Wilbur Ralph Branning, Jr

CAP 3-3-5, CACO 3-3, 3RD CAG, III MAF
United States Marine Corps
18 June 1949 - 16 September 1968
Jacksonville, Florida
Panel 43W Line 001


Wilbur R Branning

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Wilbur Ralph Branning, Jr

02 Nov 2000

I write this in memory of my cousin Corporal Wilbur Ralph Branning, Jr.

When Ralph began his tour 01 Feb 68 he was assigned to H&S [106s] Co, 3/26 at Khe Sahn. When the Marines were removed from Khe Sahn he was reassigned to a Combined Action Platoon [CAP 3-3-5] near Hue. All members of his squad were KIA on 16 Sep 68.

On a personal note I hope he knows how much I loved him and miss him even today. I thought it would get easier with time. Man was I wrong. When we were kids we always looked out for each other. I will always carry a sense of guilt for not being there in his hour of need.

Ralph was not only my cousin but one of the best friends I ever had. I truly loved him like a brother.

Thank you, Ralph, and all the others who served in Nam.

It is my sincere hope in Christ I will see you again.

Your cousin,
Larry Nourse,

30 Apr 2003

Ralph was a special and unique person. He made everyone around him laugh. From his earliest childhood all he wanted was to become a Marine. He must have seen "Sands of Iwo Jima" a hundred times. Even though I am his sister and 10 years older than him, we had a bond between us that can never end. I was just young enough to go along with him. His friends filled my house every day, all of them sharing their dreams with each other. When I left Jacksonville, he followed me to Dennison, Texas (that was where my husband was stationed). I didn't know he was coming but I heard a knock at the door and there he was. My husband was sent to the Philippines and Ralph stayed with me until my baby was born. As soon as she was 10 weeks old, he headed downtown to join the Marines and begin his adventure. He wasn't perfect, but he was to me. I loved him so much and I still think of him every day. Tears come to my eyes at the mere mention of his name. Life can never be the same without him. I pray that someday we can meet again in a place where there is no war. And no tears.

Kathryn Branning McGhee

27 Feb 2004

My name is Joseph Castro, a member of the team. It was me, our squad leader "Tobias", Andrew Brown, Paul Bustamante and Edgar Stanton and Ralph Branning who served in the same unit. I just want to say that it has not been easy to deal with this for the last 35 years. I miss all my blood brothers and think of them each and every day in some way or another. I tried to get in touch with other friends and was able to contact a good number of them. Please understand, by writing this gives me relief and helps sooth the pain. May the Lord stay one step ahead of your journies, Ralph, Andrew, Paul, Tobias, and Edgar - someday we'll be together again. Love forever from your fox hole buddy, Joseph Castro.

From a CAP member and "brother",
Joseph H. Castro Jr.

14 Jan 2007

You would have to have been there to understand how it has changed your life.

For the last 39 years and until I leave this earth I have not been nor will ever be who I was at the age of 18.

I die each day inside and at times wish I were not here. No one should have to loose their life for any cause except for family.

Well, we were family. I miss those Marines so damn much. I can remember the fun we had there playing in the monsoon rain fall floating down the village in water up to our waist.

We would share letters from home, hang out at the villages, stand guard and spend time with the Vietnamese people.

I live in the woods of South Carolina and spend most of my time there with my dogs. I keep looking for the spirits out there and my buddies in some shape or form.

I've been doing this so long that I know no other way to be.

I'm on ambush, patrol, and fire watch each and every night waiting for something. That's how deep our friendship was.

I can't type any more.

From a fellow Marine,
Joseph H. Castro Jr,
864 Butler Lake Road, Chester, South Carolina 29706

27 Feb 2004

I am the baby that Ralph's sister had in Dennison, Texas. I grew up listening to stories of Ralph and my mom and the love that she had for him. I always wondered what my life would have been like if he had not died and my mom had not had that terrible sadness. I remember the first time I saw the Wall and his name and knowing the impact that name had had on so many lives. I cried and cried for the lives that were lost and forever changed.

I look forward to one day seeing Ralph in heaven and him recognizing me as the baby he held. I know many people will be around and there will be no more sadness. My Uncle Ralph that I never knew - I will know you someday.

From his niece,
Frankie McGinnis
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The Combined Action Program involved placing a squad of Marines in a village where they lived, fought, and sometimes died among the South Vietnamese.

On 16 Sep 1968, four Marines from Combined Action Platoon 3-3-5 died:

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his sister,
Kathryn Branning McGhee

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 02 Nov 2000
Last updated 05/25/2007