by Capt. Joseph R. John (Ret.), Co-Founder, CombatVeteransForCongress
Each year on November 10th, we recognize Naval Academy Classmates who are US Marines, all US Marines, and especially one Naval Academy classmate who is no longer with us, Colonel John Ripley, USNA ’62, USMC (Ret) (Navy Cross, Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, and many other awards). The Naval Academy Class of 1962 memorialized Col. Ripley’s heroic stand on the Bridge at Dong Ha, South Vietnam, by commissioning a diorama that was installed in Memorial Hall at the US Naval Academy.
Captain Ripley was serving as a Military Advisor (Covan) with a battalion of less than 700 South Vietnamese Marines at the DMZ. North Vietnam initiated a surprise offensive on Easter Sunday 1972, and Capt. Ripley and the South Vietnamese Marines were faced with a column of 200 Soviet-built tanks and 20,000-30,000 North Vietnamese regulars approaching the Bridge at Dong Ha with the intent of crossing it to invade South Vietnam. Captain Ripley’s singular action on the bridge while under relentless attack prevented that enemy force from invading South Vietnam by destroying the bridge, then by calling in air strikes. Col. Ripley’s action at Dong Ha was referred to as a “Horatio at The Bridge” act (in 6th century BC, Horatio halted an invasion of Rome by making a historic stand on the Bridge spanning the Tiber River.)
The US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico depicts Captain Ripley’s action on the Bridge at Dong Ha. A building at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island was named for Col. Ripley. Col. Ripley is the only US Marine Officer who qualified as a US Army Ranger and was inducted into the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame. Many books have been written about Colonel Ripley’s Heroic stand on the Bridge at Dong Ha (“The Bridge at Dong Ha” by Miller, “The Easter Offensive” by Turley, “An American Knight” by Fulkerson, etc.). Col Ripley is being inducted into USSOCOM’s Commando Hall of Honor. A statue has been commissioned honoring Captain Ripley, and several attempts have been made to produce a movie about his heroic stand on the Bridge at Dong Ha.
On the US Marine Corps’ birthday and every day, we honor all US Marines. The above-listed paragraph explaining Col. Ripley’s stand on the Bridge at Dong Ha is another example of US Marine Corps Leadership in Combat, of selfless Courage, and of Duty to Country by a Marine that Americans, for 239 years, have come to expect of US Marines. Happy Birthday, Marines!! Semper Fidelis.
Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62
Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC
2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184
San Diego, CA 92108
Fax: (619) 220-0109
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8