Ronald Marvin Stein

United States Marine Corps
30 October 1946 - 09 May 1967
Waterloo, Iowa
Panel 19E Line 075



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ronald Marvin Stein

15 Jan 2008

I got to know Corporal Ronald Marvin Stein in Jan 1967, who was attached to Fox Company 2nd Bn 3rd Marines at the Khe Gio bridge. The area was between the "Rockpile" and Camp Carroll west of Cam Lo. I was in a 81MM mortar section and Ron and his squad would quite often eat their hot meals in our mortar pit. I could see that Ron and I had things in commmon and we got to know each other quite well. He was just a very likeable guy and we became buddies. As it turned out, that was a mistake, for the future brought several entanglements with the NVA that caused great misery in our relationship.

The heavy fighting around Khe Sanh in late April to May 9th 1967 brought about many severe battles for all our 2/3 companies. The reality of real war came to the surface with all its fear, horror, anger, despair, revenge, hatred, sadness, misery and pain. It was turning me into a mad man and I had no sympathy for the emeny. When one of our Marines found five dead Marines tied to trees like they were crucified with their sex organs shoved into their mouths, it created an atmosphere that we were not dealing with humans but wild animals that did works of the devil. I wanted to kill 'em all after I made them suffer first.

On one of the last days in the jungles around Khe Sanh, Ron's unit came into a very grave and fierce encounter with an NVA unit. Many of the newly issued M16s had jammed and the Marines had nothing left to fight with after they threw their hand grenades, except for their entrenching tools, but it wasn't much use when the NVA is charging firing their AK-47s.

When our battalion got back to the air strip at Khe Sanh, I started looking for Ron and then one of his platoon members informed me that Ron was killed. I then realized why they say not to get too close to the men in your unit because it hurts too much when they die. It put me into such a depressed mood that all I wanted to do was to go back up into the hills again and kill every damn one of the NVA. I didn't care about taking prisoners but just killing them instead.

Ron, I truly miss you and I feel that you really hear me now as I write this about you. We will meet again in the future but in the meantime, I will never take your picture picture off my desk. You're with me forever.

Semper Fi, my good friend.

From a Marine friend attached to his unit,
Fred Hellmann

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The Khe Sanh Combat Base sat in a valley just south of the western end of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam, and was overlooked by peaks rising as high as 2500 feet to the north, west, and southwest. The infamous "Hill Fights" in and on the mountains surrounding the combat base began in early 1967 and eventually grew into the seige of the combat base in 1968. The fighting in the spring of 1967 had two diametrically opposed objectives:
  • For the North Vietnamese Army, the objective was to gain control of the hilltops in order to place the defenders under seige and inflict a defeat on the Americans which would stand with the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu fifteen years earlier.

  • For the Allies, the objective was to prevent the NVA from accomplishing their objective while inflicting as much destruction on the NVA as possible.
On 09 May 1967 elements of Fox Company, 2/3 Marines, were patrolling to the west of Khe Sanh, moving from Hill 881N toward Hill 778. As the Marines approached Hill 778, heavy underbrush forced them to divert from their intended track into a gulley. Rather than remain in the lower ground, Fox 2/3 climbed the southern slope toward higher ground, where they were engaged by NVA troops intent on crossing the gulley from south to north.

The meeting engagement on the hillside quickly grew into a full-fledged battle fought in difficult terrain largely covered in six-foot-tall elephant grass. By the time the fight ended, Fox 2/3 had lost 22 Marines and 2 Navy Corpsmen, with many more wounded - and the NVA had withdrawn back into the jungles and tall grasses.

With one exception the Marines of Fox 2/3 brought out their dead and wounded: the body of Private Robert J Todd could not be found in the elephant grass. The dead were

  • GySgt Tommie J. Whitten, Fort Worth, TX
  • Sgt Gregory M. McCook, Atlanta, GA
  • HM2 Gardner Tillson, Salem, MA
  • Cpl Daniel S. Bettencourt, Edgartown, MA
  • Cpl Morris F. Dixon, Clearwater, FL
  • Cpl David F. Fraley, Cincinnati, OH
  • HM3 Kenneth L. Holder, Mount Wolf, PA
  • Cpl Kenneth J. Lecastre, Buffalo, NY
  • Cpl Ronald E. Niles, Charlotte, NC
  • Cpl James M. Quigley, Hollywood, CA
  • Cpl Ronald M. Stein, Waterloo, IA
  • Cpl Lyle S. Tate, Portland, OR
  • LCpl Richard R. Bean, Springfield, OH
  • LCpl William E. Czarny, Hammond, IN
  • LCpl Frederick W. Fromme, Vallejo, CA
  • LCpl Danny M. Greene, Mount Gay, WV
  • LCpl Carman K. Hicks, Anderson, IN
  • LCpl Ronnie R. Landers, Mundelein, IL
  • LCpl Charles R. Waller, Chillicothe, OH
  • Pfc Gary R. Buttenbaum, Spotswood, NJ
  • Pfc Layne F. Clifton, Lakeview, OR
  • Pfc Joseph G. Klemencic, Great Falls, MT
  • Pfc Robert E. Williams, Rockford, IL
  • Pvt Robert J. Todd, North Easton, MA

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 15 Jan 2008
Last updated 08/10/2009