Michael Lee Zappia

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
13 December 1947 - 25 February 1969
Des Moines, Iowa
Panel 31W Line 063


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Michael Lee Zappia

04 Jun 1999


E-mail address is not available.
12 Sep 2006

I was on the same LZ (Landing Zone) as PFC Michael Lee Zappia the night he was killed. We were on Hill 1103, and the hill was close to the DMZ in the jungle. The hill was called LZ Neville. We were in Hotel 2/4, we were security for three artillery guns manned by Golf 3/12. 200 NVA suicide sappers attacked us at about midnight the night of his death. The enemy snuck up on us in the dense fog that covered the hill. We fought till the sun came up. The hill was overrun that night of his death Feb. 25 1969. It was a hard fought battle, hand to hand combat by some Marines. Because of brave young Marines like PFC Michael Lee Zappia, we were able to kill the suicide sappers who had managed to get through the lines, and we held the hill. We were supported by an estimated 500 friendly artillery rounds fired at and around our position from other firebases in the jungle manned by Marines. Both friendly artillery fire and NVA artillery fire from across the DMZ were fired at the hill. Enemy artillery, machinegun fire, and mortars pounded the hill. The Earth trembled and the noise was deafening. I felt as if the world was ending that foggy night, and for 12 young brave Marines and 2 brave Navy Corpsman on our hill, the world did end!

We knew we were going to be hit soon. Marine Recon Teams were reporting a large enemy build up of troops and equipment just north of the DMZ, days prior to our hill being overrun. Our artillery guns supported the Recon Teams watching the enemy build up, when they were spotted by the NVA. Because of the bombing halt and Paris Peace Talks going on, the politicians would not allow a preemptive air or artillery strike on the enemy position. The Marine Recon Teams were told to watch and report, do not create an incident. There were two Fire Bases near the DMZ that were overrun that foggy night. LZ Russell, which was firing artillery in support of our hill, was hit and also overrun about three hours after our hill was hit. 40 brave Marines died and a hundred more were wounded on both hills. I guess the politicians, whom I blame for the many deaths and casualties that night, deemed us expendable.

Go to the LZ Russell Site to see and read more about that awful, foggy night of Feb. 25, 1969.

Thank you, PFC Michael Lee Zappia, for giving your life for me and our fellow Marines on the hill that night. We are truly brothers in arms, you and I! I will never forget you and what you stood for! Semper Fi, Marine!

Sgt. Terry C. Webber USMC

09 May 2007

My half-brother Mike L. Zappia and I grew up in Iowa as children. Mike used to say, "When I grow up I am going to be a Marine."

Mike was the strong and brave one of the family and well liked in the community. We used to go shooting .22 caliber rifles on Saturdays and he always said, "I am going to be a Marine, Frank." I still think of him often and the family still remembers him on holidays. He had the strongest faith in God of anyone I have ever known and I am sure he is safe in God's arms. We still miss him. We will always love you, Mike, and we are very proud of you.

Frank, JoAnne and Sarah Cannella and Family
P. O. Box 27661, Tucson, Az 85726

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Fire Support Bases NEVILLE and RUSSELL were west of Cam Lo, with NEVILLE the westernmost of the two. In late February 1969, NEVILLE was occupied by Golf Btry 3/12 with Hotel Company, 2/4 as a security force. Five miles to the east, FSB RUSSELL had Hotel and Mortar Btries, 3/12, and elements of 2/4 as a security force - primarily Echo 2/4, but also elements of H&S Company.

In the early morning hours of 25 Feb 1969 both bases were hit hard by NVA sappers - about 200 from the 246th NVA Regiment at NEVILLE and an equal number from the 27th NVA Regiment at RUSSELL. In each case the attacks began with heavy mortar fire and supporting artillery fire from within the DMZ, followed by a ground attack clearly intended to destroy the artillery pieces in their gun pits. In each case the enemy partially overran the base, but in each case the Marines drove them out again. When the sun rose, the Marines had over three dozen dead and 100+ wounded, while there were 61 enemy bodies inside the two perimeters - but the guns sustained no serious damage and were firing.

The 14 Americans killed at FSB NEVILLE were

  • Golf 3/12:
    • HM2 Walter P. Seel, Moorestown, NJ (H&S with Golf Btry)
    • Cpl Jeffrey M. Barron, La Puente, CA (Silver Star)
    • LCpl Thomas H. Mc Grath, Homewood, IL (Silver Star)

  • Hotel 2/4:
    • Cpl Gerald D. Zawadzki, Brooklyn, OH
    • LCpl Steven V. Garcia, Phoenix, AZ
    • HM3 John M. Sullivan, El Cajon, CA (H&S with Hotel 2/4)
    • Pfc Raymond L. Flint, Skaneateles, NY
    • Pfc Walter L. Lamarr, Sturtevant, WI
    • Pfc Samuel C. Macon, Delray Beach, FL
    • Pfc David A. Mallory, Huntsville, AL
    • Pfc Royce E. Roe, Pewaukee, WI
    • Pfc Carey W. Smith, Doraville, GA
    • Pfc Willie F. Smith, Houston, TX
    • Pfc Michael L. Zappia, Des Moines, IA
There were 27 dead Marines at FSB RUSSELL - 18 infantrymen from 2/4 and 9 artillerymen from 3/12.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 04 Jun 1999
Last updated 08/10/2009