Why, one should ask, would a wholesome younger man within the prime of life throw his physique onto a stay grenade and concurrently pull a second one beneath himself, understanding it meant his sure dying?
On Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967, whereas desperately battling North Vietnamese Military regulars close to Vietnam’s Demilitarized Zone throughout Operation Beacon Hill, U.S. Marine Pfc. Douglas Dickey, 2nd Platoon, Firm C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, third Marine Division, did precisely that. Understanding he would certainly die, 20-year-old Dickey leapt on the grenades, smothered the blasts along with his physique and saved the lives of 5 Marines in his platoon. For Dickey’s selfless “last valiant act” he posthumously obtained the Medal of Honor.
The rationale why Dickey consciously dove on these grenades can’t be identified with absolute certainty but might be surmised by studying a superb new guide, A Final Valiant Act: The Story of Doug Dickey, Medal of Honor, by retired Marine Lt. Col. John B. Lang. A Naval Academy graduate and adorned fight veteran of the Gulf Warfare, Iraq Warfare and operations in Somalia, Lang has crafted a compelling, detailed and complete examination of Dickey’s life, woven into the lives and too-often tragic deaths of comrades in 2nd Platoon.
Lang takes readers to the platoon’s annual postwar reunions, transferring reminders of the braveness and sacrifice exhibited by Dickey and his fellow fallen Marines. The writer additionally gives a superb “snapshot” of the Marine Corps in northernmost South Vietnam in 1967—then facetiously termed “Marineland” (assume “Disneyland” with stay ammo) by their Military counterparts. The Corps does every thing in its personal distinctive method, Lang emphasizes.
Importantly, this guide gives readers the perfect perception into the life and experiences of a Medal of Honor recipient for the reason that acclaimed autobiographies of World Warfare II Military hero Audie Murphy, To Hell and Again, and U.S. Particular Forces officer, Roger H. C. Donlon, the Vietnam Warfare’s first recipient and writer of Past Nam Dong.
Studying Lang’s guide, we get to actually know Dickey. He wasn’t a pure athlete, as revealed at Marine boot camp, the place his struggles with the bodily coaching take a look at led to a delayed commencement after a depressing, humiliating stint within the dreaded “Bodily Conditioning Platoon.” What Dickey lacked in bodily talent, he made up for in grit, guts and willpower. He was a reliable, laborious employee on his household farm in western Ohio and along with his Marine squads in Vietnam. A genuinely good man, he was somebody buddies and colleagues knew at all times “had their again.”
Dickey knew precisely what he was doing when he unhesitatingly leapt on these grenades and understood exactly what it could price him, as Lang proves by means of eyewitness accounts revealed in his guide.
The testimony of 2nd Platoon’s Navy hospital corpsman, Greg “Doc” Lengthy, echoes the recollections of a number of different eyewitnesses. Lengthy “noticed Doug look down on the first grenade. Then he noticed Doug lookup—and look into the faces of the boys round him who have been trapped within the grenade’s blast space—they have been his buddies. ‘He type of glanced round earlier than he dove on the grenade,’ Lengthy mentioned… ‘he fell on high of [the first grenade]—and appeared up—and right here come one other [grenade],’ Lengthy mentioned, ‘and he grabbed that one.…I keep in mind him turning his head and searching me proper within the face…And it appeared like perpetually and we have been simply taking a look at one another. I imply, he knew he was going to die…And he had this pacified look on his face…I used to be simply beginning to assume, “Whew! They’re duds!”—after they exploded.’”
Dickey’s physique absorbed the complete blast of the 2 Chinese language stick grenades. He died immediately. Lengthy lamented how shut Dickey got here to avoiding this supreme sacrifice. He was killed simply three days earlier than he might have gone dwelling.
Dickey did, after all, go dwelling to Greenville, Ohio—his damaged physique traveled there in a navy casket. He was laid to relaxation with full navy honors within the city’s Brock Cemetery on Friday, April 7. It appeared like all Darke County turned out to honor Dickey. By the top of the warfare, 24 extra younger Darke County males joined Dickey in Brock and surrounding village cemeteries.
Dickey’s self-sacrifice was not the primary time a U.S. Marine had achieved the very same factor in almost actual circumstances. On Iwo Jima on Feb. 20, 1945, 17-year-old Marine Pvt. Jack Lucas threw his physique on an enemy grenade, then, like Dickey, grabbed a second grenade and pulled it beneath his physique. Extremely, Lucas survived the explosions and lived a further 60 years.
The World Warfare II Marine supplied a solution to the query of “why” anybody would dive onto stay grenades: “I noticed two grenades over in entrance of my buddies…I hollered ‘Grenades!’ to alert my buddies,” then jumped onto them as they exploded.
Dickey dived on these grenades to avoid wasting his buddies. The whole lot about Dickey, as informed in Lang’s excellent guide, results in that conclusion: “Fifty-eight Marines finally earned the Medal of Honor through the Vietnam Warfare,” he writes. “Forty-four of these have been posthumous awards. They went to younger males who, like Douglas Dickey, died saving their buddies.”
Added affirmation comes from former Marine Colin “Mac” McClelland, who associated a prophetic anecdote from the time he and Dickey have been discussing an article “in Stars and Stripes a few Marine or soldier who had simply been awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for diving on a grenade to avoid wasting his comrades…And I keep in mind [Dickey] straight out checked out me—proper within the eye, and mentioned, ‘, Mac, I’d do it.’ And I mentioned, ‘Are you critical? …You received’t know that!’ And [Dickey] goes, ‘Sure, I do. I might.’” On Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967. V
This submit accommodates affiliate hyperlinks. Should you purchase one thing by means of our web site, we’d earn a fee.
This text appeared within the December 2021 difficulty of Vietnam journal. For extra tales from Vietnam journal, subscribe and visit us on Facebook.