...,1st Draft

Prologue04 Feb

16 45’21.14″ N 107 11’27.02″E elev 6m Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam
1900 Local Date Month 1968

2nd Lieutenant Michael I. Neil, USMC, and 2nd Lieutenant Richard Gannon, USMC, shared a foxhole. [The two platoon commanders in _ Co, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, had been fighting a protracted counterinsurgency in Vietnam’s northern-most I Corps for _ months. The US Strategy of conducting large scale operations against NVA Main Force units had met with ____ success (failure). Later in his tour, Lt Neil would earn a Navy Cross for his heroism. The two Marine Officers would both settle in San Diego, where both men started families, and Neil rose to the rank of Brigadier General, while also starting a law firm. Gannon’s son would enter the Marines, like his father.

16 49’19.51″N 107 05’38.53E elev 6m Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam
1800 Local Date Month 1968

Captain Carl Shaver, USMC, was the skipper of Lima 3/7. Of the five captains who commanded companies in 3/7, 3 would lose their lives during their command of their companies. Shaver had just lost a good man — Smitty — a tough Marine who walked point for the unit. Smitty had tripped an ambush, saving several Marines, but paying for the warning with his life. Shaver himself had barely escaped death with a few bullets cracking by his head. He took great pride in the performance of Lima 3/7, though. It was a solid company, that did everything asked of the unit — and more. Shaver was particularly proud of his company’s ability to coordinate fire support.

After returning to the United States, Shaver would continue his Marine service, rising to the rank of Colonel, and eventually commanding 5th Marine Regiment, one of the three infantry Regiments in the 1st Marine Division.

38 30’07.17″N 77 26’22.01W elev 80m Infantry Officers Course, Quantico, VA
2100 Local Date Month 1999

Student Lieutentant Marcus Mainz, USMC, was shivering in the cold of the Quantico, Va, winter along with 39 other Student-Lieutenants at Infantry Officer Course. With 40 students to 9 Captain-Instructors, the course was the final phase of the training and education that a Marine Officer received before taking command of his first platoon in the fabled Fleet Marine Force, or simply “the Fleet.” The weather at Q-Town, though, had a particular habit of hovering just above freezing, while also raining in an incessant, maddening drizzle — not just for hours, but for days. This particular rain — known as krachen, or ‘crying’ — had the insidious effect of invading every square inch of a student-lieutenant’s body with moisture, which conducted temperature much more efficiently. One of the Captain-Instructors came out and yelled at the class for a failure in discipline — then he got back in his car. The instructors could tag-team the class through the 12 day training evolutions in the field, thus insuring that they had a few days in the field, and a few days at home with their family between the frigid field exercises. The boisterous Captain earned the disdain of Lieutenant Mainz and his fellow students. Then a second figure emerged from the cold, dark night. Walking slowly, Captain George Schreffler gathered the freezing Lieutenants together.
“Gents, give me a school circle,” said Schreffler, his voice embodying his heritage as a Southern gentleman. “Let me teach you how to wear your cold weather gear. You need to be aware of how you appear to your Marines.” Schreffler proceeded to teach the shivering, freezing Lieutenants about a base layer, about layering their insulating layers, about how the venting system on their gore-tex parkas should be used to regulate the increased perspiration which they would generate during exercise, about not wearing too much insulation during movement, and keeping a few layers in reserve for when movement stopped. Above all, Captain Schreffler taught them about their appearance to their enlisted Marines — the entire purpose of their existence as Officers of Marines.
Day 9 of this goddamned fucking “war” — thought Lieutenant Mainz. But, this is good gouge — Marine-talk for information worth remembering. Mainz admired Schreffler because he was the consummate instructor — a patient, knowledgeable teacher.
From that day forward, Lieutenant Mainz consciously emulated Captain Schreffler, filing the Officer-Gentleman’s demeanor away as a bookmark for his own leadership development.

….

38 30’07.17″N 77 26’22.01W elev 80m Infantry Officers Course, Quantico, VA
2100 Local Date Month 1999

Student Lieutenant Dominique Neal thrived at IOC. In the infantry, the qualities that Dom Neal had developed as a life-long athlete, particularly in high school football — a determination never to quit, or to let down his team mates — came to be qualities prized in this Calling of Being a Grunt. In the 3 month program designed to be the capstone of nearly a year of screening and classwork for new Marine Officers, Neal had finally found a home, after completing the Naval Academy and Marine Officers Basic School.
Among the Captain Instructors that Neal admired most one stood out above the rest — Captain George Schreffler. Schreffler took an interest in Neal, as he had other students, and became a mentor to the young officer. Neal worked hard to gain Schreffler’s approval, which in the closed moral system of the Grunt, was a goal worth attaining.

33 22’14.65″N 117 15’40.40″W elev 220m Marine Corps Programs Department, Fallbrook, CA
1100 Local Date May 2004

Douglas Halepaska and Janar Wasito sat in the office of Col Carl Shaver, USMC (Retired) at Marine Corps Programs Department, Fallbrook, CA. Janar had met Col Shaver at a military symposium in San Diego. After a few minutes of conversation, they found that they both had served in Lima 3/7 — Carl Shaver as Lima 6, or Commanding Officer in the late 1960s, Janar Wasito as Lima 5, or Executive Officer in the early 1990s. Doug and Janar had served together in Lima in the early 1990s. Now, Janar and Doug were on their way to 29 Palms to do research for a book about the 1st Marine Division and the development of Small Wars Doctrine. They had stopped to pay their respects to a former Lima 6. Col Shaver shared a letter to the two aspiring journalists — a letter from Captain George Shreffler, describing his 10 months as the Commanding Officer of Lima Company during the build up for and invasion of Iraq in 2003. Shaver and Shreffler had commanded Lima 3/7 in combat during periods separated by 35 years, yet the two had a common loyalty to the Rifle Company, whom they both regarded as exceptional.
“You might find this interesting,” said Carl Shaver. “Captain Schreffler is the Battalion S-3 Operations Officer now, but he writes about Lima 3/7 in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he writes about his replacement, Captain Richard Gannon.”
After sharing some unfortunate news with Col Shaver about the letter, Doug and Janar continued on to 29 Palms, where they had appointments to interview Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7).

Leave a Reply

About

This is a website for writing a book about Lima Company, 3/7, during 4 deployments to Iraq between 2003 and 2007.

About

This is a website for writing a book about Lima Company, 3/7, during 4 deployments to Iraq between 2003 and 2007.