John Michael TanneyLance Corporal
L CO, 3RD BN, 26TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
19 February 1949 - 23 September 1968
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The database page for John Michael Tanney
" . . . if anything should happen, remember this:
Dear brother Bob:
I know that you won't be able to read this for a while, but I just felt a compulsion to write to you anyway. I'm waiting to be picked up by helicopter with the rest of my buddies to push on to Hills 861, 881, 881 North, and 689. My platoon is spearheading the assault up Hill 881 North. The enemy has many soldiers up top and they are dug in as well as we are at Khe Sanh (a Viet Cong siege of U.S. Marines). It will be a hard and bitter struggle, but as always, we Marines will take the objective.
You are little now and haven't the slightest idea of what is going on in the world, but what we are doing here concerns all. It is important for you to remember that we are fighting for freedom for Viet Nam. The Bible says "I am my brother's keeper". This is also true for our Viet Nam brothers.
Someday, when you come of age, you too will render your services to your country. You do not have to join the Marine Corps because I did. Just fulfill your duty - your privilege. Yes, it is a privilege to fight for a noble cause. War is far, far worse than hell. Men are torn apart like a worn-out rag doll. War has a smell to it. It is the smell of charred flesh. War has sounds. They are the sounds of men dying. Bob - I hope that you will never have to go to war. I hope that we can stop this thing from spreading. I hope that the men of peace will sit down and discuss living in peace - but, alas, I hope in vain.
I am nearly going crazy thinking about assaulting that hill. But, I am a Marine and I shall not falter. I will be confident in the Lord and in my training as a Marine. Bob - if anything should happen, remember this: I am fighting for what I believe in - you, Mom, Dad, Tom and Cindy. I am fighting for the right to chose my own religion, make my own decisions, and to be my own man. And yes, I am fighting for my flag. My country means a lot to me and I am proud to fight for it. I know that you will be, too.
You know, I am over 18 years older than you and I have spent so little time with you. But, you are near to me not so much in my mind as in my heart.
I hope that your generation of people will respect what we are doing here. I hope that they will understand that we, too, love life. We have lost many friends and now it is time for the enemy to lose some.
We are United States Marines. We are the best troops in the world. We fight odds that are heavily against us - and win! Our spirit is indomitable, our courage unexcelled, and our loyalty is unquestionable.
I felt like writing to you. Perhaps it sounds foolish. Perhaps it is. But you can never imagine what it is like - not knowing if I'm coming back down that hill. I wanted you to have something from me to you. I love you, Bob, but you are too young to know it. Someday you will know.
I will leave now - time is short.
Love to you,
Visit the full memorial to
I went through boot camp with John in 1967 - Paris Island Platoon 3003.
Rest in peace, my brother, Semper Fi.
A Note from The Virtual WallLima 3/26 Marines lost three men killed in action on 23 Sep 1968:
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009