John Pell Rackhaus

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
21 July 1949 - 16 November 1969
Marshall, Illinois
Panel 16W Line 085


Silver Star

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Pell Rackhaus

03 Nov 2001

"If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines."
Final verse, Marine Corps Hymn

From a fellow Marine,
Richard B Ellenberger
149 S W 185th Normandy Park, Wa. 98166
E-Mail may be forwarded via the
27 November 2001

It's taken a long time for me to be able to come here, but his family should know about him as a fighting man. He was skinny and gangly, quiet and unassuming, but a berserker in combat. It was the third day of the operation and we'd lost the first two men in column on each of the first two days, and still he took point without protest.

He surprised an enemy soldier trying to plant a mine and "Rocky" (that's what we called him) and Miller, his backup, took off in hot pursuit with the rest of our squad following. I was #3 in line, but probably 20 yards back. Rocky and Miller literally ran into an ambush, and an NVA soldier popped up out of a "spider hole" and shot him down, killing him instantly and wounding Miller. The enemy fled, and we were left to carry our dead and wounded comrades back to the platoon perimeter (we were in the Que Son Mountains - a blocking force at the top of a peak - really thick vegetation). The fourth day we started to turn the tables on what turned out to be a sizeable enemy encampment, and eliminated them. I had point the fourth day and was terribly frightened, but Rocky's example helped me go on. He deserves more than a purple heart for what he did on that mountain.

From a friend and comrade,
Austin Ray Johnson

20 Feb 2003

I served with John Rackhaus. John was the most courageous Marine that I ever saw. I argued with him from time to time. I laughed with him from time to time. He was the most gung-ho SOB that I knew.

From a fellow Marine, 3rd Plt, Alpha Co, 1st Bn/7th Marines
Randy Gaston

24 Jul 2003

I wish I could have had more information on my brother's death in Viet Nam than the Marine Corps provided. I was already in country, and he volunteered to go anyway. I'm Air Force, and a lot more protected than he was. I guess he just thought it was his duty as a Marine to be there. I still miss him a lot in family things. I would like to hear from anyone that was with him during this time if possible. So many young men like him gave this country their all and sometimes I wonder for what. He will always be remembered.

From his brother,
Joseph W. Rackhaus
Chief Master Sergeant
Missouri Air National Guard

04 Jan 2003

My name is Jim Warner - I knew John growing up in our hometown of Marshall, Illinois. There were a group of us neighborhood boys of various ages who all hung out at the bowling alley and at Rollo Simpson's and Steve White's house. John was one of the older boys and as such always took the lead. I never knew much about John's family or personal life. I remember John enlisting and I remember the news of John's death.

I worked for my father, Jim Warner Sr, at the Marshall Cemetery where he was the sexton of the cemetery for over 30 years. As a kid I mowed, trimmed and dug graves. I dug John's grave and after all were gone, covered him. I will never forget that. John is the reason I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the spring of 1972. After my discharge from the Marines in 1976 I began a career with the U. S. Government.

This career took me to Washington D.C. in 1992 where I stayed until 1999. Every Memorial Day from 1992, with the exception of two, I visited John at the memorial during "Rolling Thunder." As I was assigned to Washington D.C., I could visit the memorial anytime I wanted. Many days, during lunch, I would make the walk from work to the Wall and pay my respects. In 1999, my career took me to Philadelphia, however in my travels to Washington I would always visit the memorial to pay my respects to John.

I am now retired from the government now and still in the Philadelphia area until January 17, 2004, at which time I will be returning to Illinois to live. On January 10, 2004, my last Sunday here, I will make the trip to Washington to visit with John one more time as I am uncertain when the next time will be. I am so very glad I found this site and able to read Austin Johnson's, Randy Gaston's, and Joseph Rackhaus's tributes. After that I had to add mine. Respect to you all and I wish I had known John better in our later years.

From a friend,
James G. Warner Jr.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his brother,
Joseph W. Rackhaus 
03 Nov 2001

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 05/11/2004