Jerome Dean Kupperschmidt

United States Marine Corps
22 January 1948 - 07 June 1968
Sandwich, Illinois
Panel 59W Line 025


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Jerome Dean Kupperschmidt

17 Jul 2001

Over 58,000 voids were created in countless millions of lives. The magnitude of their heroics will never be realized because it would be impossible to remember each individual story and why their name appears on the Wall. The Wall displays the enormity of a generation's loss. Those are not names, they are memories of what was and shattered dreams of what should have been.

Jerome Dean Kupperschmidt was truly a hero. He enlisted in the Marines on a buddy plan with a high school friend. His buddy returned to the "World" physically and no doubt emotionally scarred. Jerome returned a memory in the minds of we who knew him and will never forget growing up with him to a ripe old age of 20.

We lost Jerome on June 7th, 1968, as did the families and friends of 57 other American heroes that same day. He was with A Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marine Division. History will show that he was part of the Tet Offense and Operation Pegasus. He was killed while going to the aid of another buddy whose name also appears on the Wall. Perhaps Jerome's legacy was his leaving home to join the Marines with a buddy and departing this life while trying to save another buddy. That was Jerome, a true buddy.

We both had just become teenagers and both had just moved to a new rural community. It was hard for both of us to make this change. We lamented that it wasn't fair to have to make new friends at a time in your life when old friends were so important. But we adjusted. We lived the normal boys' life, not caring about what we might face in six years but rather what were going to do tomorrow.

We separated by my moving (ironically) to where he had come from. When I told him where I was going, that was the only time I saw his jealous side. I knew it must be a good place to go when he didn't speak to me for about a day after I told him. Over the next three years we saw each other on occasion through sports or at dances. The feeling of losing a close friend had not faded but our worlds continued to change.

It's funny how five words can make your head reel and your stomach churn. That's how I felt when I was in Basic Training at Fort Polk, LA, and my Drill Sergeant said, "Your friend Jerome is dead". Later when in Viet Nam yourself and you are told too often that someone was dead, all you would say is, "Sorry 'bout that" and go on trying to act like the news didn't bother you because it was all part of war.

Thirty years later, you realize "Sorry 'bout that" is not what you really felt. You realize that to someone, those forgotten names were just like Jerome was to you, a friend that you lost forever. Over 58,000 voids were created in Viet Nam and countless millions heard the words, "Your friend is dead".

Jerome continues to live in my heart. For me he is forever a friend growing up but never growing old. We will always be standing in that picture, side by side trying to stretch to look taller than the other. To you he is a name on 59W, Row 25. To those who served with him he is Semper Fidelis, "an always faithful" buddy. To all of us, he is simply a hero who was trying to do the right thing.

A memorial from his friend,
David A. Ryg

13 April 2002

After comprehending all of these thousands of names, a thought passed through my mind. All of these people did something to contribute, the innumerable amount of names of actual people represent good deeds that these great and unbelievably courageous men committed knowing that they are sacrificing their lives for the sake of their country.

Jerome Dean Kupperschmidt was truly a hero. He joined the war with a friend, and he was in it to help. I think that he must have had a strong feeling of compassion in his soul; how could he be selfish and self-absorbed if he would go so far as to give himself? Our country is not aware of the thanks that they need to express to these men who were vital. Jerome Kupperschmidt seemed like one person who really cared, and one person who tried. My 8th grade class recently visited the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. and they could see all of the names of people who served in the war and were either killed or missing. Jerome Dean Kupperschmidt was one person who should stand out among the masses.

Joseph Garvin
E-Mail may be forwarded via the

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 07 June 1968 the 1st Bn, 26th Marines were conducting a sweep along the Bon Song River. Alpha 1/26 was providing a screening force along the river while Delta 1/26 was moving through the hills along the river. Charlie 1/26 was in echelon behind Delta, with the Command Group and H&S Company bringing up the rear.

As Delta 1/26 crested a ridgeline they took fire from a trenchline. The company established a base of fire, flanked the trenchline, and forced the NVA to withdraw - but they didn't withdraw far; a second set of fortifications lay only 50 yards behind the first. Charlie 1/26 sent help and Delta buckled down to assaulting the second trench line - and once again forced the NVA from their lines.

This action, though costly, was only a prelude. The NVA troops engaged by Delta 1/26 were a covering force for the NVA main body, which withdrew into the Alpha 1/26 position - and were engaged by the Alpha 1/26 Marines in a bloody fight. By the time the NVA escaped through the gap between Alpha's flank and the oncoming Delta Marines, 20 Marines and 2 sailors were dead:

  • A Company:
    • 2ndLt Paul M. McGrath, Rye, NY
    • SSgt Donald M. Cuff, Wilmington, DE
    • Cpl George A. Essary, Chattanooga, TN
    • Cpl Jerome D. Kupperschmidt, Sandwich, IL
    • Cpl Gregory A. Shelley, Palisades Park, NJ
    • LCpl Edward L. Bradford, Westville, OK
    • LCpl Kevin M. Coyne, Silver Spring, MD
    • LCpl Michael W. Travis, Sweetser, IN
    • Pfc Michael P. Becker, Omaha, NE
    • Pfc Jerry N. Christman, Williams, AZ
    • Pfc Carl M. Middlebrooks, Baltimore, MD
    • Pfc Alton L. Staples, Cincinnati, OH
    • Pfc Ernest L. Wesley, Stockbridge, GA

  • C Company:
    • Cpl David E. Dixon, Miami, FL

  • D Company:
  • H&S Company:
    • HM3 Ramon Leyba, Albuquerque, NM (H&S Co, w/ Alpha 1/26)
    • HN Ronald E. Rockefeller, Tivoli, NY
In a tragic coincidence, Lance Corporal Michael Travis's elder brother, Corporal Edmund B. Travis, an artilleryman with Alpha 1/13 Marines, had been killed in action on 27 June 1967 while serving on a Forward Observer team with the 1/26 Marines at Khe Sanh.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend,
David A. Ryg

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 17 Jul 2001
Last updated 03/01/2008