Ralf Irvin Saunders
United States Marine Corps
Hobart, Indiana
May 19, 1946 to November 06, 1967
RALF I SAUNDERS is on the Wall at Panel 29E, Line 35

Combat Action Ribbon
Ralf I Saunders
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The news clippings from various Indiana papers on November 10, 1967 showed a simple notice. It read: "Marine Cpl. Ralf I. Saunders, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin D. Booten, Hobart Ind., was killed in action in action in Vietnam, the Defense Department announced Thursday."

But events surrounding the day long battle were not as simple. CPL Saunders, along with 23 other Marines, gave their last full measure of devotion to country, in heavy fighting during an attack on a heavily fortified village. It was part of Operation ESSEX which took place in the Hiep Duc Valley, about 10 kilometers south-southeast of An Hoa, South Vietnam.

Alvin D. "Boots" Booten was Ralf Saunders' father. Boots was born in Derby, Illinois to Alvin and Marie Booten. Boots, also a veteran, proudly served in the US Marines 1st Division during the Korean War as a Navy Corpsman. He served in the Battle Of The Chosin Reservoir in December 1950. He passed away in 2010. Boots was a retired automobile and mobile home salesman at the time of his passing. Ralf's mother was Lorena Meserve Booten. After marrying Al, they moved to his home State of Indiana, where they lived for 27 years and raised their three children - Ralf, Trish, and Lainie. Lorena was a substitute teacher at various Hobart schools. She passed away on Christmas Day, 2006. She was survived by 2 daughters; Patricia "Trish" Miller of Washington, Indiana and Elaine "Lainie" Haller of Hobart.

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Operation ESSEX took place in the Hiep Duc Valley, about 10 kilometers south-southeast of An Hoa Combat Base. The search and destroy operation resulted from information that elements of the North Vietnamese Army's 21st Regiment were in the area - and they were there in force. The operation kicked off at 5 a.m. on 06 November 1967 with "Mike" Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines moving to Phase Line Red. Their objective was the hamlet of Ap Bon. The following excerpt c omes from the battalion's After-Action Report:


The 23 Marines who were killed in the action at Ap Bon (2) were:

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