Excerpt from “Young Blood” Copyright 2002, Gary Jarvis, Ph.D.
A Memorial to the Fallen Marines in the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines
Fortuitously, it seems, the fallen Marines and Corpsmen of the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines were honored by a memorium many months before the battalion’s colors departed Vietnam. Immediately following the battalion’s deployment to Hue City during the last days of March 1968, LtCol John E. Greenwood authorized the troops in the field to have beer and soft drinks, whenever possible and consequently, money for the beverages was collected from the troops, which was tendered as payment to the Officers Club in Phu Bai by the compassionate 1stLt Thaddeus D. Wiener in H&S Co.. The troops consumed approximately 40 pallets of beer and soft drinks that Lt. Wiener obtained from the O’Club, during six weeks of combat in the Hue City area. Surprisingly, when Lt. Wiener went back to pay for the last eight pallets during the time that the battalion was deployed back to Camp Duong Son, the O’Clubs records indicated that all of the beer and soft drinks had already been paid for, leaving the Lt. with a pocket full of money. Lt. Wiener was faced with a dilemma. What should he do with the large-roll of money?
Cognizant that a number of Marines had written to their various churches, requesting altar clothes and other church articles to help out the Duong Son area villagers, Lt. Wiener scheduled an appointment with the Division Chaplain and discussed the story about the money, hoping to find a solution concerning what he should do with the money. Consequently, the two concurred that the best option would be to use the money to purchase a silver and gold chalice and ciborium and engrave the following inscription: “IN MEMORY OF THE 27TH MARINES KILLED IN ACTION RVN”. The next day, a money order was mailed to a church supply house in San Francisco and a month later, a box arrived with the chalice, paten (a small plate) and ciborium carefully packaged inside. The chaplain personally transported them to the Bishop’s office in Hue City where they were consecrated. Immediately thereafter, the chaplain returned the blessed gold religious memorials to Lt. Wiener who delivered the engraved memorial items to Father Thaddeus Nguyen-Huu-Mung, the Vietnamese pastor for the Con Dau Church, which was located in the Con Dau Hamlet, Ho Vang District, Danang City. Father Mung gratefully accepted the ciborium, chalice and paten, promising to remember the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines each time he conducted mass. The memorial gifts had been delivered without any fanfare for fear that the division Public Affairs Office or G-5 might draw unwanted media attention to the event. Very few Marines knew of the memorial, honoring the Marines who died in Vietnam.
When the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines formally departed Vietnam September 12, 1968, the sacred vessels (chalice, ciborium and paten) which honored the 1st Bn, 27th Marines Marines and corpsmen killed in action, were regularly used in during church services by Father Thaddeus Nguyen-Huu-Mung.
In the year 2000, Captain Thaddeus D. Wiener (Retired) embarked on a quest to find the sacred vessels. Considering the fact that over 31 years had passed and the communist North Vietnamese assumed control of South Vietnam, including the Danang area, many believed that there was little hope for finding the memorial items. Nevertheless, Captain Wiener not once lost sight of his objective and refused to give up. Following a very exhaustive and diligent search with the assistance of many conscientious priests in the Catholic Church, Capt Wiener’s hopes sparkled when he made contact with Father Joachim-Le-Quang-Hien of Spokane, Washington and discovered that Father Hien had many relatives who still resided in Danang. Two of his relatives were Catholic priests. One was his uncle Father Mung and another was his nephew, Father Thang. After Father Hien contacted his nephew Father Thang, Captain Wiener, subsequently, received startling communications from Father Anthony Nguyen-Troung-Thang from Vietnam who kindly provided photographs of the memorial chalice, ciborium and paten.
According to Father Thang, Father Mung, the Vietnamese pastor for the Con Dau Church, had safeguarded the sacred vessels and the memorial items have been regularly used by the Con Dau Church in the Con Dau Hamlet, Ho Vang District, Danang City since the time they were presented to the church in July of 1968. Father Mung retired in August 2001 and resides in the An Ngai Thy hamlet, Hoa Son Village, Hoa Vang district Danang city. The sacred vessels are now safeguarded by Father Kinh, Father Mung’s successor and he continues to honor the Marines and Corpsmen of the 27th Marines who lost their lives in Vietnam.
For over thirty years, the sacred vessels constituted a Living Memorial to the Marines and corpsmen Killed-in-Action in the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Capt Wiener and the caring devotion of many in the Catholic clergy, the sacred vessels will continue to honor and respect the ultimate sacrifices of the brave and gallant Marines and Corpsmen of the 1st Battalion, 27th Marines in 1968.
Below are photos of the sacred memorial vessels (chalice, ciborium and paten), which were provided courtesy of Father Anthony Thang:
Father Kinh (left) and Father Thang display the sacred vessels at Con Dau