On October 10, 1966 a group of young men stepped off buses at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia to begin Officer Candidates School (OCS). They were the members of the 42nd Officer Candidates School Class.
On October 10, 2013, that same group of men returned to Quantico to dedicate two memorials to their 44 classmates who died in Vietnam.
More than 700 young men stepped off those buses at Quantico into the loving arms of their Drill Instructors (whom they called Sergeant Instructors) and began the transition from civilians to Marine Officers.
Only about 70% of the men who stepped off those buses completed Officer Candidates School and were commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the Marine Corps.
Of the 550 who completed OCS, 144 went directly to Pensacola Naval Air Station for flight training. The rest of those young lieutenants went to The Basic School where they were trained in the basics of infantry tactics. After they graduated from either The Basic School or flight training, 99% of those lieutenants received orders to Vietnam.
Forty four members of the 42nd Officer Candidates School Class were killed in Vietnam: 11 of the Marines who went through flight training and 33 of The Basic School Class 4-67 graduates.
One of those 44 young men was my friend and college classmate, Richard Peter Reynolds, who was Killed in Action on January 20, 1968 near My Loc in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam.
The future's uncertain
And the end is always near.
John Lee Hooker
In 2006, the surviving members of USMC Basic School Class 4-67 formed an association (Marine Officer BC 4-67 Association, Inc.) in anticipation of their first reunion, forty years after they got off those buses in Quantico.
The idea to erect a bronze plaque at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and a granite monument at The USMC Basic School in Quantico was conceived in early 2012, just prior to the 45th reunion of the class of TBS 4-67.
The memorials would cost $30,000 and fund raising efforts commenced during the reunion.
By March 2013, the bronze plaque was already in place at the Marine Corps Museum, and Dick Hudak, the president of the association, was doing everything possible to contact the families of the 44 Marines so they could attend the dedication ceremony on October 10, 2013. The association even hired a private detective to track down some of the families.
On March 20, 2013 I got a telephone call from Dick Hudak asking for my help in locating Richie Reynolds' family. After I talked talked to Hudak, I contacted the Manhattan College Alumni Office, and they helped me locate Richie Reynolds’s brother.
Every time I think of Richie Reynolds, I see him standing at the top of the steps leading up to the Quadrangle at Manhattan College, the stairs by the statue of the Virgin Mary. I was at the bottom of the steps and he was at the top waving to me. He had a big smile on his face. He usually did.
The association booked a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn in Dumfries, Virginia, just outside Marine Corps Base Quantico, and the surviving Marines and the family and friends of those who died in Vietnam arrived on October 9th:
In the morning, the guests boarded buses for Marine Corps Base Quantico.
At 9:00 AM on October 10, 2013 the Marine Officer BC 4-67 Association held a dedication ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Chapel. It was raining heavily, but heavy rain never stopped anything in Vietnam, so it didn’t stop the dedication ceremony.
At 11:30, those attending the ceremony ate lunch with the young lieutenants currently enrolled in The Basic School.
At 1:30 PM the members of the 42nd Officer Candidates School Class held a dedication ceremony at the granite memorial at The Basic School.
The people attending the ceremony were scheduled to tour the National Museum of the Marine Corps, but unfortunately, the museum was closed because of the Government Shutdown.
At 7:00 PM there was a buffet dinner and a recognition ceremony for the family members and friends of the 44 classmates who attended the ceremonies. Family members in attendance were presented with a replica plaque in remembrance of their loved ones.
This is the wording on the Plaques.
United States Marine Corps
Forty-seven years have passed since those young men stepped off those buses in Quantico, but the surviving members of Basic School Class 4-67 have never forgotten their fallen classmates.