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Five Marines forever joined together PDF Print E-mail
Written by P.G. Gentrup   
Thursday, November 08, 2012 5:03 PM

Click here to view more veterans stories in our special section, A Veterans Day Salute.

Veterans Day 2012 is a good time to pay tribute to five United States Marines who entered the Marine Corps together back in August of 1967 after graduating from Moores Hill High School that year, except Ebbie Roberts, who graduated in 1966. These young American patriots were carrying on a tradition that dates back to the beginning of our nation when they would volunteer to gain, protect and preserve our freedoms. Thank God there are men and women today who continue with that pride and patriotism and are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to serve in the Armed Forces of the U.S.
The five are Tanne Burton, Jack Day, Loyd “Ebbie” Roberts, Bob Wetzler and Frank Cummins.
Tanne was born Oct. 24, 1948, to Ruth and Kirby Burton and grew up in Moores Hill and graduated from Moores Hill High School in 1967. His dad was a World War II veteran and was on a “Higgins Boat” (LCVP) which supported the amphibious landings in the South Pacific from LST’s. Kirby Burton served as a sergeant and participated in many beach landings.

A Marine Corps recruiter came to Moores Hill to talk to students about signing up for the Marines and this got them to thinking about, it but they didn’t make any commitments at that time.

According to Tanne Burton it all happened spontaneously when Jack Day, Ebbie Roberts and Bobby Wetzler stopped by his house and told him they were going to join the Marines. Tanne told them he had already decided to go into the Navy. They talked him in to going with them to see the recruiter. The recruiter told them up front that he could get them in for a two-year enlistment instead of the normal three years But- he guaranteed them that they would go to Vietnam. They could go in on a delayed entry program too so they could get their affairs in order.

Tanne said eventually Frank Cummins got in on the act too and became the fifth member of the group. It wasn’t one of those pacts that kids make in school to do something after high school but it just all fell into place quickly. In August 1967 they went to Cincinnati and were inducted and officially became a part of The Few, The Proud, The Marines! They were off to beautiful San Diego, Calif., for boot camp at Camp Pendleton.

It was a very big change from home life in tiny Moores Hill.

Tanne said the usual 13 weeks of boot camp turned into only eight weeks of very accelerated training and involved a lot of running to get in shape. They stayed in tents instead of barracks too. They were preparing them for Vietnam. They took their Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton too and then Tanne went to El Toro for deployment to Vietnam.

Tanne was flown to Guam, Okinawa, and finally to DaNang, Vietnam. Tanne served with the 7th Engineers of the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in an Engineering outfit and they were exposed to everything you can imagine while trying to build bridges. The enemy frowns on such activities and they became known as the “Purple Heart” Division. Tanne said he was at Quang Tri, Go Hau City near the DMZ, Chu Lai and Hue, building the floating bridges. These emergency floating bridges were very important. He was even in Cambodia.

He participated in such operations as Meade River and Squirrel Hunt. He said he didn’t realize it at the time but this was building his future for him too, once he would return to civilian life. He was in Vietnam from February 1968 to April 1969. He attained the rank of Corporal in the Marines and said there were many long and hot days spent in Vietnam. Tanne and Bobby Wetzler had talked about joining the Navy but wound up as Marines. They saw each other in Vietnam and were able to take an in-country R&R together at DaNang. Tanne took his regular R&R at Bangkok, Thailand, for eight days and another one in Taipei.

The five Marines from Moores Hill just after completing Boot Camp in 1967 at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Pictured in the back row, from the left, are: Frank Cummins,  Bob Wetzler and Jack Day. In the front are Tanne Burton and Loyd “Ebbie” Roberts.After his “Tour of Duty” in Vietnam, Tanne returned to Camp Pendleton, Calif., because his MOS was a ‘critical’ one until he was discharged Aug. 16, 1969. He went to work at the I&M Power Plant but decided after a year that wasn’t for him. He went to New Orleans and used the skills he learned operating heavy equipment in the Marines to go to work building canals for 10 years and traveled all over the place and eventually became a superintendent overseeing the construction of the canals and pumping stations.

He traveled around the country after this job with Hamon Power as an explosive expert. He had to take schooling at Penn State University to become an expert handling these explosives. He decided to stop traveling and started working at the Aurora Terminal, then went to P&G for approximately 10 years working in the boiler house operating power plant equipment. He finally finished up working at Seagram’s for about eight years in the maintenance department as a pipe fitter. Tanne said he worked in 48 states, only missing out on Oregon and Washington in his travels around the country.

Tanne said the best thing he ever did was to join the Marines because it gave him the confidence to do anything he set his mind to do. He looks back on those challenging days and knows that’s what made him the man he is today.

Some of Tanne’s awards include: Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.

Tanne has a twin brother, Shawn, who served in the Army in Hawaii and another brother, Gevan. Tanne has two daughters, Cathleen and Karrah, along with two grandsons and a granddaughter. Today, he resides on Dutch Hollow Road in Aurora. He was honored to be able to go to Washington, D.C., in June with the other four who went into the Marines with him and it was the first time all five had been together at one time since they went into the Marines.

Tanne is also proud that he started going to the Aurora Elementary School in 1992 and enjoyed working with teachers Judy Ullrich and Phee Ellinghausen to promote Veterans Day and continued this program for 10 years. It started out with Tanne and Nick Ullrich going to the classroom and showing military items and talking to the students and eventually led to programs taking place in the gym. Thanks to teachers like this they were able to get the word out why our veterans are so important and how many sacrifices they have made. He wanted to make sure the Veterans of today get treated better than when he came home from Vietnam.

Those in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan have so much support today and he firmly believes that’s because of the dedication and support of the Vietnam veterans.
Frank was born  Dec. 16, 1949, to Rose and Carl Cummins. He grew up in Moores Hill and graduated from Moores Hill High School in 1967.

Frank said all five of them were together at Camp Onofre at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for boot camp and ITR. He said boot camp was such a challenge and so different from everyday life in Moores Hill, but it paid off when he officially became a proud United States Marine.

Frank said it’s something you have to experience to understand but he felt so strong and invincible when the five of them were together at Camp Pendleton. Later, when they were separated, he felt like he was “left out to dry” and the close camaraderie they had was gone. But, after all, he was now a Marine and was ready to serve where he was needed. After leaving Camp Pendleton, Frank received orders to go to Vietnam but when his brother, John, was sent there, Frank didn’t have to go to Vietnam. Frank is very proud of his brother, John, who volunteered to leave Germany and go to Vietnam. He’s proud they both served our nation.

Frank worked in administration and was sent to Okinawa to serve with the 3rd Force Maintenance Regiment with the 3rd Marine Division for one year with ordinance maintenance. After his time in Okinawa, he returned to the U.S. and finished up his time at El Toro, Calif., after a nice 40-day leave back home. He had entered in August 1967, was discharged in August 1969, and attained the rank of Corporal (E-4) and also a NCO.

He has two brothers, John and Ernie, and one sister, Lana Ison, all of Moores Hill. He married his wife, Sara (Burton) ,from Moores Hill, in 1978, and they have three sons, Logan, Brent and Ryan. They reside on Ind. 350 in Moores Hill. Frank works for Monsanto in Addyston, Ohio, and is still employed there but the name of the company is now INEOS and he plans to work two more years and then enjoy retirement. Frank is proud to have served our great nation and fully supports those serving today, especially those in combat situations.
Bob Wetzler is the son of Wanda and Charles “Skeeter” Wetzler and grew up with two brothers, Tommy and Doug, and one sister, Barbara, in Moores Hill.

Bob graduated from Moores Hill High School in 1967. Bob and Tanne Burton were great friends growing up and Tanne said Bob’s cousin, Gene Moorehead, watched out for them so they didn’t get into too much trouble.

Bob has a strong feeling for the U.S. and believes that patriotism is an essential part of supporting our country.

When Bob graduated from boot camp and ITR he went home on leave and then returned to Camp Pendleton for artillery training. He was ordered to Vietnam where he was assigned to G Battery, 3rd Marine Battalion of the 11th Marine Regiment - known as the “Cannon Cockers.” He served as a Corporal at a place known as Hill 10 where they supplied fire support for the 7th Marines. This area overlooked a place known as “Happy Valley” which was a major staging area for the VietCong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA).

It was an area of intense battles and firepower. They participated in Operation Mameluke, which was a major offensive from May to October of 1968 involving many Marine forces, with many casualties on both sides. Hill 10 was located approximately 10 miles southwest of DaNang. The enemy forces were notorious for firing 122 MM rockets at American forces and camps and they were very powerful weapons. Bob served here from January 1968 until February 1969. He then returned to the U.S. to Camp LeJeune, S.C., until his discharge in June 1969.

Bob worked at Monsanto from September 1969 until his retirement in 2004. He and wife, Sally, were married in 1979 and reside on U.S. 421 at the edge of Versailles. Bob has two children, Sally has three, and they have one child together. They have 15 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Bob said the trip to Washington, D.C., was an eye opener for him and he really enjoyed being with his old buddies to talk about the many interesting things that have happened to them. They sat up late each evening at the hotel discussing their exploits. To be able to be together again and see so many interesting places in Washington, D.C., made the trip exciting. The favorite part of this trip is watching the presentation by four members of the group when they set the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It was tough to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and see so many names you recognize.

Ebbie Roberts was born June 23, 1948, at Milan, to Curt “Shorty” and Aileen Roberts. He has two brothers, Benny and Randy.

Ebbie attended grade school and high school at Moores Hill and graduated from Moores Hill High School in 1966. Ebbie had checked to see where he was on the draft list in 1967 and discovered he was number one so he came up with the idea to join the Marines and went to see his buddies and as they say, “the rest is history.” They were on there way to become Marines!

Ebbie and his wife, Louanna “Lana” (Goff), have been married for 20 years. Ebbie has a daughter, Christy, and three stepsons; Otto, David and Mike Grimes, along with nine grandchildren. Ebbie and Lana reside at 714 Nowlin Ave. in Greendale.

After graduation, Ebbie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, along with four buddies, Tanne Burton, Bob Wetzler, Frank Cummins and Jack Day. Ebbie was inducted in August 1967 and was discharged as a Lance Corporal in August 1969.

He took his boot camp at Camp Pendleton, CA along with his ITR (Infantry Training Regiment). He was then sent to Vietnam for his 13-month “Tour of Duty” and was assigned to Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines of the 3rd Marine Division (A-1-12, 3rd Marines).

Ebbie was wounded in action at Camp J.J. Carroll near the DMZ in Vietnam April 30, 1968, by shrapnel from an exploding enemy round. He had been in Vietnam for approximately nine months. He was evacuated to Okinawa for 33 days of surgery and rehabilitation and then was flown to Chicago for follow-up rehab for another six months. After he recovered, he returned to Camp Lejeune for one day and then was assigned to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, as an instructor for the 155MM Howitzers.

After his discharge from the Marines, Ebbie returned home and continued working for Schenley Distillery for 20 years until it closed. He then went to work for Reliance Medical in Mason, Ohio, and continues in that job today after 23 years.

Ebbie is a member of the Disabled American Veterans (DVA) Chapter No. 75 and the Moores Hill Legion Post No. 209.

Ebbie and Lana’s granddaughter, London, is married to local Afghanistan Purple Heart Recipient and American Hero, Brett Bondurant. They are presently in Texas as Brett continues his rehabilitation from his injuries.

Ebbie is very proud of his service to our great nation and supports those serving today, especially those in combat situations.

Ebbie Roberts was presented with a Lawrenceburg Fall Fest Purple Heart Honor Award plaque in September 2012.

Jack was born on March 21, 1949, in Mount Sterling, Ky., to Mr. and Mrs. Harley E. Day and moved to Lawrenceburg, Ind., and attended schools there until he transferred to Moores Hill High School for his sophomore year. Jack has three sisters, Kathy Day Ryan, Patricia (Patty) Day and Regina McConnell. He has two brothers, Harley Glen and Michael.

Jack enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in August 1967 along with four high school buddies. He took his boot camp (basic training) at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then entered his ITR there also. He then completed four weeks of communication training as a radioman and field wire man.

Jack serve 13 months in Vietnam from January 1968 to February 1969 with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division in the Northern I Corps, Quang Tri Province, near the DMZ. The 1st Battalion Marines were assigned to the 26th Marines at the Battle of Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive of January 1968 to April 1968. During this 77-day siege of heavy mortar and rocket attacks, along with enemy ground attacks, Jack was wounded by shrapnel in his left hand from an enemy mortar round. Jack was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained while in a combat situation against enemy forces.

Jack was also awarded a Sharpshooter Rifle Badge, National Defense Service Medal with one star, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, U.S. Marine Combat Action Ribbon and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Jack was an E-4 (NCO) serving as a Corporal.

Upon his return to the U.S., Jack was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., with the 10th Marines Artillery Battery until his discharge June 10, 1969.

On July 8 through 10, 2011, Jack was one of 50 veterans from Southeastern Indiana who went on a three-day bus trip to Washington, D.C., where he was one of the four wreath presenters at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

It’s a very humbling experience and such an honor to be able to participate in that ceremony. When the bus returned to Lawrenceburg Sunday evening, July 10, Jack was met by his family and taken to Lawrenceburg Speedway to watch the races.

While he was there, the announcer introduced him to the packed house of race fans as a “Vietnam Hero and Purple Heart Recipient who had just returned from Washington, D.C., where he had placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns” and the crowd went wild. They were giving him “high fives” and coming up to him and hugging him and shaking his hand. It was quite a tribute for a man who has given so much and is proud to be a United States Marine.

Jack and his wife, Marie, are the parents of two sons; Jack Jr. and Jason. Jack and Marie have one grandson, Wyatt, and two granddaughters, Jordan and Mariah. They have been married for 43 years and reside near Friendship, Ind., on the family farm of 61 acres.

Jack retired from the AEP, Indiana & Michigan, Tanners Creek Power Plant in Lawrenceburg, Ind., in 2008 after 38 years of service as a supervisor. Son, Jason is also employed there.
Jack was also the recipient of a Lawrenceburg Fall Fest Purple Heart Honor Award plaque at the 2011 Fall Fest.

Last Updated on Thursday, November 08, 2012 5:12 PM