Raymond Joseph Ahern, Jr

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
14 January 1948 - 26 November 1968
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 38W Line 063



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Raymond Joseph Ahern, Jr

30 Nov 2002

R J Ahern

The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.

The 20-year-old Father Judge High School graduate had worked at Amplex Manufacturing Co. on Torresdale Avenue and was engaged to be married when he was drafted into the Army two weeks before Christmas 1967. The specialist four, a cannoneer with the 19th Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), died near Saigon on November 26, 1968. His parents received many phone calls and letters from men with whom he had served, and for 15 years following his death, his commanding officer sent flowers to be placed on his grave. Ahern was survived by his parents, a brother and sister. He and James P. Harkanson, a Philadelphia veteran who died in February 1968 in Viet Nam, had been close friends since they were children.

SP4 Ahern was serving with C Btry 2/19th Arty at Landing Zone Rita at the time of his death.

From a native Philadelphian and Vietnam vet,
Jim McIlhenney

07 Dec 2002

Prior to his death on LZ Rita, Ray was attached to Delta Company,
2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry as the Forward Observer's RTO.
Ray spent most of his tour of duty with D 2/8 Cavalry and was
reassigned to his post on Landing Zone Rita one day before his
death. He is listed on the "Angry Skipper" Honor Roll Page at

From a friend,

15 Nov 2004

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
After all this time
I still miss you.

I was engaged to Ray,

06 Jun 2005

Your Mom had her 80th birthday on the 23rd of May. I was there with her and your family and a very special friend of yours (George).

Her only wish was that you could be there. No matter how many years pass, the pain of your loss is as great as it was the day you died.

I just hope when its my time to leave this world You will be there waiting for me ...... ILU

From your fiancee,

22 Nov 2005

I remember Ray as someone I just clicked with. Every now and then you meet someone like that. He had an infectious smile and a warm way about him. We were both Irish Catholic kids from the Northeast and he was very easy to talk to. It was like being with someone from my neighborhood back home and after a few weeks I felt like I had known him for years.

We first met up north when we were working the Quang Tri area. In late October 1968 our division moved down into the area northwest of Saigon that borders Cambodia. It was a very different war than what we had seen in the Quang Tri area. We were no longer near villages and civilians. We were working in triple canopy jungle along the Cambodian border. We were running into large concentrations of North Vietnamese regulars who were well armed and liked to stay and fight.

One of the worst fire bases in our early days down south was LZ Rita. It was a very bad place from the first moment we stepped off the choppers. We had taken over from the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) on November 9th. They had been overrun the night before we got there. We stayed on Rita for several days to rebuild the bunkers and secure the area around the LZ. The bad guys were constantly hitting us with mortars and rockets and they were constantly probing our perimeter. We then left the LZ and went out into the jungle about ten kilometers and started to sweep in a very large circle around the LZ. We conducted operations out in the bush for about ten days and were then sent back in to defend the perimeter on Rita.

Ray was killed in the middle of the night on November 26, 1968 on Landing Zone Rita. His bunker took a direct hit from a rocket and he was killed instantly. I remember having to move out the next morning and it didn't seem right. There was no time to grieve or think about Ray or what had just happened, just move out and watch out for the bad guys.

He was a bright star in a very dark period in my life. He made life in Vietnam a little more bearable for me and I hope I did the same for him.

From a friend,
Larry Hackett

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a native Philadelphian and Viet Nam Veteran,
Jim McIlhenney
30 Nov 2002

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 11/29/2005