Page 9 - Senior Link Magazine Fall 2020- Online Magazine
P. 9

Don Roden                    Commander of                                     MARINE CORPS

                                                 MOPH 553                                         VIETNAM

                                                 as told to Jane Bromley                                 AMARILL O

                                                         bride after the war. The   North Vietnamese attacks on more
                                                         soldier became a farmer   than 100 cities and outposts in
                                                         and raised four sons;   South Vietnam. It was an attempt
                                                         this is the story of the   to foment rebellion among the
                                                         youngest one.          South Vietnamese population and
                                                                                encourage the United States to scale
                                                         Donald Lynn Roden      back its involvement in the Vietnam
                                                         was born in 1949 and   War.” Don was assigned to the 3rd
                                                         grew up with his       Battalion 27th Marines 5th Marine
                                                         brothers on a farm near   Division. “We were the first Marine
                                                         Olton. Lots of native   regiment to fly into a combat zone.
                                                         West Texans will be
                                                         able to relate to this   During Corporal Roden’s service
                                                         childhood memory:      in Vietnam, he became a “tunnel
                                                         “Mother made my        rat”, an unofficial specialty for
                                                         brothers and me cotton   volunteers whose job was to
                                                         sacks so we could pick   clear and destroy enemy tunnel
                                                         cotton after school. We   complexes where supplies, weapons
                                                         also hoed cotton during   and food were often stored and
                                                         the summer.” After his   where VC guerrillas could hide
                                                         senior year from Olton   underground. Typically, a tunnel
                                                         High School in 1967,   rat was equipped with only a pistol,
                                                         he enlisted. His brother   a flashlight, and C4 explosives.
                                                         Eugene had already     Those were dangerous missions
                                                         joined the Navy and    because of the many unpredictable
                                                         was serving in Vietnam   ways the VC would use to booby-
                                                         on a ship. “I was 18   trap the tunnels.
                                                         years old when I joined
                                                         the Marine Corp. At that   May 28, 1968 was life-changing for
                                                         time, I wanted to join   the young Marine. “My platoon
                                                         the toughest military   did a lot of night patrols north of
                                                         branch.”               Da Nang along Highway 1. We all
                                                                                knew that US soldiers in our area
                                                         After basic training at   were tripping a lot of booby Traps
                                                         Marine Corps Recruit   [now known as IEDs (Improvised
                                                         Depot (MCRD) in        Explosive Devices)] while on
                                                         San Diego, Don was     patrols. On a day patrol, we were
                                                         trained to carry the   heading to a village that had been
                                                         M72 LAW (Light         infiltrated with North Vietnamese
                                                         Anti-Tank Weapon – a   soldiers. We knew we were
                  am Houston Roden Sr.,                  portable one-shot 66mm   getting close because the jets were
                  World War II Army veteran,   unguided anti-tank weapon.) “Our   dropping Napalm very close to our
              Sfought with the Golden          staging training to go overseas   position. When we were given the
              Acorn Battalion (Company E 346th   was shortened, and we were sent   go-ahead to move into the hot zone,
              Infantry Regiment 87th Division) in   straight to Vietnam [Feb. 12, 1968]   I was the second to last Marine in
              the Battle of the Bulge under Gen.   because of the Tet Offensive,   our squad walking down a trail.
              Patton. He came home to his young   which was a coordinated series of   I was carrying two LAWS on my

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