When asked for further information about the photo and events depicted in above report, Pat replied:
"I took the photo and I still have the original. It was shot April 11th, 1969, just 2 days prior to Thomas' death on the
13th. On the 13th, our platoon (2nd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines) was completing a 'sweep' through
a hamlet around mid morning, when all holy Hell broke out!
Our entire platoon was pinned down for quite some time and a
squad of our men were holed up in a bomb crater in the middle of a rice paddy. Tom Romaine was one of them. I was the
'platoon guide' at the time which is 3rd in command of a Marine platoon; more importantly, however, is that one of the
jobs of the guide is to make sure all the men of the platoon have whatever they need to sustain a firefight. So, if
they are running out of ammunition for example, the platoon guide gets to put his hands on some ammo and then get it to
his men (in this case, those who were fighting from inside the bomb crater)."
"To make a long story short, I was able to rush 2 or 3 boxes of ammunition to the bomb crater and also to deliver one of
the company corpsmen (the doc) to the hole to start attending to the wounded. Tom Romaine was healthy at that time and
he helped me and the corpsman to protect and treat the wounded Marines and to distribute vital ammunition to those who
could still fight back. I was decorated for my actions that day but I never heard if Tom (or the doc) were. I can only
hope they were."
"About an hour after the battle died out and we were gathering ourselves and our senses, and rallying to a point where we'd
start a patrol back to An Hoa. Tom, me and perhaps 4 other Marines were walking in group back towards the command post (CP).
We were slightly bunched up which a no-no anytime in a combat zone especially when the battle was still fresh."
"At that time we all heard the unmistakable sound of an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) heading in our direction. I whipped
around just in time to see an NVA fighter shouldering the weapon and in the process of ducking back into the "spider hole"
he had popped out of to shoot his rocket at the Marines. I saw the rocket come through the air (I can still visualize this
perfectly today) and it landed and exploded almost between Tom Romaine's legs. I think the fact that the RPG was pretty much
aimed at Tom, he took the brunt of the burst as none of the others of us around him were hit with shrapnel. The explosion
took one of Tom's legs off at the knee and the other leg was so badly shredded that they would have to remove it, anyway,
had he lived long enough. I remember his face going 'ashen' and he looked like he was dead. A corpsman tended to him right
away and he was lifted out of the area by helicopter. Whether he died en route to DaNang I don't really know, but I'd be
stunned if I found out he made to the end of that flight."
"Of course, the NVA in the spider hole did not make it out alive, that's for sure. Those of us who weren't hit could not
get to his position fast enough to kill him. It's the only time during my entire 12 month tour that I used a bayonet on my
rifle to stab an enemy soldier. That's pretty bad, but what is worse is the reports about Tom's death sort of make it sound like
he died by an "erratic artillery round". Nothing could be further from the truth."
"I spoke with Tom's brother Steve about this just a couple of years ago. He was interested in knowing what really happened
that day, too, and I prepared him for my report by making sure he could take the news. He promised he could and so we talked
for quite awhile."
"In retrospect (and I've read the entire 2/5 chronology for the year I was there), I think it was easy to
get things wrong once it reached the 'rear'. On any given day the captain of the company was responsible for sending the
daily stats and activities back to the battalion in An Hoa; but some days were harder than others and were fraught with
hardship and heartache. Men were shot up, blown up, choppered in, choppered out, supplies might come, they might not,
new guys came into our files, command changed rapidly, intelligence was sporadic and sometimes not accurate. Yes, I'm sure
lots of things we now read in those daily 'sit reps' (situation reports) were erroneous. In fact, I know there are mistakes
because I've spent many hours pouring over the ones that were essentially about Echo Company.'
"Either way, Tom Romaine died from wounds he received from an enemy RPG on April 13, 1969. And since I have the
original photo in question you can go ahead and post it. Thanks"
- - Pat Lisi, Fellow Marine and friend, served with Tom.
Southern Utah Veterans Aid website, owned by Pat and helping
veterans in Utah and around the globe.