Bern joined the Marine Corps right after graduation from Punxsutawney High School in May of 1967. He was only 17 years old too young to get into the Marines. Bern wanted to be a Marine because he thought they were the toughest and the bravest. Signing papers for Bern to go to the Marine Corps was something I know my parents thought about often but was seldom mentioned in our home. Berns basic Military speciality was 2141 tank repairman but he did not go to to Vietnam with a tank battalion. In Febuary of 1968, with the Tet Offensive many Marines were sent to Vietnan as infantrymen even though their MOS was in other areas. Theres an old Marine saying that every Marine is a basic rifleman. These men made up a unit that was very special. They were the men of the 3rd Bn. 27th Marine Regiment. President Johnson went to California to see these Marines off to Vietnam in February of 1968.
Killed in action May 17, 1968 in Southern Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
Shortly after the surprise attack, Co. I started sweeping southerly looking for the remainder of the escaped enemy. They went through some tall elephant grass and started crossing a dry riverbed. In a tree line to thier front lay hidden in fortified positions a large NVA force . Deadly accurate snipers located in trees started picking out Marine targets . One Marine after the other went down. Some were killed instantly, while other lay in the hot sun. The enemy left them alive knowing that the Marines would try to rescue them. During this time, Lt Col Barnard Co of 3/27 attemped to flank the ambush site from the west with A /1/7 and his command group and ordered G /2/7 to move up and assist the bleaguered Co I, both of these efferts failed and India was basically left to survive on its own.
A hostile explosive devise detonated near Bern. The Platoon corpsman and fellow Marines immediately administered medical aid, however Bern failed to respond and died from wounds from the explosive device.
Berns cheerful disposition, attention to duty, and his conduct as a man and a Marine won for him the respect of all who knew him.
Although Bern was killed on May17 his remains were not returned to us until June 2, 1968. He was laid to rest about a mile from our home on June 6th, 1968.
Bern recieved the Vietnamese Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign, National Defense, Purple Heart, Gallantry Cross with Palm and Military Merit medal. The Gallantry Cross with Palm and Military Merit medals " both with citations" were presented to my parents at a formal ceremony at the Marine Corps Base in New Castle, Pa. Sept. 21st, 1969.
The 3rd Battalion 27th Marines were awarded both a Presidential Unit citation and Meritorious Unit citation for thier participation in Operation Allen Brook, for valorious achievment against North Vietnamese Army forces during engagments on Go Noi Island, Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, from 17 May to 28 May, 1968. India Co. was awarded a second Meritorious Unit Citation, while attached to the 7th Marines, during the early fighting of the operation.
Photos taken in May of 1968
Mr. and Mrs. Reed Himes recieving medals for their son at the New Castle Marine Corps Base , New Castle, Pennsylvania. Sept. 21st 1969
Adrian, Anita Roman Catholic Cemetery
Music "God bless the USA"
Please visit The Vietnam Memorial Wall
Go Noi Island is located in Southern Quang Nam Province, Vietnam It is approximately 15 miles south of Da Nang. Although it is not truely an island , it is surrounded by, rivers, streams and roads. Go Noi Island served as a staging area for NVA units building up for attacks against the Da Nang area. In May of 1968 (3) VC battalions had found thier way to the island. The NVA troops were well trained and equiped. Thier field packs with medical supplies , munitions and gas masks. They had great fire power. They had rockets, automatic weapons and motors. The standard weapon was the AK-47 assult rifle.
By late April 1968 through limited engagements, it was determined that the enemy had fed in an equivalent of an NVA division in the area south of Danang. On May 4, Operation Allen Brook began. On May 13, India Co. 3/27 was attached to 2/7 and would act as 3/27's leading element.
On May 13, Capt. Thomas Ralph CO of Co. I 3/27 moved his Co. by helicopters to Hill 148 in the Que Son Mountains just to the south of Go Noi Island. Once landed , the platoons were dispersed around the crest and begain digging in. The ground was hard and progress was very slow. There was no shade and the temperture was extremely hot. Water was at a premiun and there would be no re-supplys that day. Later in the afternoon two separate booby trap incidents resulted in 2 friendly KIA's and 3 WIA's.
17 May: The morning began early for the Marines on Go Noi Island. On the island the Marines arose at dawn and headed off in a column with I /3/27 leading the way in a southerly direction with no difined objective. Bern had been assigned a fire team leader of this search and destroy mission on Operation Allen Brook Co I's leading platoon silently came into a small hamlet and surprised a small NVA force eating breakfast with several women. As the Marines open fire the enemy soldiers fled. In a few moments the one sided fight was over with more then a dozen NVA killed and the women captured. They left packs and weapons behind, but did manage to send off a few mortor rounds which wounded several Marines.
Photo taken in November of 1967