Clayton Joseph Theyerl

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
15 March 1949 - 25 February 1968
Racine, Wisconsin
Panel 41E Line 031



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Clayton Joseph Theyerl

20 Dec 2007

May the world forever remember that awful foggy day in February outside the wire at Khe Sanh. It will forever be etched into the memories of those who were there. Tremendous souls and excellent young men gave the dearest thing that day, their lives, and left numerous shattered hearts behind. My father fired in support of 2nd Lt Jacques's ill-fated patrol that day and I know he will never forget.

"Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it;
he died as one that had been studied in his death
to throw away the dearest thing he owed,
as 'twere a careless trifle.
When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won".
- Macbeth Act I, Scene IV -

Semper Fidelis
Sgt. Kevin Seldon USMC
355 E. Vista Ridge Mall Dr. #4124, Lewisville, Texas

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 1/26 Marines Command Chronology for February 1968 contains the following entry:
At 9:15 AM, 25 Feb 3rd Plt, Bravo 1/26, a platoon minus security patrol, was taken under automatic weapons fire and was also receiving grenades from bunkers and trenches at XD849409. Artillery and mortar fire was called to assist in withdrawal. Support elements moved into position to provide cover by fire. The enemy force was estimated to be a Company or larger. Contact resulted in 24 friendly MIA, 17 friendly WIA, and six friendly KIA.
The patrol was about 1 kilometer south of the Khe Sanh Combat base when it came across an NVA observation post. The Marines opened fire on the NVA troops, who withdrew south. The Marines pursued the NVA and in so doing entered an ambush zone. The NVA allowed the Marines to approach within 15 feet before opening fire from concealed bunkers, spider holes and trenchlines. A reaction platoon was sent as reinforcements, but when it attempted to outflank the enemy position the platoon leader realized that his unit was being outflanked and sandwiched between the NVA position and additional enemy troops.

The best the platoon leader could do was to provide covering fire for the remnants of the patrol as they withdrew, bringing out their wounded and six of their dead - but 24 men, most of them known to be dead, could not be brought out. Three of the 24 were able to evade the NVA on their own and made their way back to friendly lines. The 27 Americans who died in the action were

  • 2ndLt Donald Jacques, Rochester, NY
  • SSgt George McClelland, Passaic, NJ
  • Cpl Frederick A. Billingham, Trenton, NJ
  • Cpl Michael J. Brellenthin, North Bergen, NJ
  • Cpl Kenneth W. Claire, Redwood City, CA
  • Cpl Bruce E. Jones, Rockland, MA
  • Cpl Donald E. Whitaker, Durham, MO
  • LCpl Ronald P. Akins, Akron, OH
  • LCpl James R. Bruder, Allentown, PA
  • LCpl Jerry L. Dodson, Collinsville, IL
  • LCpl Charles G. Geller, East St Louis, IL
  • LCpl Phillips Hayes, New Orleans, LA
  • LCpl Michael J. Laderoute, Boston, MA
  • LCpl Richard W. McKenzie, Oxnard, CA
  • HN Lloyd W. Moore, Wilmington, NC
  • Pfc Michael B. Baptiste, Tampa, FL
  • Pfc Joseph C. Battle, Houston, TX
  • Pfc Doyle G. Clay, Chicago, IL
  • Pfc John A. Lassiter, Slidell, LA
  • Pfc Henry McDonald, Philadelphia, PA
  • Pfc Kim E. Meads, Chicago, IL
  • Pfc Arnold J. Rivera, El Paso, TX
  • Pfc Willie J. Ruff, Columbia, SC
  • Pfc David C. Scarbrough, Marietta, OH
  • Pfc Walter F. Skinner, Soledad, CA
  • Pfc Douglas W. Smith, Fort Worth, TX
  • Pfc Clayton J. Theyerl, Racine, WI
Several searches of the area were conducted over the following weeks, and eventually it was believed that all recoverable remains had been found - but one Marine remained missing. Sergeant Ronald L. Ridgeway of Houston, Texas was thought to have died in the fighting, but on 16 March 1973 he was released from Hanoi with other POWs.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 Dec 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009