Cpl Garza was a machine gunner serving with Bravo Co, 1/9 Marines. On the Morning of July 2nd, 1967 Bravo company made contact with at least 4 Battalions of the 90th NVA Regiment outside of Con Thien.
At 10am, they came in contact with what they thought was a small unit of well entrenched NVA. In less than an hour dozens of Marines had been killed and a number wounded. The NVA began to call in accurate Artillery fire and even deployed flamethrowers to burn hedgerows and force the Marines into the open.
The Marines were being overrun. Marines could not retrieve the wounded or dead. Leaving them behind in craters, dried rice patties and bamboo thickets.
Bravos CP was being protected by Cpl Garzas two man machine gun team in a ditch on the side Route 561. As the surviving Marines from 1st and 2nd platoon began to run back from the kill zone, Cpl Garza was ripping into the NVA with his M60. He cut down fire teams at a time as they rushed across the road and tree line, providing precious seconds of suppression for Marines to make their dash to friendly lines at Delta Co perimeter.
As the main body of the NVA reached the intersection of Route 561 Cpl Garza kept his gun up, by this point he had been last seen wounded 3 times and was surrounded. The NVA were throwing Chicom grenades into the ditch and his A Gunner, Lcpl David Bradley was throwing them back. He was holding back an entire NVA Regiment with his M60. The last transmission to come from Bravos CP was “I don’t think I’ll be talking to you again, we are being overrun.”
Marines recalled hearing the M16s from Bravos CP fall silent, Cpl Garzas M60 still blazing on cyclic. A barrage of AK47s and grenades were heard at his position around noon. His M60 then fell silent. Cpl Garza along with everyone at the CP was killed. He was 21 years old. Because of his actions, dozens of Marines made it back to Deltas’s position to regroup and launch a counterattack. 84 Marines were killed that day. It would have been much more if it wasn’t for him.
Cpl Garza never received any award for his actions that day.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Always a Marine. Semper Fi.
Like Cpl Garza, many Marines didn’t make it home. But there are a lot that did. If you know one, thank them for their service.
This story was originally published by our friend @photographing.war on his Instagram page, which is dedicated to photographs and footage from various wars around the country.