James Clayton ReedPrivate
D CO, 1ST BN, 4TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
23 April 1950 - 20 March 1969
Los Angeles, California
Panel 29W Line 092
The database page for James Clayton Reed
Jim, even though it's been 37 years I still get sad when I think of all you missed, all you could have done, who you could have been. I feel compelled to honor you somehow, and pay tribute to you. You fought a battle that some were against, and you gave your life for us. I don't know what to say except "thank you", and that peace doesn't begin to cover it. God bless you, my friend. Be at peace.
From a friend.
A Note from The Virtual WallOperation PURPLE MARTIN was a multi-battalion search and clear operation in the area west of Khe Sanh. PURPLE MARTIN began on 23 Feb 1969 and ended on 08 May. During PURPLE MARTIN a decision was taken to reopen Fire Support Base ARGONNE on Hill 1308, located about 2 kilometers from the Laotian border and 13 km south of the DMZ. FSB ARGONNE would allow observation of NVA operations in Laos, provide a base for infantry operations against infiltration routes leading to the A Shau Valley, and provide an artillery base in westernmost South Vietnam. The 1st Battalion, 4th Marines were charged with taking FSB ARGONNE via air assault on 21 Mar 1969.
The first casualty in the assault on FSB ARGONNE wasn't a Marine - he was an Army helicopter pilot. B Company, 101st Aviation Battalion, was tasked with landing a recon team from the 3rd Recon Battalion to "scope out" FSB ARGONNE before the assault elements were landed. The recon team arrived at 0930 - and had a very warm welcome from entrenched NVA troops. The 3rd Recon report reads in part
"1. Recon Team: FROST BURN (3A1) (5 MEN) OPO 142-D 69 200930H at XD676574. Team on two helos, one helo set in landing zone. 3-4' from ground command detonated mine exploded, helo landed rocking back and forth. At this time helo received heavy automatic weapons fire killing the pilot and wounding the co-pilot. The team evacuated the helo and set up 360 [degree perimeter] to return fire..."The eight surviving men from the downed helo fought off three NVA assaults before being extracted under fire at 1010 - but they had completed their mission. LtCol George T. Sargent, commanding 1/4 Marines, now knew his men were going into a hot area.
Delta 1/4 led the assault, arriving at a second LZ somewhat lower on the hill (the upper LZ was fouled by the downed Army Huey) at 1030. Delta 1/4 was under fire from the moment they arrived, but had the advantage of air support from rotary and fixed-winged aircraft. The landings continued, with LtCol Sargent and his command group arriving at 1045. By 1340, Delta 1/4 had secured FSB ARGONNE, although enemy fire from positions to the north and southwest continued. At this point, 5 Marines had been killed and 6 wounded. At 1830, a Delta 1/4 patrol sent out to clear snipers ran into heavy opposition and had 2 KIA and 4 WIA before withdrawing to allow air strikes into the area. Delta 1/4 established a night defensive perimeter and awaited a counter-attack ... but none materialized.
At 0820 on the 21st, the Marines received 82mm mortar fire with the first round killing LtCol Sargent and 2ndLt Carl R. Wilson (the Battalion Intel Officer) and wounding several other command group personnel. The senior officer on-scene, Major H. E. Pierpan, took command and initiated aggressive patrols to clear the area around the FSB perimeter. Although sporadic enemy mortar and sniper fire continued the NVA did not mount an assault. Alpha and Charlie 1/4 were brought in on the afternoon of 21 March, and FSB ARGONNE was secured.
Over the next few days the 1/4 Marines patrolled an ever-expanding area, destroying NVA emplacements and killing a number of NVA troops - but not without cost to themselves. By month's end, 20 Americans had died at FSB ARGONNE:
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 28 May 2006
Last updated 05/29/2006