Benjamin Neal HamrickPrivate First Class
E CO, 2ND BN, 4TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
12 March 1947 - 08 August 1966
Kingmont, West Virginia
Panel 09E Line 113
The database page for Benjamin Neal Hamrick
Benjamin N. Hamrick was like a brother to me - we lived together, joined the Marine Corps together, and went to Vietnam together. He went to Echo Co and I went to Fox Co. We landed in-country the latter part of May 66.
On Aug 8, 1966 recon operating near Cam Lo spotted some NVA soldiers so they called out Ben's platoon from Echo 2/4. They were anbushed by about 400 NVA - there were about 25 Marines and they fought throughout the night.
My company, Fox 2/4, got to them the next morning. Those brave infantry and recon Marines held their position but Ben had been killed. The Company Commander of Echo 2/4, then-Captain Howard V. Lee, received the Medal of Honor and a helicopter pilot, Major V. Wayne Hazelbaker, received the Navy Cross.
This action was named the "Groucho Marx battle" near Cam Lo in Quang Tri Province of Vietnam. Semper Fi, Ben, I miss you, brother ... Hicky.
From a friend and brother,
A Note from The Virtual WallAt 7 PM on 06 August, Recon Team 61 consisting of four men from the 6th Plt, 1st Force Recon Co, call sign "GROUCHO MARX", was inserted on the southern slope of Mutter's Ridge overlooking a valley about 12 kilometers north of Ca Lu Airfield. At 11 PM the patrol heard movement and voices down-slope from their position, but the noises stopped by midnight. By the following evening it was clear there were several groups of North Vietnamese troops, some as close as 100-150 feet to the patrol's position. At 9 AM on 08 August, it appeared the NVA had formed a line abreast and were actively searching for Team 61. The team leader called in artillery and helo gunships while moving further up-slope. The designated "Sparrow Hawk" reaction force (2nd Platoon, Echo Company, 2/4 Marines, led by 2ndLt Andrew M. Sherman) departed Dong Ha for insertion near Team 61 at noontime. The following entries taken from the 3rd Marine Division's Operations Log pick up at this point:
The terse and sometimes confusing entries in the 3rd MarDiv Operations log hide many of the details of the engagement. The first point to be made is that Team 61 consisted of four (4) men - and they were being pursued by many times that number. The second point is that the Sparrow Hawk quick-reaction force took six hours to arrive on-scene and link up with Team 61 ... helicopters had to be diverted from other missions, rearmed, refueled, sent to Dong Ha to collect the infantrymen, and finally sent from Dong Ha to the contact area. Six hours from "Go!" to "Got there!" may seem like too long, and sometimes it was - but it is difficult to redirect resources, particularly since Team 61 wasn't the only unit in contact in the 3rd MarDiv area. In this instance the cavalry arrived in time to save Team 61's collective rear.
The log entries don't reflect the fact that the 2nd Platoon's CO, 2ndLt Sherman, was wounded and then killed in the late afternoon assaults, leaving a wounded Staff Sergeant in command. Nor do they make it clear that Captain Howard V. Lee, CO of Echo 2/4, actually was wounded several times, not just once, but managed to maintain command until almost dawn.
The Team 61 post-patrol report mentions the critical ammunition situation and the downing of a resupply helo at about midnight, as does the 3rd MarDiv Ops Log (the 090005 entry). Not mentioned is the fact that Major Vincil W. Hazelbaker had earlier landed his UH-1 under fire and off-loaded 3000 rounds of his own ammunition - and then went back to Dong Ha, loaded up, and brought 800 pounds of ammo into the perimeter. While the Ops Log says Hazelbaker's crew suffered no injuries, in fact two of the four crewmen were wounded (believed to be Capt J. E. Browne and Cpl W. K. Luby).
Considering the circumstances, US casualties had been surprisingly light - only four Marines had been killed on the ground, all from Echo 2/4:
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
a friend and brother,
Philip L Hickman
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 23 Jan 2008
Last updated 01/25/2008