Each day, the VA honors a special military veteran for their dedicated service on their blog, VAntage Point. Today’s veteran is Marine Veteran Mark R. Black, who was killed in action during Vietnam while supplying ammunition to other Marines.
Mark R. Black was born in Sweetser, Indiana in 1945 and was the star quarterback for Oak Hill High School’s football team before becoming a master barber at his father’s barbershop.
Black then enlisted in the Marine Corps as a rifleman. As he left for training he warned his family “Don’t expect me to write much,” but wrote his first letter home that same day. He went on to write 88 more letters, and 26 taped letters, documenting his tour of duty in Vietnam.
Black attended advanced infantry training at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California before getting deployed to Okinawa in 1966. He then went to the Philippines and eventually Vietnam in 1967.
While deployed, Black was able to find a barber kit and put his skills to good use. In letters, he soon began bragging to his family about his new status as the go-to barber among fellow Marines, and even set up a barber shop inside his camp.
Black fought in five combat operations before volunteering for the Combined Action Company. He and his unit of 14 other Marines lived in a compound fortified by sandbags in Cam Hieu, Vietnam. In August 14th, 1967, four days after Black sent his last letter home, 150 Vietnamese soldiers attacked the compound. The assault lasted for 2 hours before reinforcements arrived.
During the fight, Black exposed himself to hostile fire while supplying ammunition to other Marines. He was mortally wounded by enemy arms small fire.
In 1969, a sign was erected at the site of his death in his honor and a Vietnamese Children’s school now occupies the once hostile battlefield.