Ronnie Courtney

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
29 August 1947 - 01 November 1968
Tahlequah, OK
Panel 40W Line 073



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ronnie Courtney

13 Nov 2002

Ronnie Courtney volunteered to man a .50 cal machine gunner with Charles Costin the night of October 31, 1968. Fire Support Base Rita was near the Cambodian Border and was established as part of Operation Fishhook to block NVA infiltration into South Vietnam. FSB Rita had received mortar and rocket attacks for the past two weeks. A previous ground attack had been thwarted by infantry, cavalry and artillery.

Just after 0300 hours on November 1, 1968 an NVA sapper unit launched a major attack at the NW side of FSB Rita. The main force of the NVA sapper unit attacked directly in front of the .50 cal machine gun manned by Ronnie Courtney and Charles Costin. An RPG hit the machine gun, mortally wounding Ronnie Courtney and Charles Costin.

The attack continued until 0800 hours when air support finally arrived and drove the remaining enemy back to their safe haven in Cambodia.

Other members of C Btry, 8th BN 6TH FA killed included Thurl Carter, James R Norris, Lester Williams (DSC), Wendell McBurrows and James Graves.

It was during this attack that Major General (then LTC) Charles C. Rogers won this country's highest award, the Medal of Honor. MG Charles Rogers was the first artillery commander to receive the Medal of Honor.

Mack Easley

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Fire Support Base Rita, located near the Cambodian border in the "Fishhook" area, had been established to block NVA infiltration from Cambodia into South Vietnam. On 01 Nov 68 it was occupied by units of 8th Bn, 6th Arty; B Troop, 1/4th Cavalry; and 1st Bn, 26th Infantry.

Just after 0300 on the morning of 01 Nov 1968, FSB Rita came under attack by North Vietnamese Army units. At the outset, the base was subjected to heavy mortar, artillery, and RPG attack, followed by a "human wave" assault against the northwestern defensive perimeter. Sappers and enemy infantry penetrated the perimeter, resulting in fighting within the northwestern section of FSB Rita. The artillery commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles C Rogers, rallied his men and beat back the initial assault. A second massed assault followed, and again LTC Rogers led a successful defense. As dawn broke a third massed attack was launched. Rogers, now with three serious wounds, no longer was able to physically lead his men but continued to direct the defense and once again the NVA were repulsed. The battle continued until about 0800, when increasing air support forced the NVA to break off the attack and retreat across the border to sanctuary in Cambodia.

While one Medal of Honor (LTC Rogers, 8/6 Arty) and one Distinguished Service Cross (SP4 Lester Williams, 8/6 Arty, posthumous) were won that morning, the attack cost the lives of twelve American soldiers:

  • C Battery, 8/6 Arty:
  • B Trp, 1/4 Cav:
    • SP4 Michael P Alongi, Jr, Elmwood Park IL
    • SP4 Wayne K Laine, Walnut Creek CA
    • SP4 Marvin N Propson, Hilbert WI (buried St. John's Cemetery, St. John, WI)

  • 1/26 Inf:
    • Sgt Thomas W Bayonet, A Co, St Petersburg FL
    • Sgt James M Ciupinski, B Co, Chicago IL (medic)
    • PFC James E Martin, B Co, Portland, OR

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
someone who served with him,
Mack Easley 
12 Nov 2002

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 09/21/2003