Thomas A Zwetow

Rank:

L/Cpl

MOS:

Year(s) in Nam:

Unit:

Delta 1/5

Contact Info Available?:

No

Status:

Died 01/19/98

Tom Zwetow was a Great Marine and a man that was a joy to be associated with. It was my honor and privilege to have led and fought along side Tom in the battle of Hue'City in February 1968 called universally by reports "The bloodiest battle of the Vietnam war"
On the morning of February 16 1968 I was given orders to take about a squad of Marines and assault the heavily fortified Dong Ba Tower along the eastern wall of "The Citadel" under intense enemy mortar, rocket, grenade, and automatic weapons fire, we advanced slowly up the steep rocky slope taking casualties to about half of our squad including PfcJim Walsh who was shot in the leg. After passing Jim and the others who were hit, hand over hand under intense enemy fire back down the slope so they could be triaged and treated by "Doc" Dan in a small depression area. Just about night fall 7 of us took the tower from the NVA. We threw the bodies of the NVA we had killed in the assault, over the front of the tower after taking their weapons and ammo. I was then ordered by higher command to hold the tower till the next morning. All 7 of us had been wounded by shrapnel and we treated each others wounds in the dark as best we could, we all shared the small amount of water we had and one box of C rats. There was a C rat pack of Salem's in the box so we cupped our hands a lit them and smoked them together even guys who didn't smoke!) Tom whispered "Hey Sarge didn't you hear smoking can be dangerous to your health?" We all laughed a muffled relieving chuckle. Through out the long night we repelled probes by the enemy. Then just before dawn we watched helplessly as the NVA began setting up a Recoilless Rifle, Mortars, and massing for a counter attack against the 7 of us. "Lurch" said "Hey Sarge, you know we are gonna die in a few minutes, there ain't no way outta here, how bout praying for us." I was 23 and didn't know any prayers except "Now I lay me down to sleep..........." So we all held hands and here is the prayer I said for us all. GOD WE KNOW WE ARE ABOUT TO SEE YOU IN PERSON, LET US DIE LIKE MEN......AND Marines. LET US NOT EMBARRASS OURSELVES, OUR FAMILIES, OR THE MARINE CORPS,....AMEN
About 3 minutes Later the NVA fired the recoilless rifle blowing 6 of us off the top of the tower. Tom Zwetow was in a little depression in between some rocks. Part of the tower fell on top of him, and buried him alive under the rubble. The NVA swarmed over the tower and fired down at the company below (Delta) who had rested that night below us. Later that day February 17 , I was given a fresh squad and given orders to re-take the tower. I reported that Tom was MIA. We went back up the tower with re-supplied ammo and lot's of grenades. We routed the NVA off the tower again. I heard a moaning sound from under the rocks where I had last known Tom's position was, I grabbed a couple of Marines and told them to start digging away the rocks, after we removed several large stones I spotted a helmet, we dug deeper and uncovered Tom's head and part of one arm. I removed his helmet after asking for "Corpsmen up" and washed the dust and dirt from Tom's eyes with an M-16 bandolier, dipped in canteen water. I patted him on the head trying to reassure him, and shed tears of joy that he was alive. Although Tom was terribly wounded and in shock he smiled at me. I never saw Tom again..... but I have spoken of him with admiration and awe for 33 years at the horror he endured . The NVA were literally standing on top of him, and he could hear them shouting as they fired at Delta Co. Tom Zweto was born on May 27 1948 and he met God in person on January 19 1998 as a result of damage incurred to his heart that February day. I miss my friend.
Cajun Bob Thoms

 

 

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