The Pacific - Korea - Vietnam

by Colonel Francis Fox Parry, USMC (Ret)

Introduction by General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., USMC (Ret)

Upon graduating from Annapolis in February 1941, Francis Fox Parry and his classmates were sent directly to a makeshift artillery course. Following the crudest training imaginable -- they never fired a gun -- and without even attending The Basic School, at which Marine officers usually receive their indoctrination, Parry found himself serving with a hastily activated Reserve artillery battalion. Little more than a year out of the Naval Academy, and having learned all he could "on the job," Parry was in the Pacific, an ill-prepared defender of an isolated island bastion. In September 1942, Parry's artillery battalion was landed at Guadalcanal and immediately sent into action.

The early chapters of Three-War Marine are a chronicle of America's makeshift early-war effort. That Fox Parry's generation rose so quickly to command artillery batteries in combat after receiving such shoddy training addresses the underlying issue of the level of preparedness at which America faced two of Parry's three wars. By the end of the Okinawa Campaign, where he served as an artillery battalion executive officer, Parry still did not feel that he knew very much about the artilleryman's "black art."

Parry's account of peacetime duty after World War II is capped with his schooling at Fort Sill, the Army's artillery graduate school. Only then, Parry admits, did he feel he had a grasp of his profession. And none too soon, for only months after graduation, Parry commanded an artillery battalion in Korea -- at Inchon, Seoul, and the Chosin Reservoir. Once again, Parry faced the problems of taking a makeshift unit into combat at the outset of a war for which his nation was unprepared. The story of Parry's battalion in Korea is simply uplifting. Few Marine field-artillery units have performed as competently and gallantly as Fox Parry's 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, at the Chosin Reservoir.

In his later years in the Marine Corps, Parry helped plan the aborted invasion of Cuba and was one of the key players in the establishment of General William Westmoreland's combat operations center in Saigon in 1966. By then a seasoned, respected senior planner, Fox Parry was able to recognize the symptoms of the many things that began going awry in Vietnam at the very start of Westmoreland's tenure there. His thoughtful analysis must be read by any serious student of the Vietnam War.

Three-War Marine covers thirty action-packed years. In it, we see the maturing Marine combat officer: the unseasoned battery commander; the confident battalion commander; and the thoroughly competent colonel overseeing day-to-day operations throughout a vast war zone. Three-War Marine is an insiders view of the Marine Corps during its most thrilling decades.