Randolph Paul VedrosAviation Machinist 2nd Class
PATROL SQUADRON ONE (VP-1), TF 72, 7TH FLEET
United States Navy
23 February 1937 - 13 April 1966
Mountain View, California
Panel 06E Line 110
The database page for Randolph Paul Vedros
I would like to dedicate this Memorial Day week-end to the memory of Petty Officer Second Class Randolph P. Vedros, Patrol Squadron One, U.S. Navy, who was killed when a mortar shell landed directly on top of him during an attack on the Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Viet Nam, by units of the Viet Cong in April 1966.
Petty Officer Vedros was part of a detachment of VP-1 that was assigned to Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon in the spring of 1966. The squadron was participating in Operation Market Time, an around- the-clock air/sea coastal surveillance and interdiction operation, conducted by the U.S. Navy, that covered the entire coast of Viet Nam as well as the offshore islands. During the Tet holiday period on the night of 13 April 1966, Petty Officer Vedros was performing maintenance on a squadron aircraft (an SP2H "Neptune" long range patrol aircraft) when Viet Cong units launched a surprise attack on the base in the middle of the night, mortar and artillery shells rained down on the parked aircraft, and enemy troops overran parts of the base. (This earlier Tet attack was a precursor to a later Tet offensive that was more broadly based, but this one was just as violent and deadly.) Petty Officer Vedros took cover in a ditch near the aircraft on which he was working, behind a sandbagged revetment. He was killed instantly when a mortar shell landed directly on top of him.
Petty Officer Vedros was a highly skilled and dedicated reciprocating engine technician. He was an expert at maintaining an extremely complex aircraft engine, the Wright R-3350 turbo-compound engine. He performed his duties conscientiously, with a quiet strength, a commitment to excellence, and a capacity for hard work and long hours that inspired those around him.
In my earlier assignment as powerplants branch officer, I became quite well acquainted with Petty Officer Vedros. I learned that he was an extremely capable mechanic, eventually concluding that he was the finest reciprocating engine mechanic in the squadron, and possibly in the entire Pacific Fleet. He was a member of a powerplants maintenance crew that maintained such high standards that engine problems and failures were extremely rare in VP-1. Not only was Petty Officer Vedros a pillar of strength and competence in the organization, but he was a dedicated sailor who could be relied upon to do whatever was required to get the job done, and to support the operating requirements of the squadron to the best of his ability.
I was a squadron pilot in the Viet Nam detachment, as well as the aircraft division officer. As aircraft division officer, I was responsible for three maintenance department branches, including the powerplants branch. Therefore, Petty Officer Vedros was in my area of responsibility. At the time of the attack, I was at the squadron officer's quarters in Saigon. Upon learning of the developments at the base early in the morning, all available detachment personnel rushed out to the base. By the time I arrived at the base, Petty Officer Vedros' remains had been moved to the base mortuary, and it was my responsibility to perform an official identification of his body, which I did. Later, I wrote to his family, expressing my sympathy for their loss and informing them of the high regard in which I held their husband and father.
Petty Officer Vedros' service to his country in Viet Nam was much like that of many other unsung heroes - American service men and women who provided the essential support and maintained the equipment relied upon by the front line forces. They worked in harsh and unpleasant conditions, often without relief for weeks. They were usually called upon to accomplish their tasks with inadequate facilities and equipment, there was little time for anyone to give recognition to them for their hard work, and they were frequently working in an exposed and dangerous environment. Petty Officer Vedros was one of those unsung heroes. He was a credit to Patrol Squadron One, to the U.S. Navy, and to his country.
I would be honored to make contact with any family members or friends of Petty Officer Second Class Randolph P. Vedros who might provide more details of his life and the facts surrounding his final sacrifice to his country.
I am very proud to have served with Paul Vedros in VP-1. I left the squadron after its first deployment to Vietnam in 1965, flying in Crew 1 out of Tan Son Nhut and Danang. I first heard of Vedros's death late 1966 and I was honored to be able to visit him at the Wall in 2005 and 2006 when I rode to Rolling Thunder to honor Paul Vedros and left him a note of thanks from a fellow squadron mate.
A Note from The Virtual Wall
In February 1966 Patrol Squadron One (VP-1) deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. The squadron maintained a seven plane detachment at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam in support of Operation Market Time.
VP-1 became the first patrol squadron to suffer casualties in the Vietnam conflict when Petty Officer Vedros was killed in the 13 April mortar attack on Tan Son Nhut, just outside Saigon. In addition to damaging or destroying a number of aircraft, the attack killed seven Americans and wounded over a hundred others. The dead, six soldiers and one sailor, were
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 May 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009