Just a Marine

CPL Daniel C. Snuffer's 1/9/3 'The Walking Dead'
and the 'Fighting Hannah'

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I was on the Hanna in April and May 1975 as a visitor, my name is Daniel Snuffer.

At the time I was a Corporal in the Marine Corps. I always found it interesting that the Hanna was CVA-19 because the 800 Marines aboard her were all from the First Battalion - Ninth Marines - Third Marine Division /aka/ 1/9 "The Walking Dead".

My time on the Hanna was one of the most memorable times of my life. Not so much because of Operations "Eagle Pull" or "Frequent Wind" but because of the comradeship I felt with the Navy guys on the Hanna. Marines and Sailors don't always get along but on board the Hanna it was different. I had always heard that the regular Navy was different but due to my service in the Fleet Marine Force (FMF), I was always on ships in the Gator Navy and felt unwelcome and like I was on a over charged taxi ride. I don't know if it was the sailors or the hard times we shared but I soon took a liking to not only the crew but to the old girl herself. It was the best ride this Marine had ever had in fair weather or foul.

When I had heard she was scrapped I was stunned because to me it was the best Ship I had ever been on. Oh well I guess that's why I was a Marine, what do Marines know about ships. Well Jake the Hanna still sails in my heart and mind and God Bless her and all that sailed on her.

Note: Dan had written a little more about his involvement in the two operations that got us out of Vietnam, Operations "Eagle Pull" and "Frequent Wind"...

I am proud of the people places and my involvement in both missions. I figure as difficult as Vietnam was for our generation we needed to get out of it some way and Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind was as eloquent a way as any to free ourselves and our Nation of the whole affair.

The Yeoman

A Yeoman's Note: The following narrative will make any American, especially a Hancock Sailor, so very proud. This story will make you stand up and listen again to the silent patriot that lives under the surface, or make the one Standing Tall, stand even taller...

"Did you know that about forty ARVN ( Army of the Republic of Vientam, our allies) troops that landed on the Hanna refused to give up their weapons and a Navy officer led them out in front of "Charlie" Company and basically started to give the order to shoot like "Charlie" Company was a giant firing squad.

No kidding I always wanted to know the Name of the officer because he had balls of steel. We were told to get in Company line formation and to stand fast when this Navy officer walked down a ladder way with the armed ARVN troops. It was one of the strangest things I ever seen because we were not given any orders; we were only told to stay in formation. After the Officer walked the ARVN in front of Charlie Company, I could see him say something and the ARVN Officer shaking his head no. At this point the Navy Officer yelled at the top of his lungs, "Charlie Company 'Atten..hut!!'" and 150 Marines snapped-to like we rehearsed it a hundred times. Next he said, "on my command, lock and load," and 150 weapons slammed home live ammunition. I still remember slamming home the receiver on my M-60 and it made one giant loud thunderous clack! Honest to Gosh, One Loud Noise!

"Next came the order, "Charlie Company - Ready!!" and he never got to the command, "Aim", because the ARVN troops threw down their weapons like they were on fire. Next he gave the order, "Charlie Company - as you were!" and that was it. The reason it struck me so odd is because, with no instruction, this Officer gambled that 150 Marines would follow orders without question and do what he wanted. The really funny thing was, he directed us like an old drill Instructor that had done so all his adult life. It still lingers in my head because we must have looked awesome because those ARVN were terrified. Any way I thought it might have been the Captain but could have been wrong. But you can bet, I was ONE PROUD MARINE! Oohrah!! So was the rest of "Charlie" Company!

PS - Remember all the weapons we threw over the side? That's where we got them and actually I was one of the guys in charge of that detail. We must have thrown a hundred rifles over the side so I suppose some of the ARVN gave up their guns without the dramatics.

Jake, I'd like to write Dan Snuffer

More from Dan... Read this one!

Jake, I honestly feel stories like the ones I've told you will end up in the history books some day.

The story I told you about the Hanna being fired on by a 122 mm Keimer Roush gun crew is a true one. Several Marines witnessed it besides myself. I was trained as Mortar man, Rifleman, M-60 machine gunner, 3.5 inch rocket launcher, 106 recoilless rifle, Soviet small arms and tactics, jungle guerilla and counter guerilla warfare,and you'll like this one Jake - also an Administration Chief. Yep I was a Marine Yeoman - small world huh?

The incident left a lasting impression on me because I worked along side 90mm and 105mm artillery when I was a Mortar man. My primary MOS and the way the Keimer Roush troops were using the 122mm, I was in line with Soviet artillery doctrine.

I properly identified the weapon as a 1939 Soviet 122mm Howitzer, a very popular artillery piece even today. The shell is quite large because a 3 inch - 50 is approximately the size of a 105mm Howitzer. A 122mm is slightly larger than the 120mm smooth bore used on the M-1 Abrams Tank.

I realize that no ship was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon in Operation Frequent Wind or Eagle Pull but one should have been given to the Hanna.

The Ribbon is awarded for action received in a fire fight and/or action sustained from small arms and or artillery or mortar fire. I won't belabor the point any more but the Hanna was definitely in harms way that day.

Oh, by the way - when I was on the Hanna I was an Administration Chief for H&S (Hotel and Sierra) Company but at the onset of hostilities, I asked for and received a transfer to "Charlie" Company as a M-60 machine gunner. That is where the incident took place with the ARVN. If you read the Navy Unit Commendation to Commander Task Force 76 my story reflects the insanity of the time and is probably the writing between the lines of this document.

I remember when I first got to the Hanna they asked if any of us Marines could dive. I told them yes I could scuba dive and I believe they put me on roster for Damage Control, hence your story about the Hanna having some leaking problems.

Jake, I'd like to write Dan Snuffer

Dan continues sending me very Thought-Provoking Emotion-Stirring things...

Gallantry Remembered

I was thinking about my days on the Hanna and remember the night before the evacuation. Some buddies and myself were standing on a small platform outside the hanger deck having a smoke looking at the coast. There were rumors that at night we were hugging the coast line and we were close to shore - maybe 5 miles or so. It was late - several hours after chow - maybe 22:00 when I noticed flashes coming from off shore.

At first I thought I was seeing things but soon the picture became clearer. After a while, I could see a huge land battle taking place. The red tracers from ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam [South Vietnam]) troops and the soviet green tracers from the NVA (North Vietnam Army Regulars).

I guess we are told, and perhaps we would like to believe, that the ARVN troops gave up easily with not much of a fight but what I saw that night will haunt me forever. After my training in guerilla warfare and counter insurgency warfare, I knew all too well what was happening. The tracers told it all; the ARVN troops would set up a defensive perimeter and the NVA would envelope it. The ARVN would fall back and again they would be out flanked and enveloped again.

I stood with a lump in my throat because I could tell by the tracers that the ARVN were outnumbered 5 to 1. It was really pointless but the ARVN fought like lions! My heart would swell with pride when I noticed the retreating ARVN set up moving ambushes and each time the NVA would falter; stagger slowly forward and again gain momentum. My heart was aching because I, a Marine, was left on the sideline to watch these little heroes try and stem the tide of a great wave.

One at a time my fellow Marines slowly moved back inside the hangar deck to bed down for the night but I couldn't leave; I stayed and watched. Soon I was standing alone and I could see the final assault. The red tracers were so few now and the green tracers were everywhere until the red tracers stopped completely.

I told myself it was only fitting that this warrior be witness to the bravery of these out numbered men. Perhaps no one else would ever know or see but I saw and I know because I have cried so few times in my life but that night I stood with tears streaming down my face because I wanted to be there with them.

God bless 'em all, the dead heroes of that night. To me, a Marine, I understood what Honor, Duty, and Courage is - the United States Marines have a long history of this; but I saw it personified myself in the embodiment of those Heroes of the ARVN that night and I will never forget it!

Jake Take care Gods speed,

Semper Fi,
Dan Snuffer, Just a Marine

Jake, I'd like to write Dan Snuffer

Jake: Regarding this story where Dan tells us how close HANCOCK came to the coastline of Vietnam, recently (1-18-2010), Bob Hug of the Hancock Association had posed a question as to how close the Hancock came to the shore in Vietnam. I was reminded of Dan's words above during the onshore battle being so close to him while he was on deck, and witnessing it, his further verification of his knowledge of distance was sent to me on 1-20-2010:

Just how close did the Hancock come to shore in Vietnam? (Question posed by Bob Hug of the Hancock Association):

"Jake I was told that during the daylight operations we were 15 miles from shore but during the night we would come closer 5 to 7 miles. The reasons were obvious: artillery could target off shore targets easily during the day. As a Marine, I took pride in judging distance even at night and in my judgment on several occasions we were 3 to 5 miles from shore. During the day time the coast was barely visible but at night I was confident I could swim to shore but remember I was a qualified scuba diver and required to swim a mile in full scuba gear to pass my qualification. Well anyway I am still haunted by firefights on shore and think they took place no less than 3.5 miles from my eyes. I was a trained mortarman and could have put a 81mm round in the thick of it the maximum range of a 81mm at the time was 4 miles. Once on a bet I hit a tank the range 21120 yards yes 4 miles.

Hope this helps but we were at times danger close.
Cpl. Daniel Snuffer, USMC (Ret)"

Thanks, Dan! Once again you come through for us - Jake


The "Smoke Boat Goat" story reminded me that alcohol can make people do strange things. Once while on liberty a friend of mine decided he wanted to bring a cat back to base. I cautioned him against it because I knew he couldn't have the cat he was chasing. Well not listening to me cost him. He went under a parked car after it, and was sprayed at point blank range by the biggest skunk I have ever seen.

Oh yeah it was during the winter season which in California can get quite cold, anyway he spent two weeks in a tent just outside the barracks.

As for the cold I think it made the stench hang around a week longer. Ha Ha. He even had to take his meals on the loading dock in the back of the mess hall, in the dark 0500 and 1700.

During Roll Call he had to stand by himself down wind of course, and we called him the "stinky patrol". It was funny because my Gunnery Sgt used to say if we went to war against skunks he would be our secret weapon; he could sneak up on them.

Once, one of the other Marines told him, "Good job Marine, you're sharp - not like a razor more like limburger cheese!"

Another line was, "Join the Marines meet strange and exotic people and smell you."

It was endless for two weeks. Ya know I don't recall him ever drinking again.

Daniel Snuffer,
Just a Marine

Other writings by Daniel Snuffer...

Wall of Freedom
Fighting Ships
The Epic of the USS HANCOCK CVA-19
The Lone Rifleman
I Sit and Wait
The Fight for the Laffey DD-724
God's Twinking Light

Moving Stories for Christmas
Christmas Cookies and an Empty Shoe Box
Christmas Eve, A Young Marine and a Snowflake

Return to General Poetry Index

Return to Vietnam Poetry Index

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Submitted Tuesday, December 30, 2003, 7:25:18 PM
To write this Shipmate, send your message to Jake the
Yeoman in
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Email Yeoman Jake

Email the Yeoman

Hancock Galleries Launch

The late Courtland "Corky" Johnson writes about
Daniel's time aboard ship in his Memoirs

A son of a Vietnamese Refugee talks about his dad's flight from Vietnam -
Laird Le's Serendipity Page (this site)

The USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Marine Detachment

Other References to Operations 'Eagle Pull' and 'Frequent Wind'

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