2ND PLT, MIKE CO, 3RD BN, 7TH MARINES, 1ST MARDIV
From Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
02 May 1943 - 10 August 1967
Tom was the first of four children of Dr. Thomas and Margaret (Murphy) Dineen. He attended St. Joseph's Preparatory School and St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he founded and captained the college rugby team, was an editor of the newspaper, and won prizes for his literary fiction.
After college, Tom accepted a teaching assistantship at the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a graduate degree in English. But the war in Vietnam was heating up and Tom believed we had a duty to help stop the spread of communism there. He thus entered the Marine Corps, graduated from Officer Candidate School in late 1966 and volunteered for service in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, Tom served as an infantry platoon commander of 2nd Platoon, Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. His combat base was known as Hill 25, located about 20 miles south of DaNang, in a Vietcong stronghold.
On August 10, 1967 a Vietnamese boy of about 10 appeared at the gate of Hill 25 seeking medical attention. It was not uncommon for the locals to seek medical help at the hill. Doc was treating the boy when Tom came down to the gate. The boy was bleeding from the lip and his eyes blackened and full of fright. Doc sensed something was wrong. Suddenly, sniper fire rang out. They pulled the boy down and took cover. Doc believes the boy had been beaten up by the sniper and forced to seek help at the hill so the sniper would have some targets.
Tom organized a reaction team and briefed his men on a plan to trap the sniper. Tom led the way, followed by a few men, while others branched out to flank the sniper. As they moved up a hill, Tom said to his colleague Doc Hanmore, "Cover me, Doc." Hanmore crouched behind a stone. When Tom approached the crest, there was a huge explosion. It blew Doc back down the hill and killed Tom instantly. Tom had tripped a Vietcong concealed wire which detonated an artillery shell.
Doc, while badly shaken up, was miraculously uninjured. After he recovered his senses, he checked for other casualties and then helped carry Tom's stretcher back to Hill 25. When the helicopter came to evacuate Tom's body, the blade blew the covering off the stretcher. Doc placed Tom's body on the chopper, and before covering it, he leaned over, kissed Tom on the shoulder and said, "Sorry sir. I love you."
Years afterwards, at the unit's reunion, Tom's fellow Marines shared their feelings with his brother Dan:
Following Tom's death, Hill 25 was renamed Dineen Hill by the Marine Corps. Tom is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon. He is survived by his wife Maureen and his son, Thomas III, who was three months old at the time of his father's death.
Tom's name is included on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, on Panel 24E, Row 098.
From his brother,
Tom's son went on to graduate from Columbia University and received law degrees from Oxford University and the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife Rebecca have a daughter, Alexandra.
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Memorial first published on 28 May 2008
Last updated 06/02/2008