fatality
Dickson, a Marine corporal, was killed Friday in the vicinity of Kuang [sic] Tri, South Viet Nam, in action against Viet Cong forces. A Defense Department telegram received at 3 a.m. by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Dickson, 4303 Andrews Highway, said the Marine received multiple fragmentation wounds to the body.
"He felt that he was doing some good there," his mother told The Reporter-Telegram this morning.
Dickson served a four year hitch in the Marine Corps from 1956-1960 and re-enlisted in November 1965, volunteering for service in Viet Nam. He had been scheduled originally to leave Viet Nam for stateside duty next month but had again volunteered for an additional six months there.
Mrs. Dickson said her son was stationed with the 3rd Marine Battalion near Da Nang. She said she and her husband hadn't been informed that the division had moved into the Kuang Tri [sic] area where young Dickson was killed.
FORT WORTH NATIVE
Dickson was born in Fort Worth March 15, 1939 and attended schools in Dallas, Houston, Brownsville [sic; should be Brownboro] and Waco. He first enlisted in the Marines immediately after high school.
He formerly was employed by Southeastern Chemical Co here and listed Midland as his home.
Mr. and Mrs. Dickson have lived in Midland the last two months. He is the manager of Cabell's Oak Farm Dairy.
Midland REPORTER TELEGRAM
Wednesday, November 16, 1966
And later still, in the month following Grover's death, a letter appeared in LEATHERNECK Magazine in the section entitled "IF I WERE COMMANDANT":
If I were Commandant, I would make an immediate change to the training. . . for Marines embarking for overseas assignments.
The most important weapon to a squad leader at present in Vietnam is the M-79 Grenade Launcher. All too often the squad leader has to assign a replacement as grenadier only to find out the man has only fired it once for familiarization and that the only contact he has had with the weapon since has been from a distance.
I would allow each man of a squad to carry and thoroughly familiarize himself with this weapon and its functions and would require the basic infantryman to qualify with it during ITR training.
Cpl. G. L. Dickson
Volume XLIX, Number 12, December 1966
In the summer of 1967 the Marines remembered their dead:
Marines' Survivors Get Medals
The Marines honored their dead again Sunday in Houston - men who gave their lives in the Vietnam War.
A gentle breeze fluttered under a hot sun at the Marine Reserve Center as fathers, mothers, and wives stepped forward when names of the dead were called. Brig. General Victor Barraco, a retired officer, presented the medals.
Among them was a slender, blonde woman, Mrs. Grover L. Dickson, 1115 South Randall in Pasadena. She accepted the Navy Cross, second highest honor awarded by the Marine Corps, for her husband, who died last Nov 11 as he charged an enemy bunker for the second time. The Navy Cross was the highest award presented at the ceremony.
Dickson carried a wounded member of his platoon to safety under heavy enemy fire, said the citation. He was then killed as he tried to save his platoon commander who lay seriously wounded in front of the bunker.
The citation read in part: "His daring initiative, valor and selfless efforts in behalf of his comrades were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
Summer 1967, date unknown