U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Malcolm ‘Doc’ Mole Finally Rests Easy 55 Years After Being Killed in Action During the Battle of Khe Sanh
By Steve Wilson // February 26, 2023
There will forever be a connection between Malcolm Geoffrey 'Doc' Mole and Cathy Haynes
This is a story of two people intertwined that never knew each other: Malcolm Geoffrey “Doc” Mole and Cathy Haynes.
Doc, as his friends called him, was one of 58,200 Americans that died during the Vietnam War. He was killed in action on January 21, 1968, during the Battle of Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam.
According to the official website of the United States Marine Corps, the Battle of Khe Sanh lasted 77 days, from January 21, 1968, to March 31, 1968. Mole died during the first day of the battle.
Doc Mole was a Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class. At the time of his death, he was assigned to H&S CO, 3rd BN, 26th MARINES, 3rd MARDIV, III MAF. His tour of duty started on September 14, 1967. Doc was in Vietnam for a little over four months before he was killed. He was only 20 years old.
During the Vietnam War, many of the 16-week Naval Hospital Corps school graduates went directly to 8404 Field Medical Service School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, or Camp Pendleton, California, for nine weeks of field training, before deployment to a Marine Corps unit in South Vietnam.
The colloquial form of address for a hospital corpsman is “Doc.” In the United States Marine Corps, this term is generally used as a sign of respect.
The value to a Marine of a Navy Hospital Corpsman cannot be overstated. According to retired U.S. Marine E4/Corporal Vinnie Howard, a “Corpsman, next to your rifle and Ka-Bar, are a Marine’s best friend.” He went on to say, “We take care of our own.”
The book, “Last Stand at Khe Sanh,” by Gregg Jones, which was written after extensive archival research and features more than 100 interviews, details Doc’s last minutes.
“The cry of ‘corpsman’ soon sounded around him. Five Navy corpsmen had been assigned to Kilo Company. One of the two corpsmen attached to Jasper’s command group, aspiring disc jockey Malcolm Mole, scraped down the hill in response to a shout for aid. An RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) round streaked across the slope, killing the 20-year-old from Florida …”
Doc had a unique upbringing. His parents were British and served in the Royal Air Force, and he was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1947. However, he grew up in DeLand, Florida, with the hope of one day becoming a disc jockey.
Posted on the Wall of Faces website, which honors Vietnam veterans, well-known disc jockey Cleveland Wheeler, who started his career at WMFJ in Daytona Beach and worked with Doc, wrote, Doc “was a sales guy, no older than I at 18. Most don’t know, but Malcolm did not have to go. Although British, he loved the U.S., and this is what he knew was right in his heart.”
Wheeler was so impressed with Doc that he named his son Geoffrey in his honor.
Also posted on the Wall of Faces website, Lucy Micik writes – “Dear PO3C Malcolm Mole, Thank you for your service as a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class with the 26th Marines. Semper Fi. Thank you for the lives you saved. Saying thank you isn’t enough, but it is from the heart.”
Mike Breid, who went on to be known as Arkansas Red, is a well-known musician from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Breid and Doc were together at Hospital Corps School at Great Lakes in 1966. Breid said this about Doc, “Mole and I were buds. He would listen while I played guitar or banjo. He was always after me to learn to play On A Clear Day. Haven’t learned it yet!”
Breid continued, “Sorry he didn’t make it, but we knew the chances we were taking when we entered Hospital Corps School. RIP Malcolm. Glad I got to know you.”
Dennis Mannion, who served with Doc talked about his “DJ voice.” According to Mannion, Doc told him he wanted to be a disc jockey when he got out of the service. Mannion said Doc would often talk in his “disc jockey voice and make it Vietnam related.”
In fact, Mannion and his radioman were probably the last people on earth to speak with Doc. Remembering a conversation he had with Doc just a few hours before he was killed, Mannion told Doc, it looks like “his Marines are gonna need your help soon.” Later that night, around midnight, they spoke again briefly and went in opposite directions. Approximately ten minutes later, Doc was killed during an attack.
His remains were brought back to the United States, but the exact location was unknown until recently.
Enter Cathy Haynes from central Florida, who has dedicated her time and effort to locating the graves of unmarked Vietnam war casualties. She volunteers with numerous Veterans organizations in the area, and after countless hours of research, she located the grave of Doc Mole.
Haynes discovered Doc was not buried in DeLand, which is where he was previously reported to be, but in Daytona Memorial Gardens in Daytona Beach, Florida.
After contacting the website “Find a Grave,” Haynes put in a request for a photo of his grave marker. Volunteers U.S. Army veteran Bryan Babcock and his wife Lindsay walked the cemetery multiple times but could not find the location of the grave. After visiting the cemetery office and locating the grave, it was determined there was no marker.
Haynes contacted the Vietnam Veterans of America, Post 1048 (VVA 1048), provided her research and worked closely with Harold Holloway, a Da Nang brown water Navy Vietnam veteran. Holloway contacted the VA and was told there was no documentation that a marker had been ordered.
Haynes also contacted the funeral home and cemetery, and there was no documentation of ordering or setting a marker.
According to Haynes, Holloway initiated the request for a marker in September 2022, just before Hurricane Ian hit. Because of the storm, there was concern about a possible delay. However, the marker arrived in a reasonable amount of time and was set in November 2022.
VVA 1048 selected a date in November to set the marker and honor Doc, but the weather did not cooperate. Looking to set a new date to honor Doc, Haynes said she “made mention that January 21 was when Malcolm was killed, and it was 55 years to the day.”
So, the dedication ceremony was scheduled for January 21, 2023. Many individuals and veteran organizations from around the State of Florida attended.
Finally, Doc Mole was not forgotten.
There will forever be a connection between Malcolm Geoffrey “Doc” Mole and Cathy Haynes. Doc was a true American hero, of that, there is no doubt.
Cathy Haynes is the unsung hero of this story. Because of her thoughtfulness and caring, she not only helped locate Doc, but she continues her research to locate others. This, in turn, will put the spotlight on these veterans and give them the recognition and honor they so richly deserve.