Jack Columbus RittichierLieutenant
37TH ARRS, 7TH AF
United States Coast Guard
17 August 1933 - 09 June 1968
Panel 58W Line 014
LCDR Lonnie Mixon, USCG, [L] and LT Jack Rittichier, USCG
(Photo courtesy of Stacey Jones)
The database page for Jack Columbus Rittichier
28 Aug 2001
It is well known that US Coast Guard patrol boats and high endurance cutters operated offshore during the Vietnam War. The fact that 12 USCG pilots flew with the US Air Force during 1967-68 is less well known. These officers were on exchange duty and flew both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
On 9 June 1968 a section of Marine A-4 Skyhawks were targeted against a NVA base area southwest of Hue. One of the Marines, 1st Lt Walter R. Schmidt (A-4E BuNo 151080), was hit while on a delivery run and ejected, landing in the middle of the NVA encampment area. He established contact via emergency radio, advising that he had a broken leg and that NVA troops were approaching. An Air Force HH-3E, Jolly Green 22, made three attempts to pick Schmidt up before being forced from the area due to low fuel. Following suppressive air strikes a second HH-3E (hull number 67-14710, piloted by USCG LT Jack C. Rittichier) made another attempt. As Jolly Green 23 approached Schmidt's position it was hit by enemy fire and burst into flame. Other aircrew watched as the HH-3E crashed and exploded in a small clearing; no-one escaped from the burning wreckage.
Two things became apparent during further attempts to pick up 1st Lt Schmidt -
At this point the Danang SAR coordination center, acting on recommendations from the on-scene commander, halted further SAR efforts and directed the SAR forces to return to base. According to one report, ground forces inserted on 10 June failed to locate any sign of 1st Lt Schmidt.
Five men were lost, four dead and one missing in action:
Lieutenant Rittichier was the only Coast Guard pilot who died in Vietnam.
Thomas Pilsch's site contains considerable documentation regarding the SAR effort, including scanned copies of the after-action report and SAR coordinator logs. The "Check Six" site has a well-written narrative description of the events and a compilation of the aircraft and units involved in the SAR effort. Finally, the Jolly Green site contains a report that the wreckage of Jolly Green 23 has been located and crew gear recovered.
From one who remembers,
16 Aug 2002
LCDR Lonnie Mixon, USCG, and LT Jack Ritticher, USCG, reported to Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District, Cleveland, Ohio, just prior to leaving for South Vietnam. Having returned from SE Asia in late 1966 I gave both of them the usual advice, i. e. don't drink the water if you don't open it, don't eat the salads, if outside of a U.S. Mess eat only C-rations or fried rice. I advised them to allot all but $100.00 per month to their wives, which they did, as I recall. Mrs. Ritticher was very apprehensive about Jack's going to Vietnam. She was a beautiful lady from Mansfield, Ohio, and they were very much in love.
The Chief of Operations, Captain McLaughlin, USCG, and I attended the ceremony for LT Ritticher in the Akron, Portage Lakes area although no body was recovered. Both LCDR Mixon and LT Ritticher were true Coast Guardsmen which is of course self evident. We salute both of you.
LT Rittichier's body has been recovered, identified, and returned to US soil and his family. OCT 2003.
From an active-duty Coast Guardsman and USMC Vietnam Vet,
I have worn a POW/MIA bracelet to honor Lieutenant Jack Rittichier since high school. I just found out this American Hero has returned home. God Bless his family. Thanks for honoring these Americans.
A Note from The Virtual Wall
"Two flag-draped caskets ceremoniously carried off a C-130 transport contained remains that could be those of an F-4 Phantom crewman shot down in March of 1972, and a Coast Guard and three Air Force crew members of an HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter that was lost in June of 1968."If the remains from the F-4 do turn out to be those of a crewman it will be one of the following four F-4 aircrewmen lost in Laos in March 1972:
Follow-Up, 10/23/2003The remains of the Jolly Green crew were repatriated on 14 Feb 2003 and identification announced on 11 and 12 Sep 2003. Marine 1st Lt Walter Schmidt still is missing.
On 06 October 2003 Lieutenant Jack Rittichier was buried with honors in the Arlington National Cemetery.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
one who remembers,
Stacey N Jones
28 Aug 2001
Top of Page|
With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 01/18/2004