By Mustang

What does a parabola and Run For The Wall have in common?

Well, a parabola is one of the most elegant forms in nature. Every path made by a thrown ball, every spout of water from a fountain, and every graceful arch of steel cables in a suspension bridge is a parabola.

The parabola represents the epitome of a quest - it is "a curving line that sails outward and returns with a new expansion—and perhaps a new content, like the flung net of a Japanese fisherman." It is the metaphorical journey to a particular point, and then back home, along a similar path perhaps, but in a different direction, after which the traveler is essentially, irrevocably changed.

Parabolas have an unusual and useful property: as in a satellite dish, all parallel beams of energy (e.g., light or radio waves) reflect on the parabola's face and gather at one point. That point is called the focus. In a similar way, each Run For The Wall has its own focus: the healing of warriors, one of the timeless themes of humanity.

In this year 2010, two brother Marines and 9th Engineers will join together to participate in Run For The Wall to remember those from their past who gave all in this country's most controversial war, Vietnam. They will remember their fallen comrades and they will honor them, and ride for them as they cross this great country on their quest of honor. Like a parabola, their journey together will culminate at a particular point, The Vietnam Memorial, The Wall, and then back home again, along a similar path perhaps, but in a different directions, after which both of them will be irrevocably changed - further along in their healing from a past war that seems to have no end.

So as the parabola, Run For The Wall represents the epitome of a quest. And at the end of this quest, those who participate will forever hear the echo of those sweet words many failed to hear some 40 years ago.

Welcome home!


HISTORY: The 9th Engineer Battalion was activated 1 November 1965 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. The core nucleus of the battalion was staffed with experienced Marine engineers from almost every station in the Marine Corps. The first unit staffed was the Headquarters Company and Service Company; then Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta Companies were activated. By the end of 1965 the battalion was at full strength with 43 officers and 790 enlisted Marines assigned to its rolls.

Operating without equipment for the first two months, the 9th Engineers spent most of their time training in general military subjects, physical fitness, and Vietnamese language classes as they prepared to deploy to the Republic of Vietnam in Southeast Asia.

By the end of February, with most of their heavy equipment now received, the Marines spent long hours training and performing preventive maintenance on their gear in addition to conducting field exercises in combat operations and tactics.

On 1 April 1966, the battalion was redesigned to 9th Engineer Battalion, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force Pacific, coming under operational control of the Commanding General at 29 Palms, California. The battalion’s intensified training continued until 2 May, when an advance party of 1 officer and 11 enlisted Marines embarked aboard the USS Mathews (AKA 96) and sailed from Long Beach, California for the Republic of Vietnam.

On 15 and 16 May 1966, the main-body of the battalion embarked aboard the USS Ogden (LPD 5) and USS Fort Marion (LSD 22) at San Diego, California, enroute to their destination at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam. On 18 May a second advance party of engineers departed MCAS, El Toro, California. These engineers were the first from 9th Engineer Battalion to arrive to Vietnam when their plane touched down at Danang Air Base on 23 May. They immediately began preparations for the arrival of the main body of the battalion.

On 27 May 1966 Service Company arrived at Chu Lai on board the USS Mathews (AKA-96). The Battalion Headquarters, Headquarters Company, and Bravo Company arrived on 6 June 1966 aboard the USS Ogden (LPD-5).

Alpha and Charlie Companies arrived and disembarked on 15 June, with Delta Company arriving in the battalion area on 17 June. On 25 June Alpha Company departed Chu lai for Danang, aboard the USS Summit County (LST-1146) where it came under operational control of the 7th Engineer Battalion.

The 9th Engineers' new home in the Republic of Vietnam was a flat, sandy area stretching alongside Highway 1, one-quarter mile southeast of the Chu Lai near the village of An Tan, or what was commonly known as "New Life" village. The engineers' first task was setting up their base camp and road network.

Eleven days after its arrival the battalion made its first commitment to support combat operations in the First Marine Division. By the end of June the engineers were fully deploying units and sub-units throughout I Corps, with the vast majority of their efforts being spent in support of the First Marine Division (Reinf).

During its stay in the Republic of Vietnam, the battalion accomplished many varied tasks, including the repairing and paving of Highway 1, building and repairing bridges, building and operating cable-operated ferries, general camp construction, rock crushing, and the installation of fuel and water points. In addition to its many construction jobs, the engineers were actively engaged in mine-clearing assignments, convoy security, and other general combat support operations for the First, Fifth and Seventh Marine Regiments. They also maintained their own perimeter guard and ran combat patrols in their area of operation.

Although the battalion's main effort went to the First Marine Division, it also supported U.S. Army units, including the 196th Light Infantry Brigade and other Free World Forces, as well as local Vietnamese civilian and military projects near Chu Lai. The battalion heavily participated in Operations Colorado, Washington, Fresno, Napa, and Golden Fleece.

In March 1970, though all operational commitments were continued, significant effort was placed on the relocation of the battalion to Danang. By 30 March, convoy and sealift had moved 475 personnel and 2,650 tons of equipment to the First Marine Division AO in the Danang area. During the remainder of its stay in Vietnam, the battalion continued its primary missions of mine sweeps, upgrading and haul support, and keeping highway 1 open to traffic in its area.

Alpha Company retrograded from Vietnam on 2 March 1970. It was re-designated as Alpha Company (Rein), 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Brigade, FMF, Hawaii.

While Alpha Company was in Vietnam its headquarters was located on Hill 10, south of Danang, with its primary mission being the maintenance of Highway QL-1 between Tam Ky and Thang Binh. In addition it carried out such engineering assignments as minefield clearing, small bridge construction, and bunker complex construction, in and around various Marine elements located south of Danang.

In July 1970 Charlie Company, 9th Engineer Battalion left Vietnam and returned to Camp Pendleton, California. The remainder of the battalion with Headquarters Company, Service Company and Bravo Company departed Danang on 24 August 1970 aboard the USS Juneau (LPD-10), arriving at Long Bench, California, and joining the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade at Camp Pendleton on 11 September. On 6 October 1970, 9th Engineer Battalion was de-activated and enjoined with 7th Engineer Battalion.