Sergeant Michael Wynn United States Marine Corps.

My name is Mike Wynn and I was born on January 17, 1947. I grew up in Marion, Ohio and attended Olney Ave. Elementary, Edison Jr. High, and graduated from Harding High School in 1965. I played baseball and football for Harding for 3 years.

wynnfootball
Harding High School 1965

I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1966. After high school I attended Otterbein University on a football scholarship. During the season I concentrated on my studies to keep my eligibility to play football. After the season I found other interests and let’s just say I came to a mutual agreement with the school that I would not be returning the next semester. Four of us, including my best friend Dan Schott, decided to join the Marine Corps for 4 years. We were in from 1966-1970. My motivation to join was a mixture of patriotism and seeking excitement and adventure.

I had never been on a plane or seen the ocean so I was excited when the recruiter said I would be flying to San Diego for boot camp. When it came time to leave there was an airline strike so we had to take a 3 day train ride instead of flying. It was so crowded we had to stand between cars and play cards most of the trip. California seemed like paradise with the ocean and palm trees. Boot camp soon changed that.

New recruits always arrive to boot camp in the middle of the night in the Marine Corps. It is planned that way to increase the shock value. When we arrived by bus all hell broke loose. The drill instructors got on the bus yelling and nearly throwing us off the bus. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. Boot camp was brutal both physically and psychologically. I went in weighing 210 pounds and came out at 190 pounds. The psychological side was the worst as they completely break you down and build you up as a Marine. I hated it then but appreciated it later in Vietnam. The last day they got us all together to tell us what our job would be and where we were going. 90% of us were infantry and got orders to Vietnam. I was now a grunt in the Marine Corps.

After 6 months of infantry training I was off to Okinawa which was a staging area for guys heading to Nam. I guess because of my rifle range scores I was put into sniper training. My buddies were all off to the war and I was stuck on Okinawa for many months of training. After a month or so I went to the commanding officer and requested a transfer to Vietnam. He was happy to oblige.

I was attached to the 1st Bn. 3rd Marines who were getting ready to leave Okinawa for Vietnam. The unit was a Special Landing Force that was based on several ships and made helicopter and amphibious landings into Vietnam.
I left on the USS Okinawa which was a small aircraft carrier for helicopters.

A thousand of us lived aboard the ship for a short period and then went by helicopter for operations in and around the DMZ. We were usually in country for 1-2 weeks and then back to the ship for a few days until the next insertion. While on operations we walked all day and then dug a hole at night to sleep. At night we were on watch 2 hours on and 2 off, so there wasn’t much sleep going on.

I have several memories that I will never forget. In April of 1967 we were on Operation Beaver Cage and were walking in 2 columns along a river-one column on each side of the river. All of a sudden we were hit by automatic fire-snipers-and mortars. The whole hillside seemed to move with camouflaged North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers. I was on the opposite side of the river as the ambush and saw many Marines go down. We returned fire and called in air support. The firefight lasted for hours. The next day we had to pick up our dead. The thing I remember the most is how quiet it was after the action. There wasn’t even a bird tweeting. I had a minor shrapnel wound and went back to the ship for a day to get stitched up. We had 55 killed and 151 wounded on that operation.

On May 18 we were aboard ship and got up at 4am for our customary steak and egg breakfast the Navy cooked for us the morning of an operation. We were going on Operation Beau Charger which was the first authorized American entry into the DMZ. We were landing 3 miles from North Vietnam. My group took off at about 9:00am and by 9:15am bullets were ripping through the chopper. Contrary to popular belief Vietnam is not all jungle. We landed in open sandy terrain with large scrub covered sand dunes. My platoon was in the open walking towards some large dunes when the fire opened up and guys were dropping all around. I was carrying a radio at the time because our radio operator had been killed. The Platoon Commander told a group of us to charge the dune head on. I took off the radio so I could run quicker and my squad did as we were told. I was running and firing next to the squad leader and he went down. He had been shot in the foot and couldn’t walk. He was laying in the open so I threw him over my shoulder and started running for a small ditch about 18 inches deep. The next thing I know I’m laying on the ground with no idea how I got there. I could feel blood running down my back and realized I had been shot. It turns out that a bullet went through the squad leaders arm and through my flack jacket into my chest. I was able to make it a few more yards to the ditch. My squad leader made it but to this day I feel guilty about not picking him up the second time and getting him to that ditch. A Marine should not leave another Marine behind. In that operation 8 out of the 12 men in my squad were killed or wounded. A total of 142 were killed and 896 were wounded.

MichaelWynn (4)
Wynn on the USS Sanctuary

We were both flown to the Hospital Ship USS Sanctuary for treatment. I spent nearly 2 months in the hospital and he got sent back to the States. It took me 30 years to find him but I finally did and we talk on the phone about every month or so.

MichaelWynn (2)
Wynn with the man he carried to safety. (Wynn on right)

After my hospital stay I was sent back to my unit to finish my tour but got a 3rd relatively minor shrapnel wound a few months later and left Vietnam.

I spent the rest of my time in the Corps in California and 2 years on the island of Guam. I was discharged as a Sergeant in 1970.

 

 

 

MichaelWynn (3)
Michael Wynn promoted to Sergeant

After I got out I went back to college at Long Beach State University and got a Bachelors Degree. I worked as a fireman in Southern California for nearly 10 years and then moved to Australia in 1982. I am now retired and live a quiet life near a small rural town in Queensland.

MichaelWynn (1)I am proud of being a Marine and my service in Vietnam. I am proud of the 3 Purple Hearts and other medals I have earned. It took me longer than it should have to get that pride because of the way Vietnam Veterans were treated upon their return and for years after. I experienced this first hand and for years did not mention that I was a Vet. I hope veterans are never treated like that again. People who have never experienced combat can not possibly understand it. We were just doing our job-it was not a political issue. I can honestly say that I never thought about which politician was responsible while I was in the combat zone. I only worried about the guys next to me and my own survival.

Semper Fidelis

Written by Michael Wynn April 2019

 

68 thoughts on “Sergeant Michael Wynn United States Marine Corps.

  1. Bryan Gross April 15, 2019 / 3:47 pm

    Very nice article and continued insight into our hometown heroes. Thank you for sharing these stories. And, as always, thank you for giving so unselfishly.

    Like

  2. michael wynn April 15, 2019 / 5:34 pm

    Hi Mike

    Thanks. It looks real good. There is one small error that stands out to me but most wont notice. In the headline the Corp should be Corps. The layout looks great! Again thanks for your interest in Marion Vets.

    Semper Fidelis

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

    • Sophie Good January 11, 2020 / 4:23 pm

      I read your story with great interest Michael. You gained fame of course for being the face of The Smiths album Meat is Murder, and that photo says so much about how young many of the soldiers were in the Vietnam conflict. I’m so glad you survived the war and went on to have a long, fulfilled life since.

      Like

      • Mike Wynn January 12, 2020 / 11:59 pm

        Thanks Sophie

        Like

    • Craig Morrison June 14, 2020 / 6:42 pm

      Hi I was wondering was it a shock to see your image appear in record stores worldwide on the smiths album cover
      Also are you a smiths fan

      Like

      • Mike Wynn June 14, 2020 / 8:27 pm

        Hi Craig. It was a shock and still amazes me that there is still so much interest in the photo today. I can’t say I’m a fan-my era was the 60’s.

        Like

  3. James E. Forry, Sr. April 27, 2019 / 2:02 pm

    Great Post .
    Thank you for your service.

    Like

  4. Sherri Nelson April 27, 2019 / 2:36 pm

    Hi Mike, thank you for your service & the sacrifice you all made . It is amazing what veterans of war experienced at such a young age . Thank you for sharing your story & thoughts so eloquently. I am from Marion & am pretty sure you were friends with one of my brothers( Tim or Ron Kreiter ) I will try to send this link to them. I remember Dan Schott being at our house …
    Such an indelible time in our lives back then. Regards, Sherri Nelson

    Like

    • Mike Wynn April 27, 2019 / 3:52 pm

      Hi Sherri

      Thanks for your comments. I was good friends with Tim at school and on weekends. We played football and baseball together. Give him my regards. Mike

      Like

  5. SALLY McCORMICK April 27, 2019 / 8:44 pm

    Thank you for posting your story.
    I enjoyed reading this as I’m retired VA Nurse & spent some time @ Camp Pendleton myself in early 1990’s. My husband (Randy McCormick)served in the Army 125th Infantry 1967-70 near Plei Keu (I’m not spelling the cities correctly but then the names have been changed now too) Tei vein & into Cambodia (even though we were never there😉)
    My uncle (Jim Hindman)served as MP in Long Bin; but I’m not certain of the dates; he recently passed with cancer.
    I have a deep respect for our Veterans after having 14years experience treating them & so many different ways that wars impact them & their lives.
    Thank you for your Service Sgt!
    Glad you made it safely back to the world!
    Sempre Fi!
    Sally McCormick
    Dept Veterans Affairs-Ret

    Like

    • Mike Wynn April 29, 2019 / 8:16 am

      Hi Sally

      Thanks for your comments and your families service. I have a soft spot for the nurses that treated us on the hospital ship. The were angels. Mike

      Like

  6. Teri Austin April 28, 2019 / 11:18 am

    Hi Mike touching story.. Thank you for your SERVICE ..God bless you! I wonder if you knew my brother Doug Long he was A Sartgent in the 101 st airborne paratrooper served in Vietnam he also went to Olney Edison and Harding ..would love to know people that knew him,as I was 10 years younger

    Like

    • Mike Wynn April 29, 2019 / 8:28 am

      Hi Teri

      Thanks for your comments. Sorry I don’t remember Doug but I seem to remember a Greg Long when I was growing up. Mike

      Like

      • Rick Toms May 6, 2019 / 2:25 pm

        Hi Mike,

        I have wondered many times where you ended up. I ran across Buck Schott’s email address a year or two ago and said Hi. Thanks for your service and very glad you have a nice life in Australia.

        All the Best.
        Rick Toms

        Like

  7. hayden June 6, 2019 / 4:27 am

    Hey Mike, do you recall when you first saw your picture on The Smiths album?

    Like

  8. Morgan T Bennett June 23, 2019 / 5:40 pm

    Make war not love. Thanks for your service sir.

    Like

  9. SC August 5, 2019 / 12:50 pm

    Thanks for your service sir. In case you have not seen this yet, your image is featured on one of the newest Jackets from Supreme which will be released during their Fall/winter season: https://www.supremenewyork.com/news/757/

    Like

    • Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:47 am

      Hi SC. Yes the jacket has been released by Supreme. I hear it’s selling well

      Like

      • Sophie Good January 16, 2020 / 5:44 pm

        Dear Mike, thank you for taking the time to read my recent comment. Hope you don’t mind me asking but I was wondering what made you emigrate to Australia? Happy Birthday too by the way!

        Like

      • Mike Wynn January 21, 2020 / 6:25 pm

        Sophie We moved to Australia to buy an apple orchard and get away from the crowds in California. Thanks for birthday wishes. The older I get-the better I was.

        Like

      • Brett W Simpson June 30, 2020 / 1:25 pm

        Hi Mike. First off thank you for your service. I had a quick question about this jacket/ the skateboard that Supreme did with your likeness. Did you agree to have the wording on your helmet changed for these images? I just wanted to check because I have it hanging on my wall and wouldn’t want it up if you didn’t like what they did to it. I hope life is treating your well and I hope to hear back!

        -Brett

        (I think my first comment that was about the same thing was deleted by a moderator so if you see the same questions from me twice don’t feel like to you have to respond again)

        Like

  10. Jenna August 7, 2019 / 12:34 pm

    Hi Mike, found this article after seeing your Vietnam photo on a jacket. I had remembered the photo from The Smith’s album cover and thought I would do some research to see who the infamous soldier was. Glad to see you are living a peaceful life. I’m wondering though, what happen to your 3 other friends that joined with you? Did they serve in the war and make it back safely?

    Like

    • Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:32 am

      Hi Jenna. We all made it back home. I have lost contact over the years

      Like

  11. Philip G August 8, 2019 / 3:15 am

    Interesting article, thanks. It would also be interesting to have your comments on the iconic shot with the helmet. Where and when was it taken, what was the context of “make war not love”, etc.

    Like

    • jenna August 8, 2019 / 9:22 am

      Just in case he doesn’t get back to you, from what I have read the photo was taken in Da Nang, South Vietnam in Sept 1967. He was 20 at the time. The hippie slogan was “Make love, not war.” So he opted to reverse the words.

      Would love to get more background from him as well.

      Like

  12. Kurt p August 11, 2019 / 3:58 am

    The smiths meat is murder brought me here…. thanks for your service . Some pretty grisly stories.

    Like

  13. Alan Armstrong August 22, 2019 / 4:26 am

    Really interesting read, thanks Mike. Like the previous comment, im brought here by the album cover. Which i have tattooed on my arm if you are interested in seeing it!

    Alan

    Like

    • Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:38 am

      Hi Alan. Love to see your tat.

      Like

      • alan armstrong September 14, 2019 / 5:46 am

        [Image] [Image] Hi Mike.

        Here you go. Hope you like it!

        ________________________________

        Like

      • Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:50 am

        It didn’t come through Alan

        Like

      • Alan Armstrong September 14, 2019 / 5:54 am

        Still looks like its not playing.

        If you mail me at alanarmstrong AT hotmail DOT com i will send it over.

        Like

      • Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:54 am

        Alan Armstrong. It didn’t come through

        Like

  14. Pat H August 29, 2019 / 11:45 am

    I was also brought here by searching for background info on the soldier who was on the album cover by the Smiths. I have so many questions about your take on it: What did you think of the use of your face on that cover? Did the alterations made to the statement on your helmet bother you? Did the band approach you at all or do they only have to ask permission from the photographer? When did you learn that you were on an album cover by a British band? Hopefully you benefited from it in some way. Anyway, I’m happy to hear that you’re well, and glad that my interest in music led me to learn of your fascinating story. Thank you for your service, Sergeant!

    Like

    • Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:36 am

      Hi Jenna. We all made it back home. I have lost contact over the years

      Like

  15. Mike Wynn September 14, 2019 / 5:44 am

    Hi Pat H. Thanks for your interest. I’ve never been approached about the use of the photo. I wasn’t real happy about the Smiths changing the wording. I first learned of it when my sister happened to see the album while she was shopping.

    Like

  16. Pavel December 18, 2019 / 1:26 pm

    I’m glad that i found so much information about you sir. Article is great, it was a pleasure to read it. Hope you’re doing well these days

    Like

    • Mike Wynn January 13, 2020 / 12:02 am

      Thanks Pavel

      Like

  17. Bài văn mẫU January 3, 2020 / 1:24 pm

    Only wanna input on few general things, The website style is
    perfect, the content is rattling wonderful :D.

    Like

    • Mike Wynn January 13, 2020 / 12:00 am

      Thanks Sophie

      Like

  18. Fred February 11, 2020 / 6:12 pm

    Hi Michael
    Thank you for your service. God bless you and everyone else who answered the call. I said that to an ex-serviceman who laughed and said he had been a draftee. It doesn’t matter! All of you showed up!
    Cheers,
    Fred from California

    Like

  19. Fabricio Ferreira Tobias March 21, 2020 / 10:55 pm

    Hi Michael, how are you? I’m Fabricio Ferreira Tobias from Sorocaba, Brazil. I have a meat is murder record and I always wanted to know who the soldier was on the cover of the record. You must have many stories to tell about Vietnam. Too bad I don’t live in the states, otherwise I would ask you to sign my album. I’m sorry for my bad English. Hope you’re well.

    Like

    • Mike Wynn March 24, 2020 / 6:18 am

      Hi Fabricio. Thanks for your interest. Your English is much better than my Portuguese! Mike

      Like

  20. Matthew from Canada March 22, 2020 / 3:14 am

    Michael, thank you very much for your service. As someone turning 20 this year it shakes me reading this and grows my appreciation for the fact I haven’t had to experience such events. Hope you are doing well, my friend.

    Like

    • Mike Wynn March 24, 2020 / 6:07 am

      Thanks Matthew. I hope you never have to experience war. Semper Fidelis.
      Mike

      Like

  21. Mo April 21, 2020 / 12:19 am

    Thanks for your service Mike. Like many others, I’m a fan of the Smiths and that brought me here. Glad to know your personal story, and glad you made it home.
    Peace and love. Mo

    Like

  22. Ronald Diegle May 23, 2020 / 5:20 pm

    Hello Mike. You and I didn’t know each other at Harding, but we graduated together. In fact, I have the exact same birth date as you. I remember seeing you in the hallways and knowing you were in sports. I was a science nerd. Your career took you to Viet Nam and mine to the General Electric Co., where I worked on electronics that were used in military communications. As a young engineer I followed the war through the news but was never an activist. At the time I thought the war was a good thing. I was sorry to see the way war vets were treated upon their return to the states. Your article was very interesting. I am glad you made it home safely and are enjoying retirement – as I am too. Thank you for your service to our country.

    Like

    • Mike Wynn May 28, 2020 / 10:36 pm

      Hi Ron

      I remember you as one the intelligent guys who always had a pen and slide rule in your shirt pocket! Being a jock had unreasonable importance attached to it in high school. You guys who
      became doctors,engineers,and scientists etc. made valuable contributions to society. Thanks for your note and contribution to military communications. Semper Fidelis

      Like

      • Ronald Diegle May 29, 2020 / 1:40 pm

        You may see some humor in this fact: Although I did well academically and was recognized by my classmates for those achievements, my proudest moment at Harding was when I earned a letter in cross country in my junior year. The fact that I was able to excel in a sports activity – even it was only cross country – was very gratifying to me and surprising to my close classmates.

        Like

      • Mike Wynn May 29, 2020 / 8:11 pm

        Ron

        You have misunderstood my comment buddy. I was not criticising you at all. I was trying to say that people that excel academically don’t get the credit they deserve. They make a much bigger contribution than some spoiled overpaid professional athlete. The slide rule comment was said in jest.

        Like

      • Ronald Diegle May 30, 2020 / 11:08 am

        Mike, I took your reply to me as 100% complimentary. I agree with it and I thank you for it. It was my bad that I miscommunicated in discussing my experience with cross country. I should have said that I (not you) now find it somewhat humorous that I was so pleased with it.

        Like

      • Mike Wynn May 30, 2020 / 7:08 pm

        All good buddy!

        Like

  23. Bill Breen May 28, 2020 / 7:15 pm

    Just discovered this article when I saw your image used on a album cover — with changed Words. First and foremost, thank you for your service! I grew up on Darlington Court – our backyards faced each other. I also went to Olney, Edison and Harding – Class of 1970. Didn’t you hurt your spleen in a football game?? You were a local neighborhood celebrity – Football player and then the Picture in all the newspapers. Great article – so glad you and your other 3 friends made it home. Enjoy your retirement in Australia. I went to Sydney several times for work. Great place and people. Bill Breen

    Like

    • Mike Wynn May 28, 2020 / 10:46 pm

      Hi Bill
      I certainly remember your name but not much more. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast! Yes I ruptured my spleen in a game against Sandusky and missed the rest of that season. At times every 5th draftee was forced into the Marine Corps-always felt sorry them!Thanks for your post and comments. Semper Fidelis.

      Liked by 1 person

      • wbreenaz May 31, 2020 / 11:22 am

        This is hard to believe but true.. I was walking this morning on a trail and encountered a 30 something couple. As I approached them I noticed her T-Shirt. It was the Smiths album cover of YOUR PICTURE — with Meat is Murder on the helmet!! I told them your story and they were really thrilled to hear it. Here I am walking in Oro Valley AZ and see that picture right after discovering it and communicating with you. Darn I regret not taking a picture. Small world.
        –bill–

        Like

      • Mike Wynn May 31, 2020 / 8:23 pm

        Bill
        The Smiths have a real cult following for some reason. I’ve seen the photo on clothes-skateboards-and even tattoos. Always amazes me.

        Mike

        Like

  24. Dave Ferguson June 1, 2020 / 7:01 am

    Hey Mike.Proud to know you and what you went through and achieved.Its been awhile since I’ve seen you, always enjoyed your company.Hope your keeping well.Cheers Dave

    Like

    • Mike Wynn June 1, 2020 / 1:52 pm

      Thanks Dave. It has been a awhile buddy. Hope you and your family are doing well. I’m doing pretty good-still vertical! Mike

      Like

  25. Philippe Pujol June 8, 2020 / 9:57 am

    Hello Mike, I am so happy to hear from you after so long. We did not know where you lived. Could you let me have your contact number? Our family has grown and we would be happy to share some pictures of them all.
    Philippe

    Like

  26. Brett W Simpson June 30, 2020 / 1:38 pm

    Hello Mike. First off thank you for your service. I know that Vietnam vets weren’t treated like vets should be and it breaks my heart to think of the sacrifices you and others made to come home to an ungrateful nation. I had a quick question about the Supreme jacket and Skateboard that came out with your image on it. I have the skateboard hanging in my house but I wanted to make sure that the change that they did to the wording on your helmet was something they consulted you about. I wouldn’t want it up if you didn’t approve of what they did to your likeness. Either way I hope life is treating you well is Australia and would be honored to hear back from you.

    Thanks!

    -Brett

    PS I think the mods keep deleting my comments. So hopefully only one version of this question I’m trying to ask ends up getting posted

    Like

  27. peterjameshallam September 6, 2020 / 6:43 am

    Dear mike – thank you for your heroic service. I come from a Royal Navy family and tried to join the Royal Marines when I was 18 (but they didn’t take me!) thank you also for letting the world know about your life as your image must have been seen by tens of millions of people. If you ever have the inclination, do listen to the Smiths as they have made some of the most sublime music ever made. Some of their great songs (sometimes written with a humorous tonge in cheek) – the charming man, the headmaster ritual, ask, heaven knows I’m miserable now, the boy with the thorn in his side, girlfriend in a coma. My very best wishes to you and your family and friends. God bless px

    Like

    • Mike Wynn September 7, 2020 / 10:32 pm

      Hi Peter

      Thanks for your interest and comments. I hope things get better for you soon. Mike

      Like

      • peterjameshallam September 8, 2020 / 2:31 am

        👏🏻😂😎✊️Excellent! Yes the Smiths do have a rather depressing quality. One nickname for them was “The Manchester Moan”! I am also a classic rock fan – love the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

        Best wishes and stay well Mike!

        Peter

        Ps – Aren’t the mangoes good in Queensland?

        Like

      • Mike Wynn September 8, 2020 / 3:15 am

        Yep. Got 4 trees on my property.

        Like

      • Peter Hall September 8, 2020 / 4:49 am

        And long may you enjoy them! This song is based on Elvis’ His Latest Flame so a bit old school:

        I love the wordplay and phrasing.

        “And when I am lying in my bed
        I think about life and I think about death
        and neither one particularly appeals to me.”

        We have all been there I am sure.

        best wishes

        Peter

        Like

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