On the night of March 3, 1968, on Hill 146 in Quan Duc Valley, Vietnam, Marine 2nd Lt. Clebe McClaryand his recon team would be ambushed and outnumbered 12 to 1; fighting a fierce battle that would forever change his life.
On his 19th recon patrol, his team was tasked with gathering Intel deep behind enemy lines.
Just after midnight, Clebe thought he heard a noise at the bottom of the hill. As he left his hole to check, a group of NVA soldiers attacked with small arms fire, grenades, and satchel charges. Struck in the neck and shoulder with grenade shrapnel, he rushed back to call for air and artillery support.
An enemy soldier then suddenly appeared in front of him, but before the enemy could get off a shot, Clebe dropped him with a blast from his shotgun at point-blank range. They both fell into a hole and then the enemy's satchel charge exploded, hurling both through the air. Reaching back for his shotgun, Clebe discovered his left arm had been blown off below the elbow.
A grenade then landed in the fighting hole to Clebe’s right, killing one of his men, who sacrificed his life by covering the grenade, and fatally wounding another. To his left, his radio operator and corpsman were both unresponsive. To the rear, five of his men were wounded.
Clebe tried to pull the pin on a grenade with his teeth but couldn’t because they’d been shattered by a grenade blast. Clebe was then hit by another grenade that blew out his left eye, ripped open his right hand, and burst both eardrums.
As he bolted to a bomb crater for cover, another grenade shredded his legs, slamming him to the ground. Just as an NVA soldier was about to shoot him in the head, one of Clebe’s men shot the soldier, deflecting his aim and saving Clebe’s life.
Throughout the ordeal, Clebe remained conscious and kept shouting commands and encouragement to his men.
At this point, Clebe called for extract and just after the second chopper lifted off, the hill was overrun by 150 NVA soldiers. The rescue had taken place with only minutes to spare!
Of Clebe’s 13-man team, 2 were dead and the rest wounded. For his actions on that night, he would receive the Silver Star.
Silver Star Recipient