In the fall of 1967, The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, finished training 498 twenty-something Marine second lieutenants. By the end of the year, nearly all were in Vietnam.

Before Christmas, the first of them was killed in action: 2nd Lt. Michael Ruane, of Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, on Dec. 18, 1967. The TBS class that began in June 1967 (TBS 6/67) would have a casualty rate of more than 50 percent — the highest of any Marine officer class during the Vietnam War.

For those second lieutenants and their platoons, the pace was unrelenting. They would go past the wire — when there was wire — on daily patrols through terrain that ranged from paddies and dikes along the coast, through the scrub brush and elephant grass of the interior, and into the triple-canopy jungles of the high ground reaching into Laos.”

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