Tommy Ryan WhitePrivate First Class
B CO, 1ST BN, 9TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
10 November 1947 - 12 May 1966
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The database page for Tommy Ryan White
Tommy, I didn't know you very well, but you will never be forgotten by me. I am so sorry you lost your young life this way.
I was a kid too, like you, except I paid no attention to world affairs. I shopped for a new bikini while you were far away from home dying. For that reason now I cry as an old woman; for you as a young man and all the young men who die and kill while politicians play war.
From a classmate, 1965,
Tommy, I have thought of you many times over these past 39 years. We were in boot camp together ("Platoon 129 on the road, sir!"), went through ITR together, on to Camp Hanson and ended up together in Bravo 1-9.
The day you died you were on a squad patrol and encountered a small VC unit that your team went after. They continued to lure you further away from the platoon toward the ville [village or hamlet]. You were caught in open ground and had one hell of a final fight. One of your squad survived - he was PFC Dill - he went through boot camp with us. By the time the rest of the platoon caught up to you it was all over. The VC tried to lure the rest of us into the trap but a forward air observer spotted the VC in the ville. He dropped us a note attached to a smoke grenade saying there are 300 to 400 VC in the ville and he was calling arty. We had a 30 to 40 minute firefight and Sparrow Hawk [a reaction force] was inserted. We lost one of the CH-46s that was in the lift.
Also that day we lost Lt John Capel, our new platoon leader. He was a big guy, I think a big time football player. He was just so concerned about his Marines he kept getting up on his knees looking around.
We lost a lot of friends that day! I have never kept up with any of the men from that first tour in Nam, I wish I had! I am going to the next "Walking Dead" reunion in Branson, Missouri, in Sept 06, I hope to see a few of the guys. Dill, I will be looking for you.
A Note from The Virtual WallA patrol from Bravo Company of the 1/9 Marines lost 13 Marines and one sailor on 12 May 1966 when they encountered a much larger North Vietnamese Army unit at Hoa Tai village:
The CH-46 mentioned by Mr. Ferrell almost certainly was CH-46A BuNo 151948, which took 22 hits from automatic weapons and a 57mm recoilless rifle while in the landing zone. There were no known deaths aboard 151948 - or the other four CH-46s which were hit during the Sparrow Hawk insertion and medevacs. 151948 was recovered, repaired, and continued to support the grunts until withdrawn four years later.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 30 May 2004
Last updated 08/10/2009