Robert Allen Engelsen

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class
United States Navy
29 September 1948 - 01 May 1968
Blue Island, Illinois
Panel 53E Line 030


Robert A Engelsen

Fleet Marine Force Corpsman

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Robert Allen Engelsen

5 Aug 2001


by his friends and family
in the Blue Island community.

A memorial initiated by
Randy Kethcart

23 Feb 2004

I am a cousin to Bob by marriage. He used to come to our farm in north central Wisconsin as a teenager and stay a few days. Since these trips were so occasional we did not get to know each other very well. I was a student in college in the Chicago area when Bob went to Vietnam. He was not there long when we received word he was killed in action as a medic attempting to assist a wounded soldier.

I attended his memorial service when the body was returned. I was moved deeply at the honor and respect given him at that memorial service for having given his life in active duty. It was the war of my generation where many of us lost friends and relatives. May we never forget the price of freedom!

From a cousin,
Dean E. Julian

06 Feb 2007

I went through boot camp, Hospital Corps School and was stationed at Great Lakes with Bob. We went through field medical school together, and were stationed together on Okinawa. Unfortunately, he left for Viet Nam a few weeks before I did. I never saw him again until I helped load his body on a helicopter on May 1, during the battle of Dai Do. Two days later, I was hit in the back with shrapnel and was ultimately given a medical discharge. We had some real good times, and I think of him often. I, too, was a Corpsman, but I was with Bravo, 1/3. I've visited you, at the Wall, several times. Peace, my brother, wherever you may be. Bob

From a personal friend,
Robert H Dirr Jr

Notes from The Virtual Wall

In May of 1968, the North Vietnamese launched what has been called their "Tet II" offensive, striking 119 provincial and district capitals, military installations, and major cities including Saigon. Unlike Tet I, which was primarily a Viet Cong uprising, Tet II was almost entirely an NVA affair.

The battle of Dai Do actually began on April 30 with the ambush of a US Navy utility boat by elements of the 320th NVA Division at the junction of the Bo Dieu and Cua Viet rivers. Since Battalion Landing Team 2/4 was in the area, it was ordered to eliminate the threat to the crucial waterway.

"The Battle of Dai Do was a fierce and bloody struggle between an understrength Marine battalion landing team (2nd Bn, 4th Marines {BLT 2/4}) and major elements of the 320th North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Division during three hot, humid spring days in 1968 (30 April - 3 May). I was privileged to command those magnificent Marines and Sailors who stopped the well-equipped 320th in its tracks on the north bank of the Bo Dieu River and drove it back toward the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

I would like to say that our success was part of a carefully orchestrated plan. It was not. We reacted first to hasty orders from higher headquarters, then to targets of opportunity, and finally to one desperate situation after another. That we succeeded was more a tribute to the extraordinary performance of individual Marines and Sailors and their small unit leaders than to brilliance or insight by higher echelons. Bravery, competence, initiative, toughness, and selflessness carried the day."

Then-LtCol William Weise, Commanding Officer, BLT 2/4
Brigadier General, USMC, Retired
From Memories of Dai Do

Faced by three regiments of the 320th NVA Division, BLT 2/4 was forced to fall back to defensive positions north of the river, but they stopped the enemy attack. NVA reinforcements were turned back by the Army's 3rd Bn, 21st Infantry, Americal Division, who occupied blocking positions at Nhi Ha to the northeast.

The NVA attempt to open an invasion corridor into South Vietnam had failed. The "Magnificent Bastards" of 2/4 Marines and the 3/21st Infantry had saved the day, for if they had failed the NVA would have been free to overrun the major supply bases at Dong Ha and Quang Tri and the entire DMZ defenses would have been undermined. However, the cost had been high. The Marines and sailors suffered 89 dead and another 297 seriously wounded, while Army forces at Nhi Ha sustained 28 deaths and 130 wounded. But the enemy suffered even greater losses - not only did the NVA fail to achieve their objective, they also left 1,568 bodies on the battlefield.

After regrouping, the 2/4 Marines were able to field four rifle companies of 1 officer and 40 men each.

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Randy Kethcart

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index E
IL State Index . Panel 53E

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 5 Aug 2001
Last updated 04/03/2007