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"Quad Body" Col. John Ripley dies at 69
11/03/08 at 13:59:02
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John Ripley, Who Led 600 in Battle Against 20,000 North Vietnamese, Dies at 69

ANNAPOLIS, Md. —  Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, who was credited with stopping a column of North Vietnamese tanks by blowing up a pair of bridges during the 1972 Easter Offensive of the Vietnam War, died at home at age 69, friends and relatives said Sunday.

Ripley's son, Stephen Ripley, said his father was found at his Annapolis home Saturday after missing a speaking engagement on Friday. The son said the cause of death had not been determined but it appeared his father died in his sleep.

In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to "hold and die" against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

"I'll never forget that order, 'hold and die'," Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

"The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous," Ripley said. "When you know you're not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."

Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy gunfire, rigging 500 pounds of explosives that brought the twins spans down, said John Miller, a former Marine adviser in Vietnam and the author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha," which details the battle.


God Bless you Colonel. Semper Fi
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Re: "Quad Body" Col. John Ripley dies at 69
Reply #1 - 11/03/08 at 15:16:24
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Just read the story.  God bless him for his service and contribution to our beloved nation.  He epitomizes the men and women who have given so much to protect our freedoms.  We are so blessed to have such hero's who live among us.  So many untold stories of courage and sacrifice never told.

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Re: "Quad Body" Col. John Ripley dies at 69
Reply #2 - 11/03/08 at 15:19:02
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God bless you Col. and thanks
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Re: "Quad Body" Col. John Ripley dies at 69
Reply #3 - 11/03/08 at 19:01:54
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I crossed that Bridge many time in 67 traveling back and forth from Dong Ha.
The area around is is not conducive to 600 men holding off anything. Job well done.
Semper Fi Lt.

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