27 March 1968
From: Commanding Officer
To: Marines and Navymen of this Battalion
Subj: Letter of Appreciation
1. It has been my great privilege to have been in command of this battalion for the past seven months. Now I must turn over command to my successor and move on to another assignment. I cannot leave without telling you how I feel about you Marines and Navymen, my shipmates.
2. Since I joined on 7 September 1967 the battalion, or elements of it have fought in Operations SWIFT, SHELBYVILLE, ESSEX, DENVER, BAXTER, JUNCTION, AUBURN, many No-Names, the TET Offensive, HUE CITY, HOUSTON, and many others. During this time you have killed 739 enemy soldiers, probably killed another 518, and captured 105 enemy and many weapons. You have fought day and night in the rice paddies, in the mountains, in the villages and city. You have fought in the unbelievable summer heat, the bone chilling winter, the driving monsoon rains. You have been mortared, gassed, grenaded, rocketed, mined, booby-trapped, machine gunned, sniped at, even attacked hand-to-hand.
Many times you have been ordered to attack a numerically superion dug-in force. You have been required to patrol in exceedingly hazardous situations with under strength squads and fire teams. You have made helicopter assaults into hot landing zones. You have fought -- or will fight -- for almost thirteen straight months with only a short R&R or hospitalization from wounds as a break. You have fought without flight pay, jump pay, submarine pay, air crew pay, diver's pay, extra incentive pay, per diem, or any other fancy pay. You have fought and, like Marines and their attached Navy shipmates for the last 193 years, you have never failed to take the objective, repulse every attack, or to go where you were ordered. No rockets were ever fired from the area you patrolled. You spoiled the enemy's TET attack against Danang. You cornered the Viet Cong's R-20 Battalion and destroyed it. You attacked and defeated the 31st Regiment of the 2nd NVA Division inflicting very heavy casualties on the enemy.
3. You are members of a combat-proven battalion of an illustrious regiment which received its initiation to war at Belleau Wood and has fought in almost all our our Corps' battles since. You have carried your responsibility to our Corps superbly and added new honors to our colors.
4. I want to tell each of you how proud I am to have served with you. You responded magnificently to every demand placed on you. You have never faltered. You always won. You make me very, very proud to be a United States Marine.
/s/ W.K. Rockey
Lt. Colonel William K. Rockey passed out this letter of appreciation to the men of his battalion (3/5) when he rotated stateside in March of 1968. James Maedgen was a member of 3/5 under Lt. Col. Rockey, and carried a copy of this letter for over 10 years. He sent a copy of the letter to the 1st Marine Division Newsletter, the "Old Breed News", which published it in August, 1994. Maedgen's prolog to the letter is here.
Fred Smith Founder and CEO of FedEx served as a platoon commander and later as the company commander of K/3/5 under Lt. Col. Rockey. Fred received the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts during his tour with 3/5.
(Major Rockey was my commanding officer while I was a student at the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) at Bainbridge, Md. in 1961. He was an outstanding Marine and leader. -- Bill McBride)
Thanks to former Marine (and NAPSTER) Helmuts "Weptronics" Feifs for sending me the copy of "Old Breed News" which included Col. Rockey's letter.