Ronald James Fitch

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
10 February 1947 - 05 April 1967
St Johns, Michigan
Panel 17E Line 103


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ronald James Fitch

02 Dec 2005

© 2003 Doug Brzak

Two kids played together in Somewhere Michigan
Not sure how or when they met the friendship began
They lived in the country and loved the outdoors
Theyíd wear Army fatigues and play a game called war

They ran through fields used trees as shields and threw clumps of dirt
Jumped over logs hunted down frogs and nobody got hurt
Theyíd laugh and play then call it a day when they ran out of sun
But clumps of dirt didnít hurt and frogs didnít have guns

High school years with football, fast cars, girls, and fun
They lived each today and were sure tomorrows would come
Their country called them when they were only nineteen
John joined the Army and Ron the Marines

They ran through fields, used trees as shields, and crawled through the dirt
Jumped over logs, ignored the frogs, and they knew they might get hurt
It wasnít Michigan with the days filled with fun
When clumps of dirt didnít hurt and frogs didnít have guns

I wonder Ďbout those mornings when they picked up their guns
Did they have anyway of knowing they were running out of sun
Iím so proud that they answered their countryís call
But all thatís left is this story and their names on a Wall

Once they ran through fields, used trees as shields and threw clumps of dirt
Jumped over logs, hunted down frogs and nobody got hurt
Theyíd laugh and play then call it a day when they ran out of sun
But clumps of dirt didnít hurt and frogs didnít have guns

Ron was my brother and John was his friend
Two kids who played together in Somewhere Michigan

From his brother,
Doug Brzak

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 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

  • H&S Co, 3rd Motor Trans Bn, 3rd Mardiv, 3rd MAF
    • Pfc Ronald J. Fitch, St Johns, MI

  • D Btry, 3rd Bn, 12th Marines (Arty F/O team w/ C/1/9)
    • SSgt Leland D. Zahn, Harris, IA (Silver Star)
    • LCpl Harry E. Wagner, Trenton, NJ

  • C Co, 1st Bn, 9th Marines
    • Capt Robert W. Reed, San Francisco, CA (P/P to Major)
    • HM2 Philip R. Mattracion, Beacon, NY (H&S w/ C/1/9)
    • Cpl Robert H. Pettit, Charlotte, NC
    • Cpl Charles L. Salter, Birmingham, AL
    • LCpl Willard Brookens, Los Angeles, CA
    • LCpl Thomas E. Combs, Dayton, OH
    • LCpl Celister N. Harrison, Chicago, IL (DoW 04/06/1967)
    • Pfc Harold L. Carver, Joplin, MO
    • Pfc Leonard W. Elie, Alexandria, LA
    • Pfc James H. Fowler, Ponca City, OK
    • Pfc Paul L. Harrison, Hyattsville, MD
    • Pfc Alfred G. Lira, San Antonio, TX
    • Pfc Jerry W. Manning, Lamont, CA
    • Pfc Daniel G. Patrick, Salem, WI (H&S w/ C/1/9)
    • Pvt James A. Slagel, Joliet, IL

  • D Co, 1st Bn, 9th Marines
    • Cpl Chester E. Rowe, Lancaster, PA
    • Pfc Marion R. Hutchins, Jacksonville, AR

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his brother,
Doug Brzak
02 Dec 2005

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MI State Index . Panel 17E

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 12/04/2005