Michael James O'Neill

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
13 October 1949 - 18 August 1968
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Panel 48W Line 046


Michael J. O'Neill

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Michael James O'Neill

03 June 2003

Mike "Sleepy" O'Neill was a fellow CAP Marine. He died on August 18, 1968, along with Sgt Joe Cerrone and several villagers in the Lang Co Ville. He was firing an M60 machine gun when he and Joe were killed by a V.C. rocket propelled grenade.

Another Memorial Day has come and gone. Two of Sleepy's brothers, Ed Ryan and I, remember Sleepy and Joe Cerrone who fell together that night. We can't speak for anyone else, but as long as we live and breath these two Heros will never be forgotten. They accepted the challenge and rose to the task of fighting for the freedom of an oppressed people and will always be remembered.

In the words of another Marine Hero, Sergeant Major Daley,

"Their actions have made them immmortal. The Corps remembers them and honors what they did, so they live forever. If you hide in the trenches you may survive for now but someday you will die and no one will care. If you charge the guns you may die in the next two minutes but you will be one of the immortals. All Marines die, either in the red flash of battle or in the white cold of a nursing home. In the vigor of youth or in the infirmity of old age, all will eventually die. But the Marine Corps lives on and every Marine that ever lived is living still, in the Marines who claim their title today. It is that sense of belonging to something that will outlive your own mortality that gives people a light to live by and a flame to mark their passing.

SEMPER FI, Sleepy, We will meet again.

Mike Cone
5249 Wellington Park Circle, B35, Orlando, Florida, 32839
25 Jul 2003

Mike (Sleepy) O'Neill was a CAP Marine, serving with 3rd Combined Action Group, Hotel 10, Lang Co village.

On 18 Aug 68 it was raining all night, visibility was poor and radio communication was weak, our unit was hit hard and we lost two fine Marines. Two Marines made the ultimate sacrifice for their Country.

It has been 35 years since 18 Aug 68. To some, 35 years is a long time, BUT to me and CAP Marine Mike Cone it seems like yesterday.

There is not a day that goes by when I don't remember you and Joe Cerrone in my prayers. Your spirit is alive and strong. You will never be forgotten.

Rest in eternal Peace, my "BROTHER"

Semper Fi, Marine

MAY 30, 2005

Mike, today is Memorial Day. I'm making a visit to the Montrose VA Hospital in New York for a Memorial Day Ceremony. Today, I will tell all of the Veterans and Guests how you and Joe gave your lives for us August 18, 1968 in Lang Co Village, Vietnam. The way I felt when I visited "The Wall" in Washington, DC and touched your name for the first time. The chill that traveled through every nerve, ever muscle, and the tears I left at the base of "The Wall". This August 18th will be 37 years you left us. Always in my heart and Prayers. Semper Fi, Marine, Rest in Peace. Ed

Ed Ryan
Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret)
08 May 2004


Photo courtesy of his sister,
Kathy Roberts
18 May 2004

Another Memorial Day is just around the corner but this one is even more memorable than the rest. Just about a month ago, my sister, Kathy, came upon this memorial to my brother, Mike, and since then some of our family have been in contact with Ed Ryan and Mike Cone via email. It was such a shock to find that there are still people out there who grieve for my brother. It is also such a comfort to know that someone was with Mike when he was killed.

I think of Mike often, he and I were very close. I wonder what he might have looked like now, if he would have been married and had children. His picture and his flag are in my living room to remind me what he gave up for his country. This August 18th will be 36 years since we lost Mike. Many things are forgotten over the years but Mike will never be forgotten and will always be loved. Mike, I wish you were here. The family would like to thank Ed Ryan and Mike Cone for being there for Mike and for remembering him. Our thoughts go out to the family of Joe Cerrone who was lost that night along with Mike.

From his sister,
Debbie O'Neill Coppersmith

03 May 2006

In memory of my brother on this Memorial Day


I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington..
No, freedom isn't free.
- Author unknown -

From his sister,
Debbie Coppersmith

21 May 2007

In Loving Memory of our brother...
39 years have passed but we still remember...

One gift, above all others
God gives to us to treasure
One that knows no time, no place
And one gold cannot measure

The precious, poignant tender gift
Of Memory......that will keep
Our dear ones ever in our hearts
Although God gives them sleep

It brings back long remembered things
A song, a word, a smile
And the world's a better place ... because
We had them for awhile!
~Author Unknown~

From his sister,
Debbie Coppersmith

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index O
MN State Index . Panel 48W

Contact Us

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 3 Jun 2003
Last updated 08/10/2009