EATON, BOBBY LYNN
Rank / Branch:
LCP E-3, USMC
Date of Birth:
HOSTILE, DIED EXPLOS
Awards & Decorations:
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list by County
BOBBY LYNN EATON, LANCE CORPORAL, USMC, ODESSA, ECTOR COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Military Merit Medal
Bobby was born on March 6, 1947 in Kermit, Texas. He was the second of four boys, older brother Gerald and twin younger brothers, Barry and Larry born to Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Eaton. The family moved to Snyder, Texas from Kermit where Bobby went to school until the family moved to Odessa in 1961 when Bobby was in the 8th grade. Bobby went to Bowie Junior High School and then went to Permian High School. While at Permian, he played trombone in the Panther Marching and Concert Bands. Bobby graduated in May 1965 and promptly enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corp. Bobby completed boot camp at the Marine Recruit Depot, San Diego, California and Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton, California. He received orders for Vietnam when he completed ITR, but was delayed to illness.
Bobby departed for Vietnam in October 1965, where he was assigned to I Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.
From fellow marines who served with in Vietnam, Tom Mosher of San Diego, California, “When we got to the unit in March 1966, we were at Hill 55 which is south of DaNang and the unit had been there since January 1966. In May 1966, the unit moved to provide security to the Marine Air Base at DaNang during the Buddhist riots. In July, 1966, the unit moved out into the country to Hill 21 about 10 miles southwest of DaNang to patrol and make contact with the enemy.” The C.P. for the unit was on Hill 22. It was here on Hill 21, on August 7, 1966 that Bobby’s squad was going on a routine night patrol. Ned Borlaug, a fellow marine who now lives in Redding, California, stated he was in Bobby’s squad and Bobby and about three or four others had been together since March 1966. Ned stated he usually walked point on these patrols, but he was detailed for listening point duty that night. He stated another guy walked point that night.
Tom Mosher, stated he could still see Mike Tripp, Bobby and himself sitting in the bunker not one hour before the patrol and they were helping Bobby clean his M-14 magazines. He stated that Bobby was talking about showing this FNG (military for F----- New Guy or politically correct Funny New Guy) how to walk point. It was a night patrol and as the patrol moved out Bobby was walking just behind the new guy. About 45 minutes into the patrol, another friend of Bobby’s, Jim Bell of Mosinee Wisconsin stated, the explosion occurred, every one went down. He stated it had to be the lead person who set it off. He didn’t think it was Bobby as Bobby would have been behind the new guy to critique him on the patrol. After the explosion, all hell broke loose, the call for “Corpsman” came and the lead guys in the patrol started calling for medevac over the net. Jim Bell indicated the marines were firing in all directions and he carried a thumper (M79 Grenade Launcher). He stated he fired off many rounds into the village near by. As Jim recalls, the medevac would not come in because of the gunfire. Jim Bell, Tom Mosher and Ted Borlaug all stated that they thought the new guy was wounded also. In a few weeks, the unit was moved out of Vietnam back to Okinawa and the new guy was gone.
According to Jim Bell, the booby trap was a grenade with a trip wire and it was strung near a canal across the paddy. Bobby was hit by the blast which would suggest that he was next in line as the grenade probably still had a delay fuse system. When it went off, Bobby lost an arm and was blinded. The Corpsman worked over him furiously. It took the medevacs about 20 minutes to finally come in. Jim stated Bobby was barely alive when he was lifted out.
According to the Marine records, Bobby died in the evacuation hospital from his wounds.
Ned Borlung stated the next morning he was point for the squad and they moved into the same area. He stated he held up the squad at a point near the village and he went in by himself. He stated he saw a pant leg run behind a hooch. He stated he went to the other side of the hooch and found two North Vietnamese Officers that were gathered around the older peasants in the village. One was a paymaster, the other a high-ranking North Vietnamese Officer. He took them prisoner as they surprised them. They took them to an ARVN outpost a few miles away.
Ned stated that they always took the same trail past the village when they patrolled toward Laos. He stated the NVA were probably going to set up more booby traps in the area and he felt the North Vietnamese were alerted the villages about this. He stated we caught the people who killed Eaton the next day.
Ned, Jim and Tom all indicated that there is a reunion for 3/3 India every year. They read off the names on the Memorial. Bobby’s name is among them. Bobby was quiet, intelligent, dependable, and innocent. “We all took his death personally.”
According to Bobby’s parents quote in the Odessa American, Tuesday, August 9, 1966, Section 1-B, Bobby wanted to make a career of the Marine Corp. He didn’t have a special girl; he was just an All American boy.
Bobby Eaton, a nineteen year old Marine was buried at the Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Odessa, Texas, just on the north side a few feet from the Praying Hands. Bobby’s parents are deceased now and they are buried next to him.
At the time of Bobby’s death it was thought that Bobby was the first Odessan to be killed in Vietnam. This was not the case as another Odessan, James Everett Lane, had lost his life there in on July 15, 1962, when a helicopter he was in was shot down.
Larry, twin brother to Barry, passed away in Longview in March, 2017. Barry continues to live in Longview, Texas. Older brother Gerald was killed in a car accident in 2002.
Bobby was one of six in his 1965 graduating class at Permian High School to die in Vietnam. The others were:
Randy Jarrell, USMC, Mike Gladden, U. S. Army Airborne, John Neary, U. S. Army Airborne, Dale Farris, U.S. Air Force and Marvin Rex Young, U. S. Army (Medal of Honor)
Mike Gladden and Bobby Eaton not only were classmates but also were born 3-06-1947. They died 14 months apart and are buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens in the same section of the cemetery. In that same section are many other Odessans who lost their lives in Vietnam.