Ralph Byron Pappas

United States Marine Corps
14 March 1940 - 30 March 1967
Presidio, California
Panel 17E Line 075


Naval Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ralph Byron Pappas

29 Mar 2007

Barney was an A-4 pilot who went to spend his tour as a Foward Air Controller (FAC). He was one of the most genuine people I ever knew. He was my best man, best friend, and brother in the Corps. I was FACing with 1/9, we pulled back to regroup and resupply on 28 March 1967. Barney's battalion took our place. As he went out I yelled at him to grab his flak jacket. He laughed, yelled back "You can cover your legs with it while you sleep in my cot". Two days later his position was overrun.

Before coming to Nam, Barney sold his TR-3 to his girl for a dollar. He would laugh and say " ...not in case I don't make it back, but there is pride in ownership. She will take good care of it for me if she owns it."

From his best friend,
Chris Madsen
Captain of Marines

A Note from The Virtual Wall

In the late afternoon of 30 March 1967 India Company, 3/9 Marines began to set up its night defensive position near Hill 70, located about 8 kilometers northwest of Cam Lo and 4 kilometers southwest of Con Thien. As the platoons were establishing their ambush sites and outposts, the company command post and its security element came under automatic weapons fire from the advance guard of a reinforced NVA company.

Although the assault was begun by a handful of NVA soldiers it grew rapidly as additional NVA troops, supported by artillery and mortar fire, moved in on the scattered Marines. The command group and its security element managed to establish a hasty defense while the bulk of the company consolidated and withdrew slightly to a more defensible location - but the hasty defense site was overrun before all the defenders could themselves withdraw. Friendly air and artillery support was brought to bear, and a reaction force was moved into the area but was unable to join India 3/9 until after dawn on 31 March.

The 3/9 Operations Log contains the following entry:

"1800 - Company I began receiving incoming mortar fire YD096652. I-2, 3, 4, and CP were hit with heavy 60mm mortar fire and small arms fire. The enemy advanced to friendly positions under the mortar fire and hit the units after lifting of the mortars. The enemy infiltrated friendly positions with friendly units suffering casualties 16 KIA, 52 WIA. 62 NVA KIA confirmed. 2 NVA captured."
and there's also an entry from the following morning:
"0850 - Company I reports that NVA are walking around their position in a daze. They were instructed to try and capture the NVA. As unit tried to capture NVA in their area the NVA put up enough resistance to make it dangerous to try to capture and were forced to shoot them. 6 NVA KIA confirmed."
Although the Ops Log says there were 16 American dead, only 15 can be identified - most of them from the Command Group and its security element. They were
  • H&S Co, 3rd Bn, 9th Marines
    • Capt Ralph B. Pappas, Presidio, CA (Ground FAC)
    • LCpl Roman R. Villamor, Warren, MI
    • Pfc Donald W. Krick, Cleveland, OH

  • I Co, 3rd Bn, 9th Marines
    • Capt Michael P. Getlin, La Grange, IL, Company Commander (Navy Cross)
    • 2ndLt John P. Bobo, Niagara Falls, NY, Platoon Leader (Medal of Honor)
    • Cpl John L. Loweranitis, Du Bois, PA (Navy Cross)
    • Cpl Walter J. Nerad, Maple Heights, OH
    • Cpl David A. Siemon, Springdale, PA
    • LCpl James E. Blevins, Empire, OH
    • LCpl Larry H. Crumbaker, Salem, OH
    • Pfc Albert G. Anter, Central Falls, RI
    • Pfc Ruben M. Armenta, Pico Rivera, CA
    • Pfc Edward E. Cannon, Avon Park, FL
    • Pfc Frank H. Thomas, Pompano Beach, FL
    • Pfc Wallace Williams, New York, NY

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 Mar 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009