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John Bowcock, 1st Force 68

The Year 1968


The year was 1968 and as a nineteen-year-old Marine in Vietnam, I encountered many things that are still fresh in my mind. It was as if they happened yesterday. The first trip firm Da Nang to Phu Bai, then the fight in Hue City, and the many first-hand accounts of bravery by other Marines.
It was January and I had just arrived “in-country”. My first stop was Da Nang, where I was assigned to First Force Recon and convoyed to Phu Bai. We were ambushed continually along the way to Phu Bai, but took no casualties.

Upon arriving in Phu Bai, Force Recon was assigned to Task Force XRAY. The job was implanting electronic sensors to detect the enemy. These electronic devices would also broadcast information as far as fifty miles through relays. While doing this they encountered contact with the enemy on our patrols near Hue City in the era just prior to the 1968 Tet. These reports were generally ignored and caused no excitement to the Big Brass. Then one day we convoyed to Coa coa beach so that the teams could conduct rubber boat training. On the way to the beach in are two-truck convoy we encountered a roadblock, and were ambushed, then radioed that we were in enemy contact. It was difficult to believe that we were right in Hue City itself, and that this was happening to us. We had regarded Hue as Libertyville. We were all fighting for our lives, then the fighting stopped.
After that day in Hue City, things continued much the same. I went on recon missions with eight Marines and one helluva platoon sergeant and made contact with The VC almost every time we drove highway 1 from Phu Bai to the Lanco Bridge. During the next several months, I witnessed many numerous acts of bravery. From what I can remember, some of the honors earned were one Navy Cross, Ten Silver Stars, twenty-four Bronze Stars, and numerous other awards of valor. This also told me of the caliber of men that I served with. Our Unit strength was only one hundred twenty-five men, and we had sixty men from Company “C”, First Force Recon Battalion, but we were a force to be reckoned with.
In looking back at that year, there are still stories to be told or written about. But, what I will always remember is my trip from Da Nang to Phu Bai, the fighting in Hue City, and my fellow Marines and their many individual acts of bravery and aggressive fighting spirit. Is it really possible that all of these things happened in the short span of one year? Could this be only 1968? One would have had to be there and experience firsthand in order to understand how long one year can really be.