Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Render: And now for the rest of the story

The U.S. Marines celebrated their 239th birthday on Monday and Veterans Day was Tuesday.

Clovis still has a few World War II vets left, but not many. Our Korean War survivors are dwindling and it’s a rare Vietnam vet who’s not in his 70.

Here’s a Vietnam story you might find interesting.

In June of 1967, during combat operations in Vietnam, the Platoon Leader of Alfa Co “A,” 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, found himself and his men in serious trouble.

This Marine second lieutenant was leading a long-range recon patrol comprised of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman, deep in enemy territory near the Laotian border.

link Rube Render

On the second day of the mission, the patrol was discovered by a North Vietnamese Army unit, which immediately began maneuvering to eliminate the Marine patrol.

Beyond effective artillery supporting fire, the patrol leader called for air support.

Help was available in the form of a U.S. Marine O1E Bird Dog spotter aircraft with a pilot and an aerial observer, referred to as the AO.

The Bird Dog was an unarmed aircraft used for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and forward air control of tactical aircraft.

The AO for this particular mission was a recently commissioned temporary first lieutenant named Dutch Haaland, who had formerly been a staff sergeant.

The Marine aircraft had been flying surveillance in the region and quickly arrived over the patrol area. Lt. Haaland was briefed on the situation by the recon patrol leader and immediately requested direct air support in the form of two F-4 Phantom jets.

When they arrived on-station Haaland controlled their bombing run on the NVA position scoring direct hits, and disrupting the enemy formation. Under cover of Haaland’s attack, the eight-man Marine patrol moved quickly away undetected, avoiding certain death or capture.

In New Mexico, Dutch Haaland had a daughter, Debra, who would eventually become the first Native American candidate on a major party gubernatorial ticket in a New Mexico statewide election.

Debra Haaland ran for lieutenant governor as the running mate of Gary King in the recently completed New Mexico general election.

What ties the story together is the name of the recon platoon leader. That Marine second lieutenant was Allen Weh, retired colonel of Marines who ran for the U.S. Senate on the same ballot as Dutch Haaland’s daughter.

And now you know, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

Rube Render is the Curry County Republican chairman. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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