Who were the 58 Alaska men who died in Vietnam? Norman Ridley of Metlakatla was one

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The Virtual Vietnam Wall lists the men from Alaska who died in the Vietnam War. They are listed by community below this story about one man from the Native village of Metlakatla who died. These names are also on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Click on the names below to find out more about the branch of service, when they served, and how they died. You can also search for other names by visiting the Virtual Vietnam Wall at this link.

One such fallen hero was Norman Ridley of Metlakatla. He was an airman apprentice and a member of the aviation fuels division aboard the USS Coral Sea, an aircraft carrier. He was struck by an aircraft during launch, while carrying out his duties.

The flight deck of an aircraft carrier conducting flight operations is a notoriously hazardous place to be … rarely is a cruise completed without casualties among the flight deck personnel. Norman Ridley was one such casualty – struck by an aircraft during launch.

Aviation Ordnanceman Michael L. Murphy of Attack Squadron 153 was within a few feet of Ridley when Ridley was struck and killed. 

Murphy wrote this tribute to his fallen comrade, whom he never knew:

I never knew you in life.

We may have passed each other at sometime on the ship or in port and never knew it. We met on the flight deck the day you died.

We had just armed the plane on the catapult and were waiting to launch it. For some reason they kept it on the cat for a long time and we started to recover the aircraft from the earlier flight and they started to bunch up on the deck. I kept thinking, “just scrub the damn flight, what the hell different will one more plane make.” Then the plane was launched just as you were pulling the fuel hose across the deck. My back was to you and I saw part of your ear protectors and goggles blow down the deck, I knew that something terrible had happened. You were lying on the deck about 20 feet from me. The wing had hit you in the head as the plane was launched. I looked down at you as I walked by. I did not stop, I had planes to de-arm, I just walked by.

When I finished my job I went below deck to the ordnance shop and thought about your death. Where was God this day, why did this happen, what purpose did your death accomplish. It happened it was over. Another sacrifice had been made to the “Prince of Death” and it wasn’t me. That may sound crass to those who weren’t there but I know that you understand. I went down to dinner and on with my life, but I never prayed again.

You have never been far from me, sometimes I wonder about what your hopes and dreams were, what you wanted to do in life. At 18 we think we will live forever. In 1979 I cried for you for the first time, I cried again when I went to the Wall in 1987, I was back on the flight deck I could hear the Jets and the Helos, I could smell it, feel it and I could see it. You will be in my memory till the day I die.

I only knew you in death.

Michael L. Murphy
Attack Squadron 153, Ordnance
U.S.S. Coral Sea
Vietnam 1967, 68, 69

From Five Stories by Mike Murphy. You can read this and all five stories by Murphy at this website.

The 58 men from Alaska who died in Vietnam are listed below. (Names are live links to the VirtualWall.org site to learn more about each one:

ANCHORAGE:
SP5 THOMAS M BARR
SP5 RICHARD GENE BAUER
SP4 GARY EDWIN BULLOCK
WO WILLIAM BRADLEY DUNCAN
1LT ROBERT THOMAS ELLIOTT III
LCPL DALE ANTHONY GRIFFIN
SP5 WILLIAM EARL HIBPSHMAN
AN HOWARD MARK KOSLOSKY
PFC MICKEY DANIEL LANG
SP4 WILLIAM FRANCIS PIASKOWSKI
PFC LARRY JOE PLETT
GYSGT DAVID SHELTON PRENTICE
CWO LLOYD STEVEN RAINEY
COL FLOYD WHITLEY RICHARDSON
PFC JOE WAYNE VANDERPOOL
CWO WILLIAM FRANCIS WALTERS
BETHEL:
PFC GEORGE GREGORY KILBUCK
BREVIG MISSION:
SN EDWARD NASUESAK BARR
CHUGIAK:
SSG DONALD GEORGE CHMIEL
COLLEGE:
CPT DONALD ROBERT ROBISON
CORDOVA:
PFC MICHAEL DEAN BANTA
SGT DAVID HENRY ELISOVSKY
WO DAVID ALEN LAPE
DOUGLAS:
PFC NORMAN LEWIS LINGLEY
EAGLE RIVER:
2LT LARRY LE ROY BETTS
ELMENDORF AFB:
SP5 DANIEL FRANKLIN COX
PFC MICHAEL THOMAS HOKE
PFC DONALD RAY SANDERS
FAIRBANKS:
WO WILLIAM STEVEN CHILDERS
SP5 DAVID LYNN FERRY
CWO WAYNE ELMER JONES
PFC GILBERT KETZLER Jr
PFC KERMIT HAROLD LA BELLE Jr
SP4 ROBERT EDWARD LEE
PFC PATRICK M Mc INERNEY
2LT DAVID REESE YOUNG Jr
FORT RICHARDSON:
PO3 ANDREW WILLIAM RICE Jr
HYDABURG:
SGT CLINTON ARTHUR COOK
JUNEAU:
SP4 CHARLES F GAMBLE Jr
CPL DONALD WALTER SPERL
KETCHIKAN:
CPL WILLIAM ARTHUR THOMPSON
PFC ARTHUR JOSEPH WHITNEY Jr
KODIAK:
SP4 DANIEL LEE HARMON
SP4 KURT INT-HOUT
MC GRATH:
PFC SAM IVEY
METLAKATLA:
AA NORMAN FRANKLIN RIDLEY
PETERSBURG:
LCPL DONALD HARRY KITO
SEWARD:
SSG HOWARD WAYNE GULLIKSEN
SOLDOTNA:
PFC WILLIAM ALBERT EATON
SP4 JERRY VERNE HORN
SPENARD:
CPL THOMAS EDWARD ANDERSON
SP5 NICK ULYSSES FLEENER
SP4 KENNETH BRUCE MILLHOUSE
WO FREDERICK M SIMEONOFF
THORNE BAY:
PFC CHARLES EDWARD BROWN
VALDEZ:
PO3 WARREN ALAN PAULSEN
WILLOW:
SGT JAMES PERRY DELANEY
WRANGELL:
PFC DAVID DEE BROWN Jr

11 COMMENTS

  1. Mike Murphy was a resident of Moose Pass Mile 24 Seward HWY and an Alaska State Trooper prior to going to Vietnam. Our family knew him and are thankful for his service.

    • Not the same Mike Murphy. The Murphy you are thinking about was a Irishman who immigrated to the US, was a AK trooper and signed up for military service during the Vietnam war and was killed in action by a sniper.

      • I went to school with his kids in the mid 60s, 2 boys. Maybe there were 2 Mike Murphy’s from Alaska that were killed in Vietnam.

  2. The most painful listing: Body not Recovered. Eternal rest grant unto them Oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.

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