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    Marine Corps colonel observes search for lost heroes of Vietnam War

    Marine Corps colonel observes search for lost heroes of Vietnam War

    Photo By NAVCENT Public Affairs | Marine Corps Col. Michael S. Palermo, right, listens to a service member of the Royal...... read more read more

    SIHANOUKVILLE, CAMBODIA

    05.03.2012

    Courtesy Story

    Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet   

    By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth R. Hendrix
    U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

    SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - A Marine Corps colonel teamed up with personnel from the Defense Attaché Office in Phnom Penh and the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, in a search for the remains of three Marines on Tang Island in Sihanoukville Province, Cambodia, May 3.

    Col. Michael S. Palermo, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet staff as the fleet Marine officer, listened to two Cambodian witnesses recall events of the last battle of the Vietnam War, better known as the Mayaguez incident.

    “It is intriguing to fly out to a place where there is Marine history,” Palermo said. “I served with the gentleman who was the company commander here, who lost the Marines. He’s one of those guys that’s a true hero."

    “He fought in Vietnam, brought his guys here and lost some Marines and was able to live and tell about it, and pass on some of the lessons learned,” Palermo added.

    On a hot, humid rainy day, 37 years after Lance Cpl. Joseph N. Hargrove, Pfc. Gary L. Hall and Pvt. Danny G. Marshall lost their lives in battle, a seven-member team comprised of four Cambodians, two POW/MIA investigators and Palermo, were looking for new leads into the location of their final resting place.

    On May 15, 1975, the three Marines took part in combat operations throughout the day, expending all of their ammunition.

    At approximately 8:45 p.m., a helicopter arrived, drawing enemy fire onto the landing zone forcing it from landing.

    At approximately 10:15 p.m., another helicopter landed and recovered the remaining U.S. Armed Forces personnel. However, the three Marines were unaccounted for after a check of the beach area was made prior to the helicopter’s departure from the island.

    Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 51, Det. 11, embarked on board the U.S. 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), kicked off the day’s investigation by providing air support transportation to and from Tang Island aboard an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter. The flight would mark the first time since 1975 that the two Cambodian witnesses returned to the island.

    “During the war we were told to fight the war by the leaders,” said Khem Khon, through a translator, who was a courier for the Khmer Rouge during the war. “After the war, there is peace now. We try to help as much as we can to find the unaccounted for men that are missing.”

    It was believed that the Khmer Rouge would toss the bodies of dead troops into the Gulf of Thailand, but the two witnesses say that the Khmer Rouge was actually burying the remains of the slain service members.

    Throughout the day in the rain, the two Cambodian witnesses walked up and down the beaches and throughout the terrain of the island, to familiarize themselves with island again.

    “I thought I would be able to help in searching for the site that were looking for, but some how a lot of stuff has changed,” Khon said through a translator. “The terrain and jungle area changed a lot.”

    At the end of the day, a general area was found of where the three Marines could possibly be buried, but ultimately, they were not found and remain missing.

    “It is important to bring some closure to the families of the lost Marines,” Palermo said.

    The ultimate goal of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and of the agencies involved in returning America’s heroes home, is to conduct global search, recovery, and laboratory operations in order to support the Department of Defense’s personnel accounting efforts. Their mission motto is, “Until They Are Home."

    The U.S. 7th Fleet staff and Blue Ridge are on patrol in the Asia-Pacific region and are currently in Sihanoukville, Cambodia for a port visit.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.03.2012
    Date Posted: 05.07.2012 07:18
    Story ID: 88006
    Location: SIHANOUKVILLE, KH

    Web Views: 168
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