Third Marine Division
Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)
Gib Seegert, U.S. Marines
0311 Grunt, Rifleman Infantry Man in Vietnam on the DMZ (demilitarized zone)
The 0311 was a marine whose duties were to be part of a squad, a platoon, or a company that engaged in searching and destroying the enemy. The grunt carried small arms that ranged from the M-16 Assault Rifle to the 50 Cal Machine Gun. When a unit moves out of the wire, a grunt is cross trained in I.T.R. School (Infantry Training Regiment-A school attended right after boot camp) to handle any job needed to protect his unit in the event of a lost member.
I Corps Leatherneck Square was a six mile by nine mile area that started in the Ben Hai river (the river that divided North and South Vietnam). The northern end was from Gio Linh to Con Thien, and the southern end was between the marine combat base at Khe Sanh to the Dong Ha area. It was named Leatherneck Square because this was the area that the marines had held strongholds at Camp Carroll, Cal Lu, Cam Lo the rockpile. During the TET offense in 1968, the majority of fighting for the marines occurred in this 54 square mile area.
9051 Fleet Logistic Command (FLC) Graves Registration USMC was a marine unit whose duties were to accept fallen marines from the battlefield and start the process of preparing them for shipment back to their home for a proper burial. The main graves registration units were in the rear areas that were equipped with refrigeration and had provisions for the final transportation to the continental United States. In the remote areas where contact with the enemy was on a daily basis, graves registration units were set up to start process within minutes of the casualty. During the Vietnam War, remote temporary graves registration units were designed to follow certain units while they were participating in a combat operation. These remote units consisted of three to four enlisted marines reporting to a staff NCO (non-commissioned officer) E-6.
Married - Elizabeth (Mangano) on June 13, 1976 at the Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Parish in Silver Creek.
Children - Kristin and Megan
Grandchildren - Ava, Sophia, Nicholas, and Gianna
Gib Seegert was born on March 18, 1947 in Silver Creek. He was the son of a dairy store owner and was raised in the family's home on 11 Oliver St. Gib's father Fredrick was part owner and managed the Seegert Dairy Store in Silver Creek while his mother Phillis (Czawaski) was a school teacher in the Silver Creek School System.
As a child, Gib attended all the Silver Creek schools. While in high school, Gib was a standout in football, basketball and track. His football career was derailed in his senior year when he broke his foot while playing in a school's scheduled football game.
Once he was cleared for work after the foot injury, Gib received his first job at the Silver Creek A&P Store. His duties were stocking shelves and taking groceries out to cars for the elderly and handicapped. When he wasn't at work, Gib could be found at the local pool hall or Foster's Ice Cream Store, a local place where Gib and all the other boys of that era hung out.
Gib, like most of the boys his age, was brought up knowing right from wrong, but that alone did not stop the crew from having some fun. When I asked, he replied, "No, we didn't really do anything bad." But after a little coaxing, I always got something that took the veteran back to his days before his military career. Gib finally admitted that there was this one time! The time was when the group was wondering what the water fountain in the village would look like if someone were to dump four boxes of ivory detergent in it. Gib said they finally found out, and it was a fantastic sight. The bubbles were everywhere. The group smiled for the next few weeks when they passed the village fountain, still noticing a bubble here and there.
Gib's second job as an OBSERVER news carrier landed him an extra few dollars. Working the two jobs and attending high school took up most of his time. The seasons passed and then came June 1966, when he received his diploma from Silver Creek High School. Wanting to pursue higher education, Gib applied and was accepted to Northern Michigan University. Gib spent a full semester there before receiving his draft notice. Though he knew that if he chose to stay in school he could delay the draft, Gib decided to impress his father who was a World War II decorated veteran. Gib recalled he wanted to join the best so that his father would be proud of him; the Marine Corps was the obvious choice.
As he waited by his front door, his recruiter pulled into his driveway, and Gib knew that within hours he would become property of the United States Marines. The only thing in his way was the next thirteen weeks of hell. Just like all new Marine recruits of that era, it required a train ride to South Carolina with a U.S. Marine bus waiting at the train stop. It was just after midnight, and all went calmly while getting on the bus. Most men slept a few winks. As the bus stopped at the main gate at Parris Island, Gib saw the sign, "Welcome to Parris Island, South Carolina, USMC Recruiting Station." When the bus stopped, the yelling and screaming started. Before noon, his hair was gone, his arm was sore from shots, and his hands were filled with his new clothes. He was assigned to Platoon 1051. Parris Island had three battalions, the first, second, and third. Of all the battalions between Parris Island and San Diego, most marines will admit that the first battalion at Parris Island was the worst. It still had the old wooden building with no air. It was next to the swamp and brought every swamp insect one could name. And the smell was different.
Completing boot camp brought graduation day and the recruits' first day off. Then Gib learned which job title the Marine Corps decided fit him the best. Gib for the next few years would be an 0311 grunt. His job would cover many paths, and he would be used as part of a squad, patrol, or company whose duties were to search and destroy the enemy. He was now trained to use the M-14 Rifle, the 45-cal Pistol, the M-79 Grenade Launcher, and the 60-cal Machine Gun along with its bigger brother the 50-cal Machine Gun. While at his next duty station at Camp Lejeune, Gib also had the honor to walk through the Marine Corps Gas Chamber with his mask on. Once inside he had to take off his mask and then sing the entire Marine Corps hymn. Upon completion, he could put on his mask and leave the chamber.
With his ITR (Infantry Training Regiment) done, Gib was now granted 30 days leave with orders to report to Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, located near Oceanside California, one of the Marine Corps' biggest camps. At Pendleton, Gib was trained in jungle warfare. Marines with orders for Westpac (Vietnam) were trained in jungle survival. Along with this, they received training in Vietnamese customs, religions, and cultures, such as items like using the word "gook" and to never put your hand on a child's head.
In March of 1968 the Vietnam War was in high gear. The TET offense was in its second month with newspapers reporting thousands of enemies being killed each day and hundreds of U.S. casualties that followed. In Gib's hand were orders to Vietnam. It was a quick flight from Camp Pendleton to Oakland Alameda where Gib boarded a U.S. contracted continental airline 727. As he boarded, he saw a plane completely filled with U.S. Marines in fatigues. As he took his seat, he looked and could not see anyone he knew. He was heading to Southeast Asia, in his mind, all alone. As the plane took off, the Marines stared and, for some, saw the last look of United States soil. There were six marines in a row and 35 rows. The crew were relieved when the pilot announced stops would be in Alaska and Wake Island. This would help the 19-hour flight.
The last stop was the landing in Okinawa. Here the marines were transported to Camp Hansen, a place where one could see a group of 18 and 19-year-old men making out their last wills, confessing their sins, signing papers to have their money held or sent, and getting that famous hemoglobin shot. When all was done, the marines were given their last orders of the day, one order being be at the air strip at a certain time and the next being that there was a village on the north fence line that was off limits. The village was named Kim Village. Later that night, if one was looking for a certain marine, the chances of finding him at Kim Village were good. Every marine stationed at Camp Hansen with orders to Vietnam knew about the hole cut in the north fence. I, myself, used this hole in the fence four months prior when I was heading to Vietnam.
Arriving in Da Nang in 1968 led all marines to a stagging area where, after learning their MOS, they were given units that needed that certain MOS. In some cases men arriving in Vietnam were sent to units where the replacement was for a marine that was killed or wounded in action just hours before. No one knew for sure where he was heading until he reported in. As a grunt, you could be given any job from being with a combat unit to being a truck driver, typist, phone operator, etc. If a job was needed and you could do it, it was common to hit Vietnam and be reassigned when arriving in Da Nang. Gib was assigned first to a supply company as a 0351. He later, when they asked for volunteers for the F.L.C. (Fleet Logistic Command), raised his hand, not knowing what his job would be. He later found that he was heading for graves registration, a unit that was designed to accept the bodies of KIAs (Killed in Action) that were confirmed dead while still in the field. Bodies were brought in by helicopter or truck. When received, the bodies were tagged according to the information given by the corpsman and dog tags. At first Gib was leery when told that his job was needed and important. He was also told that his job would guarantee the families of our lost marines will know that their loved ones were treated with respect. This gave Gib some relief knowing that he was doing some good for some Marines who were lost in harm's way.
NEXT WEEK: Part II