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USMC Gunnery Sgt. Formaz

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United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Peter C. Formaz (Service #1867936) was born February 7th 1942 in Detroit Michigan to Conrad and Marjorie Formaz. He grew up in the small town of Medina, Ohio. Peter enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in Cleveland, Ohio on February 29th 1960 before he graduation from high school in June of 1960. 

Peter was activated to the Marines on June 13th 1960 and started basic training with Second Recruit Training Battalion, Paris Island, South Carolina on June 15th 1960 where he trained until graduation September 1st 1960. 

Pvt. Formaz joined “A” Company, 1st Battalion, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for combat training from September 2nd through October 6th 1960. He then joined “B” Company, 2nd Tank Battalion where he received his Basic Tank Crewman training. He was then transferred to “B” Company 2nd Tank Battalion on October 27th 1960. Pvt. Formaz sailed aboard the LST-1162 U.S.S. Wahkiakum County on Valentines Day 1961, and arrived at Camp Garcia, Puerto Rico on February 25th. He would travel aboard the U.S.S. Wahkiakum County to and from Puerto Rico for training in April, and June. Formaz would travel again to Puerto Rico aboard the Amphibious Attack Cargo ship AKA-107 U.S.S. Vieques in August and arriving back at Onslow Beach, North Carolina on October 20th 1961. Formaz remained as a tank crewman until December 19th 1961 at Camp Lejeune. 

Pvt. Formaz re-enlisted on October 11th 1963 and was promoted to the rank of Corporal. His new admirable duty was that of a Drill Instructor for the 3rd Recruit Battalion, Paris Island, South Carolina. Corporal Formaz was promoted to Sergeant on June 15th 1964 and he continued to train Marines until July 28th 1965 when he was transferred. 

Sergeant Formaz joined Company B, Headquarters Battalion, Arlington, Virginia on September 1st 1965 at the Burmese Language Course. Washington D.C. On July 23rd Sgt. Formaz was reassigned to the United States Intelligence School, Fort Holabird, Maryland. 

Sgt. Formaz joined Spt Company, Headquarters Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California on October 17th 1966 while he awaited orders to depart for the Republic of Vietnam. 

On October 27th 1966 Sgt Formaz flew from Travis Air Force Base, San Francisco and landed the next day October 28th at Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan. He departed October 31st 1966 from Kadena AFB and landed the same day in Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam. 

Sgt. Formaz joined the 1st Marine Division and participated in the following Operations as an interrogator. 

•Operation County Fair (5–13) from January 11th 1967 - January 13th 1967. To the South of the Da Nang Airbase contained an extended area with hamlets and villages, While Marines cordoned a village, ARVN troops and police gathered the inhabitants at a designated collection point. The South Vietnamese troops then searched the hamlet for any Vietcong who might still be hiding.

•Operation Independence from February 1st 1967 - February 9th 1967. In Quang Nam Province, Most of the action, which was moderate, took place south of the Song Vu Gia. In all, 139 enemy dead were counted; 20 enemy were captured. Nine Marines were killed, and 35 wounded .

•Operation Stone from February 12th 1967 - February 23rd 1967. Quảng Nam Province At 0700, 12 February, 1st Marines (Colonel Donal d L. Mallory) with three battalions began Operation Stone 12 miles south of Da Nang in a troublesome area much worked over previously. The operation was expected to last five days, Initial contact was light, but it increased and the operation dragged on until 22nd of February, by which time there were 291 enemy dead and 65 enemy prisoners . The 1st Marines had lost nine killed, 77 wounded. 

•Participted in search and destroy operations with 1st Recon Battalion from February 24th 1967 - February 27th 1967

•Operation LaNoke from March 4th 1967 - March 9th 1967 Quảng Nam Province; search and destroy. 

•Operation Yuba from March 10th 1967 - March 13th 1967 Quảng Nam Province; search and destroy

•Operation Faulkner From March 14th 1967 - March 18th 1967; search and destroy. 

•Operation Newcastle from March 20th 1967 - March 25th 1967 in the An Hoa Bassin of Quang Nam provenance. Friendly losses are 5 KIA, 55 wounded. Enemy losses are 118 killed, and 35 detained. 

•Operation Golden Fleece from April 6th 1967 - April 7th 1967, Quảng Ngãi Province; security operation. 

•Operation Dixie from April 8th 1967 - April 12th 1967, Quảng Nam Province; search & destroy. 

•participated in support operation with USSF GP A-109 May 23rd 1967 - May 26th 1967. 

Staff Sergeant Formaz remained in the Republic of Vietnam interrogating over 1,000 Vietcong, suspected Vietcong, local guerrillas, and civilians. On November 14th 1967 the Staff Sgt. flew from Danang, Republic of Vietnam and landed the same day at Kadena AFB on Okinawa. He then departed Japan and arrived at the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro November 14th 1967. 

Staff Sergeant Formaz was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for his service in Vietnam. His citation reads:

For meritorious service while serving as an interrogator with the third interrogation translation team, 1st Marine division in connection with operations against the enemy in the republic of Vietnam 22 January to November 12 1967. Throughout this period, staff Sergeant Formaz performed his demanding duties in an exemplary manner. Assigned in support of infantry Battalion’s during numerous major operations, including Operations Stone, Yuba, Independence, Newcastle, and Dixie, He demonstrated outstanding professional ability and resourcefulness and efficiently interrogating over 1,000 person’s which included north Vietnamese army prisoners, main force and local force guerrillas, suspected Viet Kong cadre members and civilians. In large measure due to his aggressiveness and superb interrogation techniques and procedures, He provided his unit with timely intelligence information which proved invaluable in the planning and conduct of subsequent operations. Working tirelessly and with meticulous attention to detail, he repeatedly expose himself to the hazards from enemy fire while traveling extensively through the hostile territory in the conduct of his Interrogations. His resolution demonstration and sound tactical judgment were an inspiration to all who served with him and contributed immeasurably to the accomplishment of his units mission. By his professionalism, tireless initiative and unfaltering devotion to his duty throughout, staff Sergeant Formaz upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval service. 

Gunnery Sergeant Formaz joined the Military Police Company, Headquarters Regiment as an Investigator on December 12th 1967 at Camp Pendleton, California. For the next 2 years Formaz remained an investigator until he was transferred to the Correction Service Co., HQ Regiment as a Corrections Man on January 17th 1969. The Gunny remained at this station through August 1969 when he was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps. In addition to the Navy Commendation Medal, Formaz was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with 1 Star, 1960- Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, and the Navy Presidential Unit Citation. 

Pete joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department where he worked for over ten years. During this time he met his first wife, Kathleen Moran, and they had three children together: Peter, Jennifer and Amy. Unfortunately during these years, Pete struggled with alcoholism but thankfully found sobriety in Sunset Beach, California in April of 1981.

Pete moved to Missoula, Montana during the summer of 1985, where he met the love of his life, Lorraine Behr, in an A.A. meeting at the K.C. Hall. They were married in July of 1986 and have had many awesome adventures together, up until the day he passed. One of these adventures was their move to Kodiak, Alaska in the fall of 1988. It was there that their beautiful daughter, Lauren, was born on November 7, 1990 in the midst of a huge storm with hurricane force winds. Never to turn down an adventure, Pete and Lorraine have lived in various places including Sandpoint, Idaho, the Flathead Indian Reservation in Polson, Montana, and Helena, Montana where they had resided for 21 years. Pete proudly worked as a Licensed Addictions Counselor and helped many people to achieve sobriety. He earned his degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling in May of 2000 and he obtained his B.A. degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Great Falls in May of 2003. During his career as a Licensed Addictions Counselor, he earned numerous awards, held numerous state and national leadership positions, and advocated strongly for the rights of veterans struggling with PTSD and substance abuse issues.

In October of 2015, Pete and Lorraine relocated to Oceanside, California to be closer to their daughter, Lauren. They spent his last three months enjoying each other’s company overlooking the beach at the Oceanside Pier.
Pete was a sober member of A.A. for the past 34 years, and relished the opportunity to share his experience, strength, and hope with others. He enjoyed crafting Native American flutes and drumming with his Native American friends. He was an avid reader, highly intelligent, articulate, and afraid of nothing. 

United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Peter C. Formaz passed away from complications of pneumonia and heart disease on Tuesday, January 26th 2016 at a V.A. Hospital in San Diego, CA despite extraordinary efforts to save his life. Pete has many friends and family who will miss his dry sense of humor, his boldness, and his no-nonsense attitude, and he will always be remembered as a “cast iron marshmallow!”

 

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Thanks for looking! This was my first Vietnam War Veteran biography. A rare case that Sgt. Formaz or his family pulled his records years ago which gave insight to his service.  Fair Winds & Following Seas Sgt. Formaz.  

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Thank you for sharing the story of the Gunny's service to this nation.


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