Warriors in their Own Words

Remarkable stories of war told by the men who fought for a proud nation. Their words. Their voices. Our first episodes tell riveting stories from World War II, then we move on to the Vietnam War and other dramatic conflicts.

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CUCM Johnny McCully: The Battle of Dong Xoai

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CUCM Johnny McCully: The Battle of Dong Xoai

CUCM McCully served in a construction battalion, more commonly known as the Seabees, during Vietnam.

The Naval Construction Battalions, which quickly became known as the Seabees due to their abbreviation, were formed at the beginning of American involvement in World War II. They were created as an amphibious force to construct advanced bases in combat zones, and quickly became well respected because they were composed of only experienced men.

Johnny McCully was inspired by the bravery of family members he saw volunteer to fight in World War II, and enlisted in the Navy at 17, right after the war ended. He was assigned to a Seabee unit, and helped rebuild infrastructure in countries around the world following the war.

Two decades later, McCully deployed to Vietnam. A day after he was sent to Dong Xoai, the VietCong launched a surprise attack on his base. McCully was on watch when the first mortar hit, and played a significant role in defending the base during the first stages of the attack. He was hit with shrapnel, but continued to fight despite his injuries.

McCully was then separated from his battalion during a fight with a VC soldier who had a flamethrower. McCully’s battalion thought he had been burned alive, but he escaped, and spent over 48 hours on the run, hiding from VC forces without any food, water, or ammo. Eventually he found an American helicopter that was landing, and was airlifted to safety.

Upon reaching a hospital, the doctors told McCully he’d permanently lost 75% of the strength of his right arm. After physical therapy, he regained almost all his strength.

Click here to learn more about the Battle of Dong Xai.

Photo Credits: NAVFAC and the U.S. Navy Seabees Museum


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