Operation Medina - Vietnam War with the U.S. Marines
http://www.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060918/OSH0101/609180394/1128/OSHnews
2006-09-20

The smell of battle in a hot and humid jungle lingers with Mike Robinson. It's difficult to shake a life-changing experience. He is a vet of the Vietnam War with the U.S. Marines and has vivid recollections of a "search and destroy" mission against the North Vietnamese called Operation Medina. It was a hard-fought, 3-day battle in October 1967 in Quang Tri, South Vietnam. The casualties were high on both sides and it remains an epic chapter in the Vietnam War that's not forgotten. He is a principle character in a book aptly titled "Lions of Medina" written by Doyle Glass and set for release this fall.

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The smell of battle in a hot and humid jungle lingers with Oshkosh resident Mike Robinson.

It's difficult to shake a life-changing experience.

Robinson, 59, is a veteran of the Vietnam War with the U.S. Marines and has vivid recollections of a "search and destroy" mission against the North Vietnamese called Operation Medina. It was a hard-fought, three-day battle in mid-October 1967 in Quang Tri, South Vietnam.

The casualties were high on both sides and it remains an epic chapter in the Vietnam War that's not forgotten.

Robinson, who has lived in Oshkosh since 1978, is a principle character in a book aptly titled "Lions of Medina" written by Kentucky author Doyle Glass and set for release this fall.

It's a book that Warren Toussaint, an Oshkosh resident and veteran of the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War, said he'd be interested to read.

"The Vietnam War is something we shouldn't forget. It's part of history and a lot of guys did a good job over there," Toussaint said.

Operation Medina left its mark on Robinson.

"Medina was really more intense than any other battle I had," said Robinson, who was with Charlie Company, which had 167 men and was affiliated with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. "We were outnumbered three or four to one and we held the NVA off. God was with us. I strongly believe he had a lot to do with it."

It wasn't a rousing victory for Charlie Company, along with reinforcements from Delta Company, which gave much needed support to wrap up the "search and destroy" mission. Robinson said they were only partially successful.

"We did damage the NVA to a degree," he said.

Those in Charlie Company were a happy group of soldiers when reinforcements arrived.

"It was unbelievable when Delta Company came through. I don't think I'd be here today if they hadn't made it," said Robinson, who spent 13 months in the Vietnam War.

A native of Detroit, Robinson said the carnage started when Charlie Company — which was the lead unit in the battle — walked down a trail when the North Vietnamese ambushed them with a barrage of grenades and fire from rifles and machine guns. Robinson, who was his platoon's radioman, said the three-day battle eventually took a toll on Charlie Company with about three-quarters of its men ending up as casualties of war — either wounded or killed.

"I was hit in the back of the leg. It was from a bullet that must have ricocheted off a tree," Robinson said. "I pulled the bullet out myself, bandaged it up and kept going. It really wasn't that serious of a wound and our medics really had to attend to a lot of the guys who were in worse shape."

During the course of battle, Robinson said he was able to help wounded soldiers off the trail so they could receive medical attention.

"I was scared to death, but you don't think about it. You're trying to get your fellow Marines back to cover and to regain their composure," he said.

Robinson said what helped meld Charlie Company when they needed it the most to continue the fight came on the first day when soldiers sang the Marine Corps Hymn.

"It was totally awesome and that hymn got our adrenalin going," Robinson said. "We were determined not to give up and we would complete our mission."

Robinson said flashbacks from the Vietnam War aren't as often or as intense as years ago, but the memories remain.

"It's still there. It doesn't leave your memory book and it's something that you live with," he said. "Sometimes, it's like the war was yesterday."

Robinson and his Charlie Company cohorts in combat remain good friends. Robinson said they've started reunions and the next one is set for 2007 in Savannah, Ga.

"These guys are awesome. All the Charlie Company guys are like brothers," he said. "Tears come to our eyes when we see each other and we hug. They are my best friends."

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Vietnam War in the News