Jettie Rivers, Jr

Second Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
09 November 1932 - 06 July 1967
Nashville, TN
Panel 23E Line 022


Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Jettie Rivers, Jr

11 Jan 2004

First Sergeant Rivers was killed with Captain R. J. Sasek on 06 July 1967 at Con Thien, RVN, by the same enemy incoming fire.

C. B. Clement
MSgt USMC (Ret)
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

12 Jan 2004

2nd Lt Jettie Rivers
2nd Lt Jettie Rivers Jr., USMC

The photo was taken from The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 1970.


From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

24 Jan 2004

Many stories have been told of First Sergeant Rivers and I have been privileged to hear them. His men speak well of him.

We were fortunate to be on a float from September 1966 to January 1967 so men got to know each other. Lt Dave Morgan, the Forward Air Control officer and a fighter pilot, tells of the two of them walking a sweep and the First Sgt took out a position. Neither one of them belonged out there, but that was the way they both were.

First Sergeants were normally in the rear with the gear but "Top" Rivers did not want to be in the rear and he put two college kids in charge of the office.

He was promoted to Second Lieutenant before he died, but it was not signed until after he died. The Navy Secretary who signed it did not know he was dead. His secretary never told him about it either.

His wife lives around Chicago or did a few years ago.

He was First Sergeant of Delta Company which took the first knocks up on the DMZ.

I remember sitting on a perimeter and the NVA just walked mortars in on Delta and the mortar unit. This was 21 March 1967 near Con Thien.

They were the first into Phu An on 5 March 1967 and hit heavy resistance and took ten or more casualties. I remember Captain William Keys and Gunny Baldwin standing in the middle of the men laid out in their ponchos.

Captain Keys had a sad look in his eyes that seems to of never gone away.

Bill Weidenbacher
Alpha 1/9, 1967

From The Virtual Wall:
The fight at Phu An, 05 March 1967, involved both Charlie and Delta 1/9 and cost the Marines at least eleven men killed in action:
  • Charlie 1/9:
    • SGT Refugio J. Cantu, San Antonio, TX
    • SGT Pedro Leon, Kansas City, MO
    • LCPL Anthony M. Orlando, Selden, NY
    • PFC Dewey H. Brown, Houston, TX
    • PFC Roy A. Schaefer, Fond Du Lac, WI

  • Delta 1/9:
    • LCPL Magdaleno Tarango, Lordsburg, NM
    • PFC Carl F. Mowery, Springfield, OH
    • PFC Edward G. Ray, Detroit, MI
    • PFC David A. Taylor, Thomaston, GA

  • Mortars, H&S 1/9:

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On the morning of 2 July 1967, two undermanned companies from the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, were ambushed in the shadow of Vietnam's DMZ by a regiment of the North Vietnamese Army. The location also was in the shadow of the Marine hill-top outpost at Con Thien, where the 1/9 Marines battalion headquarters was located. At the time, Delta 1/9 Marines had just taken over defense of the hilltop. The initial ambush escalated into a full-fledged battle as additional Marine and NVA forces were inserted.

In an unusual move, the NVA used coordinated artillery fire from within and north of the DMZ in an effort to cordon off the battlefield, thereby preventing or reducing Marine reinforcements. Much of the artillery was concentrated on the Con Thien outpost. On 06 July 1967 members of the Delta Company command group were standing just outside their bunker on the northward-facing slope of the hill. An enemy 105mm shell impacted a few feet away, killing the Commanding Officer, his First Sergeant, and three others:

  • Capt Richard J. Sasek, Topeka, KS
  • 1stSgt Jettie Rivers, Nashville, TN (Navy Cross)
  • HM2 John J. Van Vleck, Clearwater, FL, Delta 1/9 Senior Corpsman
  • Cpl Joseph W. Barillo, Hornell, NY
  • LCpl Edward M. Brady, Utica, NY
A few weeks earlier, on the night of 16/17 May 1966, 1st Sgt Jettie Rivers had been involved in another serious engagement. His actions then earned him a Navy Cross. 1st Sgt Rivers received a posthumous commission as a Second Lieutenant of Marines.

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the



First Sergeant
United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism as Company First Sergeant while serving with Company D, First Battalion, Ninth Marines in the Republic of Vietnam on 14 and 15 May 1967. While engaged in search-and-destroy operations against units of the North Vietnamese Army, Company D became engaged with an estimated reinforced enemy company and Second Lieutenant (then First Sergeant) Rivers, a member of the company command group, was wounded. Realizing that the enemy had forced a gap between the command group and one platoon and the two rear platoons, he immediately informed the company commander. At dusk the enemy fire and mortar barrages intensified, and as casualties mounted, the two separate elements set up a hasty perimeter of defense. Second Lieutenant Rivers expertly directed his men's fire, placed personnel in strategic positions, and personally participated in repelling the enemy assault. Observing a number of enemy soldiers maneuvering toward the perimeter, he mustered a small force of Marines and personally led them to meet the enemy, killing several of the enemy soldiers. When evacuation of the wounded was completed, Second Lieutenant Rivers requested permission to take the point in an attempt to link up the smaller element with the other two platoons. A short distance from the perimeter, the group encountered withering machine-gun fire which instantly killed the platoon sergeant and seriously wounded the platoon leader. Second Lieutenant Rivers immediately took command of the situation, aiding the wounded and personally pinning down the enemy machine gun while the casualties were removed. Now under complete darkness and subject to continuous enemy crossfire and sporadic mortar barrages, Second Lieutenant Rivers assisted in joining the two units. Discovering that all of the platoon leaders had become casualties, he assisted the company commander in setting up an effective perimeter and personally supervised the medical evacuation preparations. Presently a deadly mortar barrage precipitated an all-out enemy assault on the company. Second Lieutenant Rivers was everywhere - encouraging the men, directing fire, assisting the wounded, and distributing ammunition to critical positions. Wounded himself, he continued this pace until late in the afternoon when relief arrived. By his initiative, devotion to duty, and aggressive leadership, he served to inspire all who observed him and was instrumental in saving the lives of many Marines. His great personal valor reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow Marine,
C. B. Clement
MSgt USMC (Ret)
E-Mail may be forwarded via the
11 Jan 2004

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 01/30/2004