John Vincent Chutis

Staff Sergeant
United States Marine Corps
02 October 1941 - 30 April 1967
Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
Panel 18E Line 119

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Vincent Chutis

19 Jan 2006

John was a loving and caring person. He had a wonderful sense of humor, often to the dismay of his nephews whom he teased mercilessly. Unfortunately, his daughter never got the chance to know him in person, but she has learned about him through his family and the memories of his M Co, 3/3/3, Marine brothers.

The obituary clipping is from an Elizabeth, Pennsylvania area newspaper. It is submitted in loving memory by his daughter, Mary Elizabeth "Beth" Chutis Lee, and his wife, Suzanne Chutis.

Area Marine Killed in Viet
'Battle of Hilltops'
Death Told

      An Elizabeth Marine held his three-week-old daughter in his arms last November and said goodbye to his wife and his moter and sisters before leaving for Vietnam.
      Little Mary Elizabeth Chutis is now seven months old and she will never see her daddy again.
      Staff Sgt. John Chutis Jr. was killed last week in the bloody Battle of the Hilltops at Khe Sanh. More than 160 of his comrades fell beside him during the savage 12-day campaign to seize the strategic hills.
      John is the only son of Mrs. Mamie Chutis of Eleventh and Mulberry Sts. in Elizabeth and the late John Chutis. His wife, the former Suzanne Smith, who resides in Somerset, got word of her husband's death. Mary Elizabeth was their only child.
      He was a member of the M Company of the Third Marine Division's 3rd Battalion. The unit rushed reinforcements to the outnumbered Marines battling for Hill 881. The Battle of the Hilltops began April 24.
      The 25-year-old staff sergeant has been in Vietnam since early November. He had been in the Marines for seven years, but this was his first tour of duty in Vietnam. Previously, he served in Bermuda, the Mediterranean, and on patrol off the coast of Cuba.
      Details surrounding his death and arrangements for the return of the body to Elizabeth are expected soon by the family.
      John has three sisters residing in Elizabeth; Mrs. Betty Morrison, Mrs Patricia Ekaitis and Mrs. Barbara Reisnauer.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

In early April 1967 the North Vietnamese Army's 325C Division (18th, 95th, and 101st Regiments) moved through Laos and positioned itself to capture the combat base at Khe Sanh. By 25 April the 18th Regiment had emplaced itself on Hill 861, one of three hills which controlled key terrain around Khe Sanh. The 3rd Marine Division commander determined that the three hills had to be denied to the enemy.

After heavy fighting, the Marines captured Hill 661, decimating the 18th Regiment, and turned toward Hills 881 North and 881 South, defended by the NVA 95th Regiment.

The initial assault on Hill 881 South was made by elements of the 3rd and 9th Marines on 30 April and was not successful - the enemy was well entrenched on the crest of the steep hill and vigorously resisted the Marine advance. By nightfall, the Marines withdrew from the hill, having lost 44 men from Kilo 3/9 and Mike 3/3, with well over a hundred wounded. Hill 881 South was subjected to heavy supporting arms fire on 01 May and captured on 02 May.

Mike 3/3 had led the assault. According to Murphy's The Hill Fights, Mike 3/3 started the day with 161 men on their rolls. At day's end, they had 80 - 25 dead had been brought out, 54 were wounded, and 2 were missing in action, an accounting which is supported by the 3/3 Command Chronologies for April and May 1967.

There actually were three missing Marines:

  • Sergeant Milton E. Prescott, who had disappeared and was not found after the hill was secured. His remains were recovered in September 1971 and he was buried in Willow Springs, Illinois, on 23 Sep 1971.

  • Lance Corporal Danny R. Brotz, a rifleman with Kilo 3/9. LCpl Brotz's remains were found on 31 May 1967, but were not identified until 16 January 1974 - more than two years after Sergeant Prescott was brought home to his family.

  • The 2nd Platoon's point man, Pfc Randy N. McPhee, who was killed by grenades just as 2nd Platoon entered the battle. Although he was known dead, his body was not recovered during the withdrawal, nor could he be located after Hill 881S was secured. His remains have not been recovered.
Mike 3/3's dead were
  • 2ndLt Joseph R. Mitchell, Alexander City, AL (Bronze Star "V")
  • SSgt Karol R. Bauer, Philadelphia, PA
  • SSgt John V. Chutis, Elizabeth, PA
  • Sgt Milton E. Prescott, Blue Island, IL
  • Cpl Bobby J. Ard, Tupelo, MS
  • Cpl William D. Early, Akron, OH
  • Cpl Douglas P. Hallock, Schenectady, NY
  • Cpl James Mines, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Cpl Robert J. Schley, Oregon, WI (Navy Cross)
  • Cpl Larry M. Smith, Martinsville, IN
  • LCpl Michael I. Colley, Birmingham, AL
  • LCpl Robert J. Kotik, Mc Kees Rocks, PA
  • LCpl Michael R. Morgan, Bethpage, NY (Silver Star)
  • LCpl Francis M. Palma, Philadelphia, PA
  • LCpl Peter Mazzillo, Avenel, NJ
  • LCpl Frank T. Roth, Philadelphia, PA
  • LCpl Marvin A. Schafer, Butler, KY
  • Pfc James A. Randall, Somerville, AL
  • LCpl Charles Shiver, Wichita Falls, TX
  • LCpl James H. Whisenhunt, Crescent City, CA (Silver Star)
  • Pfc George B. Byrd, Orlando, FL
  • Pfc Charles H. Duty, Bluff City, TN
  • Pfc Jerry W. Hood, Cincinnati, OH
  • Pfc Randy N. McPhee, Long Beach, CA (Body not recovered)
  • Pfc Peter R. Ommen, Central City, SD
  • Pfc Ricky G. Smith, Gadsden, AL
  • Pfc Dorsey B. Williams, Johnson City, TN

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his wife and daughter,
Suzanne Chutis
Beth Chutis Lee
19 Jan 2006

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 01/19/2006