Akins, Ronald Paul, LCpl

Fallen
 
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 Service Details
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Last Rank
Lance Corporal
Last Primary MOS
0351-Assaultman
Last MOSGroup
Infantry
Primary Unit
1967-1968, 0351, B Co, 1st Bn, 26th Marine Regiment (1/26)
Service Years
1966 - 1968

Lance Corporal

 
 

 Last Photo 
 Personal Details 


Home State
Ohio
Ohio
Year of Birth
1947
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by LCpl Gary Porter (Gary) to remember Marine LCpl Ronald Paul Akins.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Akron,OH
Last Address
1142 NW 18th St
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

Casualty Date
Feb 25, 1968
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Other Explosive Device
Location
Khe Sanh (Vietnam)
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens Central - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Wall/Plot Coordinates
41E 015

 Official Badges 


 Unofficial Badges 


 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialKhe Sanh Veterans Inc
  1968, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]
  2017, Khe Sanh Veterans Inc [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...


 Ribbon Bar

 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1966, Boot Camp (Parris Island, SC)
 Unit Assignments
1st Bn, 26th Marine Regiment (1/26)
  1967-1968, 0351, B Co, 1st Bn, 26th Marine Regiment (1/26)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)/Battle of Khe Sanh
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
A patrol set out south of the combat zone to make a diamond shaped sweep of the area along the garbage dump road in order to locate enemy mortar positions that had been playing havoc on the base. Aerial observation had verified that enemy trenches had crept to within 300 meters. One aerial observer claims to have witnessed an estimated 200 enemy troops moving through them at one point. Nonetheless the decision was made to sweep the area with Lt. Jacques's platoon. Along the way, Jacques was to check in with his CO Captain Kenneth Pipes of Bravo Company. The final check point was to occur just before reentering the lines near 1st platoons sector. Jacques's patrol route was to keep him within sight of the wire and he was under strict orders to remain on track. Unknown to Captain Pipes and Jacques is the patrol route was to take him between 2 trench systems of the NVA.

The patrol left at 0800 on a typical foggy February morning. Near the trash pit the patrol noted a few enemy emplacements, small trenches encircled the trash pit. The trench system went down the face of a small hill near a river and up the face of an adjacent hill and around the side of it. The patrol followed the trench system for about 30 meters, which was off course before they decided to move back onto the path of the patrol and proceed as planned. When the patrol came upon a heavy tree line they were single file. 18 year old Pfc. Calvin Bright was walking point when 18 year old Pfc. Clayton Theyerl knew that this was Bright's first patrol on point and according to Bright, Theyerl came up behind him and said, "This is your first patrol and I think you and I ought to switch." As the patrol proceeded to the tree line they spread out and at that time 3 NVA soldiers dressed in camouflaged utilities were seen running along a trail. The Marines fired a few rounds at them, but they got away unscathed. Seeking a chance to capture one of these men, Jacques requested permission to pursue the 3 men.

Captain Pipes believing them to be on a road much closer to the wire than they actually were reluctantly gave the okay while heeding to the young Jacques to not get sucked into a funneled ambush. What Captain Pipes did not realize is that the patrol was really 600-700 meters away from the southern wire of the combat base and not the 200 meters he'd thought. The incessantly thick elephant grass obstructed the view of the patrol at certain points and when no visual as made on the patrol, no one was alarmed. The morning fog that frequented the region had yet to burn off. The Kit Carson scout with the patrol was very uneasy about pursuing, as he feared it was a trap. HM3 John A. Cicala, also leery of this move, looked at 2nd Lt. Jacques and exclaimed, "Are you crazy?" As Jacques stepped across the path into thick brush the patrol followed, but immediately looked confused and in a moment of tactical compromise began to talk out loud among each other in the moment of confusion.

Taking control of the situation, Jacques snapped at the men, "Let's go get them!" No sooner had the patrol moved forward than the NVA open fired with a heavy concentration of automatic weapons fire. The fire came from 2 tree lines; one ran north-south and the other east-west in a sort of classic L-style ambush. Among the first killed was the point man Pfc. Clayton Theyerl who was shot through the head and killed instantly. Theyerl had been on point for but a few minutes having relieved Pfc. Calvin Bright of the duty. Bright recalled, "I think if it wasn't for him, I'd be in his position and he'd be in mine right now." Pfc. Alexander Tretiakoff found himself face to face with an NVA soldier and when he tried to fire his rifle, it jammed. He dropped and pulled the magazine out just as the Marine next to him, LCpl Richard W. McKenzie, was shot.

The fire began to envelope the pinned platoon. Jacques tried to dispatch Cpl. Kenneth Claire's squad along with Platoon Sergeant SSgt. George McClelland and one of his machine guns to move to the right and hook around the rear of the NVA. Cpl. Claire moved under withering fire with his squad and just as he believed himself far enough to the flank moved forward, but had not gone far enough to the enemy's flank and moved into the brunt of the enemy's front. The records of the 304th NVA Regiment record the actions that morning: "With strong fire power and experienced troops, the first fire left many American bodies at the strong point. Light machine-gunner Nguyen Van Lang fired off two series of rounds and eliminated 19 of the enemy. The Americans were tall and big and because they were so slow, many died. However those who remained alive continued the attack.

Now they became the target for our mortar fire which fired into the troops and the counter-attack by the two companies of Americans . . . we only began to fire when the enemy was about 20 meters from our Combat trench #1. Having killed a number, but with the enemy having a large force and having entered our positions they occupied a portion of that combat trench. They intended to use our trench to continue the attack. But because the Americans are so big and because they carry so much equipment, in a trench of ours that was so narrow, they could not move easily and in some cases were forced out of the trench."
 Initially the Marines obtained fire superiority. When corpsman HM3 Frank Calzia noticed the corpsman with 3rd squad was wounded and he recalled, "When I down to get him, I noticed that the 3rd squad (Claire's squad) from all indications had been wiped out. There was no one left. He (John Cicala) was wounded and the only one left alive." Fire teams were sent left and right to try and envelope the enemy and each time they were wiped out or disappeared in the tall elephant grass and never popped back up again, most would never be seen or head from again alive.

John Cicala while lying wounded treated on dying Marine LCpl Jerry Dodson. Cicala recalled, "I ran over to him and I took care of him. He had caught a round through his left eye. Believe me I'll never forget it. It came out the other side of his head, but he was still conscious. There was nothing I could do. I put a dressing on him and he told me - it totally freaked me out - but the last thing he said to me was 'Doc, make sure I got my weapon.' I gave him his piece back and I laid a couple of clips by him." As Doc Cicala ran to the other string of cries calling for the corpsman an enemy round struck him in the neck pushing his dog tag chain into the windpipe. Another round tore through the flak jacket and into the lung, knocking him to the deck as he began to wheeze from his sucking chest wound. He dressed his own wound with the cellophane from a package of cigarettes and began to crawl back to the combat base as best he could with rounds cracking overhead. Among the wiped out squad of Cpl. Claire, Pfc. Donald Ridgeway and 3 others had made it across that open as well as a few others. The fact that they were not visible to Cicala meant that he assumed they had been wiped out.

Claire directed his men in fire team rushes across the open and quickly abandoned the tactic as the men ran for the nearest trench line. Pfc. Ridgeway, Pfc. James Bruder and LCpl Charles Geller made it to the NVA trench line. The 3 men worked their way up the trench under the covering fire of the squad's machine gun. When they came to a bend in the trench, a series of grenades landed near the men who ducked the blast and threw grenades back at the still unseen enemy. LCpl Geller popped up to look for the other squads to the left front and behind them and saw nothing. Just then a stray round creased his forehead and knocked him back. He then shouted, 'Everybody's dead. Everybody behind us is dead. There's nobody left alive. What are we gonna do?' Geller, shaken from his minor wound stood up and looked, as did Ridgeway and saw 4 NVA approaching as if they believed that they'd killed all the Marines. Ridgeway fired his rifle and killed 2 and Geller killed a third with his .45. Ridgeway and Geller slid back down under cover of the trench just as a round came through skimming the dirt and catching Bruder in the chest killing him instantly. Geller urged Ridgeway that they had to try and get back to the main force, as they were the only ones left.

As the two worked their way back across the open, Geller came upon Pfc. Willie Ruff, a black Marine who had been lying painfully wounded with a broken arm laying on his back. As Geller was treating Ruff's wound a round hit Geller in the side of the face blowing his teeth out. Ridgeway was immediately struck with a round in the back of the shoulder. Wounded, but functional, Ridgeway crawled toward the horribly wounded Geller who was alive, but in shock. The three men were immobile and in the open and decided the best bet was to wait there hunkering low on the ground until the reaction force arrived even if it meant waiting until dark before they could move and if necessary play dead. Back at the platoon's main position, the withering fire continued. Cpl. Gilbert Wall moved with Lt. Jacques to the left of a small roadway and they were immediately pinned down. The main element of the 3rd platoon was smack to the front of the NVA's main line of trenches and under horrendous fire. Wall, who crawled to the left until he drew heavy fire and became pinned behind a tree tried to fire his rifle, but it would jam every 3 or 4 rounds. He abandoned his efforts to return rifle fire and took out a map to call for mortar fire, but found trees had obstructed his view of the other squads. He was unable to move due to the volume of fire until another Marine provided him cover to move so he could get a better view.

Every few yards he moved he came across a wounded Marine and now to his astonishment that the NVA were visible in the trench line very nearby. "I couldn't believe how many of them were there. I threw a grenade in their trench and killed 3, but they filled the spot in no time. The more we killed and got killed, the more they came. The screaming and shouting was so loud you couldn't hear your own voice. By this time I was terrified and couldn't see the deep trouble we were in clearly. We just didn't have enough men to match their firepower. 2nd squad under Cpl. Robert E. Matzka on the left was pinned down further down the road. Calvin Bright watched Matzka run exposed in the open among his men and try to direct their fire. One man attempted to attack one enemy machine gun that was causing havoc on 2nd squad. Before this Marine could maneuver he was killed only a few yards from Calvin Bright. HM3 Calizia of the 2nd squad believing that everyone on the 3rd squad had been killed maneuvered over to 3rd squad and instead of finding all of them dead Calizia found Pfc. Edward Rayburn with his lower jaw blown off, but alive. He was the first one hit as the squad crossed over the open towards the trench. Rayburn in shock would survive the ordeal, but wrote later from his hospital bed to his company commander Captain Pipes, "I saw and heard them die (members of 3rd squad) for three hours." Pfc. Thomas A. Detrick, was a member of the machine gun section that accompanied 3rd squad in their suicidal dart across the open. When the gunner was killed, Detrick took over and was himself hit, but kept firing until he felt he was going to black out, and crawled back towards a defilade and passed out. When he woke up to his horror, Detrick was laying next to Rayburn with his jaw shot off. The two men were lying there unable to move. When the isolate squads of the platoon realized they'd suffered casualties too numerous to be effective, they began to disengage and pull back to the combat base.

Gilbert Wall who'd began to crawl back after the Marines had disengaged, noticed a wounded Marine with a horrible chest wound. Wall recalled, "He was screaming at me, Marine, Marine, help me!" Wall went back to help the man as did 2 other Marines. Wall, whose rifle had jammed took the dying man's weapon. As the men were working their way back to the tree line they passed, when they entered and triggered the enemy fire, they triggered another ambush as they were pulling their wounded back. The survivors of the first onslaught had to hug the earth as bullets snapped the tops of the elephant grass and banana leaves above. Next to Wall another Marine was hit in the chest and screaming in pain. Wall placed a thick surgical bandage over the man's chest, but it could not stop the flow of blood and the man was bleeding to death. Doc Cicala had been stunned by the explosion of a grenade when Lieutenant Jacques came running by him shouting "We got to get out of here. Get out of here the best way you can, we're getting wiped out." As Doc, still dazed from the blast began to turn towards the path back to the combat base he heard Jacques groan. "He caught it right across his femoral arteries. .

There was nothing that could be done. It looked like he got hit with machine gun fire and it caught him below the groin area. It severed both arteries. Wall came upon Jacques and attempted to put a field dressing on him. All this time he was trying to talk to me, but I couldn't understand him." According to Cicala, "he was dead in minutes." Wall escaped death along the way as a round struck him in the shoulder of his flak jacket and knocked him down just as another passed between his arm and ribs skimming the sleeve of his shirt. The survivors of 3rd platoon made it back to the base as 1st and 2nd squads moved out to the ambush site to help the wounded and recover the dead, but they too ran into heavy contact. Corpsman HN Lloyd Moore maneuvered among the wounded to help and dressed 3 before an enemy mortar killed him. 1st and 2nd squad became heavily engaged and Captain Pipes called for an immediate request for another line company to break the NVA ambush and blocking positions in order to recover the dead and wounded. His request was denied.

Lt.Col. James B. Wilkinson was faced with a dilemma. "Do I send a squad or are we going to send a company?" Delta Co. 1/26 was ready to go. "It was the most difficult decision a commander has to make and the decision I made was: we would not send out the force or go to the aid of those Marines. Now that violates all the Marine principles that I was taught from the first day at Parris Island in 1948. When a Marine gets in trouble, you go out and help him and bring him back. My decision was based on the fact that casualties had been inflicted rapidly. The Marines went into a killing zone and were either killed or seriously wounded. Then, the history of the Vietnamese War was filled with instances in which you get a squad in trouble, you send out a platoon; the platoon gets into trouble you send out a company; you send out another company. Before long night falls and you've got half a battalion out in a very tenuous position. My mission was to defend Khe Sanh Combat Base. I was thin. That's why I did not send aid to the Bravo Company patrol."

At the end of the day Bravo Company 1st battalion 26th Marines had one confirmed KIA (Donald Jacques) 25 missing presumed dead and 21 wounded. It wasn't until March 30th that the Marines of Bravo Company would be able to exact their revenge in an assault using organic infantry weapons, Captain Pipes lead the assault on the NVA trench line in the vicinity of the February 25th ambush site. The remains, most unidentifiable after nearly 6 weeks in the open and exposure to air strikes and artillery fire, were collected. 10 more Bravo Company Marines gave their lives trying to recover the remains of their fallen brothers. Initially 9 of the remains recovered could not be identified and were interred in a mass grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery by the end of 1968. On the memorial of the grave was Pfc. Ronald Ridgeway whose family in Houston received word of his death. In 1973 it was discovered that Ridgeway had survived and was captured the night he, Pfc. Willie Ruff, and LCpl Charles Geller had lay there playing dead awaiting rescue. Ridgeway was the only survivor. He was captured and imprisoned in Hanoi until his 1973 release.

Those who gave their lives that terrible foggy morning 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
   
   
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