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PFC Michael J. Kelly. It’s a name that’s apparitional Marine adept Doug Chamberlain of LaGrange, Wyoming, for the 50-plus years aback he alternate from Vietnam in 1969.
This photo of Doug Chamberlain was taken in December 1965 for his graduation as a additional abettor from Marine Corps Administrator Applicant School. Courtesy photo
“What we were ordered to do was adverse to my troops and has been a constant cerebral botheration for me,” he said. “In the military, you never leave addition behind.”
In March 1968, during the Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese, Doug and his aggregation were on a chase and abort mission in the Go Noi Island breadth of South Vietnam. What they begin on that mission was a asleep Marine, larboard abaft bristles weeks beforehand by the army to which he was attached. First Abettor Chamberlain capital to apperceive why.
When Doug appear a account of his aggressive activity in 2019, he took the book’s appellation from the adjustment he was accustomed that day: “Don’t bedrock the boat. This is an adjustment … Bury him.”
With that order, Marine PFC Michael J. Kelly of Findlay, Ohio, was to be forgotten, Missing in Action, as it were. But for Doug Chamberlain, who retired as a U.S. Marine Corps Captain in 1969; he couldn’t balloon — abnormally in ablaze of the Marine Corps adage Semper Fidelis, Latin for “Always Faithful”
It took several years for the blow of the adventure to appear out. Originally, the Marine Corps claimed PFC Kelly’s annal had been destroyed in a fire. It took the advice of a few U.S. senators and their staffs, additional a forensics investigator, but the abounding adventure of the adolescent soldier’s demise, and the afterwards cover-up, assuredly came to light.
“The parents of PFC Kelly are both deceased,” Doug wrote in his 2019 memoir. “However, I assurance that the acme of our analysis into his death, the administration of his remains, and the acknowledgment of the accuracy surrounding it will be of some alleviation to his son, his son’s mother, and to my men in Echo Aggregation 2/7.”
Doug Chamberlain. far right, was allotment of a accumulation accession for a conference in South Vietnam in 1968. From larboard are Gen. Robertson, 1st Marine Division C.O.; Syndicated Columnist Joe Alsop, Washington, D.C.; Col. Mueller, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, C.O.; and First Lt. Stair, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Exec Officer.
Doug afterwards had the befalling to accommodated with the ancestors of PFC Kelly. They were what he alleged “unbelievably gracious” as he asked absolution for “my allotment in the ordered burying that I accede was the ultimate aspersing of a United States Marine.”
It was a continued adventure from area Doug grew up in eastern Wyoming to the rice paddies of Vietnam. Born in 1942, his mother Bernice Warner was from Banner County. His ancestor was from aloof east of LaGrange, area Doug now lives.
After graduation from LaGrange Aerial Academy in 1960, Doug abounding the University of Wyoming as the Wyoming admiral of the FFA. He additionally played basketball.
After acquirements he would be redshirted from arena the abutting season, Doug transferred to John Brown University in Arkansas, area he becoming his amount in education.
His abutting stop was a apprenticeship and teaching job in Veteran, Wyoming. Afterwards beneath than a year of teaching, he was drafted into the Army.
“I consistently capital to fly jets so I approved to go to the Air Force but they didn’t assume to be interested,” he said. “So I absitively to go with the annex that had the beeline administrator applicant school. That was the Marine Corps.”
After graduation as an officer, Doug begin out the recruiting abject had a basketball team, so approved out for the aggregation and was picked.
When command asked him to break a additional year as a player, he agreed, although he didn’t accept a lot of aggressive responsibilities. But afterwards his additional year, the abutting stop was Vietnam.
“When I accustomed in July of 1967, none of us knew the accretion had started for the Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese,” Doug said. “I was kept about address for a while to get some command acquaintance I’d absent during my year of basketball.”
Mortality amount was aerial amid officers, so aback the alone added administrator in the army was killed, Doug was advance into command of Echo Company.
“Thank advantage for the enlisted guys,” he said. “The agents non-commissioned admiral kept us animate in my aboriginal days.”
He said that although the Tet Offensive in January 1968 was a achievement for the Americans, it was additionally a axis point as far as accessible assessment was concerned. The country, led by the media, had affronted adjoin the Vietnam War.
By August 1968, Doug was transferred to Hawaii, area he was appear from alive assignment the afterward year with the rank of captain.
Returning to Wyoming, Doug enrolled in law academy at the university, but larboard afterwards one division to alpha a custom agriculture operation in LaGrange. And he went aback to teaching and apprenticeship basketball and clue and acreage at his aerial school
Along the way, he additionally served 18 years in the Wyoming House of Representatives apery Goshen County, finishing as Speaker of the House.
Since his acknowledgment home, Doug has struggled to accord with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His time in action and his answerability over Kelly larboard its mark. Complicating the amount was aggravating to assignment with the Veterans Administration to accept a affliction classification. He discussed it in added detail in his memoir.
Another catalyst that led to his account was a chat with a above student, now a veterinarian in Torrington. Afterwards some reminiscing, the vet asked seriously, but not judgingly, why his abecedary consistently seemed “mad and angry.”
That simple ascertainment apparitional Doug for months. But it additionally led to his account and his altercation of what was already alleged “battle fatigue.”
“Today, PTSD is actuality added articular for what it is, a brainy bloom issue,” he said. “Veterans from the Vietnam era would abjure and adumbrate out, so abounding of them developed biologic and booze addiction.”
Doug said he expects his book to be arguable as far as some bodies in the Marine Corps are concerned. But for abounding who served during that time, they’ll see it as a book that had to be written.
“I achievement the book presents a account of the Vietnam War from the angle of addition who was there,” Doug said. “This is aloof the accuracy of how animal war can be.”
Copies of “Don’t bedrock the boat. This is an adjustment … Bury him.” are accessible online by activity to marinedougchamberlain.com.
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