Donald Trantham ’67

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Donald Trantham

Donald Trantham

Trantham medals

Donald was a couple of years behind me at Buchser and I know little about his time as a Bruin.  He was the youngest Bruin to be lost during Vietnam as he was only 18 on the day of his loss.

At the end of May 1968 the 1st Bn, 1st Marines was preparing to be withdrawn from the Khe Sanh area, while 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines were conducting road clearance and security patrols along Highway 9 south of the combat base. On the night of 29/30 May Echo 2/3’s night defensive position was attacked, and during the following day the company’s patrols had several contacts. The 1/1 Marines were directed to detach a company to assist 2/3; Bravo 1/1 was selected for the mission. On 31 May Echo 2/3 encountered a large entrenched NVA unit and Bravo 1/1 was directed to move to reinforce Echo 2/3. NVA practice was to establish ambushes along likely routes for reinforcements, and they did so on this occasion - Bravo 1/1 found themselves in a sharp fight with NVA troops dug in along the road. Instead of a single fight with two companies of Marines up against the original foe, there were two engagements separated by several hundred meters of jungle. The weight of US supporting arms gradually worn down both NVA elements, which withdrew toward the Laotian border several kilometers to the west. By the time the fighting stopped, the Marines had lost 25 men and had a considerable number of wounded. The dead were B Co, 1st Bn, 1st Marines Sgt Larry D. Pliler, Joplin, MO Cpl Samuel Williams, Tampa, FL LCpl Robert C. Allen, Reno, NV LCpl Eric V. Dickson, Woodland Park, CO LCpl Ralph Ferguson, Jackson, OH LCpl Peter J. Kaulback, Webster, NY LCpl Harry T. Moore, Chicago, IL LCpl Charles L. Morgan, Rock Hill, SC LCpl Donald R. Trantham, Santa Clara, CA Pfc Henry J. Boye, Pine Hill, NJ Pfc Leroy C. Haller, Birdsboro, PA Pfc Wayman D. Morris, War, WV

Personal Data

Home of record:    Santa Clara, CA

Date of Birth:         08/15/1949

Military Data

Service Branch:    United States Marine Corps

Grade at loss:         E3

Rank:                      Lance Corporal

MOS:                        0311:  Rifleman

Length Service:     1 year

Unit:                        Bravo Co, 1st Bn, 1st Marines, 1st MarDiv, III MAF

Casualty Data

Start Tour:             09/19/1967

Incident Date:       05/31/1968

Casualty Date:       05/31/1968

Age at Loss:            18

Location:                Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam

Remains:                Body Recovered

Casualty Type:      Hostile, died outright

Casualty Reason:  Ground Casualty

Casualty Detail:    Other Explosive device

On the Wall:             Panel W62   Line 18