Vietnam Voices

Vietnam Voices - Singing the Marine Hymn

Episode Summary

Marine Captain Dennis Curtin recounts part of his role in the action at "Hill 689," a particularly vicious battle with heavy casualties on both sides. It was an important position because of its proximity to Khe Sanh.

Episode Notes

Dennis Curtin was a commissioned officer, forward observer and liaison officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.  In this excerpt from the full interview, available at the Blount County Public Library digital archives, he recounts action at "Hill 689," a particularly vicious battle with heavy casualties on both sides.   

It was an important position because of its proximity to Khe Sanh.  

This interview was conducted May 2020 by Edward Caudill and Billy Minser.

Vietnam Voices is a project of the Blount County Public Library in Maryville, TN, and supported by the Blount County Friends of the Library. Two volumes of interviews with Vietnam veterans have been published and are available on Amazon at these links:

Vietnam Voices: Stories of East Tennesseans Who Served in Vietnam, 1965-1975 (volume 1)

Vietnam Voices: Stories of Tennesseans Who Served in Vietnam, 1965-1975 (volume 2)

A note on the battle for Khe Sanh

The Battle of Hill 689 was part of the larger battle and siege of Khe Sanh and was one of a number of hills around the base.   The battle of Khe Sanh began in January 1968, commencing one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war. Though Khe Sanh was officially closed in July 1968, Marines continued fighting in the vicinity for several days.  The “hill battles” were important for their proximity to the main base, Khe Sanh, from which U.S. forces were able to interrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail, a main supply route for the NVA forces and an important communications line. Khe Sanh was just south of the border with North Vietnam and east of Laos.  The hills, including 689, were in an elevated position about Khe Sahn.  Winning the hills meant gaining strategic, elevated positions for an attack on Khe Sahn.