James Odas McKinneyPrivate First Class
C CO, 1ST RECON BN, 1ST MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
30 October 1947 - 16 June 1966
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The database page for James Odas McKinney
Assigned as a sniper in 1st Recon Bn, C Co, James McKinney is one more of the six Marines lost on Hill 488. Snipers were new in the 1st Rcon Bn and we had little time to get to know each man assigned to the companies.
Time has passed but the faces remain as Carnival Time assembled for the patrol that has become 1st Recon Bn History.
We hold the list of our brothers lost so long ago -
The memories , good and bad, pass by daily ...
A memorial initiated by a fellow Marine,
A note from The Virtual WallThe battle on 16 June 1966 on Hill 488 (Nui Vu) involved a full battalion of North Vietnamese Army regulars assaulting 18 men of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Recon Battalion, led by Staff Sergeant Jimmie Earl Howard. The Recon Marines had established an observation post atop Nui Vu in order to identify and prosecute by remote fire VC/NVA forces operating in the mountains west of Chu Lai.
The operation was sufficiently effective to get the NVA commander's attention and sufficiently dangerous for him to commit a fresh battalion to eradicate the Marines. He failed.
The NVA assault on Hill 488 began in late afternoon and continued through the night. The beleagued Marines were assisted by Marine and Air Force helicopter and fixed wing air support, but it was sheer courage and determination that permitted the Marines to hold until morning. Charlie 1/5 Marines were airlifted onto the reverse slope of Hill 488 and relieved the Recon Marines. Of the 18 men in the Recon Platoon, 6 died and 12 were wounded. Two men of Charlie 1/5 Marines and one each from VMO-2 and VMO-6 (Marine UH-1 squadrons) died. One Medal of Honor (Staff Sergeant Howard), 4 Navy Crosses, and 13 Silver Stars were awarded.
Immediately after the battle, Captain F. J. West, USMCR, interviewed men from Howard's platoon, Charlie 1/5, airmen from the squadrons which supported Howard, and others. In 1967 the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, published his account of the fight on Hill 488. Captain West's account is available on The Virtual Wall at
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009