The passing of an American Hero
From the Tactical Wire
RIP, Ripley: Retired Marine COL John Ripley, age 69, died last weekend. Not a household name and never mentioned in public school history classes, COL Ripley led 600 South Vietnamese in a battle against an estimated 20,000 North Vietnamese during the 1972 Easter Offensive.
According to the AP, COL Ripley did a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program. In that interview, COL Ripley told of being ordered to take 600 South Vietnamese soldiers to "hold and die" defending a pair of bridges and a ford across a river against 20,000 NVA - who were equipped with about 200 tanks. He said that he was left with having to destroy the bridges as holding against such odds would be impossible once they crossed the river.
"When you know you're not going to make it," he said, "a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."
COL Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy fire, setting 500 pounds of charges that brought the bridges down, as related in the John Miller book, The Bridge at Dong Ha. Ripley called in the shipborne firepower that kept the shallow river crossing from being used. The North Vietnamese advance was slowed, keeping RVN from being taken in 1972.
Ripley earned the Navy Cross and Silver Star and served on the Joint Chiefs. He was a regimental commander at Camp Lejeune NC. COL Ripley earned the "Quad Body" - recognition that he completed full training with Recon Marines, Army Airborne, Army Ranger School and the Royal Marines of Britain. The AP notes that COL Ripley was "the only Marine to be inducted in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame."
The AP went on to report that COL Ripley's son, Stephen Ripley, said his father had a deep and tenacious love for his country, the Marine Corps and his family.
To quote from his Navy Cross Citation, "By his heroic actions and extraordinary courage, Captain Ripley undoubtedly was instrumental in saving an untold number of lives. His inspiring efforts reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service."
COL Ripley is what Americans think of when they hear the term "United States Marine." An American hero has left us to light the way.
"Well done, sir."
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." -Mark Twain