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Two Vietnam Veterans who were wounded in action in the same fire-fight, reunited again after 45 years thanks to a posting on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Site.

It’s been 45 years this month and dark holes and feelings were filled over the National Vietnam Veterans Day weekend. The last time Corporal David “Rip” Rippberger and PFC Luis “TJ” Maestre saw each other was in Vietnam April 28th 1968 as members of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine near Hwy One outside of Phu Bai. It was on that night, Rippberger, Maestre, Charles Davis, and another Marine Washington were out on patrol when they walked into a small VC camp and came under fire. Within minutes Rippberger, Maestre, and Washington were shot and wounded. Sadly in the firefight, Charles Davis was shot and killed instantly. Also, a close friend of theirs, Corpsman, Michael “Doc” Turley was wounded while tending to their wounds. Luis and Dave were both placed on the same chopper out of Vietnam and was the last they ever saw of each other until now.

LCpl. David ‘Rip’ Rippberger

PFC Luis ‘TJ’ Maestre


It wasn’t until around September 2012 while working on a tribute website for my father, that I found a post on the VVMF website mentioning my dad’s name. The post was from a Luis Maestre who posted on the Wall of Charles E. Davis’s Memorial. I was in shock and immediately replied with an email. Within an hour I received and email from Luis who was quit shocked himself and very pleased to hear my father was still alive and well. After talking a bit through emails, I called my dad to share my find. At first, he couldn’t remember who Luis was, or parts of the firefight, but after talking to Luis and seeing his picture, he remembered right away. The reason why he couldn’t remember Luis was because; Luis was only in country for a little over a month. After the Battle in Hue City in February, My Fathers Company “Alpha” was pretty much wiped out, so they had begun bringing in new recruits to replace the many wounded and dead. Luis was one of these new recruits brought in. When he arrived, he was assigned to Alpha Company and my father was assigned to teach him the ropes and to keep his head down. This past week was a very touching one watching the two of them together. The most touching was when they went and visited the memorial of their old friend Doc Turley on National Vietnam Veterans Day. Doc Turley died of cancer in 2002 from results of Agent Orange. He was one of the most loved Corpsman’s in Alpha Company 1/5.


"TJ" and "Rip" visiting an old friend Michael "Doc" Turley
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Comments (30)

  1. David E. Rippberger A 1/5 1st. Plt., April 2, 2013
    Thank's Son for those fine words. God Bless. Reply
    • Jack, April 29, 2013
      Welcome home Brothers, 1/3 C/Co 68-69,,glad you Marines reunited, Semper Fi. Reply
  2. Cindy, April 28, 2013
    Thank you for all you did for our country during that trying time. I went in afterwards and helped pick up the pieces. You two rock. Reply
  3. simon isherwood, April 28, 2013
    Great story guys........ Reply
  4. Sgt Jerret Wright, April 28, 2013
    Gentlemen, I am a Sgt in the Marine Corps and am about to deploy again soon. It is because of your generation that we are able to come back with welcome arms. No generation of warriors should have ever had to endured what you did while coming home. From the bottom of my heart, Semper Fi and thank you for your service! Reply
    • Richard Hammitt, April 28, 2013
      Thank you for saying that about us. Semper Fi SGT Reply
    • Steve O, USMC, April 28, 2013
      Thank you Sgt.!! Reply
  5. Debbie, April 28, 2013
    Thank you for your sacrifice of service to our country. Reply
  6. Sharon Cook, April 28, 2013
    We honor you and your service to your country. Stand proud . We mourn your losses and will salute the Warrior Heros of our country. You are all Heros and need to know how valuable you are still Reply
  7. Dawn McCoy, April 28, 2013
    God Bless your father and the ultimate sacrifice he made as LCpl. David ‘Rip’ Rippbergerwell, PFC Luis ‘TJ’ Maestre and every other soldier who fought to help those less fortunate than themselves. My daddy, James Vernon Jones, was there as well. Thank God he made it home and I was blessed with an awesome father. A heart attack took him April 22, 2005. I know this was quite a reunion for these soldiers. Also, Bless you for the memorial page you are doing for your father. Thank you for sharing this. It really was quite touching. Reply
  8. Pat K Mann, April 28, 2013
    I'm so glad you two were able to reconnect. My husband recently found a buddy and they're planning their own reunion sometime soon. He was also at Hue early in his first tour. If you remember med evac choppers with eyes painted on them, that's where he served as door gunner. Kudos to your son for going the extra mile for you. Reply
  9. Cheri, April 28, 2013
    This amazing!!!! My Dad was over there, he's a Marine (sniper).. Sgt Calvin Norris.. Semper Fi!! Reply
  10. Liz Marler, April 28, 2013
    Thank u gentleman for ur service to our country....very touching story...GOD BLESS U!! Reply
  11. Jana Hensley, April 28, 2013
    PLEASE!!! If you have a relative that passed away from the affects of Agent Orange, please see the http://www.vvmf.org/ Soldiers can be remembered and honored in the Education Center that is going to be built. I am attending a ceremony in Wash.DC to honor my husband, Melvin G. Hensley 1st Battalion, 26th Marines 1969. He too was on Highway One. Reply
  12. darryi van rendleman, April 28, 2013
    welcome home brothers was in vn from may 67 two feb 69 comm. 1st marines reg. would enjoy getting in contoct any that was in comm. we were from da nang two ksha Reply
  13. Ray Ann Alt, April 28, 2013
    This happened several years ago for my husband--when by chance-one of his platoon-mates remembered the name of the town hubby was from--and called after over 40 years. From that moment on, it was our mission to find all the platoon members. That was accomplished!!! and a reunion was set up in DC for May 19th 2011.. the anniversary of a night ambush in Cambodia where many of the platoon earned a Purple Heart.. and two gave their ALL for all of us!!.. Encouraging ALL Vietnam Vets and their families to go to THE WALL.. it truly is "the Wall that heals"... Thanks to all who served and an even bigger THANK YOU to those who gave their lives for our freedom--we can never repay this selfless act of giving. Reply
  14. Richard Hammitt, April 28, 2013
    Thank you for saying that about us Sgt. Semper Fi Reply
  15. Charlie Trainor, April 28, 2013
    Welcome Home, India 3/1 1967 Reply
    • Jennifer Barksdale, June 19, 2014
      Charlie I belive you knew my uncle PFC Gary N Foster. I'm his niece. Ie love to hear anything you remember about him that your willing to share. My email is pikelboom@gmail.com Reply
  16. Ann Dietz, April 28, 2013
    As someone who remembers the Vietnam War I thank each and every member of our Armed Forces for their service to the USA. I had a cousin who served and I only wish now that I had saved the letters he sent to me. May all of our Military be kept safe and return home to their families. Reply
  17. Bill Wilhelm, April 28, 2013
    My brother was a DaNang 1971-72. Our son-in-law is presently deployed to Afghanistan with the 101st, his 4th deployment. I appreciate all of you fellows and the young people presently serving. God bless, heal, and take care of all of you. Reply
  18. Rebecca B. Burke, April 28, 2013
    Thank you for your service ! Semper Fi Reply
  19. nelda keith, April 29, 2013
    i have for some unknown reason always felt that i had some kind of a connection to the viet nam war.. the only person that was in my life at that time was my uncle and many years later in 72-75 my husband served in the navy,,,, i always watch the war movies and they always make me cry,,,,,platoon and full metal jacket really tore me up and sent me into a depression that lasted for months,, i dont know how ya'll done it but im proud to say thank you and welcome home Reply
  20. Glen Haldane, April 29, 2013
    God Bless the Vietnam Vet. Reply
  21. David E. Rippberger A 1/5 1st. Plt., April 29, 2013
    Semper Fi to. all you great warriors. And God Bless all who have submitted your comments to my sons web sight. Reply
  22. Larry Johnson, April 29, 2013
    Welcome Home ! Reply
  23. Floyd E Hobbs, April 29, 2013
    It is never too late to welcome you home. Welcome home my brothers. Reply
  24. Beth Humphrey, April 29, 2013
    Welcome Home & THANK YOU! Reply
  25. Theresa Jones, April 29, 2013
    Thank you and Welcome home! Reply
  26. Charles Ronald Ridings, April 29, 2013
    This is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I too have lung cancer as a result of Agent Orange. God Bless You Brother! Reply

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