A very special funeral was held at the Arlington National Cemetery for five Vietnam War Marines who were killed in action together in the same incident. Their bodies were recovered and identified over a span of five years by the Defense Department POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
All of these Marines were killed in action while being inserted behind enemy lines in Thien-Hue Province on June 30, 1967.
On that day in June, Capt. John A. House was piloting a Marine Corps, CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter with three crew members on a mission to insert an 8-man Reconnaissance team, from Alpha Co. 3rd Recon Bn, 3rd Marine Division into enemy territory.
They were there to do what they do best, that is, stealthy reconnaissance to seek out enemy movement, positions, and numbers, etc.
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When the CH-46 was coming into the landing zone, it suddenly received very heavy fire from the treelines all around the landing site. The helicopter caught on fire and went down quickly. Three of the helicopter crew and four of the recon team from Alpha Co. 3rd Recon survived the crash and were later rescued, but the remains of those who were killed could not be recovered at that time.
Those KIAs were subsequently placed on the list of MIAs and remained there until recently.
With the help and full cooperation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and local villagers, the DPAA were able to recover the remains of five of the KIA in this incident. They also were able to recover material evidence, life support equipment and helicopter wreckage from the CH-46 helicopter. They were able to identify the remains of LCpl. Merlin R. Allen, of Madison, WI, and Navy Hospital Corpsman, Michael B. Judd, 21, of Cleveland, Ohio, in 2013. The remains of Capt. John A. House, the pilot of the CH-46A helicopter, and Cpl. Glyn L. Reynolds, 21, of Birmingham, AL, and LCpl., John D. Killen, 18, of Davenport, Iowa, were not identified until December 22, 2015.
These Marines were buried together at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and with family members present. Since they were all Marines, the Marine Honor Guard and the Marine Body Bearers from the Marine Barracks at 8th and I Streets in Washington, D.C. provided the full color and dignity of a Marine Corps burial to the funeral proceedings.
The Veterans Site sends its condolences to the families of these five Marines killed in action. They are interred together just as they died together. We honor their sacrifice, deeply respect their service to the country, and say to them with all our hearts, “Welcome Home, good Marines!”
Semper Fidelis! We remain your Fratres Aeterni!
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.