Chester Stacy Hughes

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
26 October 1947 - 19 September 1966
Bristol, Tennessee
Panel 10E Line 119


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Chester Stacy Hughes

08 Jan 1999

My tenth clash with death was for me the most deadly, the most destructive, the most profound, the most lasting, and can be considered a major turning point in my life. If one could identify a major turning point in their life what would it be ? Going off to college, or being accepted to college, getting married, making that big score on the playing field in high school, that first major job out of high school or college, what would it be ? For each of us it would be something different. For some of us we will never know what it was or when it happen. But for a 19 year old in Vietnam that event, that time will always be there.

A routine daytime squad patrol, enemy activity has been low, the weather has been nice, the day is warm and sunny and the countryside is peaceful. I haven't see a dead Marine since my first day in the field or for that matter a dead Viet Cong. I've been in country since July and today is September 19, 1966. I had 9 clashes with death in 30 days, about 1 every 3 days, at this rate I don't stand a good change of living through this experience. Wartime has proven that it isn't like on TV or in the movies but I'm think I can handle it. There never is any pre warning that death is there on any given day. It just happen, as unforeseen as you please, and it's over before you see. Then you realize that war is a deadly game and you are the game. At any moment you turn from being the hunter of the enemy to being the hunted by the enemy.

On September 19th we started out early just after sun up. We move long the rice fields and dikes with caution. We passed a few farming houses that are in the area. None of the villagers indicated that anything was out of the normal. It's just another farming day for them. After a short hour of patrolling we start to move up a small hill that overlooks the road on two sides and most of the rice fields in the area. My fire team is walking point, as we passed the last farm house before the climb up the hill, a child of about ten years of age comes out of the hut to say hello. He just stands off a few yards waving and says "GI number 1".

Doug was walking point, I was just behind him and then came Jones and Marsh. As I reach the military crest of the hill I see off to the left that a unit of mobile 106's are already set up. One of the Marines calls out that they are going to start a card game and did I want to join in. Jones and I continued to move straight ahead and to set up a day post in the treeline just down the other side of the hill on the military crest. Marsh moved off with Doug because his fire team would be setting up on our left.

Marsh reached down and lifted up a six foot large round rice dish used by the Vietnamese to dry their rice. Under the dish laid an M26 hand grenade. He yelled how stupid it was for a Marine to have left that M26 under this dish. At the time I did not think that it could have been a booby trap, my mind was not on the war and the danger around us but on what I would be doing if I was back home.

As I moved into the trees I felt something pull on my boot, I looked down to see the pin of the M26 being pulled. The morning air was shattered by the sound of a explosion. I went into shock. I had taken the full blast of the M26 grenade. I had tripped a booby trap. I found myself in a sitting position, in shock and bleeding from more places that we had bandages for. As Doug reached he, he saw directly behind me there was another M26 booby trap. The corpsman just arrived and Doug told him to hold his position. Doug yelled out that the area was booby trapped so the other Marines could proceed with caution. Doug reached over and secured the booby trap and the corpsmen moved in to help me. The corpsman gave me morphine and he and Doug put all the bandages they had on me.

I was deep into shock and the bleeding could not be stopped or even slowed down. The M26 exploded into a 100+ pieces and I caught most of them. Doug remained next to me talking, telling me that I would pull through, but we both knew that both of my lungs had been punctured, both legs had major arteries cut and most of my stomach area was missing. It took the medevac 20 minutes to reach our site from Da Nang, I stayed alive during this time and Doug helped load me on to the chopper. The chopper was only on the return trip a few minutes before I heard them radio back that Chester had died.

A warrior dies a thousand deaths
One true death is the death of life
Life of a warrior is one of death
A thousand times in a life.

A warrior lives on after death
And only death brings him life
Life for a warrior is, his own death
Because once you've caused a death you can not create a life.

A warrior lives on and the war does not
He lives his life as death lives death
Because he has cause a death
He's unable to create life.

A warrior is alive
A warrior is dead
The same warrior is both at once
The life of a warrior is one of death
Is there no death for a warrior?
Is there a life?


A Note from The Virtual Wall

Chester Hughes was killed by a booby trap about 2 kilometers southwest of the Liberty Bridge, itself 20 kilometers of so southwest of Danang.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 08 Jan 1999
Last updated 05/07/2007