Robert Vaso Kurilich

United States Marine Corps
21 November 1937 - 07 June 1968
Pasadena, California
Panel 59W Line 025


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Robert Vaso Kurilich

13 Jun 2008

I have been looking and hoping I would see something on The Virtual Wall giving tribute to a fine officer and a dedicated Marine, Major Robert V. Kurilich. I first became acquainted with Major Kurilich when he was a lieutenant assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines based at Las Palgus on Camp Pendleton. After our six-week "lock on", we shipped out of San Diego in September 1961 for Okinawa. When our battalion arrived at Camp Schwab we became Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines.

In October 1962, our battalion returned stateside where I was assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines and Major Kurilich along with the other Marines in the battalion transferred to various duty stations. Years later, at a Bravo Company reunion I learned that Major Kurilich was killed in Vietnam and thought like everyone else attending the reunion, the Marine Corps lost a fine person and a great Marine.

The web site Pop-A-Smoke indicated Major Kurilich was the S-3 for the 1st. Marines and was killed when the chopper he was riding in as passenger was shot down during a reconnaissance mission near Khe Sanh on June 7, 1968. I am sure I can speak for all who knew Major Kurilich, God Bless and may you forever rest in peace. Semper Fi.

From a Marine who served with Major Kurilich,
Dan Swan

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Three men were killed when UH-1E BuNo 151294 went down about 8 kilometers south-east of the Khe Sanh airfield on 7 June 1968:
  • Major Robert V. Kurilich, Pasadena, CA, H&S Co, 1st Bn, 1st Marines
  • Capt Richard F. Corcoran, Clifton, NJ, HQ Co, HQ Bn, 3rd MarDiv
  • 1stLt Ralph E. Hunt, Alliance, OH, pilot, VMO-6, MAG-39
Oddly, the VMO-6 and MAG-39 Command Chronologies make no mention of losing either an aircrewman or an aircraft on 7 June, the incident received mention in the records of other units.

The 2nd Bn, 1st Marine's operations log says

"From 2/1 S-3 to 1stMar at 1955H: Spot Report DTG 070900H to 071200H.
Foxtrot [Fox 2/1] at 070900H to 071200H at 909365. Huey helicopter crashed at above location. Fox 2 dispatched as Sparrow Hawk to recover bodies. Two WIA reported in area prior to departure. Sparrow Hawk lifted in crash area and proceeded to site of wreckage. Helo had apparently struck the top of the ridge, sheering off one skid and skidded or rolled down the slope for approximately 300 meters. Wreckage was completely consumed by fire. Three bodies were found in the wreckage, burned beyond recognition. Two bodies still had dog tags around their necks. Extensive search of area failed to reveal location of guns or radios. Assumed to have been destroyed in crash and fire. Frequency chart (Confidential) was discovered and turned in to S-2 on return. Returned to Khe Sanh Combat Base with remains."

while the 1st Bn, 1st Marines' Command Chronology reports that

"On 07 June 1968, 1st Battalion made preparation to continue its attack in accordance with 1st Marines Frag Order 95-68. At 070842H a helicopter carrying Battalion Commander LtCol M. J. GRAVEL and S-3 Major R. V. KURILICH was shot down in the vicinity of XD909365. The Battalion Commander was injured but retrieved and medevaced at 070930H."

Captain Corcoran's assignment to HQ Company, HQ Bn, 3rd MarDiv and his association with this incident are attested to by the HQ Bn, 3rd MarDiv Command Chronology:

"KIA Officer - Capt Richard Francis CORCORAN 084623/0302 USMC Headquarters Company died 0830, 7 June 1968, 2 miles south of Khe Sanh Combat Base. Received burns entire body as a result of enemy small arms fire when helicopter crashed while participating in operation against hostile forces."

Finally, 1stLt Hunt's assignment to VMO-6 was confirmed from his service record, while USMC aircraft loss records were used to verify that UH-1E BuNo 151294 really was assigned to the same squadron.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a Marine who served with Major Kurilich,
Dan Swan

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 13 Jun 2008
Last updated 06/16/2008