The Marble Mountain “Mad Dog” Caper
When I assumed command of B Co, 3rd Tank Bn in the Spring of 1966, the company CP was located just north of Marble Mountain. Two of my platoons were supporting 9th Marine battalions in the general area of Hill 55. My 2nd Plt, under the leadership of 2ndLt Bill “Lurch” Lochridge, was supporting the 1st Bn, 1st Marines in the area south of Marble Mountain. 1/1 had built a large “fort like” command post from which it conducted company operations in the coastal area.
Following one company search and clear operation, the grunts found a young calf wandering loose and brought it back to the Bn CP area. Since it was so young it required hand feeding with milk and other “nutrients”, a job which the grunts willingly shared. While trying to come up with a mascot name, someone suggested the name “Shits”, since that was what the calf did a lot of.
In the same company area, other grunts had “adopted” a dog which became very territorial and unfriendly to anyone or anything that invaded his TAOR. Because of his nasty nature, he was named “Ass Hole”. One day, “Ass Hole” took exception to “Shits” being in his TAOR and bit him. Several days later, it became obvious that “Ass Hole” was rabid and he was put down. Seems like that should have been the end of a sad story, but it gets much worse!
The several Marines who could be identified as having had contact with “Shits” following the biting by “Ass Hole” were immediately evacuated to the hospital in DaNang and given the series of rabies shots. Because it was uncertain how many more could be infected, the entire battalion was taken off the line and quarantined in a Division rear area to see if other cases would emerge. I’m sure this did not result in a favorable fitness report for the battalion C.O.!
Soon after the Marble Mountain “Mad Dog” caper, Division published an order that all dogs within unit perimeters be vaccinated against rabies if they were to be retained as “mascots”. There was to be a $3.00 fee for the shots to be paid by anyone assuming ownership of the dogs. If no one assumed this obligation, the dogs were to be humanely destroyed or otherwise removed from unit perimeters.
Within my CP area, we had a number of dogs which all of a sudden didn’t belong to anyone in particular, for some strange reason, after I announced the $3.00 fee for keeping them around. Now I was faced with the decision on how to humanely dispose of the dogs. My Company Gunny said he had a .22 Cal pistol and could take the dogs to the rear wire of the compound and solve the problem. Somehow, that didn’t seem to fit the definition of “humane disposition” to me.
Our company Corpsman said he could go up the road to the Sea Bee’s compound and get sodium pentathol from the medical section and put the dogs to sleep with a simple injection. That sounded to me like the humane way to solve the problem. It turned out that, while my Corpsman knew how to give shots to people, he didn’t have the foggiest notion how to properly put an animal to sleep. He didn’t get the injection directly into the blood stream and that poor animal screamed and writhed for several minutes before finally succumbing. I said that was the end of that solution.
Bill Lochridge’s 2nd Plt was due to head back down south to coordinate operations with the battalion which had replaced 1/1. I told Bill to load up all the dogs on his tanks and to drop them off in the “villes” as they passed through. I knew that the dogs would be welcomed by the villagers, “one way or another”! This put a humane end to the “Marble Mountain Mad Dog Caper”as far as I was concerned. I also made it clear that any other dogs showing up in my areas of responsibility had better bring their “papers” with them!