Saturday, November 10, 2012

USMC Vietnam Veteran Bert Watkins on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

 Update: Audio of Bert Watkins' Interview can be found here.
                Photos from Living Your Best Life can be found on Facebook



Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations, leaders, and individuals who lead by example. With acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations and leaders embody "Be the change you want to see in the world".


On Saturday, November 10, 2012 join us as we celebrate the United States Marine Corps 237th Birthday and show honor to our veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Tune in as we honor the patriotism, service, and sacrifice of men and women who have serve in our armed forces around the world. Listen as we hear from Marine Veteran Bert Watkins who fought in the Operation Swift during the Vietnam War. Hear his first hand account of one of the most hard fought battles during the war. He will also share why the importance of supporting our veterans and active duty military. He will give sage advice to current military families and to the growing Veteran community as he share from chapters of his decorated career.

Living Your Best Life, radio that empowers, inspires, and motivates you to live your BEST life, is heard on 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, the Inspirational Network, military bases and live streamed at Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

More about Bert Watkins




Master Sargent Bert N. Watkins (USMC RET.)
During his career, he served at Camp Lejeune and Viet Nam. After his active tour of duty, he joined the Marine Corps Reserves where he retired from in 1992. During his militray career, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal w/v; the purple Heart' Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, President Unit Citation, Viet Nam Service Medal with 2 Stars, and the Viet Nam Campaign Medal w/Device. He is the married to Edwina Watkins and the father of four children. He is serves as an Elder at Living Word Church in Goodlettsville, TN. Tim and Sonyo Slaton are the Pastors.

Operation Swift: September 4-15, 1967



Operation Swift was a military operation that took place in the Vietnam War. The mission, involving forces of the 1st Marine Division, was carried out to rescue two Marine companies which had been previously ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army. Launched on September 4, 1967 the ensuing battles killed 127 Americans and an estimated 600 North Vietnamese. Despite their withdrawal after having suffered much higher losses, the NVA had accomplished their objective of inflicting remarkable American casualties.

Sweep operations were then initiated to shield the local populace from intimidation during upcoming elections. Operation Swift, intended to be the fourth and the last of the 1967 operations in the Que Son Valley, began unofficially the morning of September 4 when Delta Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines (1/5) was attacked before dawn by a superior PAVN force while setup in a night-time defensive perimeter next to the village of Dong Son.

The local Battalion Commander was Lt.Colonel Peter Hilgartener who sent 1/5's Bravo Company to Delta’s relief, which was all he had at the time. With Bravo and Delta companies heavily engaged, Mike and Kilo companies from the adjacent 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5) were sent to relieve them. Ambushed and aggressively attacked, these two companies were also pinned down in separate enclaves by the early afternoon. During the fighting Sergeant Lawrence Peters earned a posthumous Medal of Honor for leading his men in repulsing repeated attempts to overrun his position. Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Vincent Capodanno was also awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his efforts in pulling wounded men to safety in face of overwhelming enemy fire. Sergeant Thomas C. Panian was also awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism for organizing the defense of India Company, 3 Bn/5 Marines; and holding off subsequent attacks over 8 hours of combat.
Marine artillery fire and Marine jet fighter-bombers prevented the Marine infantry companies from being overrun. A Marine A-6 silenced an anti-aircraft gun emplacement, allowing more air support against PAVN positions, and a fresh Marine company launched a dawn counterattack September 5. This pressed the PAVN into breaking contact. With all engaged companies now relieved Colonel Stanley Davis, commanding the 5th Marines, ordered 1/5 and 3/5 to pursue the withdrawing PAVN. This officially began Operation Swift.

In the early afternoon of September 6 two battalions of the NLF 1st Regiment attacked Bravo company, the lead company of the 1st Battalion. Bravo 1/5 was isolated and nearly overrun but held when Marine artillery rained tear gas around their position. Sergeant Rodney M. Davis, Platoon Guide of 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, purposely absorbed the force of an NVA grenade to protect the lives of other Marines during that fight. Sergeant Davis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for this action.

The nearby 3rd Battalion was also heavily engaged a few hours later. India Company, dispatched to attack a hill held by the enemy, was isolated and nearly overrun by the NLF 1st Regiment's previously uncommitted 3rd Battalion. Kilo Company fought through the NLF and relieved India but the two companies were then found to have too many casualties to move. Two determined night assaults by the NLF were repulsed, and Mike Company eventually fought through against weakening opposition as the NLF withdrew.

As the enemy withdrew, the Marine battalions continued to press them in a series of bitter engagements. By September 15, the PAVN 2nd Division and NLF 1st Regiment had largely given up contesting the southern half of the Que Son Valley. The area remained quiet from then until the Marines turned all of southern I Corps over to the U.S. Army at the beginning of 1968. U.S. intelligence agencies later determined that the two enemy regiments that had been most active during Operation Swift were subsequently unfit for combat.

As Operation Swift concluded large U.S. Army units arrived in southern I Corps, allowing the 1st Marine Division to base a substantial force in the Que Son Valley on a permanent basis.

 More About the United States Marine Corps

The history of the United States Marine Corps began with the founding of the Continental Marines on 10 November 1775 to conduct ship-to-ship fighting, provide shipboard security and discipline enforcement, and assist in landing forces. Its mission evolved with changing military doctrine and foreign policy of the United States. Owing to the availability of Marine forces at sea, the United States Marine Corps has served in nearly every conflict in United States history. It attained prominence when its theories and practice of amphibious warfare proved prescient, and ultimately formed a cornerstone of the Pacific Theater of World War II. By the early 20th century, the Marine Corps would become one of the dominant theorists and practitioners of amphibious warfare. Its ability to rapidly respond on short notice to expeditionary crises has made and continues to make it an important tool for American foreign policy.

United States Marine Corps 237th Birthday: Origins and Traditions
 

Prior to 1921, Marines celebrated the recreation of the Corps on 11 July with little pomp or pagentry.[ On 21 October 1921, Major Edwin North McClellan, in charge the Corps's fledgling historical section, sent a memorandum to Commandant John A. Lejeune, suggesting the Marines’ original birthday of 10 November be declared a Marine Corps holiday to be celebrated throughout the Corps. Lejeune so ordered in Marine Corps Order 47:


MARINE CORPS ORDERS
No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS
Washington, November 1, 1921
759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.
  1. On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.
  2. The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
  3. In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.
  4. This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.
JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General Commandant






The first formal ball was celebrated in 1925, though no records exist that indicate the proceedings of that event. Birthday celebrations would take varied forms, most included dances, though some accounts include mock battles, musical performances, pageants, and sporting events.


The celebrations were formalized and standardized by Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. in 1952, outlining the cake cutting ceremony, which would enter the Marine Drill Manual in 1956. By tradition, the first slice of cake is given to the oldest Marine present, who in turn hands it off to the youngest Marine present, symbolizing the old and experienced Marines passing their knowledge to the new generation of Marines. The celebration also includes a reading of Marine Corps Order 47, republished every year, as well as a message from the current Commandant, and often includes a banquet and dancing if possible. In many cases, the birthday celebration will also include a pageant of current and historical Marine Corps uniforms, as a reminder of the history of the Corps. Marines are reputed to celebrate the birthday, regardless of where they may be in the world, even in austere environments or combat.


Photo Credits: Genma Holmes and Bert Watkins


History: USMC and Wikipedia

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