Jose Ruben Aragon

Staff Sergeant
United States Air Force
22 November 1939 - 16 May 1965
Fountain, Colorado
Panel 01E Line 115


Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Jose Ruben Aragon

20 May 2001

Jose ("Mark") Ruben Aragon

I have been searching for the truth about his death, because I have heard so many different stories. Even though I never knew him, I feel an unbreakable bond between us, and I feel he is always with us. I was shocked to find no memorial for him, so here is the first one to a great man who died, so someone else could go home to their family.

From his grandson,
Mark Kruse

11 Sep 2007

It's been six years since I posted this memorial on The Virtual Wall ... and here I am once again paying my respects to an amazing human being. Only this time I'm not sitting at home on my parents' computer. This time around I present my words as a man. At this very moment I am wearing the uniform my grandfather fought and died for. I am proud to bring honor to his name by serving in the very same Air Force he did. Since I can remember I've heard stories of his bravery and of the eager tenderness he displayed as a father and husband. I can only hope to one day be like him, because if I can be the husband and father that he was then I know he would be proud. I know he will always be looking down, protecting us from above.

From his grandson,
Airman Mark Kruse

A Note from The Virtual Wall

B-57 Canberra In the fall of 1964 twenty 20 B-57Bs of the 8th and 13th Tactical Bomb Squadrons were deployed to the Bien Hoa air base near Saigon, marking the first deployment of jet combat aircraft to Vietnam. The initial deployment got off on the wrong foot. The first two B-57Bs to land collided with each other on the ground and blocked the runway at Bien Hoa, forcing the rest of the flight to divert to Tan Son Nhut Airport to the southwest toward Saigon. One of the B-57Bs dived into the ground during approach at Tan Son Nhut and was destroyed, killing both crew members.

During the next few weeks, more B-57Bs were moved from Clark AFB to Bien Hoa to make good these losses. Initially, the B-57Bs were restricted to unarmed reconnaissance missions, but actual combat was not delayed very long.

On November 1, 1964, Viet Cong squads shelled the airfield at Bien Hoa with mortars, destroying five of the B-57s parked there and damaging 15 others. On 19 Feb 1965, the B-57Bs were released for armed combat operations with the first mission taking place the same day. The B-57Bs hit North Vietnamese territory for the first time on March 2, some 25 miles north of the DMZ.

On May 16, 1965 a B-57B exploded on the ground at Bien Hoa while waiting in line to take off on a mission, setting off a chain of secondary explosions. The resulting conflagration destroyed ten B-57s, eleven VNAF A-1H Skyraiders, and a US Navy F-8 Crusader and caused numerous casualties among air and ground crewmen.
27 men died in the explosions and fires:

  • 3511th Fld Maint Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • SSgt Jesse R. Acosta, San Antonio, TX

  • 4600th Consol Maint Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • SSgt Jose R. Aragon, Fountain, CO

  • 405th Org Maint Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • SMSgt William D. Hicks, Smock, PA
    • SSgt Brian D. Brown, Alvord, TX
    • SSgt Robert L. Clark, Muncie, IN
    • TSgt Secundino Baldonado, Jarales, NM
    • TSgt Charles W. Rachal, Lena, LA
    • TSgt Gerald A. Snyder, Biglerville, PA
    • A1C Hayden E. Weaver, Wyoming, WI

    • Major Robert G. Bell, USAF, Houston, TX (exchange pilot)

  • 34th Air Base Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
  • 3750th Mat Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
  • 408th Consol Maint Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • SSgt Edgar S. Donaghy, Chester, PA

  • 34th Consol Maint Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • TSgt Donald J. Seaman, Mahanoy City, PA
    • A1C Terence D. Engel, Graceville, MN
    • A1C Clifford H. Raulerson, Surrency, GA

  • 13th Bomb Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • Major James E. Underwood, Choteau, MT
    • Capt Charles N. Fox, Metamora, IN
    • Capt Arthur C. Jepson, Chicago, IL
    • Capt Andrew M. Kea, Akron, OH
    • Capt Billy E. Shannon, Center, MO
    • 1stLt Lee C. Wagner, Alliance, OH

  • 17th Bomb Sqdn, 34th Tac Grp:
    • Capt Vernon L. Haynes, Rock Rapids, IA

  • 33rd Tac Grp:
    • Capt Ernest McFeron, Edna, TX
    • SSgt David L. Hubbard, Chelsea, OK, 33rd AB Sqdn, 33rd Tac Grp

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his grandson,
Mark Kruse

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CO State Index . Panel 01E
34TH TAC GRP Index

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 May 2001
Last updated 05/09/2008