“I THOUGHT, ‘I’LL NEVER LIVE; I’LL NEVER MAKE IT.’”
WIT Magazine, Spring 2018
Marty Guyer enlisted in the Marine Corps.
MARTIN “MARTY” GUYER, MEP ’64, is practically incognito when he arrives on campus for the annual luncheon to honor members of the U.S. Armed Forces, in slacks and blazer, with zero interest in puffing himself up for the small ceremony.
Soon after he earned his associate degree from Wentworth, before he founded successful firms specializing in employee benefits programs, Guyer enlisted in the Marine Corps and went to basic training at what he calls, “the University of Parris Island.”
He performed so well that a Marine captain recommended him for flight school at the Naval Air Training Command in Pensacola, Fla. He graduated as a Naval aviator, 2nd lieutenant USMCR, and was deployed to Vietnam. In 1970, he was released from active duty and remained in the Reserves through 1991, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
A Wentworth corporator and honorary degree recipient, Guyer spent 13 months in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, conducting troop assaults, medical evacuations, and reconnaissance operations, and flying ammunition re-supply missions.
“When it came my turn to serve the country, I did it willingly,” Guyer says. “I went into combat saying, ‘I’m doing the right thing.’”
Guyer could fill a book with anecdotes from his sorties. Like the time in October 1966 when his UH-34 D was shot down near Da Nang during an emergency medevac mission. He was 25 years old.
“That was my second day in-country,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’ll never live; I’ll never make it.’ But I did.”
Martin “Marty” D. Guyer, second row, fourth from right, with Marine Attack Squadron 322 on live-fire deployment at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, August, 1973.
One of his most memorable missions, in August 1967, began with an emergency call to mobilize at 3:00 in the morning, while Guyer was aboard the helicopter aircraft carrier U.S.S. Okinawa. A Marine battalion south of the DMZ had come under heavy enemy contact.
“We launched 24 helicopters and headed for the DMZ with no supporting arms, no nothing—into the kill zone,” says Guyer. “Many aircraft took hits. I was in the fifth wave, and I remember looking at my co-pilot and saying, ‘what a hell of a way to make a living.’”
In September of ’67, a Force RECON Marine team had come under contact with the NVA southwest of Khe Sanh, and Guyer and his wingman launched a rescue mission.
“We were in an area of the country that we weren’t supposed to be in. We hovered over the canopy and I dropped my hoist down and picked up the first four Marines. Everyone is shooting at us. I could hear the rounds hitting: thump, thump, thump, and I’m thinking, ‘hurry up.’”
The mission a success, Guyer and his wingman were celebrating back at their Khe Sanh base, when suddenly they realized one Marine was missing.
“I said, ‘I’ll go get him.’ I went back with my wingman and we’re just going around at tree-top level, trying to find this kid. We got him and brought him back. Mission accomplished.
“Throughout my experience in Vietnam,” said Guyer, “I had the utmost respect for the grunts on the ground, and our mission has always been to help a fellow Marine.
“It’s like they say, Semper Fi.”
Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services General Counsel Stuart Ivimey, Marty Guyer, and Vice President for Finance Robert Totino.
— Dennis Nealon
SHARE THIS POST