Michael Nicholas VitalePrivate First Class
F CO, 2ND BN, 7TH MARINES, 1ST MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
20 December 1948 - 14 April 1969
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The database page for Michael Nicholas Vitale
My father, Gary Michael Paul, along with the rest of F/2/7 was on a combat patrol in Quang Nam, SVN moving to a pre-determined destination. My dad's preference during troop movement was always point man. He often volunteered to handle this hellish task to keep his unit safe because he felt that was one of his better strengths. The brotherhood of F/2/7 as with most units within the Marine Corps relied on other's strengths to provide a well rounded fighting unit.
On 14 Apr 1969 my dad had been point man for over 10 hours on a jungle patrol when he was too exhausted to continue. His friend PFC Vitale volunteered to be the new point man. He was a skilled fighter but the Vietcong were dug in and had the advantage. He was the point man for less than 10 minutes before being fatally wounded in the fire fight. PFC Vitale was the first casualty from the overpowering ambush. The loss of Michael Nicholas Vitale still haunts his brethren to this date. Personally speaking, my father has never allowed the death of his friend be in vain. PFC Vitale will never be forgotten and his family should be proud of their hero. He was a well respected Marine, a good friend, and a true patriot.
To the family of PFC Michael Nicholas Vitale, as an honor to your lost Marine, I have ordered a remembrance KIA bracelet with Michael's information on it for my father. God Bless each of you!
SSgt Nicholas J. Paul
I've thought about Michael for some time now, and have wanted to convey my respects to his family. We played baseball together on the "Artisans" in Northeast Philly in the early 60's and went to the same high school (Father Judge) but Michael was a grade or two above me. I graduated in 1968 and joined the Marines as Michael had done. I was a field radio operator in an arty F.O. team and my last outfit was Mike Company 3/7 until I left Vietnam in June, 1970. I now realize that Michael had served in my same regiment - the 7th Marines. I am so sorry that he did not return as I had done. May God Bless him and his family. He served his country well and will always be remembered.
From a fellow Marine,
A Note from The Virtual WallThe 7th Marines' After-Action Report for Operation OKLAHOMA HILLS contains the following entry:
"At 141530H [3:30 PM, 14 April 1969] F/2/7 vicinity (AT 807620) platoon engaged estimate squad of enemy in bunkers. Res: 2 USMC KIA, 4 USMC WIA(E)"but that entry doesn't tell the complete story.
On 14 April the 2/7 Marines were conducting sweeps on a ridgeline in the hills some 11 kilometers north-northwest of Dai Loc. The ridgeline was nicknamed "Charlie Ridge" because the NVA/VC (Victor Charlie, or Charlie for short) frequently used it as a staging area for attacks on An Hoa, Hoi An, Ha Tan, and the Danang area. The area was characterized by high, narrow hills rising to 2600 feet, cut by numerous steep-sided valleys, ravines, and gorges and covered with dense undergrowth and double or triple canopy jungle.
As the Marines swept the area from the east, three battalions from the 51st ARVN Infantry worked from the west and southwest. All of the allied forces encountered dug-in enemy forces - Charlie Ridge was indeed occupied by NVA/VC troops. As the afternoon progressed there were USMC and ARVN wounded who needed evacuation, and Marine helos responded to that requirement. The III MAF Significant Events message covering 14 April says
"141630H [4:30 PM, 14 Apr] delayed report: A CH-46 medevac helo received automatic weapons fire and crashed and burned (AT803607) 16 KMs west of Hill 55. Results: 3 friendly KIA and 3 wounded, 1 critically. The pilot is missing and presumed dead in the wreckage."The helo, CH-46D BuNo 153361, was responding to a call from Fox 2/7 and went down a short distance from them - but beyond their reach in one of the steep valleys. Four men died in the crash, raising the day's toll to five Marines and a Navy Corpsman:
The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 03 Dec 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009