Photos US Forces

A soldier with captured mortar rounds a large cache of weapons that were uncovered and captured near Dau Tieng.

Soldiers pull a suspected Viet Cong from hiding during a sweep through a Vietnamese village

101st Airborne Division soldiers move away from the landing zone after being dropped off by a 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) Bell UH-1D Iroquois helicopter during Operation Wheeler, 1967. (U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Vietnam War Photograph Collection)

A Bell UH-1D Iroquois, 65-09733, of the 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) “Minutemen.” (U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Vietnam War Photograph Collection)

Major Charles S. Kettles, commanding the 121st Aviation Company, with a UH-1 Huey helicopter, 1 January 1969. (Department of Defense)


Medal of Honnor Vietnâm
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kettles

( deployments Korea, 1954, Japan, 1955, Thailand, 1956, France, 1964-1966, Republic of Vietnam, 1967 and 1969)

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles was born in Ypsilanti, Mich., Jan. 9, 1930. The son of a World War I Royal Air Force (Canadian) and World War II Air Transport Command (U.S. Army Air Corps) pilot, Kettles had aviation in his blood. While attending the Edison Institute High School in Dearborn, Michigan, Kettles honed his love of flying on the Ford Motor Company Flight Department simulator.

Following high school graduation, Kettles enrolled in Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University), where he studied engineering. Two years later, Kettles was drafted to the Army at age 21. Upon completion of basic training at Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, Kettles attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and earned his commission as an armor officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Feb. 28, 1953. Kettles graduated from the Army Aviation School in 1953, before serving active duty tours in Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Kettles returned in 1956 and established a Ford Dealership in Dewitt, Michigan, with his brother, and continued his service with the Army Reserve as a member of the 4th Battalion, 20th Field Artillery.

He answered the call to serve again in 1963, when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War and needed pilots. Fixed-wing-qualified, Kettles volunteered for Active Duty. He attended Helicopter Transition Training at Fort Wolters, Texas in 1964. During a tour in France the following year, Kettles was cross-trained to fly the famed UH-1D “Huey.”

Kettles reported to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1966 to join a new helicopter unit. He was assigned as a flight commander with the 176th Assault Helicopter Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, and deployed to Vietnam from February through November 1967. His second tour of duty in Vietnam lasted from October 1969, through October 1970.

© Color by Johnny Sirlande for historic photo restored in color

A reconnaissance platoon of the 1st Air Cavalry Division exits a Bell UH-1D Iroquois at Du Pho, Republic of Vietnam, circa 1967.

Source: Sgt 1st Class Howard C. Breedlove, United States Army Archive

1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1968 Captain Frederick Vogel, just prior to operation Hue City
Photos and description sourced from: The Frederick J. Vogel Collection (COLL/5577) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

Leslie G. Osterman, a corpsman with Mike Co. 3/3 Marines enjoys a cigarette while on break from a patrol. In addition to the extra canteens he carried, the bags slung around him are filled with roughly 35 pounds of medical gear. August 1968

Source: Official U.S. Navy Photo and

Sergeant Donald E. Mara (Manchester, Hew Hampshire), finds the going wet as he wades through a knee-deep stream during an operation west of Con Thien. A member of 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, participated in the multi-battalion operation just south of the Demilitarized Zone (official USMC photo by Lance Corporal C. E. Woodruff)."

Original photo and description sourced from: The Jonathan F. Abel Collection (COLL/3611) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

Safe-Guarding Da Nang: Private First Class Raymond Ornalles, 19 (Kauaii, Hawaii), a rifleman with L Company, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines [L/3/1], walks with a patrol southwest of here. It is a patrol such as this one in and around Da Nang that has achieved the large success in the defense of the city (official USMC photo by Corporal B. R. Sanchez)."

Original description and photo sourced from: The Jonathan F. Abel Collection (COLL/3611) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

Navy Cross recipient and Vietnam veteran John Ripley

During his two tours in Vietnam, he was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars with Combat “V,” and a Purple Heart . . .

He also earned the title of "Quad Body,” the distinction given to those who complete Army Ranger, Marine Reconnaissance, Underwater Demolition Team (UDT), and Britain's Royal Marine Commando training programs.

Born on June 29, 1939, in Keystone, West Virginia, John W. “Rip” Ripley enlisted in the Marines, earned an appointment to the US Naval Academy, and by 1965 was fighting in Vietnam.

On Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, while serving as an advisor to the South Vietnam Marines, Captain Ripley was given an order he’d never forget.

With nearly 20,000 North Vietnamese troops and 200 enemy tanks poised to cross Dong Ha bridge and invade Quang Tri Province, Riley and 600 South Vietnamese Marines were told to “Hold and die.”

“I’ll never forget that order," Riley later said.

Over the next three hours, Ripley, under constant fire from enemy soldiers, dangled beneath the bridge, swinging hand over hand and repeatedly saying, "Jesus, Mary, get me there,” as he rigged 500 pounds of TNT along the span's steel I-beams.

"The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous,” Ripley recalled in a US Naval Institute interview. "When you know you're not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt.”

Using hundreds of feet of timed-fuse cord to connect the explosives, he lit the charge, and with enemy fire erupting all around him, got off the bridge and ran towards friendly lines. Seconds later the TNT detonated, causing a massive explosion that sent a key section of the bridge collapsing into the river.

For his heroic actions that destroyed Dong Ha bridge, halted the enemy assault, and "saved an untold number of lives,” Captain Ripley was awarded the Navy Cross.

Ripley survived his time in Vietnam, returned home, and retired from the Marines as a colonel in 1992 after 35 years of service to country and Corps.

In 1999, he was appointed director of the Marine Corps History and Museums Division and the Marine Corps Historical Center. "He was the driving force behind the Marine Corps Museum,” his son Stephen remembered. "That's one of the accomplishments he was most proud of.”

John Ripley died on October 28, 2008, at the age of 69. He was survived by Moline, his wife of 44 years, whom he affectionately called his “Queen," and three children. Mrs. Ripley, described as a “gracious hostess and the consummate Southern lady," passed away a year later from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. She was 68.


A painting of Captain Ripley dangling from the Dong Ha bridge. (PC: artist Charles Waterhouse and USNI Archives)


Major Ripley and his wife, Moline, the day he received the Navy Cross. (PC: USMC)

Pallbearers from Marine Corps Barracks Washington, DC, escort the flag-draped casket of Col. Ripley. (PC: Paul W. Gillespie)
02 Jun 1971, Vietnam: Charlie Two Firebase, Gunners protect their ears as they fire a 175mm tank mounted Howitzer at suspected Communists positions 5/31. FSB Charlie Two is located about five miles south of the DMZ. Twenty nine Americans were killed in a Communist mortar attack 5/31 at the Firebase.

04 May 1971 --- Fire Support Base Gladiator in Vietnam is seen here, where a GI carries 155mm projectiles to a bunker during an operation (Those don't look like 155mm projectiles to me though ;-))

01 May 1971, South Vietnam --- Bringing in Supplies. Fire Supply Base Gladiator, South Vietnam: Looking like a creature form outer space, a giant chinook "hook" helicopter brings in supplies to Fire Support Base Gladiator April 26th. The base provides artillery support for operations just north of the A Shau Valley

01 Mar 1971, Lang Vei, Vietnam An American tank crew covers the advance of fresh South Vietnamese troops pushing into Laos, Feb. 28. The tanks were positioned on the border until the South Vietnamese had cleared the area and then returned to Khe Sanh. South Vietnam rushed 10,000 men into Laos, Feb. 1, to reinforce a 16,000-man task force bogged down in the fight to the vital Ho Chi Minh Communist supply trail.


Similar threads