Web site by Craig Slaughter © 2009
This is not an official USMC site.
There were shaky days and nights after RLT-7 started Operation Starlite. They came carefully stepping from the north, landing from the skies from on the west and splashing onto the beach near An Cuong(2). It was August of 1965. It was summer and 110 degrees. "The First Big Battle" of the Vietnam period began. The foe was the 60th and 80th Viet Cong Battalions.
They wore the same uniforms they used in the World. They carried one third of their weight in munitions and explosives. They were the best fighting man in the world. They had trained to be the best "Brothers of Battle". They were trained to be "Gun-Ho" Marines. Two Medals of Honor were to come from the struggles on 18 August 1965.
Forty-five Marines gave their lives, two hundred and three shed their life’s blood and 6 died of their wounds. To a L/Cpl the casualties and KIAs seemed awfully heavy. The enemy was reportedly to have lost between 600 and 2000 of their warriors.
During a lull in Battle some Marine found a small-emaciated puppy in a destroyed smoking ville between An Cuong 1 & 2 (BS703926). As Kilo Company set in for the night the puppy was given to LCpl Nicholls. The original Marine master of the puppy went out on a listening post.
The puppy was crowned with the name of "Combat", his fleas came with him to pester the master, and they were free spirit and roamed at will. At the conclusion of “Starlite” all that remained returned to base camp.
Combat adapted quickly to the Marines way of life. He even enjoyed, after initial disgust, Ham and Lungers. Combat became more and more each day like a Marine Grunt. You couldn't be too chummy with Combat, he was his own dog. As he grew, if you gave him too much affection, he would do "a wild thing" on your leg. Many a 10-1/2 EE got him!
After Starlite there was Operation Piranha. Combat stayed behind, in the rear with the gear so to speak. He didn't make Triple Play nor Blue Marlin I & II. Combat became a REMF (Rear Echelon Maintenance Force). He was the envy of every Vietnamese cook, a fat little rascal. Much to the favor of Combat's longevity, the remainder of 3/3 was shipped off to Okinawa where it picked up new lifers and new staff.
Combat followed the Troops travels, stoned to the gills, in 60mm/81mm Motor ammo boxes. He traveled onboard ships from RVN to Okinawa, Okinawa to the Philippines and back to RVN. Combat participated in jungle training at NTA, Okinawa and drank Sam Miguel beer with his masters in Subic Bay on the way back to Da Nang.
He was stationed with his friends, the Marines at Cade Son Bridge (Namo), Dia Loc, An Tan and accompanied Lcpl Nicholls on several ventures to Hill 367. What a fiasco. He had never seen so many Marine friends. They all looked alike and strangers, especially officers, did not appreciate his “wild thing”.
During Combat's enlistment with the Marine Forces he had picked up friends in the world. His picture was in many major newspapers and he began receiving fan mail. One particular group was a group of kindergarten children in Costa Mesa, California. The children would draw pictures of Combat and send him wee notes and would wish his masters well. The teacher Miss Darcy Ross forwarded many packages to Combat through, then Cpl Nicholls. Combat in his travels, lost all his correspondence, he was very sad. So was Cpl Nicholls, as he was going to try to hit on Miss Ross.
Alas, the corporal became a short timer, then he was next and finally gone.
Years later, it was learned that Combat was KIA in the Da Nang TAOR and his new master was WIA. Like many of his Marine friends before him, his demise was as a result of a VC booby trap.
Cpl Nicholls eventually returned to Chu Lai on a second tour and again another wee puppy was adopted. "Blooper" became a Marine mascot.
During lulls in the work as a mailman and chores on the Texas ranch, CW2 (Ret.) Ed Nicholls, gazes off and sees that dreadful animal wagging his tail and doing a wild thing on someone’s leg.
L/Cpl. Ed Nicholls and Combat - Kilo Co. 3/3
Republic of South Vietnam - August 1965