Richard Kirk Gillingham

United States Marine Corps
21 July 1946 - 19 May 1967
Valatie, New York
Panel 20E Line 039


Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Richard Kirk Gillingham

24 Dec 2005

I was a fire team leader in his squad. On May 19th, 1967, while on Operation Hickory his squad was ambushed in the DMZ just north of Con Thien. Gill was shot several times while trying to aid a severely wounded squad member. He was able to reach the mortally wounded Marine but Gill died of his wounds. He was awarded a Navy Cross for his actions.

Pete Rivera

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 18 May 1967 the Marines began Operation HICKORY with the intention of removing enemy forces and installations from the southern half of the DMZ. This was the first time the Marines had ventured into the DMZ in force. The attack was supported by a massive Navy-Marine-Air Force effort, the landing of SLF Alpha, and a parallel sweep by the 1st ARVN Division. HICKORY lasted through 29 May and resulted in both the loss of 129 Americans and the utter destruction of many North Vietnamese Army installations within the eastern part of the Demilitarized Zone. Extremely heavy casualties were inflicted on the NVA 326B Division, which held the ground and defended the area with vigor.

No effort was made to hold the areas of the DMZ which had been cleared of NVA - political pressures precluded an American presence in the DMZ (apparently an NVA presence was acceptable) - and the rebuilt 362B Division eventually returned to the area.

On 19 May, Hotel Company 2/9 Marines, lost 8 men:

  • Cpl Richard K. Gillingham, Valatie, NY (Navy Cross)
  • Cpl Wayne C. Harmon, Downey, CA
  • LCpl Harold D. Shelton, Baltimore, MD
  • Pfc Robert J. Brady, Elizabeth, NJ
  • Pfc William J. Corbin, Joppa, MD
  • Pfc Joseph M. Grantham, Goldsboro, NC
  • Pfc Gregory P. Moser, Edmonds, WA
  • Pfc Alan T. Read, Bloomington, IN (Bronze Star "V")
The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism in connection with operations against enemy forces while serving as a Squad Leader with Company H, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced) in the Republic of Vietnam on 19 May 1967. While on a search and destroy operation in Quang Tri Province, Corporal Gillingham's squad was taken under heavy small arms and automatic weapons fire. In the initial burst of fire, one of his men was seriously wounded and unable to move from his exposed position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Gillingham rushed into the open terrain to administer aid to the fallen Marine, who was twenty meters away. Although wounded three times, he courageously persisted in his efforts until he had moved his wounded fellow Marine to a secure position. While heroically attempting to return to his squad, he succumbed to his grievous wounds. By his outstanding courage, exceptional fortitude and valiant fighting spirit, Corporal Gillingham served to inspire all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend and former squad member,
Pete Rivera
24 Dec 2005

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 01/01/2006