Skip to comments.Farewell to a Legend (Marine Colonel John Ripley, Hero During the Vietnam War)
Posted on 11/14/2008 12:52:37 PM PST by Pyro7480
The family and friends of Col. John Walker Ripley said their final goodbyes during a moving funeral ceremony on November 7, 2008 at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland. He was laid rest with full military honors in a ceremony that left most attendees either teary eyed or speechless.
Among the honorary pall bearers was Lt. Col. Le Ba Binh who fought with Col. Ripley in Vietnam and actually witnessed the destruction of the Dong Ha bridge; the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Carl E. Mundy; Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Beverly of the British Royal Marines, a long time friend of the deceased; and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Wesley Fox....
The afternoon sun filtering through the stained glass windows illuminated the incense that wafted through the air, creating a blue haze that seemed to hover over the top of the flag draped coffin. All of this created an ethereal ambiance that was truly unique.
The people I met on the previous night at the wake made up part of the crowd who packed the chapel to say farewell....As the coffin was brought forward, the Naval Academy choir intoned the mournful and soul stirring lines of the De Profundis; Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord. The plaintive chant was originally composed as an appeal on the part of the disincarnate soul pleading for mercy before the throne of God. On this day, it produced an atmosphere of added grandeur considering the stature of the man whose funeral mass we were now witnessing....
His faithfulness to his wife Moline, who was diagnosed with Alzheimers, was equally intense. Moline was an archetypal southern lady who had been reduced to a wheel chair because of her illness. Fr. McGeory told of witnessing Col. Ripley at an Academy event one day kneeling on one knee next to his wifes chair, gently speaking to Moline as he spoon fed her. Seeing his wife reduced to such a state caused Col. Ripley more suffering and required more strength of will than his superhuman efforts in the destruction of the Dong Ha Bridge. It would be one of the last bitter gulps from his chalice of suffering....
Col. Binh approached the bier and placed both hands on the coffin, as if seeking one final support from the man who fought so hard for his people. Overcome by grief he mechanically fell to his knees, embraced the casket and wept profusely. I later had the chance to speak to Col. Binh.
You are no doubt moved by the remembrance of what Col. Ripley did for your country, I asked. Being a man of few words, he simply nodded his head in mournful recognition as his eyes welled up with tears....
The funeral Mass. Col. Ripley was a daily communicant.
The funeral cortege.
Saluting the body.
God cherish Col. Ripley and all our armed forces.
Fair winds and following seas, sir.
And yeah .... Go Navy, Beat Army.
I also noticed he calls the Marines “soldiers,” which isn’t the term that is usually used.
RIP Colonel John Ripley.
yep - your right - typically fightin’ words for any Marine worth their salt.
I consider it no sacrifice to die for my country. In my mind, we came here to thank God that men like these have lived rather than to regret that they have died.
General George S. Patton
Thanks for posting this, Pyro