40th Memorial and Reunion

It’s hard to believe a year has nearly passed since twelve of our Marines met in Saigon in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. For many, I’m sure it was a very cathartic experience as part of the ongoing journey of reflection on an impactful event in our lives. The Marines who went stayed at Marshall Hall (now the Saigon Star Hotel), did day-trips down to Vung Tao / up to Nha Trang and participated in the dedication of a memorial plaque now standing on the grounds of the former embassy (now the U.S. Consulate). Also participating in the dedication ceremony were Ambassador Ted Osius and Consul General Rena Bitter. The dedication could not have happened without both of their support and for that, we’ll be eternally grateful. Our Marines were also welcomed by the current MSG Detachment and it’s Detachment Commander, SSgt. David Childers.

Fall of Saigon Marines Association Plaque Dedication - April 30, 2015

A documentary about the trip has been produced by Pat Clark who traveled from San Diego for the project. We were introduced to Pat while he was a film student several years ago. Here’s a link to the 30-minute documentary that he produced about the trip:

Fall of Saigon Marines Association Plaque Dedication - April 30, 2015 from Pat Clark on Vimeo.

40 Years Later: A Return To Vietnam

Another key media representative on the trip was Bob Oakes (host of WBUR’s Morning Edition) and the program’s field producer, Shannon Dooling. Bob and Shannon did a series of reports from Saigon during the week and here’s a link to their series: http://www.wbur.org/series/return-to-vietnamseries. Their reports include several 1:1 interviews and provided an opportunity for reflection by several of our members.

‘The Door Is Closer To Being Closed’: Marines Reflect On Their Return To Vietnam

All week, we’ve been reporting on the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War.

We’ve been following a group of U.S. Marines — many of whom were among the last U.S. troops out of the country.

We close our series with a conversation with three of those Marines: Bill Newell, of Hopkinton, John Ghilain, of Malden, and Juan Valdez, of Oceanside, California.

We met at the U.S. Consulate, the site of the embassy they defended 40 years ago as the North Vietnamese Army arrived.

Continue Reading and Listening >>

The Valley to Vietnam series
Produced by Sacramento Public Library and Published on Sep 6, 2015

The 40th anniversary also provided a couple of other media opportunities and the following is a link to a program Rich Paddock and I participated in at the Sacramento County Library as part of the library’s oral history project. The interview took place on a Sunday afternoon in early June and was titled, “Valley to Vietnam: The Fall of Saigon”

The Valley to Vietnam series, produced by Sacramento Public Library, traces the arc of experience of Vietnam era veterans living in the Sacramento, California area. Ken Crouse and Rich Paddock were Marine Security Guards at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in April 1975 as the Republic of Vietnam was about to fall to the surging North Vietnamese Army.. Crouse and Paddock give an inside view on those events of 1975 that ended America's long commitment in Vietnam.

40 Years After The Fall Of Saigon
Capital News Radio, Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | Sacramento, CA

Beth Ruyak of Capitol Public Radio (Sacramento) aired an interview on her Insight program in recognition of the 40th Anniversary and that link may be found at: http://www.capradio.org/46272

Remembering the Last Marine to Die in Vietnam, 40 Years After the Fall of Saigon
By Kristin Toussaint April 30, 2015, Boston Globe

When Corporal Charles McMahon was killed in a rocket attack by North Vietnamese troops, his home town of Woburn, Massachusetts felt the aftershocks. He was 21-years-old, had been deployed for less than two weeks, and was killed just one day before the Fall of Saigon ended the Vietnam war... Continue Reading >>

U.S. Consulate (former U.S. Embassy in Saigon, RVN)

Above: April 30, 2015. U.S. Consulate (former U.S. Embassy in Saigon, RVN). Bottom Row: Jerome Thomas; Bill Newell; Don Nicholas; Kara Frain; Back Row: Kevin Maloney; Jonathan Kirchner; John Stewart; John Kircher; Doug Potratz; Top Valdez; John Ghilain; and Johnny Moya. Below: The new memorial plaque installed on the grounds of the former embassy.

At the National Museum of the Marine Corps. April 30th 2015

Taken on 30 April 2015 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Left to right are Greg & Lori DeSaulniers; Dean Kinzie; Duane Gevers (seated); Marty Davenport; and Ken Crouse.Lori is the sister of LCpl Darwin Judge, one of the last Marines killed in action during the Vietnam War. Lori was at the museum to dedicate a uniform worn by LCpl Judge. Below: Dean Kenzie; Ken Crouse; Marty Davenport and Duane Gevers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Reception Dinner

Members of the 1975 and 2015 MSG Detachments at a reception held at the former Marine House in Saigon.

At the Hard Rock Cafe

The Hard Rock Café quickly became a favorite among the team

This is the current detachment in front of the memorial dedicated a year ago.

Unofficial flower-laying ceremony, which was attended by the following: GySgt Eckart, SSgt Paterson, Sgt Johnson, Sgt Fisher [not pictured due to injury], Sgt Gomez, Sgt Boyd, Whitney, Marshall, Mike, Yinnet and Jessica [who handled photos]. Gunny and Whitney spoke a few words, and we observed a moment of silence.