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|Marines of Morenci|
|Posted for: JOSE ROBERTO MONCAYO:|
|Semper Fidelis: The Marines of Morenci
From the Jan. 5, 1970 issue of TIME magazine
THEY led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966.
When one of the nine failed his service-aptitude test, the other eight insisted that the corps must take all or none. A second test produced a passing grade. They helped each other over some of the rough spots in boot training as members of Recruit Platoon 1055 at San Diego. When one of them stumbled into the formation of another unit and got the traditional pummeling, the others rescued him. They spent another six weeks in infantry training at California's Camp Pendleton, then came home together for a final round of parties and dates. Beneath their careless courage, six of the nine harbored a premonition, a vision of a future that they could only accept calmly.
> BOBBY DALE DRAPER, an all-state linebacker whose jolting tackles would have brightened the Saturdays of any college coach, remained silent as a couple of buddies talked of what they would do with their separation pay. Bobby was asked what he would do. "I'm not coming back," he said.
> STAN KING, the oldest and most contemplative of the group, had abandoned his plans to study engineering at the University of Arizona in order to enlist with his former high school friends. A 6 ft. 4 in., three-sport letterman, he told his mother of his feelings just before going to Viet Nam. "We were up practically all night," Mrs. Glenn King recalls. "He had his grave all picked out in Clifton Cemetery. He loved that place and those beautiful red hills."
> ALFRED VAN WHITMER, a quiet but competitive youth, most enjoyed riding his two horses, a mare and a quarter-horse colt, through the secluded countryside. His parents had just begun payments on a new house when he came home on leave. "Van said he was increasing his life insurance," his mother remembers. "He turned to his father and said: 'Dad, I'm going to pay off this place for you.' "
> LARRY J. WEST, probably the liveliest and most restless of the bunch, served one tour in Viet Nam and volunteered for another. Morenci High Coach Vernon Friedli saw him leaning against the wall of the bowling alley one night. "His eyes were blank—his mind was a thousand miles away. We talked, and then he stuck his hand out, shook mine, and said it had been nice knowing me. 'What do you mean?' I asked. There's no way for me. I've come close to it a number of times. I won't be back.' "
> JOSE MONCAYO was called "cowboy" by other Marines because he talked so often about horses. Tall and husky, he was popular with Morenci's girls because of his quick humor. "My son had a feeling," recalls his mother. "He told me not to cry when they brought his body back."
CLIVE GARCIA was photographed with his mother just before he returned to Viet Nam. He wrote a note on the back of it: "Your eyes are swollen. You've cried too much, Mom. Life itself really isn't this bad. We only have a few sad minutes, all we can do is accept and live with reality." He also told his mother that "it would happen and not to be sad." He said that he would be brought home by someone who loved him—"a grunt, Mom, a grunt like me."
Draper, 19, was killed in an ambush while leading his squad on a road sweep. King, 21, died less than a week after reaching Viet Nam. Whitmer, 21, was killed on a patrol. West, 19, was shot near Quang Nam while serving with a landing team. Moncayo, 22, was part of an entire platoon wiped out by the enemy near Quang Tri. Garcia, 22, had volunteered to lead an unscheduled patrol in Quang Nam province when he was struck down by a booby trap.
Only three of Morenci's nine Marines made it back alive. But Joe Sor-relman, 21, the Navajo who had first failed the aptitude test, Leroy Cisneros, 21, a Spanish-American, and Mike Cranford, 22, an Anglo, rarely see each other now. Sorrelman moved to Phoenix, and the other two, who live less than a mile apart, find that each meeting revives too many memories for them. Yet none of the three is really angry about the war. Cisneros survived 42 patrols in Viet Nam, mostly as the exposed point man, and saw his unit chewed up behind him several times. "I don't think much about the war now," he says, "except when I see it in the news. But I think it best to try to stop Communism there before it gets any closer to home."
That kind of unquestioning patriotism persists among most of Morenci's tough-minded mining families, despite the town's heavy loss. There are no protest demonstrations in Morenci, and other young men are still eager to join the services, especially the Marine Corps. The younger brother of one of the nine even signs his math papers in school: "Peter Cisneros, U.S.M.C., I hope." "There is an understandable weariness, but no bitterness," explains School Superintendent Phil H. Davidson. Yet there are families with boys now in Viet Nam, and they keep asking, "Who's next?"
The mothers of those who died have known some doubts. "It just doesn't seem right that such a small town gave so much," says Mrs. Martin West. "We've had enough." Mrs. Julia Garcia was troubled when she asked the officer who brought her son's body home whether Clive had died doing what he wanted to do—"and the captain wouldn't answer me." Now she expresses sentiments common to other mothers in Morenci. "As our boys died," she says, "I used to feel that it was such a waste. But I no longer feel that way. I lost my son, and he gave of himself, and this could not have been a waste."
From the Jan. 5, 1970 issue of TIME magazine
|Posted by: Someone from the same town
Relationship: From the same town
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
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|On May 26,|
|240 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1965,|
|1 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1966,|
|16 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1967,|
|91 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1968,|
|73 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1969,|
|23 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1970,|
|31 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1971,|
|3 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1972,|
|2 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
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