Heartbreaking News: Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (Ret).
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  1. #1

    Unhappy Heartbreaking News: Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (Ret).

    was sent through email.....

    Heartbreaking News Ed, but thx for sharing. Just off the phone with Ray, also.

    ALCON:

    It is my very sad duty to notify you of the passing of Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (Ret).

    Much more to follow, I'm sure, but his passing has been confirmed by several very reliable sources.

    Sky-6 has received yet another fine Marine on his staff...a most Heroic Warrior Leader of Marines.

    Was just thinking of Rip when eating breakfast at Mary's Kountry Kitchen in Hubert, NC the other day. Rip could eat them out of house and home in one sitting...he loved the chow there when he visited us down here...!

    Semper Fidelis,

    WVM

    Wayne V. Morris
    Col USMC (Ret)

    President
    WAYMOR Inc


    When more info comes we will let You know

    RIP

    Ellie


  2. #2
    Mark(fontman) spoke to the Colonial a few weeks ago..



    http://www.thefontman.com/john_ripley.html


    Ellie



  3. #3
    John Ripley, Vietnam War hero, dies at age 69
    InRich.com
    Sunday, Nov 02, 2008 - 06:25 PM

    Annapolis, MD - Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, who was credited with stopping a column of North Vietnamese tanks by blowing up a pair of bridges during the 1972 Easter Offensive of the Vietnam War, died at home at age 69, friends and relatives said Sunday.

    Ripley's son, Stephen Ripley, said his father was found at his Annapolis home Saturday after missing a speaking engagement on Friday. The son said the cause of death had not been determined but it appeared his father died in his sleep.

    In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to "hold and die" against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

    "I'll never forget that order, 'hold and die'," Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

    "The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous," Ripley said. "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."

    Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy gunfire, rigging 500 pounds of explosives that brought the twins spans down, said John Miller, a former Marine adviser in Vietnam and the author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha," which details the battle.

    Miller said the North Vietnamese advance was slowed considerably by Ripley.

    "A lot of people think South Vietnam would have gone under in '72 had he not stopped them," Miller said.

    Ray Madonna, president of the U.S. Naval Academy's 1962 graduating class, served in Vietnam as a Marine at the same time and said his classmate saved countless U.S. and South Vietnamese troops.

    "They would have been wrecked" if the tanks had crossed, Madonna said. He said Ripley also coordinated naval gunfire that stopped the tanks from crossing at a shallower point downstream.

    "He was a Marine's Marine, respected, highly respected by enlisted men, by his peers and by his seniors," Madonna said.

    Miller said Ripley, who was born in Radford, Va., descended from a long line of veterans going back to the Revolutionary War. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1962, after enlisting in the Marines out of high school and spending a year in naval school in Newport, R.I.

    He earned the "Quad Body" distinction for making it through four of the toughest military training programs in the world: the Army Rangers, Marine reconnaissance, Army Airborne and Britain's Royal Marines, Miller said. He was also the only Marine to be inducted in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame.

    Ripley earned the Navy Cross and Silver Star for his service in Vietnam. He later served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was regimental commander at Camp Lejeune, N.C., among other postings.

    After retiring from the Marines, he was president and chancellor of Southern Virginia College in Lexington, Va.

    Stephen Ripley said his father had a deep and tenacious love for his country, the Marine Corps and his family.

    "My Dad never quit anything and never went halfway on anything in his life," he said. "He just was a full-throttle kind of person and those people that he cared about, he really cared about."

    Ripley is survived by his wife, Moline B. Ripley, 67; three sons, Stephen Ripley, 43, Thomas Ripley, 38, and John Ripley, 35; a daughter, Mary Ripley, 39; and eight grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were pending.

    Ellie


  4. #4
    Phantom Blooper
    Guest Free Member
    Tribute to United States Marine Corps
    Marines and Friends --

    For the second time in 13+ years I will salute morning colors and leave the Marine Corps. My Division moves south next week and I officially retire on 1 September. For family related reasons I must leave at this point, although there is much to be done as the Division transplaces to Quantico and we prepare for the opening of the National Museum of the Marine Corps next year. These are exciting and very busy times for us in History & Museums Division.
    Now in my seventh year here I realize what good fortune it has been working with the great folks in this Division, at Headquarters Marine Corps, the Marine Corps University, and of course the Marine Corps worldwide. I have been doubly blessed to have served a full career as a Marine and then later another period as a proud retired Marine for a total of 42 years of answering the bugle's call. During that period I have served 13 Commandants from June 1957 to present. It's safe to say that not many of them knew me, but it has been a point of pride to say that I served with such great men even if from afar.
    It is an even greater point of pride to reflect on the incredible Marines I served with over the years at the other end of the rank structure; the silent, steady, square-jawed Sergeants; the amazingly professional Staff NCO's, without which nothing would work. And most of all, best of all, the Privates through Corporals--the real Marine Corps. The rifleman, gunner, fixer, driver, etc. who make you so proud you think your chest will explode just walking through ranks. The men and women who look at you when you report aboard and wonder if you will ever be as good as they are (and you wonder this as well). The old & young, tall & short, tough, large, lean, salty, irreverent, hard, suspect, but willing--always willing--to help you make the unit better while exceeding your expectations by a mile. MGen. Julian C. Smith, the Commanding General, 2nd Marine Division at Tarawa said it perfectly on the conclusion of that epic battle, and I wish that I had said it myself, "I shall never again see a United States Marine without a feeling of reverence". That's it; reverence. Nothing else captures the feeling we have about our Marines.
    With great appreciation to you all listed here, and those I could not list, a firm salute and,
    Semper Fi,
    John Ripley
    John W. Ripley Col.
    J.W. Ripley USMC (ret.)
    Director History & Museums Division
    United States Marine Corps
    (202) 433-3838



  5. #5
    Wow... I met him several times on the Yard and afterwards. Always impressed by his story and further impressed by his character as a man and a leader.

    Semper Fidelis Sir. You've certainly earned your place in our history.


  6. #6
    Marine Free Member bigdog43701's Avatar
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    Col. RIPLEY was featured in LEATHERNECK magazine for being iducted into the army RANGER Hall of Fame for his heroic actions in VietNam at the Dong Ha bridge. the Corps lost a very great leader. SEMPER FI, Colonal!


  7. #7
    Ripley becomes first Marine in Ranger Hall of Fame

    http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news...ipley_061308w/

    Ellie

    Rest In Peace Sir!


  8. #8
    John W. Ripley
    Marine colonel, member of Ranger Hall of Fame, was known for the destruction of a bridge during the Vietnam War

    By Nick Madigan
    November 3, 2008

    John W. Ripley, a retired Marine Corps colonel and a renowned hero of the Vietnam War, was found dead at his home in Annapolis over the weekend, family members said. A cause of death for Ripley, who had undergone two liver transplants, had not been determined yesterday. He was 69.

    A Virginia native, Colonel Ripley was best known for a daring feat during the Easter Offensive of 1972, when he dangled for three hours under a bridge near the South Vietnamese city of Dong Ha to attach 500 pounds of explosives to the span, ultimately destroying it. His action, under fire while going back and forth for materials, is thought to have thwarted an onslaught by 20,000 enemy troops and was the subject of a book, The Bridge at Dong Ha, by John Grider Miller.

    Last week, after he failed to appear for a scheduled appearance at a Marine Corps event in New York, worried associates contacted one of his sons, Stephen B. Ripley, who went to his father's house Friday to check on him. The younger Ripley concluded that his father - who lived alone near the gates of the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1962 - had died in his sleep Tuesday night.

    "His health was good for someone who'd had two liver transplants," said Mr. Ripley, who also honored a family tradition by serving in the Marines and retired as a captain.

    When asked to describe a single quality that defined his father, Mr. Ripley said, "Tenacity."

    "He was tenacious in his love for his country, his family and the Marine Corps," said Mr. Ripley, who also lives in Annapolis. "He never did anything halfway."

    Earlier this year, Colonel Ripley was inducted into the U.S. Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga., an honor that he added to his many decorations. They included the Navy Cross, the second-highest combat award a Marine can receive; the Silver Star; two awards of the Legion of Merit; two Bronze Stars; and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. His tale is required reading for every Naval Academy plebe. In Afghanistan, a forward operating base was named for him.

    "I admired John not only because of his obvious war heroism, but because of how he conducted himself after the war," said Thomas L. Wilkerson, a retired major general in the Marines and chief executive of the U.S. Naval Institute. "John was the standard to which we all aspire. There wasn't any baggage around John about how things should go. He walked his own talk."

    Another Marine Corps colleague, Ray Madonna, who served with Colonel Ripley in Vietnam and retired as a lieutenant colonel, said he had known him for almost 50 years and had seen him Oct. 25 at the Navy football game against Southern Methodist University in Annapolis.

    "He was with a couple of his grandchildren," Mr. Madonna said yesterday. "He looked fine. He was walking a couple of miles a day, building himself back after the surgeries. So it was a total shock."

    In July 2002, after unsuccessful transplant surgery, Colonel Ripley's life was saved by a second operation at Georgetown University Medical Center, in which he received a liver from a 16-year-old gunshot victim in Philadelphia. The surgery became possible only after a high-speed military mission transported the organ to Georgetown in a Marine Corps helicopter from the president's fleet.

    Colonel Ripley's liver had been damaged by a rare genetic disease as well as by a case of hepatitis B that he believes he contracted in Vietnam.

    Describing the Dong Ha incident in a June 2008 interview with Marine Corps Times, Colonel Ripley said he "had to swing like a trapeze artist in a circus."

    "I used my teeth to crimp the detonator and thus pinch it into place on the fuse." He said. "I crimped it with my teeth while the detonator was halfway down my throat."

    Yesterday, on the Web site of World Defense Review, Maj. W. Thomas Smith Jr., a former Marine infantry squad leader who has researched Colonel Ripley's life, wrote that after Colonel Ripley had set the charges and moved back to the friendly side of the river, the fuses detonated and Colonel Ripley "was literally blown through the air by the massive shock wave" he had engineered.

    "The next thing he remembered, he was lying on his back as huge pieces of the bridge were hurtling and cartwheeling across the sky above him," Major Smith wrote.

    Major Smith quoted an interview that Colonel Ripley gave for Americans at War, published by the Naval Institute, in which he said: "The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous. When you know you're not gonna make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."

    Colonel Ripley was shot in the side by a North Vietnamese soldier and during two tours of duty was pierced with so much shrapnel that doctors found metal fragments in his body as recently as 2001. After Vietnam, Colonel Ripley continued to serve, losing most of the pigment in his face from severe sunburns while stationed above the Arctic Circle.

    Funeral arrangements were incomplete yesterday.

    In addition to his son, Colonel Ripley is survived by his wife, Moline; three other children, Mary D. Ripley, Thomas H. Ripley and John M. Ripley; a sister, Susan Goodykoontz; and eight grandchildren.

    Ellie



  9. #9

  10. #10
    Godspeed Colonel Ripley
    Posted By Blackfive

    I wrote this in honor of the Marine Corps birthday in 2005:

    You've heard of Chesty, Lejeune and others. You probably haven't heard of John Ripley...

    He's a hero that I've admired for a long time and someone that you should know.

    He wrote "Hallowed Ground" for this month's Marine Corps Gazette (page 22).

    A Marine hero and the first Marine inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame, Colonel John Ripley passed away in his sleep this weekend.

    Many of you probably don't know who John Ripley is. That is due, agreeing with John Donovan, to the fact that in 1972, no one cared what was happening in Viet Nam.

    Ripley was an advisor of a South Vietnamese Army Battalion that was told to "Hold and Die in Place" in order to stop a huge armored column trying to invade the South during the Easter Offensive. The only way to stop that column was to blow up two bridges. Go here to read one of the better write ups of Ripley and the bridge.

    The truth is that the war would have been drawn to an extremely bloodier conclusion in 1972 had Colonel Ripley not stopped 20,000 NVA.

    Navy Cross Citation, USMC Captain John W. Ripley, Advisor, 3rd Vietnamese Marine Corps Infantry Bn.

    The Navy Cross is awarded to Captain John W. Ripley, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism on 2 April 1972 while serving as the Senior Marine Advisor to the Third Vietnamese Marine Corps Infantry Battalion in the Republic of Vietnam.

    Upon receipt of a report that a rapidly moving, mechanized, North Vietnamese army force, estimated at reinforced divisional strength, was attacking south along Route #1, the Third Vietnamese Marine Infantry Battalion was positioned to defend a key village and the surrounding area.

    It became imperative that a vital river bridge be destroyed if the overall security of the northern provinces of Military Region One was to be maintained.

    Advancing to the bridge to personally supervise this most dangerous but vitally important assignment, Captain Ripley located a large amount of explosives which had been prepositioned there earlier, access to which was blocked by a chain-link fence.

    In order to reposition the approximately 500 pounds of explosives, Captain Ripley was obliged to reach up and hand-walk along the beams while his body dangled beneath the bridge.

    On five separate occasions, in the face of constant enemy fire, he moved to points along the bridge and, with the aid of another advisor who pushed the explosives to him, securely emplaced them.

    He then detonated the charges and destroyed the bridge, thereby stopping the enemy assault.

    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.

    And here's the Naval Institute's video "Americans at War" about Colonel Ripley.

    Godspeed, Sir.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/ar...TICLE_ID=34046

    http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/2..._know_thi.html

    http://www.tfp.org/student_action/op...nelripley.html

    Col. John W. Ripley, USMC (Ret.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdpQY...blackfive.net/

    Ellie


  11. #11
    Marine Vietnam war hero passes away

    Col. John Walter Ripley of Annapolis, 1939-2008
    By EARL KELLY, Staff Writer
    Published November 03, 2008

    The Naval Academy graduate and Annapolis resident who single-handedly stopped a column of Communist tanks in 1972 by blowing up a bridge in Vietnam has died.

    Marine Col. John Walter Ripley, 69, died at his home on Tuesday, but his body was discovered on Saturday.

    One of Col. Ripley's sons, Stephen Ripley, said his father suffered liver illness because of a genetic defect and because he contracted hepatitis while serving in Vietnam. He had undergone two liver transplants.

    Col. Ripley was to have gone to Pennsylvania on Wednesday for a speaking engagement later in the week. When he didn't arrive at the event, the family in Annapolis received calls on Saturday and went to Col. Ripley's house. Col. Ripley lived on Hanover Street, near Gate 3 of the Naval Academy.

    Col. Ripley was known as "the Marine's Marine," and earned the "Quad Body" distinction for completing the Army Rangers, Marine reconnaissance, Army Airborne and Britain's Royal Marines training programs.

    He was the only Marine ever inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame.

    Col. Ripley, a native of southern Virginia, enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from high school. He attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School for a year before enrolling at the academy.

    "He was never a great student," Mr. Ripley said, "But once my dad set his mind to doing something, he would not quit; once he got the bit in his teeth, there was no stopping him."

    During his career he headed the NROTC programs at Oregon State University and the Virginia Military

    Institute.

    After retiring from the Marines in 1992, Col. Ripley served as chancellor of Southern Virginia College in Lexington, Va., and president of Hargrave Military Academy.

    Col. Ripley served as director of Marine Corps History and Museums Division and the Marine Corps Historical Center. He also was instrumental in renovation of the Naval Academy's Memorial Hall.

    "He was the driving force behind the Marine Corps Museum," Mr. Ripley said of his father. "That's one of the accomplishments he was most proud of."

    Col. Ripley will always be remembered for his actions on Easter Sunday 1972. He and a group of 600 South Vietnamese were to stop between 20,000 and 30,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and about 200 tanks at the twin-span Dong Ha bridge.

    He told The Capital in an interview two years ago that his orders were simple and to the point: "Hold and die."

    While under heavy enemy fire, Col. Ripley swung beneath the bridge and advanced by walking with his hands. He said it helped clear his mind and let him focus on his task, once he realized that he was not going to survive and there wasn't much reason to worry about the situation.

    Col. Ripley was able to pack the bridge's steel I-beams with 500 pounds of explosives, he said in the 2006 interview. He crimped the detonator caps onto the primer cord by biting them.

    Still convinced that he was going to die, Col. Ripley lit the fuse while still hand-walking under the bridge.

    "If he hadn't dropped that bridge, it probably would have been impossible to stop that North Vietnamese advance," retired Maj. Gen. Thomas Wilkerson, CEO of the U.S. Naval Institute, said this morning.

    His actions at the bridge were not Col. Ripley's last. A few weeks before the North Vietnamese launched the Easter Offensive, Col. Ripley rescued the crew of one downed helicopter by loading them onto a second copter.

    Left behind and wounded, he held off the enemy long enough to extinguish the fire aboard the first copter, and then repaired it so it could be flown to safety.

    In 2002, Col. Ripley became the first Marine to be honored with the Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award. In 2004, Marines fighting in south-central Afghanistan named a forward operating base FOB Ripley in his honor. The Naval Academy prep school, in 2006, dedicated its new dormitory "Ripley Hall."

    Gen. Wilkerson said that Col. Ripley should always be remembered for his courage, both physical and moral.

    "There are two types of courage in the world," Gen. Wilkerson said, "and he brought both to the table."

    Col. Ripley, for example, broke with some older academy grads by saying that women should be admitted to service academies and commissioned as officers.

    "They've earned the doggone right to be here," Col. Ripley told The Capital in 2006.

    Col. Ripley's awards include the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals with Combat "V," the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the South Vietnamese Army Distinguished Service Order and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star.

    Col. Ripley is survived by his wife, Moline B. Ripley, 67; three sons, Stephen Ripley, 43, Thomas Ripley, 38, and John Ripley, 35; a daughter, Mary Ripley, 39; and eight grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements are being handled by Taylor Funeral Home.

    Stephen Ripley said details are pending, but his father would be given a funeral with full military honors. Instead of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.

    Ellie


  12. #12
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    The Bridge at Dong Ha

    May Col. Ripley's soul rest in peace but I don't think it will because, from what I have read, the Colonel never rested idle when there were missions to be accomplished. He was, and is still to be considered, quite a heroic icon in Marine Corps folklore.
    I read this book many moons ago and I would recomend "The Bridge at Dong Ha" as a good Marine Corps historical reading.

    From Library Journal
    On Easter 1972 Captain John Ripley braved light weapons fire from North Vietnamese troops to rig explosives to a bridge crossing the Cua Viet River. When the span fell, a major route into the South was closed to the massed troops, and part of the momentum for the so-called Nguyen Hue offensive was temporarily blunted. Ripley's gallant effort was especially courageous since he was acting against a command suggestion to hold the bridge for a counterattack that could not have been mounted, and South Vietnamese troops were in disarray and fleeing to the South all around the Vietnamese unit he advised. Miller's narration of this small action tends more toward the sensational than the historical; the violent and vividly told story may appeal widely to adventure readers. Military Book Club dual main selection.
    - Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
    Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    From AudioFile
    This exciting work tells the true story of Marine Captain John Ripley's destruction of a bridge during the North Vietnamese "Easter Offensive" of 1972. Ripley was an advisor to the South Vietnamese Marines, and this action (which he accomplished with the help of a U.S. Army tank advisor) stopped a huge communist armoured offensive and earned Ripley the Navy Cross. This work is written in a direct, but literate, style. Terence Aselford's reading fits very nicely with the thrilling text. His smooth baritone has an easygoing quality that sounds more like a storyteller's than a reader's. When reading the dialogues, Aselford adroitly and subtly brings out the differences in all the characters' personalities. The narrative is as ably told. Indeed, the listener will be as shocked by the explosion as Ripley was. This story of men doing the extraordinary can make for a well-spent evening. M.T.F. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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  13. #13
    Update: Corporal Seamus, a good friend of Colonel Ripley, sends an email of how he sees the Colonel entering Heaven.

    I just got back from Annapolis, where we did a Steaks & Beers for 53 prior service Marines, who are now Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. This was at Col Mike and Janet P's house in Annapolis. Along with LtCol Frank D and his family, Col Ripley was supposed to be there.

    I called Col Ripley on Saturday to ask him if he would like me to pick him up on Sunday afternoon, and bring him to the P's and then bring him back to his home... I know he did not like to drive at night, and we just lost an hour of daylight. His home phone and cell phone were both busy throughout the day, and I did not get to speak with the Colonel. It was a sad evening at the P's house.

    Now, up with Sky-6, I figure Col Truman Crawford was busy helping his very good friend, Gen Barrow, getting snapped in for duty There. Of course, Sergeants Major Denis McNamara and Russ Rockwell were there lending assistance with Col Crawford and our 27th Commandant. As this operation is going down, along comes a Quad Body Marine, straight up from Post # 3, US Naval Academy. Col John Ripley reporting for duty.

    A Quad Body denotes full training with Reconnaissance Marines, Army Rangers, Army Airborne, and British Royal Marines. Besides being one of the good guys, this helps define Col John Ripley. Col Ripley also had more sea stories than any Marine I have ever known.

    So, with Gen Barrow, Col Crawford and Col Ripley, and the two Sergeants Major all milling around and giving orders as to how to set the Guard Mount for the Pearly Gates, it was SgtMaj Rockwell who told all hands that, "He and SgtMaj Mac would handle Post # 1, so why don't you Officers just take a walk over to the Club and let us E-9's do our job!" The correct response to that is, "Very well Sergeant Major!"

    I truly miss these guys!

    Semper Fi,

    Seamus


  14. #14
    Col. John W. Ripley; Recognized for Valorous Service in Vietnam

    By Adam Bernstein
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 4, 2008; B05


    John W. Ripley, 69, a highly decorated Marine Corps officer and demolitions expert during the Vietnam War whose destruction of a strategic bridge was credited with helping repel a Communist-led armored advance at Easter time in 1972, died Oct. 28 at his home in Annapolis. He had undergone liver transplants in recent years.

    Col. Ripley -- then a captain -- participated in dozens of major combat operations during two tours of duty in Vietnam. His quiet daring not only led to two of the highest awards for valor -- the Navy Cross and the Silver Star -- but also induction this year into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga. He was the first Marine to earn that distinction.

    He was best remembered for his actions against a North Vietnamese offensive of 20,000 men that began in late March 1972. Often called the Easter Offensive, the invasion was meant to reach Saigon and achieve a psychological and military victory over the South Vietnamese and their relatively few remaining American advisers as U.S. involvement in the war was winding down.

    At the time, Col. Ripley was an adviser to a battalion of the Vietnamese marine corps that had been moved to Quang Tri province bordering the demilitarized zone separating the north and south.

    Amid an onslaught of enemy shelling, Col. Ripley and about 700 South Vietnamese marines were asked to hold a pivotal crossing point near the DMZ -- a bridge that spanned the Cua Viet River at the village of Dong Ha. Col. Ripley later recalled orders to "hold or die."

    According to his citation for the Navy Cross -- the service's highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor -- Col. Ripley on April 2, 1972, used 500 pounds of dynamite and C4 plastic explosives to take down the bridge.

    He and a U.S. Army colleague were chiefly responsible for rigging the bridge with explosives -- with Col. Ripley hand-walking along the beams while his body dangled 50 feet above the swift current. The bridge was more than 500 feet long, and the work of rigging it required about three hours of intense work.

    "I had to swing like a trapeze artist in a circus and leap over the other I-beam," Col. Ripley told the Marine Corps Times in June. "I used my teeth to crimp the detonator and thus pinch it into place on the fuse. I crimped it with my teeth while the detonator was halfway down my throat."

    Col. Ripley helped provide the first success against the North's incursion and delayed the advance of more than 200 enemy armored vehicles, including tanks. His actions gave the South Vietnamese marines further time to regroup along another defensive line. They eventually stopped the Communist invasion in Quang Tri province.

    "Saigon would probably have been lost in 1972 but for Ripley," said retired Marine Corps Col. John Grider Miller, author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha" (1989).

    John Walter Ripley was born June 29, 1939, in West Virginia and was raised in Radford, a southwestern Virginia town where his father was a railroad manager.

    He joined the Marine Corps after high school in 1957 and was a 1962 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He went on train at the Army Ranger School and with the Royal Marines, among other elite units.

    He began his first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1966. As a company commander the next year he received the Silver Star for his relentless attack against well-concealed enemy gunfire from a North Vietnamese regimental command group.

    After his Vietnam service, Col. Ripley became a regimental commander. He also was the senior marine at the Naval Academy and the Virginia Military Institute before retiring from active duty.

    From 1999 to 2005, he was director of history and museums for the Marine Corps and played a key role in the fundraising, planning and design of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., near Quantico.

    Survivors include his wife, Moline Blaylock Ripley of Annapolis; four children, John Ripley of Palm Beach, Fla., and Stephen Ripley, Thomas Ripley and Mary Ripley, all of Annapolis; a sister; and eight grandchildren.

    Ellie

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  15. #15
    Marines... another great Marine has past away this past weekend, General Robert Barrow, former Commandant of the Marine Corps also a life member of the Chosin Frozen with the 1st Mar. div. Gen. Barrow was the Commandant when I joined the Corps in 1979.


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