Posthumous Medal of Honor Petition for USMC Colonel John "RIP" Ripley
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While Col. Ripley received several highly-noteworthy awards during his 35-year tenure as a United States Marine, the most decorated, Medal of Honor, was not bestowed upon him while he was living. This Marine is EXTREMELY deserving of this award, and I think it's time we see that he get it. SEMPER FIDELIS.
John Walter Ripley (June 29, 1939 – October 28, 2008) was a United States Marine Corps officer who received the Navy Cross for his actions in combat during the Vietnam War. On Easter morning 1972, Captain Ripley repeatedly exposed himself to intense enemy fire over a three-hour period as he prepared to blow up an essential bridge in Dong Ha. His actions significantly hampered the North Vietnamese Army's advance into South Vietnam. The story of "Ripley at the Bridge" is legendary in the Marine Corps and is captured in a gripping diorama at the United States Naval Academy.
In October 1966, Ripley joined 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in South Vietnam. He served as Company Commander of Lima Company, known as Ripley's Raiders, was wounded in action, then returned to active duty and completed his combat tour.
During his two years of Vietnam service, he participated in 26 major operations. In addition to numerous decorations for extensive combat experience at the rifle company and battalion levels, Ripley was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in destroying the Dong Ha bridge during the April 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive (also known as the Nguyen Hue Offensive). That action is memorialized at the Naval Academy with a large diorama titled "Ripley at the Bridge."
While under intense unrelenting enemy fire, Ripley dangled for an estimated three hours under the bridge in order to attach 500 pounds of explosives to the span, ultimately obliterating it. His action, conducted under enemy fire while going back and forth for materials, definitively thwarted an onslaught by 20,000 enemy troops and dozens of tanks and was the subject of a book, The Bridge at Dong Ha, by Colonel John Grider Miller. He attributes his success to the help of God and his mother. When his energy was about to give out he began a rhythmic chant, "Jesus, Mary, Get me there". His body taxed to its extreme limits, his action is considered one of the greatest examples of concentration under fire in the annals of U.S. military history.
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