The Minnesota Maniac

Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forum' started by Guest, Mar 12, 2003.

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    (4/4/02 3:36:43 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del All The Minnesota Maniac
    Kelley Plourde was his name. A tall, sandy colored hair Marine that hailed from Minnesota. Ones initial impression of this guy would tell ya that Kelley was one of them types that was simply along for the ride and coped with all the crap as best he could even though he was not at all thrilled with being in this Godforsaken country. He was actually once a Reservist who had the misfortune of being activated to full duty and it was certainly not by his choice. Back in them days of conflict and so many losses the military would use various draft tactics to acquire more manpower for the front lines.

    One example of this was to provide stateside law breakers with a choice (if you want to call it that)...Jail or Vietnam. Of course this was not the case with Kelley but rather he had made the mistake of missing quite a few monthly formations with his local Marine Reserve Unit and they went ahead and activated him to active duty and shipped him off to places far away .... Vietnam.

    He was an excellent combat Marine and whenever the $h*t hit the fan he was right there beside you and one you could count on .... Anytime .... Anywhere. Though we felt somewhat sorry for his situation (having to leave his wife and kids for this while we were mostly kids right outta high school) you have to give the guy credit cause he did'nt turn tail and run off to Canada (being from Minnesota he was'nt far away) like so many others did but he took his lumps like a Jarhead and ended up with us. Ending up in the bushes of Vietnam in combat with a bunch of kids (Kelley was about 24 and old to us younguns) carrying guns and all the ammo they could carry his attitude was not all that great with regards to officers but then why should he give a damn ... What are they gonna do to him? Cut off his hair and send him to Vietnam? Yea right!

    Our company was pulling a month high atop the Nong Son Mountain and we were preparing ourselves for an upcoming operation in the Antenna Valley ... Operation Essex Nov. '67 to be exact. One night Kelley's squad leader tells him to shag a$$ down the hill to supply and acquire a specified number of E-Tools (entrenching shovels) for the troops to have with them when we get ready to jump start the Op. Kelley was one of them "do it the easy way" kinda guys whether it was right or wrong it was going (or suppose ) to be the easy way. Kelley thinks to himself....Why should I hump down the hill when I can simply jump on the box (PRC25 radio) and call in my request. Sounds perfectly normal right?

    Well...Kelley did just that but he also had blurted out more than what was necessary over the airways by telling supply his reasons for the request...That being "We need E-tools for the upcoming operation next week". Now to some this may not seem out of the ordinary but to the enemy (who also had captured radio equipment of ours and would monitor our radio traffic) this was great news. The CP (command post) who also monitors all traffic hears Kelley and immediately sends for Kelley. After a Captains Mast (kangaroo court type thing) a$$ chewin he receives the sentence of diggin' a 6'x6'x6' hole and reduction in rank. May sound a bit cruel but he just jeopardized the lives of all involved and the mission so actually he got off kinda lucky.

    Now a 6x6x6 hole is basically a walk in the park if the location of your excavation is a reasonable one but if your on top of a "big rock" like Nong Son in Vietnam, Republic of .... it would be a backhoe operators nightmare let alone having to do this with an E-Tool which is exactly what got him in this spot to begin with. A bunch of us are hangin together in our sandbagged bunker while Kelley is outside about 20 feet away from our location peckin' away at mother earths big rock with this itty-bitty shovel (e-tool) and cussin' up a storm in the darkness of the night. Oh yea....he had to have this complteted by sunrise. He takes a few breaks now and again and sits with us shootin the breeze when all of a sudden he gets his "easy way" brain ta workin and his face lights up.

    Now we all walk out with him to see how he's progressed and we can easily see it's gonna be a long long nite as his hole is not bigger around than a 55 gallon drum at this point and not even a foot deep. Kelley announces his brain fart and actually its a pretty good one to which we all agree to go in with him and play along when the radio squawks at us later regarding possible incoming. Ya see ..... Kelley grabs a few grenades and lays 'em in the bottom of the hole and takes yet another frag and pulls the pin and rolls it alongside the other three while we all take cover and get ready to fire off our weapons as if to ward off attackers in the wire.

    Well....the last frag just so happened to be one of them duds (yes we did have some out of the lots that were no good) so now he has four grenades in this little hole just 20 feet from our bunker. "Give it another one Kelley" so he grabs yet another frag...pulls the pin and rolls it in the hole. We can't believe this lot of frags cause heres yet another dud so now theres 5 of them in there. $h*t - $h*t - $h*t What do we do now? Well ...let grab another and try it ... so Kelley does and to our amazement .... Another dud and he did this even yet one more time which makes a total of 7 frags just outside our living quarters .... Though it's better to find out about all these duds here as opposed to the bush ... This is not good for our home cause theres quite a bit of explosive charge in 7 frags all going off at the same time just outside our front door. Whata-we-do-now?

    Kelley gets a hould of one of the engineers ( they did most of our high explosive stuff) and promises him a case of beer if he'll keep his mouth shut and meet us up near the top where the hole containing the frags (like easter eggs in a basket) is with us all standing round in awe at the fact that these duds could have cost us some lives "out there". Anyhow the engineer agrees and comes back in a bit with some C4 (plastic explosives) and some det cord and a pull fuse. We all back off a safe distance and along the perimeter and in the silence and darkness of the night .... WHAM!

    The radio starts goin nuts as we all open up with everything we got like we're bein' over run. After a bit the squad leader gets on the horn and announces we have everything under control in our area and Kelley had his hole dug for him in the matter of an instant as opposed to peckin away all night long in the heat and humidity of the night air. Course .... Our bunker caved in and we had a night in the open air and told the CP we took an incoming round in the bunker but took no casualties and whooped A$$. The CO was happy ... Kelley was thrilled to death .... and the Engineer got drunk.

    YUP! That was Kelley .... The Maniac from Minnesota

    BTW ... Kelley made it home and we converse occassionally via phone. He owns his own business in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. God Bless My Man and Welcome Home Brother!

    "What more can I say ..... I was at the wrong place at the wrong time"

    V.I.P. Member
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    (4/4/02 3:53:24 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: The Minnesota Maniac
    Late Entry & Follow Up .....

    Operation Essex jumped off in late November of 1967 without a gliche and we went into Antenna Valley with Battalion strength with company sized flanks on both sides. After a few days of search and destroy in the valley we got caught with our pants down and lost some good Marines in the snap of a finger. They even had us surrounded one night and the fighting was intense ALL NIGHT LONG. Kelley was never the same after that and felt responsible but then "thats combat" and you take the good with the bad. I don't recall ever seeing Kelley grab a handset after that and a Memorial Service was held for our Brothers when we got back to our base camp at An Hoa. "Together then ..... and some day we will be together again"

    "What more can I say ..... I was at the wrong place at the wrong time"

    *Senior Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 846
    (4/5/02 7:00:04 am)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: The Minnesota Maniac
    Damn Guns---if Kelley could only know about the story you wrote about him---lay you 10 to 1 he'd feel honored and respectful for your efforts and your memories. Wouldn't it just thrill the hell out you Six to have Old Kelley respond back to you---strange events still occur---you know that---some you try to explain away where others simply astound you. Good story Marine---. Wilborn