John Michael O'Farrell

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
26 December 1946 - 14 January 1969
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 34W Line 002

Silver Star

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign


The database page for John Michael O'Farrell

07 Sep 2004

Phila. Officer Killed In Vietnam Fire Fight

Army 1st Lt. John M. O'Farrell, 22, who often praised the fighting qualities of his men in letters he wrote home, was killed in a fire fight January 14 in the area of Tay Ninh, Vietnam.
     O'Farrell's death brings to 24 the number of Father Judge High School alumni to be killed in Vietnam action.
     His father, Charles E. O'Farrell, of 2827 Hellerman Street, Mayfair, said Lt. O'Farrell had finished his second year at La Salle College in 1966 when he enlisted in the Army.


Because he was a physics major in college and had won a number of prizes in physics while in high school, John was sent to Officers Candidate School in Fort Benning, Ga.
     He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and was sent to Vietnam last May shortly after his last visit home.
     Arriving in Vietnam, Lt. O'Farrell was told there was a shortage of officers in the regular infantry units so he volunteered. He was assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Infantry Division.


In his last letter home, said the older O'Farrell, a machinist, his son repeated an opinion he had often expressed: "If we don't stop them over here, we'll have to stop them on our own coasts."
     The lieutenant also praised the Vietnamese rangers as "crack troops." But his own unit, he said, "was the greatest. They had proved themselves repeatedly in numerous fire fights."
     His father said Lt. O'Farrell had planned to resume his college education when he finished his Army service.
     In addition to his father, Lt. O'Farrell leaves his mother, Gladys, and a brother, Charles, 23.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 18, 1969
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

John M. O'Farrell
Hellermann Street, Mayfair

O'Farrell had a keen interest in science. He won many prizes for physics at Father Judge High School and majored in physics at LaSalle College. He was an amateur astronomer, a member of the Franklin Institute, and dabbled in optics and photography. O'Farrell left LaSalle after his sophomore year and enlisted in the Army, planning to finish college upon his return from Vietnam. The 22-year-old first lieutenant was commander of Company B of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. O'Farrell died in Tay Ninh Province on January 14, 1969. He was posthumously awarded two Silver Stars. Survivors included his parents and a brother.

The Philadelphia Daily News
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

6 Feb 2005

Greetings: My brother, Frank Kearney, arrived in country in March of 1968 and served under Lt. O'Farrell. Frank was wounded in action on 27 April 1968 (the same day that I was married). Frank stayed in-country after his wounds healed and was in that fire fight when Lt. O'Farrell and Pfc. Martin were hit. Frank wrote our dad and asked him to attend Lt. O'Farrell's funeral in Philadelphia and to tell his parents that it was a pleasure to have served under their son. Dad did go and took with him letters to John's parents from 'his men'.

Frank died recently (25 Jan 2005) after a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was photographed at the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a photo that appeared on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the caption he said he was there to honor Lt. O'Farrell and all of his comrades from the 'triple duece' who did not come home. To all Vietnam Vets ... WELCOME HOME!

Tom Kearney

5 May 2005

"Hail, Hail OCS!
We're 97th, we are the best."

And we thought we were. We marched to that cadence to the tune of "Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll." We were OC 31-67, graduating on 25 May, 1967 from the Infantry School, Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Thirty-eight years later, within three weeks of the anniversary of our graduation, my thoughts turn again to the brotherhood and espirit de corps that exists after twenty-six weeks of eating, sleeping, training, and serving together.

John, may you rest in peace, my brother!

From a classmate in OC 31-67, 97th Company OC, Ft. Benning, Georgia,
Wally Gossett

22 Jul 2007

I'm 1Lt G. Gary McBrayer. I was with Lt O'Farrell on Jan 14, 1969. I was leading a platoon of 4 tracks down the road from John when we got the radio message that something was going on where he was. We immediately headed that way and by the time we got there (approx 5 mins) Lt. O'Farrell had been mortally wounded. I was shocked and stunned. He was a GREAT soldier and a great leader of men ... I held him in my arms and wept. That day I became company commander ... his shoes were hard to fill. I miss you, John! I've thought about you many times over the years. Two years later my only son was born on Jan 14. When we celebrate his birthday I have very mixed emotions. Rest in Peace, John.

Gary McBrayer

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On 14 Jan 1969 1LT O'Farrell was leading a platoon-sized patrol when his men came under sniper fire. O'Farrell and two others advanced to locate and eliminate the sniper, but instead were hit by enemy fire. Several soldiers, including PFC Merle "Jim" Martin advanced to protect and recover the three men. While providing covering fire, PFC Martin was shot. He died two weeks afterwards, on 28 Jan 1969.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 07 Sep 2004
Last updated 11/13/2010