Raper, David (CDR), 4th Platoon

Raper, David (CDR), 4th Platoon

3rd battalion 4th Marines in Vietnam. 27th Marines and 5th Mar. Div. at Camp Pendleton. Special Agent FBI for 6 plus years, private industry and business owner. In 1968 on recuperation leave from the Naval Hospital in Long Beach, I was aboard the second National Airlines airplane that went to Cuba. Dashing 2nd Lt. USMC. Landed in Cuba and the troops and myself were separated from the civilians. Can you believe it? Went to Viet Nam, got home and now I’m thinking I am a POW.

My best job in the Marine Corps, other than leading troops in combat, was being an Aide De Camp to General Ross T. Dwyer.

Semper Fi

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Second Lieutenant Charles D. Raper (MCSN: 0-103141), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company L, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 15 May 1968, when a platoon from Company L became heavily engaged with a large North Vietnamese Army force in fortified positions near Khe Sanh, Second Lieutenant Raper unhesitatingly led his platoon to reinforce the beleaguered unit. Following the employment of supporting artillery and mortar fire, the besieged platoon launched an attack against the enemy positions, but were halted by hand grenade attack from the enemy’s position atop a steep slope. Directed to seize the well prepared positions, Second Lieutenant Raper aggressively maneuvered his platoon forward and, firing his pistol, fearlessly led the assault. Disregarding his own safety, he repeatedly exposed himself to intense enemy fire as he directed his men and shouted words of encouragement, overrunning the first two enemy positions and killing three North Vietnamese. Consolidating his forces, he then continued the assault and seized the last enemy emplacement, killing three additional enemy soldiers. Although wounded during the fire fight, Second Lieutenant Raper supervised the members of his platoon in searching the hostile bunkers, seizing five weapons and numerous other items of equipment. Ignoring his painful injuries, he steadfastly refused medical evacuation until he had returned his platoon to the battalion position. By his courage, bold initiative and steadfast devotion to duty at great personal risk, Second Lieutenant Raper was instrumental in the accomplishment of his unit’s mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
Action Date: 15-May-68
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Company: Company L
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Regiment: 4th Marines
Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF

Reed, Nat (NHR), 4th Platoon

Reed, Nat (NHR), 4th Platoon

For the last 30 years my family and I have lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. We are proud to call the Tarheel state home, but I was born and raised in Vermont. In an ideal world I would return to Vermont from May to October each year and then sprint back to the South. Vermont is one of the most beautiful places on earth…when the weather is agreeable. One has to endure six months of hard winter annually. When I was a kid it was not unusual in January for the high temperature of the day to never exceed zero degrees. Vermont would have been an ideal training site for the 1st Marine Division in 1950 before it headed to Korea and the Frozen Chosin.

My dad was a World War II Army veteran, and my father-in-law enlisted in the Navy in 1943 when he was 17 and served in the Pacific. The man who inspired me to become a Marine was a close family friend who enlisted in the Corps prior to Pearl Harbor. He landed on Guadalcanal on 7Aug42 with the 5th Marines, and later served on Iwo Jima with the 5th Marine Division. The more I got to know him, and the more I learned about the Marine Corps, the more I knew I wanted to be a Marine.

My dad passed away in 1948 when my older brother was 11 and I was 3. Fortunately, my mother was a registered nurse and was able to support us by working at the Rutland Hospital. For many years she worked the 11 pm to 7 am shift and then came home to feed us and get us off to school. Only when I was much older with a family of my own did I fully appreciate what a great parent she was.

In the fall of ’63 I headed to Cambridge, MA, to begin my freshman year at Harvard. Initially I hadn’t considered applying to Harvard, but I learned scholarships were available and I elected to enter the NROTC program with the knowledge that I could pursue a commission in the Marines. I have never regretted that decision. Other than proposing to my wife, the best thing I have ever done is serving my country as a Marine. No doubt–that experience made me a better man.

Following TBS I had orders to the Field Artillery Officers Basic Course at Fort Sill, OK. I was delighted with this opportunity. My great-grandfather served with the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery (later converted to the 11th Vermont Infantry when Grant came east) during the Civil War. One of my fellow students was a mustang 1st lieutenant who had already served a tour in VN. At every opportunity, I honed in on what he had to say. There is no substitute for experience, and he was more than glad to share what he had learned.

After a too brief leave, I headed to WesPac and arrived in Da Nang courtesy of World Airways on Easter Sunday, 1968. Later that day I saw the 1st MarDiv CG at church services, the only time I saw him during my shortened tour. I was part of D/2/11 based at Phu Bai and was assigned to be the FO for D/1/5, which was under the command of Capt Harrington. The heat always sticks in my memory–I recall days with temperatures at 105 to 110 degrees and 100% humidity. The mosquitoes weren’t as big as helicopters, but the clouds of mosquitoes were.

We received some intel that the VC were coming at night to a nearby village to pick up supplies and we countered with an ambush to hammer them on their way out. At about 0100 on the morning of May 21 we triggered the ambush, which was highly effective. However, we had some casualties in the aftermath.

I took a round through both arms, and another round nicked my right kneecap. I went out briefly, and when I came to, the platoon Doc was hard at work trying to patch me up. God bless the corpsmen. The worst part–both of my arms were broken and I could do little or nothing to defend myself. At first light a medevac helo came in to transport me to the battalion aid station. Just before it arrived, one of our men was hit by a sniper. He was immediately put on the chopper beside me and was soon in the hands of the doctors. He had a severe head wound, but I later heard, by some miracle, that he survived.

Eventually I arrived at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, NH, the hospital closest to my home of record. In short order one of the nurses put a large poster of a scantily-clad Raquel Welch on the bulkhead at the foot of my bed to inspire me to get out of the sack. It worked.

In the spring of ’69 I returned to active duty at Camp Pendleton and served as XO of a 4.2″ mortar battery, W/3/13, until we put the unit in mothballs later that year. I was in my new 105 battery office in late ’69 when Steve Freiherr, a fellow member of A Company at TBS, came in and announced that I had orders to language school at Monterey, CA, to study Japanese for 47 weeks. At first I thought he was blowing smoke, but he soon convinced me he was totally serious. It was tough duty but someone had to go.

At the end of that assignment I was disappointed to learn that I was returning to Pendleton. Each of us has arrived at significant crossroads in our lives–if the Corps had seen fit to send me to Japan I would have embraced that opportunity. I would have had approximately six years of active service at the end of that tour and might have been a career Marine. Instead, I worked in the 25th ITT for six months and then wrapped up my four years as a proud U.S. Marine.

In July of ’71 I joined Pfizer Inc. at their headquarters in NYC and began a new career in human resources. In 1985 I made a career change and joined Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. For more than 25 years I enjoyed helping individuals and businesses work toward their financial objectives. At the end of 2010 I decided it was time to saddle up and ride off into the sunset.

I have been richly blessed with a terrific wife and two good kids. My daughter has returned to school to get her MS in social work at UNC-Wilmington, and my son received his BS from UNC-Chapel Hill, completed his MD in ’12 from Wake Forest, and is now a 3rd year resident at Carolina. He recently learned he will start a 4 year fellowship at UNC this July that will lead to a certification in gastroenterology and an MPH. We are very grateful he has this opportunity and will still be only an hour away from us.

Each of us should have at least one or two passions. Two of mine are the Boston Red Sox and the American Civil War.

Semper Fidelis, my brothers.

Renaghan, Joe (JFR), 4th Platoon

Renaghan, Joe (JFR), 4th Platoon

renaghan-2013Internet search yields:


Running With Heart

At 22 years old, Renaghan, a Marine Second Lieutenant and the Commander of 1st Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines on Go Noi Island was fighting in
the Vietnam War.

Joseph F.  and Cheryl W. Renaghan, own Joseph F. Renaghan & Associates, corporate relocation consultants in Glen Cove.

JOSEPH FRANCIS RENAGHAN is registered attorney admitted in New York State in 1978. The registration number is 1304526. The company office is JOSEPH F RENAGHAN ESQ. The office address is 4 Dairy Dr, Glen Cove, NY 11542-1002, United States. The county is Nassau. The phone number is (516) 759-1688. The law school is ST JOHNS UNIVERSITY.

Ringo, Skip (DWR Jr), 4th Platoon

Ringo, Skip (DWR Jr), 4th Platoon

“Skip” Ringo was born in Louisville, KY. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Citadel in Charleston, SC in 1967. He also holds a Master of Engineering degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville, and a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Warfare in Newport, RI. Skip has also completed the Kennedy School of Government’s Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security at Harvard University.

Commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps in June 1967, he was designated a naval aviator in 1969 and departed for Vietnam to serve with Marine Corps Composite Reconnaissance Squadron One. Skip had two tours as an aide‐de‐camp, was assigned as the Industrial Engineering Officer at the Depot Maintenance Activity in Barstow, CA, and was the Aviation Liaison Officer for both the 4th and 9th Marine Regiments in Okinawa, Japan. He was then assigned as Maintenance Officer and jet flight instructor for Training Squadron Twenty‐Six in Beeville, TX.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1982, Skip was assigned to the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, MD and Head of the Flight Systems Branch. Collaterally, he served as Executive Officer of the Marine Corps Aviation Detachment. During this time Skip was a finalist for NASA’s Shuttle Astronaut Program. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Skip graduated from the Naval War College in 1987 and subsequently served as the Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the U.S. Senate. He then became Director of Senate Affairs for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs at the Department of Defense, where he was selected for promotion to Colonel. Upon retirement in 1989, he joined the Professional Staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee where he was responsible for both development and procurement issues for all tactical aircraft and aviation munitions programs in all branches of the Defense Department. He also provided staff support for arms control and treaty issues until 1994 when he joined the General Electric Washington Office.

During 15 years with GE, Skip managed military engine programs for GE Aviation throughout all agencies of the Department of Defense, and collaterally represented these programs as well as commercial and international engine programs, and various aspects of other GE business sector interests to the United States Congress.

Upon his retirement from GE, Skip joined DRS Technologies where he was concurrently the Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Land Warfare Programs until again retiring in December of 2012.

On January 1st, 2013, Skip founded The Ringo Group, an independent Government Relations firm.

Ross, William Gray (Bill / Gray), 4th Platoon

Ross, William Gray (Bill / Gray), 4th Platoon

11 October 1945 – 15 June 1968
Fort Donelson National Cemetery, Dover, TN 37058

William Gray Ross (Gray) was born 11 Oct 1945 in Trigg County Kentucky to Ruben Gray Ross and Cora Pauline Luton. John had one sister, Datha Laverne Ross. Gray’s Home of Record is Big Rock, TN which is a few miles south of his birth place.

Gray attended the Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville, TN Class of 1967

Second Lieutenant William Gray Ross is from Big Rock, Tennessee. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and served during the Vietnam Conflict. Rank of Second Lieutenant. 2Lt Ross served with 1st Marine Division, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, I Company. Service occupation of Infantry Officer. Second Lieutenant Ross died on June 15, 1968 at the age of 23 in or around Quang Nam in South Vietnam during Operation MAMELUKE THRUST. Circumstances of his death are attributed to: “Died through hostile action”. He earned the following decorations:

  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • Purple Heart
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal

Second Lieutenant Ross is honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, VVM Wall, Panel 57w, Line 31.

USMC Resume:
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 4th Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
I Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Jan – 15 Jun 1968

Personal Reflections about Gray Ross:

From Jack Powers, 13 Apr 2015:: “I remember Bill as a quiet Marine who always seemed in good humor. As were we all, he was proud to be a Marine Officer. It was rare to meet a person from the back woods of Tennessee where Bill was raised. Big Rock looks like it is well out of reach of any major metro area. I knew little about Tennessee beyond the fact it was the home of Davey Crockett and Sgt Alvin York, two outstanding marksmen. This sets up the one event that stands out in my recollection of Bill. While at TBS, there was a range (I believe called the “electric range”) that involved a fire and maneuver exercise. One fire team would establish a base of fire while the other elements in the squad maneuvered for a flanking attack. The range was set up with targets that recorded each hit by the base of fire team. JJ O’Brien was the fire team leader and Bill, Bob O’Rourke, and I were members of that team. We completed the exercise and were in the bleachers awaiting the critique as were other squads who competed. The instructor gave the scores for each team, but left ours out. He finally acknowledged our team had broken the course record…by a lot. At that point, I knew that we had our own “Sgt Alvin York” in the name of Bill Ross in 4th Platoon.”

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Corporal Crane was killed on 15 June 1968 – by friendly fire. So were 7 other Marines and sailors in two separate incidents. The eight men were

  • F Btry, 2nd Bn, 11th Marines
    • Cpl Dennis Crane, Spotswood, NJ
  • H&S Co, 1st Bn, 27th Marines
    • HM3 Joseph E. Tamagnini, Edison, NJ
    • HN Thomas E. Gregory, Endwell, NY
  • I Co, 3rd Bn, 5th Marines
    • Capt Henry Kolakowski, Farmington, MI (Silver Star)
    • 1stLt Joseph T. Campbell, Stoneham, MA (Navy Cross)
    • 2ndLt William G. Ross, Big Rock, TN
    • GySgt William F. Gunset, Somerville, MA
    • Pfc Gary C. Seymour, Hazel Park, MI

The two deaths from 1/27 are documented in the 1/27 operations log. Bravo 1/27, operating on Go Noi Island, spotted enemy soldiers in a treeline and called in 81mm mortar fire. Three short rounds landed in the Bravo 1/27 position, killing two men and wounding one other. The wounded man did not require evacuation.

The 3/5 Command Chronology notes that Fox 2/11 was in direct support to the battalion and would therefore provide the artillery forward observer teams. On 15 June 3/5 was participating in Operation MAMELUKE THRUST, but regretably neither the After Action Report or the operations log for 15 June is available. Never the less, it is believed that Corporal Crane was with India 3/5 when it was engaged on 15 June. The Citation for 1stLt Campbell’s posthumous Navy Cross outlines what happened to India 3/5:

“On 15 June 1968 during operation Mameluke Thrust in Quang Nam Province, Company I became heavily engaged with a large enemy force and sustained several casualties. As the company prepared to evacuate its wounded, an artillery round impacted nearby, killing the company commander, a platoon commander, and the company gunnery sergeant. Although seriously wounded by fragments, Lieutenant Campbell realized that he was his unit’s only remaining officer and refused medical aid in order to assume command of the company.”

The artillery shell was a friendly short round which killed the five men named above – and, The Virtual Wall believes, Corporal Crane as well.

From: U.S. Marines In Vietnam: The Defining Year, 1968:

“… On 14 June, the 3rd Battalion , 5th Marines marched out from An Hoa, leaving Company-K to guard the fire support base, and crossed the Song Yen into the Arizona Territory. Just across the river from An Hoa, Company I came under attack. A communist mortar round killed the Company Commander, a platoon commander, and the company gunnery sergeant and seriously wounded the company executive officer, First Lieutenant Joseph T. Campbell. As the only officer left alive, Lieutenant Campbell refused evacuation and assumed command of the company. He directed ……..”