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Old G.I.s and Sleeping Dragons

By Doug Francescon

Author Biography



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Copyright Doug Francescon 2004


In Honor of:

Waylen Powell

Joe McCurry

Arnold Palmer

And all the guys who left a piece of themselves in Vietnam


Chapter 12
Special Information

There was a very special man, a Medal Of Honor winner, who deserves a page all his own. Every American who survived the battle on Nong Son on July 4th, 1967 was given his chance to survive by PFC Melvin Newlin.


He provided us the time we needed. If the NVA and VC would have been able to concentrate on the few of us that survived the first assault, we’d have all been killed; and they would have taken or distorted every piece of equipment.


Instead, they were so busy with Newlin that they had little time for anything else. I was in the midst of a full company of Vietnamese, over two hundred of them. I could move among them, and take them on one at a time because they were concentrating on him.


Like most of the rest of us he was wounded when the battle started. The medic (Navy Corpsman) estimated that he was hit nearly twenty times before he finally fell. He fired so many rounds so fast that his machine gun jammed when it overheated.


He was defenseless, and wounded several more times as he changed the barrel.  With a new one in place he opened fire again, pinning down and killing enemy troops who had captured the top of the hill.


He gave his life for me and every other guy on the hill that night. I owe him everything, and didn’t even know him.




PFC Melvin Newlin


Medal of Honor, 1967, United States Marines, 2/5/1 Viet Nam



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner attached to the First Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 3 and 4 July 1967. Private Newlin with four other Marines was manning a key position  on the perimeter of the Nong Son outpost when the enemy launched a savage and well coordinated mortar and infantry assault, seriously wounding him and killing his four comrades. Propping himself against his machine gun, he poured a deadly accurate stream of fire into the charging ranks of the Viet Cong. Though repeatedly hit by small arms fire, he twice repelled enemy attempts to overrun his position. During the third attempt  a grenade explosion wounded him again and knocked him to the ground unconscious. The Viet Cong guerrillas, believing him dead, bypassed him and continued their assault on the main force. Meanwhile Private Newlin regained consciousness, crawled back to his weapon, and  brought it to bear on the rear of the enemy causing havoc and confusion among them. Spotting the enemy attempting to bring a captured 106 recoilless weapon to bear on other marine positions, he shifted his fire, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy and preventing them from firing the captured weapon. He then shifted his fire back to the primary enemy force, causing the enemy to stop their assault on the Marine bunkers and to once again attack his machine gun position. Valiantly fighting off two more enemy assaults, he firmly held his ground until mortally wounded. Private Newlin had single-handedly broken up and disorganized the entire enemy assault force, causing them to lose momentum and delaying them long enough for his fellow Marines to organize a defense and beat off their secondary attack. His indomitable courage, fortitude, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.



An Hoe / Nong Son




















Nong Son









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