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AmGrunts --

Your Story Is Our History


Dear Amgrunts,

At our last reunion in Quantico, I extended a challenge to you following a presentation by James Ginther, Ph. D when he demonstrated the virtual absence of historical documentation on the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion and its service in South Vietnam from 1965 through 1969, but particularly for that period while fighting around the Cua Viet. From that time to this, approximately twelve Amgrunts have sent in their finished accounts of their personal experiences. Two others are now writing theirs. While this may sound like a very fair representation of accounts, it is definitely not. Instead it only represents a framework of the events over just the Cua Viet experiences alone. To be more graphic, just imagine a jigsaw puzzle where only the border pieces have been fitted together. The heart of the picture remains blank. The remaining personal experiences complete the picture.

As I began this letter I sought serious quotes to create an impact that would spur each of you on to paper and pen or your computers. My initial search was quite fruitless. There is no statement among the famous quotables that reads: "No tested and true battle command should ever have suffered the dismissive ignorance of hungry historians who plodded along with their eyes closed, heads down in single file while homing in on the loudest trumpet as the rare combatants were bypassed and fought on unheralded." Not being one to give up on a challenge, I soon came across one by Samuel Johnson from his Boswell's Life of April 19, 1772, when he wrote; "There is but a shallow stream of thought in history." It confirms my feeling that the historians enjoy writing more about the obvious and undoubtedly easiest actions to research and most glamorous "combat" commands (infantry, aviation and armor) as opposed to the rare combatants.

In a determined state of mind I sought to close the loop on my thesis that we, the Amgrunts, had been slighted in spite of our many Presidential, Navy and Marine Corps Unit Commendations. I need not go into the numerous Navy Crosses, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts awarded and a matter of Marine Corps records. All these are under the care of Historians.

My search soon located an appropriate answer and restated a renewed challenge. The quote I discovered states:

"The only good histories are those written by those who had command in the events they describe."
Montaigne

This quote sums up what the original challenge was. The historians haplessly bypassed the unique operations and accomplishments of our battalion in Vietnam. Montaigne points the way to the solution. Therefore, I repeat the challenge to one and all. You must remember that, "You command the ground you occupy." That was part of the original challenge: to write about that fifty-meter circle of terrain you occupied and commanded.

Gene Miller and Dr. Ginther,along with input from Hugh T. Connelley, have collaborated to make the composition and submission process easier. Gene has revised his Amtrac.org web site. His new feature is a Forum. Here you can post messages, ask questions or start a discussion on any subject or you can answer other members posted messages. The Forum is where you can send in your own account of experiences. They will be collected and filed for Dr. Ginther and his staff to support their interviews during the 2004 Amgrunt Reunion.

The full picture of the history of the Amgrunt Battalion experience is held by each of you. You are the missing pieces to the puzzle. Tell your own story, in whole or in pieces, but tell the Amgrunt's whole story. Please don't be the missing piece to the puzzle.

Looking forward to seeing you in Tampa in April 2004. More information is forthcoming soon on this event.

Semper Fidelis,

Poindexter M. ( "Martin" ) Johnson

A PDF copy of this document is
available in the Library Section.

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