Ronald Kenneth Cullers

Second Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
25 July 1942 - 15 July 1966
Shelbina, Missouri
Panel 09E Line 023



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ronald Kenneth Cullers

28 May 2005

Dear Ronnie,

I have tried to live my life to the fullest, always remembering you, every day. You were an inspiration to me, with your dedication, hard work, perseverance and feeling of a sense of duty to our country. How ugly should be your death and the loss of honor for our country to be in the Vietnam War. You didn't die for nothing because now I believe, our nation learned that a war can never be fought like that again. We will never fight a war again, not to win it, but to create wealthy Texans and politicians. Our people will not allow that to happen again, for the best youth of our country to die for such a corroding society of leaders. I am still spiteful, my friend. I am still angry and guiltridden that I lived and you didn't; that I returned to society alive with purpose. I tried to help others, I used my talents in education and in other ways. I tried to remind others of you and that you did not die in vain, but that others will live because we cannot allow this to happen again. Be with God, Ronnie


Lt. Ronald Cullers killed in Viet Nam

Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Davis of Shelbina, parents of Marine 2nd Lt. Ronald Cullers, received word Thursday of the death of their son, 23 years of age.

He was serving in Viet Nam and it was reported that he was killed in a helicopter shot down by enemy fire on July 15, 1966. It was believed he was serving near Dang Ha on the Viet Nam border when the aircraft reportedly was shot down. He had been in Viet Nam since early April.

He was born in Shelbina, a son of the late Kenneth Cullers and Mrs. J. D. (Geraldine) Davis of Shelbina.

He was a graduate of the Shelbina High School and the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College in Kirksville where he was commissioned in the Marines upon graduation in 1965. He served at Quantico, Virginia, and Camp LeJuene, North Carolina, where he was married in December to Miss Barbara Wilt.

Ronald was an accounting major at the Teachers College and a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon social fraternity.

He is survived by his widow of Moberly; his stepfather and mother, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Davis of Shelbina; a brother, Richard, who is serving with the Marines at Pensacola, Florida; a step-sister, Cindy Davis, at home, and a grandmother, Mrs. Anna L. Gilstrap of Shelbina; and his parents-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Wilt of Moberly.

The body will be returned to Shelbina for burial.

This is the first Viet Nam casualty from Shelby County.

ADDED TO THE long list of American heroes is another Shelby countian, Lieutenant Ronald Cullers. It is a hard, heartbreaking thing to all those who knew Ronnie, to learn of his life being given for the cause his country is fighting. But were it not for these soul searching tragedies to American boys for the past 190 years, there would not be this free country we live in. Ronnie has his name written indelibly now in our country's history. He may not have wanted it that way, but some have to go in order that others can stay and enjoy the American way of life. These peace demonstrators who demand we get out of Vietnam will not be remembered, just as no one can recall just who picketed and who shouted against our saving South Korea from Communist subjugation. It is a short life we live, so far as time is considered, and we know that Ronnie's best years were denied him. Or were they? The same could be said about whoever lies in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. Ronnie will live in the thoughts of coming generations for when they read the history of our wars they will find that Lieutenant Ronald Cullers was one of the heroes.

But they paid a price. One Marine Company was badly battered and five ponderous troop-carrying helicopters were damaged or destroyed. Three collided on the rough landing zone. Two were shot down, one by a communist incendiary bullet that sent the chopper flaming into the hills, carrying twelve Marines to their deaths, and crashing almost on top of one of the Marine units on the ground to produce one of the war's most spectacular sequences of battle photos. But if the Americans paid a price, the Communists paid a higher one: they lost more than 500 dead, and the Marines, with fresh reinforcements, pressed on in their search for the enemy as he backed off into the jungle-covered mountains.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

1stLt Ronald Cullers was a combat engineer officer commanding the 1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Engineer Battalion. At the time of his death, Lt Cullers's platoon was located at Phu Bai, providing direct engineer support to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, which was operating in Quang Tri Province.

On 15 July 1966 an aerial assault was conducted into Landing Zone Crow, about 5 miles northeast of the Rockpile in Quang Tri Province. Since LZ Crow was marginally large enough to hold four CH-46s at a time, the 24-ship assault force was divided into six sections of four aircraft each. The first two sections landed witout incident, but one CH-46 from the third section landed long into a tree line but came to rest outside the LZ area. Disaster struck the fifth section when the rotor disks of two CH-46s overlapped causing severe damage to both aircraft and killing two Marines on the ground.

A CH-46A (tail number 152500) from HMM-265 was detailed to carry a reaction force to guard the three downed CH-46s at LZ Crow. According to an official USMC source

"At 1815, while inserting a reaction company to guard the three CH-46s in LZ Crow, HMM-265's EP-171, ... was hit at 1,500 feet by 12.7mm fire. Photos taken from the ground show smoke coming from the cockpit windows and flames from the rear of the aircraft. When they tried landing on Crow, smoke filled the cockpit so no one could see. They overshot the LZ and crashed ..."
Fifteen men died in the crash:
  • HMM-265, MAG-16
    • Sgt Robert R. Telfer, Fonda, NY

  • A Co, 1st Eng Bn
    • 2ndLt Ronald K. Cullers, Shelbina, MO

  • B Co, 3rd Eng Bn
    • Cpl James M. Reid, Philadelphia, PA

  • E Co, 2nd Bn, 1st Marines
    • SSgt Herolin T. Simmons, Ahoskie, NC (Silver Star, 5/29/66)
    • Cpl Orson H. Case, Johnstown, NY
    • HM3 Andrew P. Chamaj, Scenery Hill, PA
    • Cpl Paul R. Chambers, Scottsboro, AL
    • Pfc James W. Cherrick, New York, NY
    • Pfc Michael A. Cunnion, Mount Vernon, NY
    • Pfc Michael A. Gooden, Bellflower, CA
    • Pfc Carl W. Schloemer, Bellefontaine Neighbors, MO
    • Pfc Gerald E. Stubstad, Chicago, IL

  • H&S Co, 2nd Bn, 1st Marines
    • HM3 Mark V. Dennis, Miamisburg, OH

  • H&S Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
    • Cpl William J. Lilly, Rowayton, CT
    • HN John N. Morris, Meldrim, GA
The 3rd Engineer's Command Chronology contains the following entry:
"2/1 TAOR. 1st Platoon, Company "A", 1st Engineers attached to Company "B" and commanded by 2dLt R. K. CULLERS continued to support 2/1 during July. This platoon continued to provide close combat support during Operation JAY which secured on 5 July. A strength of one officer and from 20 to 26 enlisted remained in the operating area near DONG HA (XD240610) until the commencement of Operation HASTINGS when this unit supported the maneuver elements of 2/1 throughout the remainder of the month. On 15 July, 2dLt R. K. CULLERS and Cpl J. M. REID were KIA when the helicopter in which they were passengers was brought down by enemy fire."

Meanwhile, three more Marines died in the ground fighting:

  • H&S Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
    • SSgt Paul G. Hendrix, Hartselle, AL

  • K Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
    • Cpl William L. Douglas, Canal Fulton, OH (Silver Star)
    • LCpl Narciso R. Cerna, San Antonio, TX (Silver Star)
Additional Information is available on the
Pop-A-Smoke site

Although 2ndLt Cullers was not assigned to the 3rd Engineers, his name is engraved on a plaque which hangs in the Company command post of Combat Engineer Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3d Marine Division at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan.

CEC was Company C, 3d Engineer Battalion, and is the only part of the Battalion which has not been deactivated.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a life-long friend,
Robert Harrison

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 21 Jun 2005
Last updated 12/06/2007