John Francis Dingwall

Master Gunnery Sergeant
VMA-225, MAG-12, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
28 February 1921 - 19 September 1978
Troy, New York
Panel 02E Line 031


Purple Heart, Good Conduct, WW2 Pacific Campaign, WW2 Victory, WW2 Occupation, National Defense, Korean Service, Vietnam Service, UN Service, RoK Service, and Vietnam Campaign Medals

The database page for John Francis Dingwall

03 Nov 2003

John (Jack) Francis Dingwall was born Feb 29, 1924 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to John Howard and Marie Louise Arndt Dingwall. He attended school in Loudenville and Troy, New York. Military service was the career he choose for himself. At the age of 17 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force because he was too young to enlist in the United States Armed Forces. Shortly after his entering the Canadian Air Force the United States entered into the Second World War and a call went out for all Americans to return home and join the U.S. military services. In May 1942 from Calgary, Canada, Jack enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

During WWII Jack served his country in the South Pacific as a radio operator, navigator, and aerial gunner, being stationed at places such as the Philippines, Bougainville, and Guadalcanal. At times, when the Marines would run short of planes or ammunition, he and others would be temporarily attached to the ground troops. Jack was fortunate enough during this time; he never had cause to be awarded the Purple Heart.

Luck seems to be very unpredictable; one evening after he returned to the States Jack was involved in a serious motorcycle accident, where he slid under a truck and almost severed his leg below the knee. The damage was very extensive and for quite a while the doctors thought they would have to amputate. They did everything they could to save it, but the price was high, and the doctors told him he would never walk again and Jack was given a medical discharge. It took about 3 years of recuperation and determination, but he did walk again, and well enough to get back in the USMC. Later when his children would ask what happened he would just smile and say "Your mother kicked me", he never did tell them the truth, and he never stopped riding motorcycles.

In 1949 Jack attended Aviation Electronics School at the Naval Air Station Memphis, Tennessee, and met his future wife, Doris Marie Jacobs, who was in the Navy. Doris was also attending school and needed help with the electronics class, Jack needed help with mathematics and the two began tutoring each other. This was also the time of the Korean Conflict so it wasn't long before Jack was sent overseas.

Jack spent a lot of time in front of the main body of troops establishing friendly contacts for communication. Again he survived without serious injury and was reassigned to NAS Memphis in Senatobia, Mississippi, where he and Doris were reunited and married on Oct. 24 1954. The next ten years were spent in Opa Locka, Fl; Olathe, Ks; Quantico, Va, and Cherry Point, NC; with tours overseas to the Philippines and Japan for variety.

Jack found great pleasure in the outdoors; it didn't matter if he was on the water or hiking in the mountains. While they were in Florida he built an airboat and would take his family out frogging on the weekends - at this time his youngest daughter was only a year old and they would put her in a box in the center of the floor to keep her safe. In Virginia their free time was divided between hiking the Appalachian Trail and boating along the Potomac River. He enjoyed bow hunting in the fall, and had a complete coat ensemble made for his wife out of the deer hides. His talent for electronics was shown when he built his family a Hi-Fi system for their home; at the time it was state of the art and was still working 15 years later when his daughter put it away for safe-keeping. In September of 1964 Jack's squadron was transferred from Cherry Point to Iwakuni, Japan, so they packed up their two daughters and drove to California in a Chevy van, which he had converted into a motor home of sorts. Along the way they made several detours, taking the girls to see the sites such as Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, and Arches National Parks and points in between.

Jack went to Japan while Doris and the girls stayed with her parents in Oakland, Ca. From Japan he went on to the Phillipines, Okinawa, and back to Iwakuni, where he reenlisted for another 4 years. In June 1965 his squadron along with a Seabee unit were sent to Chu Lai, South Viet Nam, located on the coast about 50 miles south of DaNang. Their job was to set up defensive and offensive operations and they worked around the clock to get the airstrip operational.

Jack had written letters home to his family, expressing to Doris disappointment, there wasn't much action going on, and telling his older daughter, then 14, about the motorcycle he'd bought in Japan, and how the two of them would go riding, after he put it together of course. The evening of July 7, 1965 the squad had been given instruction not to associate with the Vietnamese, not to deal with them, and not to use American currency. They were not to leave the camp area without letting someone know where they were going. From the statements given by his fellow Marines, the landscape was calling him; he and his CO had already been out exploring the countryside and had plans to go again the following day. The next morning, July 8, 1965, he and SSgt Richard Bram were given a few hours liberty. Jack told his CO he wanted to go take some pictures of a near-by village and pick up a couple of dolls for his girls. They were last seen leaving the perimeter about 7:00 am. From there on nobody really knows for sure what happened...

From all released reports the two men were seen leaving MAG-12 between 7:00 and 7:30 am. They were both wearing their utility uniforms, had their sidarms (.45 cal pistols), canteens, first aid packets, field glasses, and each had a camera. Payday had been on the 30th of June: Jack drew no money and SSgt Bram had drawn $35.00.

The POW Network biography contains little information:

"Local South Vietnamese police reported on July 8th that the Viet Cong had captured and killed two Americans and then buried their bodies. This report led to a muster of the unit and the discovery that Sergeants Bram and Dingwall were missing. A search of the area in which they were last seen produced hearsay information that the two had been captured, but there was conflicting information on their fate. They were never seen alive again, and their remains were never located.

"Both individuals were initially declared missing. In September 1978 they were declared dead/body not recovered."

From his daughter,
Linda Dingwall Calvert

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The Marine Air Group 12 Command Chronology for July/August 1965 contains the following entry:
"Gunnery Sergeant John F. DINGWALL 401266/6611 USMC and Staff Sergeant Richard C. BRAM 1373336/6615 USMC, members of VMA-225, were reported to have been captured by the Viet Cong and subsequently killed and buried on 8 July 1965 approximately seven kilometers from Chu Lai Airfield. A search of the area by a patrol from the 4th Marines failed to provide any additional information concerning their whereabouts. Organized search activities were terminated on 11 July 1965. Present status of these men is missing..."

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his daughter,
Linda Dingwall Calvert

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 4 Nov 2003
Last updated 07/03/2007