01 February, 1967 to 21 January, 1970
Vietnam Service, 15mons. 28days
Cpl. McArthur’s tour of duty in the I Corps Area of South Vietnam, the most northern area at the Demilitarized Zone, was approximately from April, 1968 to October, 1969. He was given many diverse duties during this time. He was assigned to Marine Air Group 39, Quang Tri, 22 statute miles south of the DMZ. His primary duty was that of Combat Heavy Truck Driver, although many other duties were assigned him.
The first of these duties was that of Assistant to the Paymaster. The Paymaster and Cpl. McArthur were sent to Army Helicopter Landing Zones to pay the Marines assigned to these outfits. They included US Army Landing Zones; Carol, Nancy, Sharon and USMC base at Khe Sahn. Cpl. McArthur had all his combat gear blown from his body by the concussion of North Vietnamese Army Artillery at Khe Sahn.
As the water truck driver to refill the Marine Air Station’s Water Towers at Quang Tri, Cpl. McArthur witnessed a daylight rocket attack which blew up the Marine Ammunition Dump at Dong Ha. The explosions were incredible to helplessly observe. Unbelievably, no deaths were sustained.
Cpl. McArthur was then assigned convoy duty driving 2 ½ ton supply trucks from DaNang to Quang Tri. The convoys survived numerous road mine explosions, a blown up bridge with accompanying enemy sniper fire as well as motor vehicle accidents.
After convoy duty, Cpl. McArthur broke the lower enlisted man’s primary rule and VOLUNTEERED to be a .50 caliber machine gun operator on USMC twin engine medium lift helicopters. He flew with HMM 161 and HMM 262 (HMM 262 had lost 2/3s of their helicopters and aircrews during the Siege of Khe Sahn). In 15 days on flight status, Cpl. McArthur had experienced that the North Vietnamese Army had captured US military radios and munitions. They used these captured assets wisely to lure US air resources into well planned and executed ambushes. The air crews Cpl. McArthur worked with learned to survive these well calculated assaults very quickly.
Cpl. McArthur was with an aircrew that flew into the jungle canopy to pick up a Marine Unit with two North Vietnamese Army prisoners. The pilots backed the large twin engine helicopter out of the jungle, under moderate enemy fire, by up and down motions in reverse!
The only night operation experienced was the extraction of a South Vietnamese Army infantry company. This was on the plains below the infamous ‘Rock Pile’. They were ambushed by a sizeable North Vietnamese Army force. This whole combat action was one surreal visual event with unbelievable positive results for the Marines and South Vietnamese Army.
The next task assigned to Cpl. McArthur was to ‘pass the word’ to the 3rd Marine Division Marines and Fleet Marines stationed at Quang Tri, Dong Ha and the Demilitarized Zone. Cpl. McArthur, and another Marine, gave lectures on the safe usage of the Neil Robertson Emergency Stretcher. This stretcher was used to transport severely wounded troops up to a hovering medical evacuation helicopter. This duty was unique for Cpl. McArthur because he had never been in the jungle with the ‘grunt’ infantry troops. This was Cpl. McArthur’s first up close ‘enemy’ sighting.
The remainder of Cpl. McArthur’s Vietnam tour of duty was better than the other duties. He was promoted to Corporal, assigned to the Marine Air Group Medical Evacuation Helicopter Unit. He met one of his best friends there, Navy Corpsman, W.J.Hutton (Wubba J). WJ was one of the many US Navy Corpsmen who attended to Cpl. McArthur’s burns from an enemy 122 millimeter rocket explosion. Cpl. McArthur now believes these men are the real heroes.
Unfortunately, WJ Hutton did not return from a medical evacuation mission. Cpl. McArthur, as well as other US Navy and Marine personnel will never forget this man and the aircrew he served with.
Prior to Cpl. McArthur’s rotation back to the US, the 3rd Marine Division advised that they had uncovered a complex of an underground enemy tunnel system just north of the 3rd Marine/MAG 39 base. Cpl. McArthur finally got to observe an actual North Vietnamese Army tunnel system. It was complete with a cooking, dining , hospital, recovery , barracks, recreation areas, etc., and it was Paneled and Dry! The enemy was a good improviser.
Cpl. McArthur, USMC, was awarded the NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL; VIETNAM SERVICE MEDAL w/4 clusters; VIETNAM CAMPAIGNE MEDAL w/1960 device; COMBAT ACTION AWARD RIBBON and GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL (1ST AWARD).
End of Report.
Cpl. Jeff McArthur and his wife Libby raised six children and live in Quiogue. They organized fundraisers for the Moose Lodge in Riverhead for about 12 years. He was also a Boy Scout Troop 62 leader for 2 1/2 years. He and his wife now volunteer for VFW Post 5350.
As President of the Grumman Employees Corporation Pilots Club, he is currently mentoring, as a certified flight instructor, two 106th members who are studying to become commercial pilots.