Marvin R. Pearce (1968/08/25)
"Follow me," was Marvin's motto as he and his dog moved into the point position with his Paw Power platoon.
Marvin Robert Pearce (Thornburg) was born on March 18, 1949 in Santa Cruz, California, and was raised by Arlee and Francis Pearce. (The name Thornburg, appearing in the obituary of Marvin Pearce, has not been identified).
Marvin spent his formative years in the Live Oak section of Santa Cruz County where he and his sisters, Julie and Margaret, attended elementary school. He continued his education at Santa Cruz High School and remained there until 1967.
Marvin Pearce enlisted in the US Army in early 1967. Following basic and advanced individual training, he was accepted for airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon completion of jump school he was assigned to the 101st Airborne, (Screaming Eagles) Division. Unique among 101st airborne units was the 47th Infantry's Scout Dog Platoon to which Marvin Pearce was assigned as a dog handler in early February 1968. After completing a special twelve-week training course, he returned home in early May for a two week leave prior to departing for Vietnam.
After his arrival in Vietnam on May 27, 1968, Pearce was sent to Landing Zone Sally, located thirty miles northwest of Hue. The unit's history describes the activities of Pearce's final four months.
“The Platoon supported ground infantry missions of the 101st Division. Scout dogs and their handlers walked point on patrol and utilized silent alerts to detect mines, booby traps, snipers and other enemy personnel. The months of July and August 1968 were difficult ones. Within six weeks, five handlers had been wounded in a variety of combat missions. Handler Marvin R. Pearce became the first platoon member to be killed as the result of a shrapnel wound to the back of the skull. “
Specialist Fourth Class Marvin Robert Pearce's body was recovered and returned to Santa Cruz and following his funeral, was buried in Oakwood Memorial Park.
(VVMW; VVVW; 101stt Airborne, 47th Inf (Scout Dog Platoon) http://www.47ipsd.us/47hist.htm#vn, [16 September 2008]; SCSn August 30, 1968 1:3; Cemetery Survey)