LCpl Billy deVasier, USMC, died 29 September 1967 while serving with Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Third Marine Amphibious Force. Barrty F was positioned at "Charlie 2," a forward fire base between Cam Lo and Con Thein. The company was firing 155 mm Howizters. The big, loud, guns with an eleven foot long barrel could throw a six pound charge about eight miles away. The emplacements were effective and, as a result, were one of the favorite targets of VC and NVA regulars.
Billy was the son of a Methodist preacher, a nice friendly kid by all accounts. Like all of the other Jarheads on the fire base, he and another man shared a small dugout with a canvas cover. The quarters were cramped, uncomfortable, muddy in the rain, and just steps away from the canon. It was a hellish way to spend a summer vacation on a jungle mountaintop. And yet, deVasier smiled and dubbed the hole as "The Arkansas Inn." If there was an inside joke nobody knew it.
His gun was down for maintenance and Billy had moved to another emplacement to help out its crew as they lobbed shells outbound. The noise and confusion was interrupted with more noise, more confusion and the concussions of 61 mm mortar shells hitting all around the fire base. Billy was struck by shrapnel and his chest wounds were severe. Normally a medivac helicopter flight would have taken the wounded away almost immediately, but the NVA assault was strong enough that choppers couldn't get in till after sunrise. Billy, unable to receive the advantage of "the golden hour", died while on the first evac flight.
It was hard for his buddies of the fire base to carry the wounded, crying and scared 19 year old to the door of the chopper. They encouraged him, "You'll be okay, Billy! Just hang one!" It was worse the next day when his sergeant and best friend had to fly out to the evac area to confirm the identify of his body.
For at least one man that experience still haunts his memories after fifty years. Many of those in the field don't fight for God and country - they fight to protect each other. It's an "in the moment" instinct that dosn't allow an easy let down. The noise and confusion wrap around the combatants and as the shells stop falling the banging is replaced with cries for help, cries for "Mother" It's that echo which is most difficult to endure.
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