Vernon Robert Stead
Private First Class
1ST 155MM GUN BTRY, 1ST FLD ARTY GROUP,
11TH MARINES, 1ST MARDIV, III MAF
United States Marine Corps
Southgate, Michigan
November 18, 1949 to March 13, 1968
VERNON R STEAD is on the Wall at Panel 44E, Line 41

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Combat Action Ribbon
 

 

The 1st 155mm Gun Battery, as its name implies, was equipped with M53 self-propelled 155mm howitzers. The photo below shows an M53. Notice the enclosed crew cab.

John M Noonan

At 0805 on 13 March 1968, while conducting a fire mission against an NVA emplacement, a 155mm round detonated in the tube of one of the battery's guns, killing six men and injuring another. The 1st 155mm Gun Btry's Operations Log contains the following entry:

"13 MAR 68: At 0805 one M53, 155mm (SP) Gun exploded in the battery area; 6 KIAs and 1 WIA sustained as a result."
while the narrative summary for the month says
"On 13 March 1968, at approximately 0805, an explosion on Gun #2 claimed the lives of six members of that section while another was seriously wounded. On 30 March 1968, the wounded Marine died of complications as a result of the accident. The probable cause, as determined by investigation, was the failure of the breech block to be fully closed and locked prior to firing."
The seven men who died were

Local Michigan papers published the death of several Michigan men killed in Vietnam during the week of March 27, 1968. They read similar to the following:

Michigan Men Killed In Action

WASHINGTON (AP) --- Two Michigan men were among the 37 servicemen identified Tuesday by the Defense Department as killed in action in the Vietnam war. Killed were Army Spec. 4 John C. Wells, son of Mrs. Mary V. Haverty of Dearborn; and Marine Corps Pfc. Vernon R. Stead, son of Robert D. Stead of Flint.

Survivors included his parents, Bessie L and Alfred E McCulley (mother and step dad), Rockwood and Robert D. Stead , Flint Michigan. PFC Stead was buried in Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock, Michigan.


- - The Virtual Wall, November 2, 2014

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