Ronald James FitchPrivate First Class
OTTER PLT, H&S CO, 3RD MOTOR TRANS BN, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
10 February 1947 - 05 April 1967
St Johns, Michigan
Panel 17E Line 103
The database page for Ronald James Fitch
FROGS DIDNíT HAVE GUNS
Two kids played together in Somewhere Michigan
A Note from The Virtual WallThe 3rd Motor Transport Battalion's Command Chronology for April 1967 contains the following entry:
"5 Apr - Two Otters received hostile fire while operating in support of Operation 'Big Horn'. This action resulted in one Otter disabled. Pfc R. J. FITCH received enemy gunshot wounds which penetrated his chest resulting in his death. LCpl L. H. UNDERWOOD and Pfc G. R. POBANZ received injuries. Pfc FITCH was manning the Otter's .50 caliber machine gun at the time."
This incident occurred at 1730 when the two M-76 Otters and their security force were ambushed while on a resupply run in support of Delta Company, 1/9 Marines, position. The Otters had run into a "U"-shaped ambush southeast of the hamlet of Ap Dong Ho (1) and were in immediate trouble with one Marine killed and eight wounded. Two platoons, one each from Charlie and Delta 1/9, were dispatched to assist the 3rd MT Bn Marines. The Charlie 1/9 platoon arrived at 1815 and found that the ambushers had withdrawn. Helo medevac was called in for the 3rd MT casualties, and it was decided that a sweep of Ap Dong Ho was appropriate in order to ensure there was no threat to the helicopters. The Delta 1/9 platoon, approaching from the northwest, was to move on the hamlet from that direction while the bulk of Charlie 1/9 would sweep from the southeast. The sweep began at 1930, but the Delta 1/9 platoon was stopped almost at once by heavy fire from the hamlet and entered into a two hour firefight before being ordered to break contact at 2130.
Charlie 1/9 approached to within 30 meters of the hamlet before drawing fire, but when it came it was devastating. By misfortune, an illumination flare had just been dropped - but rather than illuminating the enemy in the hamlet it illuminated the Marines moving across the open ground bordering the hamlet.
The Charlie 1/9 Company Commander, Captain R. W. Reed, was killed in the first exchange of fires, and the enemy took advantage of their "first kill" to envelop part of the lead platoon's skirmish line. They then broke contact and withdrew to the north before the Charlie 1/9 reserve platoon could engage them.
The enemy force, estimated to be of company size, left 17 bodies in and around Ap Dong Ho. Blood and drag trails indicated that another 40 to 50 VC had been killed and their bodies carried with the withdrawing VC force. The Delta 1/9 platoon had 2 killed and 24 wounded in the engagement; Charlie 1/9 had 15 killed and 20 wounded. Pfc Fitch from 3rd MT had been killed in the initial ambush, and two men from Charlie 1/9's artillery forward observer team were killed in the Charlie 1/9 engagement. The dead were
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02 Dec 2005
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 12/04/2005