John Charles Pennington

United States Marine Corps
09 January 1945 - 09 June 1968
Roy, Utah
Panel 58W Line 013



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Charles Pennington

8 Nov 2002

John was a great friend to all.
Always had a laugh for everyone.

From a college friend.
E-mail address is not available.

26 May 2004

I just found the copy of Gustav Hasford's novel "The Short-Timers", which I bought and read just after seeing Stanley Kubrick's movie "Full Metal Jacket" when it came out. I was about to start reading it for the first time in 15 years, when I saw on the inside jacket:

Dedicated to "Penny"
Combat Photgrapher, First Marine Division

I was 10 months old when he died and now I'm 30-something, happily married and a father. I'm sorry he never had that chance and I'm sorry you lost so many decent young men in that war. May God bless them all.

Semper Fidelis

From an interested person,
Tim Tucci
Toronto, Canada

2 Jun 2004

With Memorial Day gone, I just had to say "Hello" to my friend. I want to say that I was not a very close friend, just a friend. You're always in my thoughts, and Sully is too. Semper Fi!

From a fellow Marine Corps photographer,
Sgt Jim Colton
520 Pinehurst Circle T-4, Westminster, Md 21158

10 May 2006

I remember the day Penny and Sulley were taken from us. I was with the 1st Mar Div photo lab. Penny was the first person to take me in the field. I still think of you every day. Semper Fi.

From a friend,
Bill Tuor

09 Jun 2006

The first time I laid eyes on a photo team returning with film from the bush was when I had been in Vietnam for very short time. I was so green my uniform hadn't even gotten dirty yet, and these two filthy guys came walking in, Penny and Sully, absolutely caked in dust and sweat. Gunny Krueger had already given me my nickname the first time I walked through the photolab door, but Penny gave me my welcome. He said, "Every Lance Corporal should be issued a Corporal to take care of him," and I just felt that he meant me, and him, and for the strangest reason I felt protected and warm toward him from that instant.

Now I can't remember when exactly it was, but the next and only other time I saw him was on a Sunday, and someone had set up with the messhall for us to have a cookout, because it was about the only time that all of the teams had converged on the place at the same time. It was the first time I ever had steak and mushrooms, and now whenever I have steak and mushrooms or plan on having it or read it on a menu or hear it or think of it or smell it I'm right back there in the back of the photolab and everybody is laughing and sharing around a charcoal grill. It's the only time we will have that scene, by the way, and Penny is opening his letter from home. From his mother. And his humor is running on high. Penny has a slight stutter that only seems to make his jokes better-timed. I watch as he pulls the letter out, he's telling us all that he has a brother in Korea, and as he unfolds his letter he's saying that his mother doesn't have time to write to both of them, and that his brother is the favorite, and as he displays his letter he says ... "I alw-w-ways get the carbon". Of course we all erupt at it. And then the day is gone and those two are headed to Khe Sanh and next I know I'm sitting on a cot in Phu Bai, Sergeant Dickman and me, and the Gunny up there is coming through the screen door saying, "We lost Penny and Sully," and from THAT instant I know there can be no way in hell I will live through Vietnam.

There are lots of times in any given day that I think about him; he's been a hero of my life for all of my life. And all of my life I've wanted to write this little ditty for him. I found The Virtual Wall about three years ago, but this time by, reading all of your words, it made me think back so clearly of all of my friends in Vietnam and so this is my time to say I loved and love you Penny and always will love you. You are my hero. And so are you, Bill Tuor. God Bless, from Sandy.

L/Cpl Bob Sanville
Combat photographer
1st Mar Div
April 19, 1968 - May 20, 1969

29 Jul 2006

John and I met in California, during the weeks of training everyone who was being posted to Nam got. We became good friends there, and shipped out to the 1stMarDiv together, arrived together as New Guys, lived in the same hooch almost side by side, worked in the lab together, and later, went on operations together. He was my partner in May '68, when I was wounded. When he went on the assignment to Khe Sanh, I was still recovering, or I would have been his partner then, and maybe been on the same truck when the ambush came that killed him and Sully.

He was a special guy, with an unfailing wry sense of humor, and a warmth for others that always came through. And he was determined to do a great job. He was in Hue for the worst of the fighting up there, and did something for Gus Hasford that caused Gus to dedicate his book to him. He brought me back a .45 Greasegun that he'd taken from a dead NVA, that I carried into fights later.

When he was killed I was devastated, almost wished I could take his place. I took care of his brother, a Corpsman who showed up to visit him two days after he was killed, and have stayed in contact with the family ever since. They miss him to this day, as do I.

He was one of our best, but in war we seem to lose too many of our best. I think of him often, and treasure his memory. Rest in Peace, my friend.

From his friend and partner on several ops,
R J Del Vecchio

09 Jun 2008


It's been forty years... You are always on my mind and in my prayers. I miss you still.

From his brother,
E-mail address is not available.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, lost two men on 09 June 1968, CPL John C. Pennington and PFC Edward M. Sullivan of Boston, Massachussetts.

The June 1968 Command Chronology for the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines contains the following description of a convoy ambush which occurred approximately 5 miles east of the Khe Sanh Combat Base, near Checkpoint #3 on Route 9 between KSCB and Ca Lu to the east:

"09 Jun 68 - 1st Marines Logistical Convoy, with Company F providing security was taken under fire in vicinity XD924404 and XD926404 by an unknown size NVA unit. Fire, consisting of intense small arms followed by satchel charges, grenades, and B-40 rockets, was taken from both sides of the road and was concentrated on the second security truck. One platoon was deployed to high ground on left side of road and conducted a thorough sweep of the area making additional light contact. After a thorough search was conducted all dead and wounded were placed on a vehicle. The convoy was then turned around and returned to Khe Sanh Combat Base. Medevacs were delivered to both LZ Ziegler and Khe Sanh Combat Base for evacuation. This contact resulted in one truck and one mighty-mite being destroyed. Casualties consisted of 8 friendly KIAs, 9 friendly WIAs and 11 enemy KIAs."

The 3rd Marine Division's Operations Log for 09 June contains additional information, saying 12 Marines were killed - "(7 from F/2/1, 1 from Tanks, 2 Motor Trans, 2 from 1st MarDiv photo units)" - and that one was missing in action. The 1st Motor Transport Battalion and 3rd Tanks Command Chronologies also address the ambush; 3rd MT says they lost three men, not two, in the ambush. The MIA Marine's body was recovered on 10 June, and one of the Fox 2/1 WIA died of his wounds.

Overall, the ambush is known to have resulted in the deaths of fifteen Marines:

  • 1st Motor Trans Bn
    • Cpl Donnie H. Little, Atlanta, GA, Company "A"
    • Cpl Richard L. Nowry, Plymouth, MI, Company "B"
    • LCpl Clifford E. Ford, Jacksonville, AL, Company unknown

  • B Co, 3rd Tank Bn
    • Sgt Cliffred M. Evans, Shelton, WA

  • Svc Co, HQ Bn, 1st MarDiv
  • F Co, 2nd Bn, 1st Marines
    • Sgt David E. Nash, National City, CA (body recovered 10 June)
    • LCpl Donald Baker, Philadelphia, PA
    • LCpl Marvin L. Houston, Little Rock, AR
    • LCpl Robert L. Polk, Sherman, TX
    • Pfc Melton L. Kidd, Chesapeake, VA
    • Pfc Barry Lowe, Framingham, MA
    • Pfc Darrell C. Mizner, Akron, OH
    • Pfc William A. Patterson, Superior, WI
    • Pfc August Romano, New York, NY

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 8 Nov 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009