Randall T Planchon

United States Marine Corps
17 October 1947 - 15 June 1968
Long Beach, California
Panel 57W Line 030


Silver Star

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Randall T Planchon

29 Dec 2007

I went through boot camp at MCRD, San Diego with Randall. I remember him as a quiet, laid-back, southern California surfer dude.

Approximately a year after boot camp we crossed paths in Vietnam along Highway 9. Our unit (Echo 2/9) was on foot and either going to or from the field. Another unit (Mike 3/4) was also on foot and traveling the opposite direction. I heard a voice from 3/4's ranks yell out, "Hey Mother, it's about time you got over here." "Mother" was my nickname in bootcamp. We exchanged hellos and probably some profanity-laced ribbing as we walked in opposite directions.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I learned of his death. A short time in boot camp and a brief encounter in Vietnam leaves a lasting impression. Randall will never be forgotten.

From a friend,
John Douglas Foster

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines began June 1968 with its four rifle companies garrisoning several hilltops in the vicinity of the Khe Sanh Combat Base, Hill 689 among them. However, it had been decided that the Khe Sanh Combat Base should be evacuated and to that end operations were planned to disrupt the North Vietnamese Army's infrastructure in the areas surrounding Khe Sanh so the NVA would be less able to interfere as the combat strength at Khe Sanh was drawn down.

The 3/4 Marines were assigned responsibility for sweeping a known NVA base area located to the southeast of Hill 678, about 13 kilometers south of Khe Sanh - and they left their hilltops to make a combat assault into the valley on 11 June. As it happened, the selected landing zone was almost on top of a large NVA bunker complex, and the first company to land - Kilo 3/4 - found itself fighting from the start. There were continuous contacts during the platoon and company-size patrols on 12, 13, and 14 June, but the operation seemed to be successful - the NVA did not seem willing to stand and fight but rather withdrew as their base camps and supply caches were found and destroyed.

That changed at 0530 on 15 June. The 3/4 defensive perimeter, located about a kilometer north of Lang Up (2), was attacked by the reinforced 4th Battalion, 66th NVA Regiment. The NVA succeeded in breaking the 3/4 perimeter in the Mike Company area, but by 0730 the breach had been eliminated and Kilo Company was sweeping in front of the Mike 3/4 lines. Sporadic fighting continued until midafternoon. The attack and its aftermath left 16 Marines and sailors dead, 58 wounded evacuated (one of whom died), and one man from Kilo 3/4 missing (found dead on 16 June). The NVA left 158 bodies and 13 POWs behind them. The Americans who died in the attack were

  • H&S Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
  • K Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
    • LCpl Robert J. Wills, New Castle, PA
    • Pfc Aloysius F. Spiczka, Minneapolis, MN

  • L Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
    • 1stLt Stephen D. Joyner, La Habra, CA
    • Cpl Gerald H. Lavoie, Woonsocket, RI
    • LCpl Donald R. Hawyer, Detroit, MI
    • LCpl Charles D. Smith, Smyrna, GA
    • Pfc David M. Bertram, Campbellsville, KY
    • Pfc Richard L. Fitts, Louisville, KY
    • Pfc Gerald McClintock, Chester, PA
    • Pfc Nathan Thomas, Appling, GA

  • M Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marines
    • Cpl Randall T. Planchon, Long Beach, CA (Silver Star)
    • LCpl Richard B. Murphy, Norwood, MA
    • Pfc Robert F. Lopez, Phoenix, AZ
    • Pfc Jeffery A. Thibault, Pitman, NJ
    • Pfc Jackie E. Wallace, Apopka, FL

During the 16th and 17th the 3/4 Marines again experienced only sporadic contacts, and were advised they would be lifted out of the area beginning at 0900, 18 June. That didn't happen.

At 0600 18 June elements of the 88th NVA Regiment attacked the Kilo 3/4 defensive positions, once again breaching the perimeter. By 1030 the perimeter had been restored and the Marines were sweeping in front of their positions. This attack caused the deaths of 15 Marines, but another 129 NVA bodies were found in and around the 3/4 position.

At 1515 the helo lift began. Although the NVA hit the position with more than 100 mortar rounds and 90 rounds of 152mm artillery from the NVA guns at Co Roc during the lift, there were no further US casualties.

Overall, the 3/4 Marines and its supporting engineer element lost forty Marines and sailors during the period 11-18 June.

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the



United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving a Squad Leader with Company M, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 16 May 1968, while Company M was conducting a tactical movement from the Khe Sanh Combat Base to Hill 689 in Quang Tri Province, Corporal Planchon's squad came under a heavy volume of mortar, small arms and automatic weapons fire from a large North Vietnamese Army force occupying fortified positions and sustained several casualties. Reacting instantly, Corporal Planchon fearlessly maneuvered to three of his wounded men and evacuated them across the fire-swept terrain to a position of relative safety. While informing his platoon commander of the seriousness of the situation, he directed suppressive machine gun and antitank rocket fire and skillfully adjusted mortar fire upon the enemy emplacements. Disregarding his own safety, he unhesitatingly moved casualties through the intense hostile fire to a covered position on the top of a steep hill. As he was returning to his squad, the explosion of an enemy hand grenade violently knocked him to the ground. Undaunted, he quickly recovered and, shouting words of encouragement to his men, directed their fire against the hostile force while assisting in evacuating the wounded to a casualty collection area. Subsequently assuming the duties of his mortally wounded platoon sergeant, Corporal Planchon ignored the enemy rounds impacting near him while maneuvering about the hazardous area, organizing the evacuation of injured Marines, strengthening his platoon's defensive perimeter and adjusting mortar fire upon the North Vietnamese soldiers. His bold initiative and resolute determination inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in saving the lives of numerous Marines. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and steadfast devotion to duty, Corporal Planchon upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Corporal Planchon is buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, California.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 Dec 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009