He came to us with a simple request, engraving some words on a couple of glasses; but the words on those glasses have indelibly marked my heart. “Last Man Standing” were the three words. I asked him what the significance of those words were. He began to tell us a story from the not-so-distant past.
In 1965 America went to war in Vietnam; thousands upon thousands of soldiers were shipped over in an attempt to overpower the North Vietnam Army (NVA). His Marine company, India Company 3rd Battalion 5th Marines or shortened -- India 3/5, was ordered to take a heavily guarded mountain dubbed Hill 362 in the summer of 1966. The battle was named “Operation Hastings” and the soldiers readied themselves to carry out their orders. They were to secure Hill 362 in order to establish better radio communications between the different battalions that were entrenched in the area. Dutifully, they climbed the hill and engaged the NVA. It cost them dearly.
In two horrific days India Company lost 27 brave Marines. Two days that changed their families’ and brothers-in-arms’ lives forever. In total, those two days would yield 27 dead, and over 100 wounded.
Those shocking numbers he told to me as I choked back tears. Twenty-seven of his friends he lost in two days. That kind of loss is unimaginable and that amount of grief is unfathomable. Even though 52 years have passed, I could see that to him, it was like it had just happened yesterday.
The “Last Man Standing” glasses are to be used in a special toast by the last two men in India 3/5 to still be alive. These two last men standing, the last who truly remember those who were lost and those who have passed. They will drink in remembrance of their brothers who are no longer there and in honor of the extreme acts of bravery that were carried out in Operation Hastings and other battles.
The “Last Man Standing” glasses are to commemorate the lives of all of those who had the honor of serving in the India Company 3rd Battalion 5th Marines. Semper Fi.
“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” -- General Douglas MacArthur
Originally written in 2017 by Jennifer Gallegos. Story shared with permission by T. Gainer. Copyright 2021 Engraved., LLC All Rights Reserved.