Charles William Bryan

United States Marine Corps
27 September 1947 - 20 January 1968
Mc Kinney, Texas
Panel 34E Line 083

Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Charles W Bryan

The database page for Charles William Bryan

21 Jun 2004

Bill Bryan and I graduated from McKinney High School in May of 1966, and two weeks later were in San Diego, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Platoon 1042, on the buddy plan. We made it through boot camp, and after ITR, were sent our separate ways. The last time I saw him was at the San Onofre Beach Club at Camp Pendleton. He was about to be sent to Hawaii for Recon School. I tried to buy us a beer, but we were too young to drink, so we settled for a chocolate shake. He got married shortly after that and got to spend only about four weeks with his young bride, Deidra.

On 20 January, 1968, Bill was the leader of Team Barkwood, a group of seven Recon Marines operating on Hill 881 North, about five miles northwest of Khe Sanh. It was the day before the siege began. Though greatly outnumbered, and in the midst of an NVA battalion, they fought valiantly and bravely with every member of the team killed or wounded. Only two men are alive today from that team, and Bill died trying to save their lives. Bill died a hero and left a young 18 year old widow back at home in McKinney.

I am proud to say that Bill Bryan was my friend, I have thought about him every day since, and will think about him every day until the day I die. Until we meet again, my brother. Semper Fi!

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Patrol Leader with Company B, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 20 January 1968, a seven man reconnaissance patrol led by Corporal Bryan was maneuvering with an infantry company toward Hill 881 North near the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The patrol was assigned to detach itself from the unit inconspicuously and reconnoiter the terrain surrounding Hill 881 North. In addition, Corporal Bryan was instructed to abort the mission and withdraw if the infantry unit became engaged with the enemy. As the unit approached the designated area, the Marines suddenly came under intense hostile small arms and automatic weapons fire, sustaining several casualties. Reacting instantly, Corporal Bryan deployed his men to establish an emergency helicopter landing zone to evacuate the wounded men. Subsequently, the infantry unit was directed to attack the hostile emplacements, and realizing the unit was greatly depleted by casualties, Corporal Bryan requested permission from his unit to reinforce the infantry company with his patrol. Quickly integrating his men with an infantry squad, he was assigned as Squad Leader and skillfully maneuvered his unit toward its assigned objective. Upon approaching the designated area, the Marines began receiving intense fire from an enemy machine gun position. Undaunted by the hostile fire, he maneuvered his men around the flank of the emplacement and launched an aggressive attack which silenced the position. Alertly observing one of his men fall wounded in an area dangerously exposed to enemy fire, he fearlessly ran across the fire-swept terrain to the side of his comrade. While skillfully administering first aid to the casualty, Corporal Bryan was mortally wounded. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in the subsequent defeat of the enemy force. By his courage, superb leadership and selfless devotion to duty, Corporal Bryan upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

While "only" five men are known to have died as a result of the initial fighting on 20 January, the ferocity of the battle can be judged by two elements. First, three Navy Crosses and one Silver Star were awarded to the dead:
  • B Co, 3rd Recon Bn
    • Cpl Charles W. Bryan, McKinney, TX (Navy Cross)
    • Pfc Paul M. Beddoe, Medford, OR (DoW 01/21/1968)

  • I Co, 3rd Bn, 26th Marines
    • 2ndLt Thomas D. Brindley, St Paul, MN (Navy Cross)
    • 2ndLt Michael H. Thomas, Pawnee, OK (Navy Cross)
    • Pfc James A. Collins, Broadwell, IL (Silver Star)
Second, B/3rd Recon and the 3/26 Marines lost 20 more men in heavy fighting over the next three days. The engagements on 20-24 Jan 1968 were reminiscent of the famous "Hill Battles" that took place around Khe Sanh in the spring of 1967 and were a preliminary to the extended fighting which characterized the seige of Khe Sanh.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend and brother Marine,
Ronnie D. Foster
P O Box 603, Mckinney, Texas 
21 Jun 2004

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 06/24/2004