Jack Wells was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Sixth Basic Class of 1967, from which 498 newly minted second lieutenants graduated on November 1 of that year. “BC 6-67 sent more lieutenants off to war and suffered more officers killed or wounded than any Basic School class since the Korean War, ” Wells says early on in Class of ’67: The Story of the 6th Marine Officer Basic Class of 1967 (CreateSpace, 231 pp., $45.95, paper), a well-conceived and well-written tribute to the forty-three men in his class who died in Vietnam.
Wells was a forward observer with A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and also the artillery adviser for the 21st ARVN Ranger Battalion, before ending his 1968-69 Vietnam War tour as the XO for H Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines. He conceived of the idea of a book honoring his classmates who died in Vietnam in 1998 at the class’s second reunion. The result was “Basic School Class 6-67: The Tip of the Spear, ” an article Wells wrote in the Marine Corps Gazette in 2002. That article became the first chapter of his book.
The book’s final chapter describes the effort “to create a living memorial to Basic Class 6-67 and those who served with them” in the form of a nine-room primary school near the village of Thang Binh in Vietnam, not far from the 5th Marines’ 1967 regimental headquarters. Working with the East Meets West Foundation , the Marines of 6-67 raised the money to built the school, which was dedicated in February of 2006.
“In front of the school, ” Wells writes, “a memorial wall displays 165 inscriptions engraved on marble tiles that reflect some of the thoughts of those who supported the project. Funds from the project paid for construction of a small library two years later.”