Melvin L. Pullen (1970/06/26)
Too many mortars were just too much for this "Black horse" cavalryman.
Melvin Lewis Pullen was born on March 28, 1951, in Oregon. His mother's name was Wilma. Sharing the Pullen family home were his brothers, Leonard, Michael and Leslie, and sister, Ardell. The Pullens moved to the San Lorenzo Valley of Santa Cruz County in the early 1960s where Melvin attended local elementary schools. In September 1964 he entered San Lorenzo Valley High School with the exiting class of 1969; however, he left prior to graduation.
Melvin Pullen enlisted in the US Army in April 1969. He completed basic training at Fort Ord, California and advanced individual training at Fort Knox, Kentucky qualifying him as an armored reconnaissance specialist. Following his training period, Pullen served short tours of duty in Germany and at Fort Lewis, Washington. On March 10, 1970, he returned home and married Winifred in Carson City, Nevada.
Private First Class Pullen arrived in Vietnam on May 2, 1970, and was assigned as a half-track gunner in Company K of the 3rd Squadron, of the 11th Armored Cavalry serving in the Third Corps area.
“From well-established bases inside Cambodia, the communists would strike out into South Vietnam and then return across the border to resupply and regroup. On 1 May 1970, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment participated in an operation known as the Cambodian Excursion in which they penetrated into Cambodia to a location called the Fish Hook. The mission's intent was to deny the enemy safe havens and stop operations at their Parrot's Beak area resupply area.”
While Pullen's unit was in Cambodia on June 26, 1970, they came under a heavy enemy mortar attack that claimed his life and that of three other members of his company. His body was recovered, returned to Santa Cruz and following a full military funeral, was buried in Oakwood Memorial Park.
(VVMW, Oakwood MP headstone; SCSn July 7, 1970 1:7 July 7, 1970 22:2; 1 How, Black horse in Vietnam, http://www.1how.net/3-1how.htm, [16 September 2008])