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POSTED ON 4.22.2023
POSTED BY: John Fabris

honoring you...

War drew us from our homeland
In the sunlit springtime of our youth.
Those who did not come back alive remain
in perpetual springtime -- forever young --
And a part of them is with us always.
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POSTED ON 2.21.2022
POSTED BY: Danny W. Davis


I have your picture in my home. You and I are the only Marines in our family tree. I honored you by naming my son after you because you were special, and you have been missed everyday since you sacrificed your life with honor.
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POSTED ON 12.2.2019
POSTED BY: Lucy Micik

Thank You

Dear Cpl Kenneth Kessinger, Thank you for your service as a Rifleman. Saying thank you isn't enough, but it is from the heart. Thanksgiving just passed, so this is the perfect time to say thanks. The time passes quickly. Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage, guidance and faithfulness. Rest in peace with the angels.
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POSTED ON 4.5.2019
POSTED BY: Janice Current

An American Hero

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. Thank you for stepping up and answering your country's call. Rest easy knowing you will never be forgotten.
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POSTED ON 11.15.2016

Final Mission of CPL Kenneth M. Kessinger

On April 5, 1967, a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter UH-1E (tail number 151852) from Marine Observation Squadron 6 (VMO-6) was on a medical evacuation mission when it was destroyed by a command-detonated mine. The lost crew included pilot CAPT Brooke M. Shadburne, co-pilot CAPT Alan J. Dean, crew chief CPL Joseph A. Scruggs, and corpsman HM1 Thomas A. Parker. Eight others also died in this incident, from either the initial explosion involving the aircraft or a second one that took place. The other lost personnel were HN Glenn T. Bristow, LCPL Robert F. Cote, SGT Ernest B. Cupp, PFC Bert Guerra III, HM2 Michael M Kauffman II, CPL Kenneth M. Kessinger, LCPL Leonard I. Moore, and 2LT Richard Toepritz. After an extensive search of the area was made, the remains of HM1 Parker could not be found and he is listed as Killed, Body Not Recovered. The following are several personal accounts for this incident: First account - In Duc Pho, during Operation DeSoto, an infantry lookout (LCPL Cote) stepped on a mine and his foot was injured. A medivac was requested. At the time, I was a First Engineer attached to the Infantry Company in the operation. I was called over to check the medivac landing area for booby-traps. I found nothing visible, but still told the medivac not to land just in case there was a pressure detonated mine. The medivac hovered above the ground. I loaded the wounded marine into the stretcher. I moved a few yards away, and ducked down to avoid the rotor wash of the copter. All of a sudden, there was a loud explosion. I was thrown a distance. I turned around, and there was no helicopter, only one Marine on fire. I threw him to the ground, and put out the flames. I was stunned and said to myself I have to get off this hill. Seeing what happened, Marines set up on the other hilltop, rushed to our aid. As I was walking down the hill in a daze, there was another big explosion. This was the 500 lb. bomb. So there were actually two explosions. The first explosion couldn't have been the 500lb. bomb because I would not have survived it as I was so close. The second larger explosion wound up killing more Marines. I don't remember much after that. I thought we would be over-run that night. I took one of the dead Marine's M-16s because I only had an M-14. Nothing happened that night. The next morning, the captain instructed me to go back to the hill and blow up the remains of the helicopter so the enemy could not use it. This is how I remember what occurred that night. It still haunts me today. (From Michael Lowery, Combat Engineer on ground during medivac) Second account - Late in the afternoon the captain decided to split the company and stay the night upon two hills. My platoon (2nd) went to the south hill and the other platoons went to the north hill (the hill I saw the tank on the day before). My squad had just reached the top when a small explosion occurred and we saw/heard that on the other hill a Marine was hit (LCPL Cote). I had a very good view of the opposite hill because it was lower and barren. Two choppers came for the medevac and as one hovered above, the other came in but did not touch down. I was watching. The stretcher with the wounded man came up and an explosion erupted and it was all gone, in an instant. I saw the front of the chopper catapult south. The chopper circling then left. I can only imagine what they thought. It was not yet dark so my squad was directed to cross the hill into the small valley and assist with the wounded. I was volunteered. Another squad leader came up and said to sit tight, he would take a few men from his squad and help. At least one more explosion occurred from that valley, but I think there were two. They were big and all night we searched for the dead and wounded. By morning I searched the base of the hill and found wires (which I think were rigged just that day to take out the tank the next time it set up on the hill). I also found the body of the squad leader that took my place and many other buddies when the sun came up. (From Jay Fitzpatrick, present on the ground with G/2/7) Third account - It was in the late afternoon after almost completing a 24 hour medevac stand-by in which the two crews had flown numerous missions. The pilots had been alternating duty between the pick-up bird and the gunship. I cannot say for sure but I believe Al Dean was flying the right seat and opted for the pick-up for this flight. We were just north of the II Corp line about 5-6 miles from the beach. The pick-up was on a large flat hill top and I believe there were 2 wounded with 4 marines carrying them on litters. We were directed to the northeast area of the hill to avoid the area to the south of the hill from which the Marines were receiving sporadic fire from the enemy. We received no warning of potential mines that I can recall. The slick made a spiraling approach to the LZ while the wounded waited with the 4 men carrying them. As the bird flared into a hover in preparation for a landing, the four marines began to run to the bird with the wounded. Just before the bird set down from their hover a huge explosion occurred and everyone and everything just disappeared. The crew in my plane was stunned, shocked and in disbelief. We made contact with the troops to the south of the hill who had no explanation of what had happened. We made immediate contact with the DASC to request additional Medevac pick-up birds and another gunship. They estimated about 1 hour before their arrival. We then made contact with a headquarters base located on the west side of the hill. To conserve fuel we landed at their position. We were able to learn in detail the ground situation and maintain contact to be ready to assist and provide cover for the birds enroute. Dark fell in the interim, but the planning we were able to do while at the HQ and the coordination with the troops on the ground allowed us to return to the same general area of the blast, and pick up all the KIA and wounded without further incident. The flight home was IFR on top, low fuel and a radar controlled let down over the water. Radar instructions were as usual "You are cleared VFR when you can see the water." There were many tough flights, but none so emotionally devastating. The loss of good friends in such a quick and unexplainable way lingers with me to this day. We learned later that it was a 500 lb. bomb with wires leading from it that caused this most unique and horrible incident. (From John Boden, VMO-6, pilot of gunship on site) Fourth account - On April 5, 1967, we were setting in for the night and a listening post was to be established on the opposite hill. At the first explosion, I ran down the hill I was on and up the other hill to find Bob Cote had been severely wounded. He had a through and through wound in his lower abdomen. I yelled for a Priority 1 evacuation and began bandaging his wounds, trying to stem the flow of blood. Within fifteen minutes, I could hear the chopper coming in. Due to the slope of the hill and the fact that we did not know what caused the explosion, the chopper eased in and hovered inches off the ground. The Marines picked up Cote, who we had on a poncho and had him about half way through the door. I had just stepped in past the cockpit to throw his gear in when the last thing I saw was a flash of reddish orange coming from under the bird. When I came to, the chopper was gone and the hill was on fire. By this time 2LT Toepritz, Glenn Bristow, Jim Bolten and several other Marines had come up the hill to aid in getting the new casualties off the hill. I had been taken back to the other hill and was waiting for the next evacuation when there was another explosion. Not long after that, a Chinook (possibly a Marine CH-46) came in to evacuate the casualties. The next day the remains of the rest of those killed were brought in to Chu Lai. (From Carl Zarling, corpsman G-2-7) Fifth account - It was our tank, A34, which was on the hill the day before. We had a squad of grunts and a very brash infantry lieutenant on the hill with us. We were part of a blocking force for a sweep in the "valley" below us. I remember watching the grunts go up the hill below us late the next afternoon. And I remember very vividly the Huey medevac and the gunship above. I saw at least 4 Marines, but probably more, running to load the wounded guy on the helicopter. Just as they were at the door there was an explosion - and the way I remember it, it was the big one first - a huge shock wave radiating out over the hilltop. There was absolutely nothing to be seen of the Huey, it just disappeared- only fire on the hilltop. It was horrific. I believe that there were several more KIA's than indicated in the report--I think it was 18 in total. All night AC-130's dropped flares and I think everyone was thankful for that. The Duc Pho area was littered with booby traps and a lot of command-detonated dud aerial bombs that just ripped the infantry guys. It seemed like every day it happened and Operation Desoto was a very long operation. (From David Kensinger, tank crewman on hill above) [Taken from]
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