Ronald Lee BelknapCorporal
HMM-161, MAG-16, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
31 March 1944 - 08 August 1966
Daly City, California
Panel 09E Line 110
The database page for Ronald Lee Belknap
I only knew Ronald for a short time. We went to Vietnam together with HMM-363 and, I believe, in Da Nang, split. He stayed with 363 and I went to HMM-364.
We were both quiet and job orientated. I remember that he did not like to fly but was not fearful of doing so. During the time we worked together I found him to be a very good friend and co-worker.
Ron was always willing to put in the long hours needed to accomplish the tasks that were necessary to our squadron mission. It was not until some time after leaving Vietnam that I heard that he was killed in action. It was a shock. I still mourn his passing and know that the Marines lost another good Marine.
You are not forgotten, Ronald. You are not forgotten.
From a friend,
A Note from The Virtual WallCorporal Ronald Belknap didn't stay with HMM-363 ... he was transferred to HMM-161. The HMM-161 and MAG-16 Command Chronologies report that Corporal Belknap was killed when his UH-34 aircraft was hit by heavy small arms fire during a mission about 14 nautical miles west-northwest of Dong Ha. Two others aboard the aircraft were wounded but apparently survived their injuries. They were involved in an effort to save a Marine recon patrol.
At 7 PM on 06 August, Recon Team 61 consisting of four men from the 6th Plt, 1st Force Recon Co, call sign "GROUCHO MARX", was inserted on the southern slope of Mutter's Ridge overlooking a valley about 12 kilometers north of Ca Lu Airfield. At 11 PM the patrol heard movement and voices down-slope from their position, but the noises stopped by midnight. By the following evening it was clear there were several groups of North Vietnamese troops, some as close as 100-150 feet to the patrol's position. At 9 AM on 08 August, it appeared the NVA had formed a line abreast and were actively searching for Team 61. The team leader called in artillery and helo gunships while moving further up-slope. The designated "Sparrow Hawk" reaction force (2nd Platoon, Echo Company, 2/4 Marines, led by 2ndLt Andrew M. Sherman) departed Dong Ha for insertion near Team 61 at noontime. The following entries taken from the 3rd Marine Division's Operations Log pick up at this point:
The terse and sometimes confusing entries in the 3rd MarDiv Operations log hide many of the details of the engagement. The first point to be made is that Team 61 consisted of four (4) men - and they were being pursued by many times that number. The second point is that the Sparrow Hawk quick-reaction force took six hours to arrive on-scene and link up with Team 61 ... helicopters had to be diverted from other missions, rearmed, refueled, sent to Dong Ha to collect the infantrymen, and finally sent from Dong Ha to the contact area. Six hours from "Go!" to "Got there!" may seem like too long, and sometimes it was - but it is difficult to redirect resources, particularly since Team 61 wasn't the only unit in contact in the 3rd MarDiv area. In this instance the cavalry arrived in time to save Team 61's collective rear.
The log entries don't reflect the fact that the 2nd Platoon's CO, 2ndLt Sherman, was wounded and then killed in the late afternoon assaults, leaving a wounded Staff Sergeant in command. Nor do they make it clear that Captain Howard V. Lee, CO of Echo 2/4, actually was wounded several times, not just once, but managed to maintain command until almost dawn.
The Team 61 post-patrol report mentions the critical ammunition situation and the downing of a resupply helo at about midnight, as does the 3rd MarDiv Ops Log (the 090005 entry). Not mentioned is the fact that Major Vincil W. Hazelbaker had earlier landed his UH-1 under fire and off-loaded 3000 rounds of his own ammunition - and then went back to Dong Ha, loaded up, and brought 800 pounds of ammo into the perimeter. While the Ops Log says Hazelbaker's crew suffered no injuries, in fact two of the four crewmen were wounded (believed to be Capt J. E. Browne and Cpl W. K. Luby).
Considering the circumstances, US casualties had been surprisingly light - only four Marines had been killed on the ground, all from Echo 2/4
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
Nicholas Torrieri III
823 Adler Street, Boerne, Texas 78006
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 22 Aug 2007
Last updated 01/25/2008