David John Bredesen

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class
United States Navy
14 September 1948 - 15 May 1969
Whitelaw, Wisconsin
Panel 24W Line 014

Fleet Marine Force Corpsman

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for David John Bredesen

19 Jun 2004

He was awarded the Purple Heart. As you can see, he was only in Vietnam for 17 days. We were told he was with the Marines, since he was a Navy Medic. I would love to hear from anyone that knew him in the Navy, especially those that may have served with him or were with him during his last days. He still has 8 brothers and sisters that loved and love him dearly.

From his brother
Andrew W. Bredesen

18 Aug 2005

David came to the "bush" and joined Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division May 15, 1969 along with the mail, C-rations, fresh water, and a couple replacement troops.

Golf Company, field strength of about 80 men, had taken some small arms fire the night before. We also had two North Vietnamese soldiers (NVA) probe our lines that night. They were unsuccessful and both were killed. It was customary to sweep the area after an engagement with the enemy and check for weapons and bodies. That was the mission of our company on May 15, right after we got re-supplied.

David's helicopter finally arrived mid-afternoon. We were behind schedule and wanted to get to our new position and dig in before nightfall. The Captain decided to take two platoons to sweep the area, about 55 men, and leave one platoon to watch all our packs, food, and heavier gear. It was to be a quick sweep and there was no need to take along any extra gear like e-tools (shovels), food, and water.

David was assigned to the 3rd platoon, one of the two that were conducting the sweep that afternoon. The Corpsmen were always treated with respect, and David was no different. Every Marine knew the Corpsmen might save their life some day. After a brief greeting by some of the guys in the platoon, David was off on his first mission.

We were about 20 minutes into the sweep and started taking heavy small arms and machine gun fire from the front and side. I believe they were waiting for us, and we were ambushed by a much larger force. The Captain ordered the two platoons to find cover and formed a defensive semi-circle. Many Marines were already injured or killed during the initial contact. Some had to be left beyond our defensive lines. The yell "Corpsman up" was heard all over. David quickly disappeared and answered the call for help.

An emergency med-evac helicopter landed just before dusk while we were still taking fire. The wounded had to be literally thrown in the helicopter, body on top of body, to get the chopper back in the air quickly. All the morphine was used up very early in the fight, and most of the wounded were dealing with a lot of pain. The chopper was only on the ground for seconds and was shot at with a B40 rocket that just missed the target.

The fighting continued on and off during the night. Echo Company tried to come to our rescue but was also quickly pinned down by a much larger force of NVA. They also suffered heavy casualties.

The next day, at first light, we collected all the dead and placed them respectfully at the landing zone where we waited for the helicopter to pick them up. We used large white parachutes to cover the bodies. The parachutes were used for dropping illumination shells over our position the night before.

May 16, David was taken from his first and only mission. I do not know all the details of David's death. All I know is when "the sh.. hit the fan" and the call came, "Corpsman up", he answered.

May David rest in peace and be rewarded in heaven for his unselfish act of trying to give aid to his fellow man. And may God comfort his family and help them understand and accept the tragic loss.

From a fellow Marine,
Michael Carey, LCpl
Golf Company,
2nd Battalion, 5th Marines

A Note from The Virtual Wall

During the first 22 days of May 1969 the 2/5 Marines were operating in what was known as the "Arizona Area" of Quang Nam Province. Enemy contacts were nearly continuous from 09 through 21 May, predominantly with elements of a reinforced North Vietnamese Army battalion operating in the northeastern section of the area.

On 15 May 1969, Golf 2/5 Marines were engaged by the NVA and found themselves in deep trouble. Echo Company was directed to assist Golf Company. By the time the fighting ended, the two companies had lost 14 men killed in action:

  • B Co, 1st Tank Bn (Tank det w/ Echo 2/5)
    • Pfc James Epps, New York, NY

  • E Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Marines
  • G Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Marines
    • SSgt Gary L. Gillard, Wenatchee, WA
    • HM3 David J. Bredesen, Whitelaw, WI (H&S Co, with Golf 2/5)
    • LCpl Emmett R. Brown, North Hills, PA
    • LCpl William H. Shultz, Columbia, PA
    • LCpl Authran W. Winfrey, Fall Creek, OR
    • Pfc George P. Perkins, Shakopee, MN
    • Pfc Harry D. Sarakov, Chico, CA
    • Pfc John L. Schultz, Birch Run, MI

Fleet Marine Force Corpsman

"You guys are the Marine's doctors -
There's none better in the business than a Navy Corpsman ..."
-- Lieutenant General "Chesty" Puller --

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his brother,
Andrew W. Bredesen
534 Country Ridge Circle

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 19 Jun 2004
Last updated 11/17/2007