SSgt Dwight McDonald USMC
SSgt Dwight McDonald USMC
(The Ambassadors Bodyguards)
Call Sign: Bear
"all animals - 10/7 fox-4"
The PSU got in late tonight on a trip with Ambassador Martin. Our cook left sandwiches for the Marines. While I was eating mine I looked out and so LCpl Judge in the secure phone room. There were extra sandwiches so I took him a plate and a drink to Darwin. I had Escort Duty that
that so I took a walk around the Ambassador's Residence to check our the security. I always liked to pass by the flower garden on the side of the residence. I believe those flowers was the only thing that keep me sane here. I ended up talking to LCpl Judge again and found out we were both raised on farms. We talked about the farms and our girlfriends and how we missed them so much. He told me about his sister. I of course asked if she was single. I remember he wasn't too happy about that and he stared back at me with those piercing eyes so I dropped the subject. Judge then asked me a question out right out of the blue about if I ever get scared. I talked to him about what I know about Vietnam and what's going on now. He asked me why do PSU wear civilian cloths and I explained to him about what we do as bodyguards. Darwin then asked me why we are here. I paused and told him because the Commandant of the Marine Corps wants us here. So just like you learned at
boot camp Marines do what your told. Darwin says Aye Aye Sir. I patted him on the back and said LCpl I need to hit the rack. I got to main the Main Tower at 0200.
He said goodnight Staff Sergeant. I told him to take care and keep your head down. That is the last time I saw him. I see that boys face every day and I ask God why. Why him.
HEREWITH SOME OF MY THOUGHTS ON VASCO MARTIN. NEVER NEW
HIM VERY WELL ONLY REMEMBER TALKING TO HIM ONCE AT THE COMPOUND. COULD
TELL HE WAS GOOD HE WAS SO DAM COCKY. I CALLED HIM QUITE REGULARLY AFTER THE
25TH REUNION AND EVEN INVITED HIM DOWN FOR THE BALL, HE CALLED AND SAID HE
COULDN'T MAKE IT THOUGH AS HE HAD A WEDDING TO PHOTOGRAPH. THEREAFTER HE
SAID HE HAD RECEIVED SOME MORE TREATMENT AND HE AND NAFISSA SAID HE WAS DOING
REAL GOOD AND I NEGLECTED TO CALL FOR A WHILE AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN I HEAR IT
WAS ALMOST OVER. ME AND HEYDI WERE PLANNING ON GOING TO VISIT HIM THAT SATURDAY
AND HE DIED BEFORE THEY GOT TO MOVE HIM BACK TO THE HOSPICE AT CARROLTON MO.
SO THEN KEVIN AND I DECIDED TO ATTEND THE FUNERAL FOR THE DETACHMENT AND HEYDI
HAD A FLOWER ARRANGEMENT SENT UP TO THE FUNERAL HOME FOR THE DETACHMENT AS WELL.
ON THE MORNING OF THE FUNERAL I BORROWED STEVE BAUER'S CAR HERE WHO IS A FELLOW
MARINE A FORMER CORPORAL AND SET OFF. SPENT THE NIGHT BEFORE SHINING UP
SHOES AND BRASS AND GETTING MY BLUES SQUARED AWAY. SO OFF WE WERE TO DO
OUR DUTY. I WOULD LIKE TO BRAG A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MY PART OF THE COUNTRY
AND LET EVERYBODY KNOW WHAT A VETERAN MEANS TO PEOPLE OUT HERE. UPON
ARRIVING IN CARROLTON YOU COME ON A LITTLE PARK WITH A WELCOME TO CARROLTON SIGN
AND A FLAG POLE WITH AN AMERICAN FLAG ON IT. THE FLAG WAS AT HALF STAFF
FOR VASCO. THE FLAG AT THE POLICE DEPT., SHERIFF'S DEPT., AND FIRE
DEPARTMENT WERE AT HALF STAFF AS WELL. THE CITY WAS CORDONED OFF FOR THE
FUNERAL. WHEN I GOT OUT OF MY CAR AND PUT ON MY BLOUSE PEOPLE STARTED TO COME UP
TO US AND SAY WHAT AN HONOR IT WAS TO MEET ME AND TO KNOW SOMEONE WHO SERVED
WITH VASCO AND HOW MUCH IT MEANT FOR SOMEONE TO BE THERE FROM HIS OLD UNIT AFTER
ALL THESE YEARS. I JUST TOLD THEM THAT THE MARINES TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN
AND THAT WAS WHY I WAS THERE TO ACCOMPANY VASCO ON HIS LAST MISSION. I MET THE
FIRE CHIEF WHO VERY EMOTIONALLY TOLD ME HOW MUCH VASCO MEANT TO HIM, THAT THEY
WERE LIKE BROTHERS AND THAT VASCO HAD PULLED HIM OUT OF A FIRE AND SAVED HIS
LIFE. VASCO WAS A CAPTAIN ON THE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT THERE. HE TOLD ME
THAT BEFORE HE DIED VASCO HAD SAT UP IN BED AND SALUTED HIM. I ASKED HIM IF HE
KNEW WHAT THAT MEANT AND HE TOLD ME HE DID. VASCO HAD A MARINE CASKET THAT
WAS VERY NICE WITH PICTURES DEPICTING MARINE CORPS BATTLES ON IT. THE
FUNERAL TOOK PLACE IN AN OLD BLACK CHURCH AND WE WERE GIVEN SEATS IN THE FRONT
FACING THE CONGREGATION. PEOPLE STOOD UP FOR TWO HOURS GIVING TESTIMONY TO
WHAT A BROTHER VASCO WAS TO EVERYBODY. KEVIN SAID SOME FINE WORDS AS WELL.
I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING I JUST STOOD VIGIL. APPROXIMATELY 100 LAW
ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ATTENDED. THE CHURCH WAS FULL AND THEY HAD SPEAKERS OUTSIDE
FOR THE OVERFLOW. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT STOOD GUARD AT THE CASKET WITH
APPROXIMATELY 100 IN ATTENDANCE FROM OTHER FIRE DEPARTMENTS. WHEN THE
SERVICE WAS OVER THEY CARRIED HIM OUTSIDE AND PLACED HIM IN An ANTIQUE FIRE
TRUCK AND CARRIED HIM TO THE CEMETERY. WHILE THE PROCESSION WAS GOING DOWN
THE STREET PEOPLE WOULD COME OUT OF THEIR HOUSES AND BUSINESS AND STAND AT
ATTENTION WITH THEIR HANDS ON THEIR HEARTS. WHEN WE ARRIVED AT THE CEMETERY THE
MARINES FROM KANSAS CITY WERE THERE TO PROVIDE MILITARY HONORS. I WENT UP LATER
TO THANK THEM BUT COULDN'T SPEAK AND THE NCOIC IN CHARGE JUST LOOKED AT ME AND
SAID ONE OF YOURS AND I SHOOK MY HEAD YES AND HE JUST HIT ME ON THE SHOULDER.
WHICH SPEAKS VOLUMES. I AM NOT A VERY RELIGIOUS MAN, MY GREATEST PRAYERS
CAME SEVERAL TIMES IN VIETNAM WHEN I WOULD SAY TO MYSELF, JESUS CHRIST WHAT DID
I DO TO DESERVE THIS. BUT ONE THING I NOTICED WHEN THEY PUT HIM IN THE
GROUND NOT A BREEZE WAS STIRRING. I COULD SEE THIS BECAUSE I WAS UP ON THE
HILLSIDE A WAYS FROM THE TENT. HOWEVER ALL OF THE SUDDEN ON OF THE TENT
FLAPS SHOOK AND MOVED OUT OF THE WAY AS IF SOMEBODY PUSHED IT ASIDE AND LEFT.
I THINK THAT WAS VASCO'S SOUL OFF TO DO MORE GOOD WORK. ANYWAY I CAN'T
COMMEND THE COMMUNITY OF CARROLLTON,MO. ENOUGH. OUT HERE IN THE COUNTRY WE
DO JUDGE A MAN BY THE CONTENT OF HIS CHARACTER AND HIS DEEDS. TO THEM
VASCO WAS A VALUABLE MEMBER OF HIS COMMUNITY AND A VETERAN AND DUE ALL THE
RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND RESPECT THAT GO WITH IT. I WAS VERY PROUD TO BE A
MARINE THAT DAY, VERY PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN THAT DAY, AND GLAD THAT I COULD
REPRESENT THE DETACHMENT.
Dwight McDonald at PPSU House in Saigon.
From left to right: MSgt Colin Broussard and SSgt Dwight McDonald @ Marine Corps Ball, Jefferson City, MO
SSgt Dwight McDonald, SSgt Steve Johnson, SSgt Colin Broussard, Sgt Kevin Maloney
Missing SSgt Clem Segura (NCOIC), Sgt Paul Gozgit and SSgt Jim Daisy
Colin Broussard, Jim Daisey, Dwight McDonald at the Wall in D.C.