Herschel Pittman Helm, JrPrivate First Class
D CO, 1ST BN, 26TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
30 July 1943 - 18 September 1966
Panel 10E Line 113
The database page for Herschel Pittman Helm, Jr
Following the death of their son in 1966, the following letter, written by Tom Howard, was received by the parents of Herschel P. Helm, Jr.
A memorial from his cousin.
I am from Herschel's home town of Coffeeville, Mississippi. He and I attended school together and I knew him all my life. I was on the USS SAINT PAUL (CA-73) during the time he was in Nam. I was unaware that he was there at the same time. I found out a few years ago at the dedication of the Park in our town to his memory that it was my ship which was providing Naval gunfire support. I wish to this day that we could have done more to help those guys, but some of his unit members told me that we did all we could, even getting closer than was comfortable. Rest In Peace, Buddy.
From a friend,
The BLT 1/26 After-Action Report for OPERATION DECKHOUSE IV contains the following comment:
"Naval gunfire support played an important role in the operation, accounting for a significant number of enemy dead and wounded. ... The USS ST PAUL (CA-73) provided excellent support, her 8" guns being called in as close as 200 yards to friendly lines during one enemy assault. The enthusiasm and spirit, coupled with good shooting, of the Naval ships was a significant factor in the success of the operation and once again upheld the highest traditions of the Navy-Marine Corps Team."
A Note from The Virtual WallDuring the summer of 1966 the North Vietnamese Army's 324B Division had infiltrated south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with the clear intention of setting up a major presence in northern Quang Tri Province. The NVA 341st Division was positioned within and north of the DMZ and prepared to support the 324B Division and/or exploit opportunities arising from the 324B's operations.
CG 3rd MAF, the senior US commander in northern South Vietnam, initiated Operation HASTINGS, aimed at discouraging the 324B Division and forcing it back into the DMZ (at the time, US forces could not enter into the DMZ - it was an NVA sanctuary). Heavy fighting continued through July 1966, particularly around the "Rockpile" between Khe Sanh and Camp Carroll. HASTINGS ended, and a series of recon-in-force operations - termed Operation PRAIRIE - began on 03 August 1966.
Operation DECKHOUSE IV was conducted by the 7th Fleet's Special Landing Force Bravo (Battalion Landing Team 1/26) as an adjunct to Operation PRAIRIE. BLT 1/26's area was about 8 miles north-east of Dong Ha, and began with an amphibious landing and a heliborne landing some six miles inland west of Highway 1. At about 1330 15 Sep 1966, a recon team made contact with an NVA company. That contact was the first in what became ten days of heavy fighting for BLT 1/26's Marines and sailors. Although DECKHOUSE IV officially ended on the 18th, BLT 1/26 stayed in support of PRAIRIE until the 25th. The operation claimed at least 200 NVA killed at a cost of 37 Marines and sailors killed in action and another 167 wounded. The dead were
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
10 Nov 2001
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 04/21/2006