VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO-WAWV) — The experiences of military combat stays with those who served. U.S. Marine Garry Hall of Vincennes lived through a situation in Vietnam that almost seems like a movie. But it was real and today, you’ll see that he paints a vivid picture of life and death in the midst of battle.
“Mom, guess what? She said what? I joined the Marines, she said oh, Garry you didn’t,” remembered Hall.
Garry Hall’s office shows his pride of being a United States Marine. He enlisted because his buddies were going to serve, even though his mother wasn’t happy with the idea.
After boot camp and training, the 19 year old arrived in Vietnam in September 1967.
He was trained as the tank commander of a M-48 A3 with a lot of firepower and ammunition.
First impression, tanks are impregnable, but there is a problem, here were so many ways that tanks could be destroyed
25 April 1968. On that date, Hall’s life changed.
U.S. forces were in the midst of Operation Pegasus. It was an effort to provide relief to U.S.
troops who were surrounded by the North Vietnamese Army at Khe Sanh.
Hall and his crew: loader John Rodriguez, gunner Charlie Tucker and driver Jimmy Jaynes
went out, at night, on search and destroy patrol. Riding on the back of the tank were five
Marines led by Gil Hernandez.
They made their way down Route 9.
“I put my hand in front of my face, it was so pitch black, I couldn’t see it,” said Hall.
No lights, and driver Jimmy Jaynes sat, exposed from a hatch in the front of the tank, trying to
see the road. They had just started when…
“There was a huge explosion in front of the tank, then a lot of chaos and small arms fire taking place,” said Hall.
Hall was seated , on top, and he dropped down into tank and tried to close the hatch.
“There was another hand trying to pull it open, said Hall. I’m convinced to this day, I’m glad I didn’t have to find out for sure, but I sensed there was an NVA with a satchel charge going to drop that inside the tank.”
He tried to radio the tank driver, but no response
Suddenly the tank lunged down the side of a mountain and finally came to a halt in a ravine. But the treads were still moving full throttle.
“I’m guessing that Jimmy’s body had pushed the accelerator down,” said Hall.
The friction of the treads, caused a fire, and smoke developed inside the tank. To make matters worse, rounds of ammunition started to cook off. Hall made the decision to leave the tank, with Rodriguez and Tucker. They found a shell crater nearby and for what seemed like hours, they huddled in the crater hoping not to get hit by the ammunition.
“You thought you’re going to get killed by our own rounds, fifty feet away. We had no place to go, remembered Hall.
Finally, the tank cooled.
Then they spotted a light that was moving toward them. Hall didn’t know if it was friend or foe. So he was ready to throw a grenade, if needed.
But the light turned and moved away.
The next morning they saw a man in a green uniform.
“Finally, a black man stood up and looked around and I knew it was the Marines coming to our rescue,” said Hall. Finally, a black man stood up and I knew it was the Marines coming to rescue us.”
Hall, Rodriguez and Tucker were all wounded, but alive. Jimmy Jaynes the driver was not.
“Jimmy was killed instantly, on the first go around,” said Hall.
In an upcoming story, you’ll learn about Gary Hall’s return home and you’ll find out what happened to the members of his crew and those five Marines on the back of the tank.