Cpl. Alan Everett Pilon 2238283
3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment
United States Marine Corps
The letters that Alan Everett Pilon wrote home to his parents and his brother's family reveal much about this young soldier and the times he was living in. For example, in the absence of his military record, we can nonetheless follow his progress through the system from the addresses on his letters home as well as from comments within the letters themselves.
His training took place at Fort Leguine, North Carolina. There, he was a member of the Headquarters and Services Company (H&S), of the 2nd Service Battalion, 2nd Marines Regiment, Fleet Marine Force (FMF). While he was certainly trained as a combat Marine, he was also being trained to work in the administrative component of the battalion's activities. That was in the summer of 1966. However, from his Christmas Eve 1966 letter sent from Vietnam, it is clear that he no longer found that work satisfying nor fulfilling. He chose instead to transfer to the more active part of Marine work; as he put it, he was now a "Grunt". By then, he was also with the H&S Company, III MAF Security (Marine Amphibious Force - essentially the Marines in Vietnam). Later, at least by April, as Alan expressed it so clearly, "I finally got my wish! I am out of III MAF". He was now with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Regiment. He would remain with the 3/5 till his fateful day of September 12th, 1967, serving with a mortar section in "Mike" Company and later "Kilo" Company.
These were tough times and he participated in some very difficult field operations which saw many of his brothers in arms fall. These were critical battles where the Marines earned many distinguished awards for valour, both individually and collectively as units. Regardless of our personal feelings about the right and wrong of that particular conflict, those men deserve the recognition and respect that putting ones life on the line and sometimes forfeiting that life merits.
By the summer of 1967, reality was setting in very firmly. Cpl. Pilon was no longer seeking out adventure, "itchin for a good fire-fight" as he wrote in his letter of December 24, 1966. Instead, by June, he was blunt about what he was then living through: "This is living hell!". He was counting the days and dreaming of home: "you can't begin to imagine how I long to come home and eat some of Mom's cooking and be myself again and not an animal!"
But it was not to be.
While Cpl. Pilon spoke of some R&R in Bankok or China Beach and training in Okinawa, it is not clear that he ever got to see those places. Instead, as we read through his letters, other less glamorous locales are mentioned:
Tam Khe (or Ky)
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