Thursday, March 22, 2007


Sergeant Jeremiah Workman and Colonel John W. Ripley

I spent the better part of yesterday in the limelight doing a painting demonstration at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the Global War on Terrorism Gallery. Dozens of visitors stopped, asked questions, oo'd and ah'd and generally fed my already over-stuffed ego.

The real treat for me however was seeing my old boss, Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (retired). Colonel Ripley, following his retirement from active military service, took on the helm of the Marine Corps History and Museum Division and sheparded us through the process that resulted in the National Museum of the Marine Corps becoming a steel and concrete reality.

He was waiting to take out to lunch one of the Marines who works at the museum, Sergeant Jeremiah Workman. What do these two stellar Marines share in common? They're both recipients of the Navy Cross, an award second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Amongst Marines the Navy Cross is virtually equal to the MOH. This is especially true in Colonel Ripley's case. On Easter Morning 1972 then Captain Ripley almost singlehandedly stopped the entire North Vietnamese Army dead in its tracks by blowing up the Bridge at Dong Ha. The phrase "Ripley at the bridge" is as well known to Marines as the Chosin Reservoir and the Iwo Jima flag raising.

These two gentlemen were gracious enough to let me photograph them. One of the great joys of being a Marine is experiencing the constancy of the Corps that transcends time and place, and having the opportunity to stand momentarily in the shadow of giants such as these two men. It is a truism that people of this calibre are humble even to the point of embarrassment over the fuss made with regards to their heroics.


Flag Gazer said...

God Bless them both -

SK said...

Ditto Flag Gazer.

What a wonderful day you had, spent in the company of true heroes!

Anonymous said...

You've been busy..everyones been monitoring your work from home. Soldiers actual life's as an inspiration has to be the best, nothing artifical, reality. Perhaps a bit of your father too.

tammyswofford said...

Hello Marine,
I could not find an e mail for you. Would it be o.k. if I feature your blog in a future post of my own? Your site was sent to me by Capt. Hiram Patterson, USNR.

Semper Fi,
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR,NC

Anonymous said...

Devil Dog,
I have been attempting to reach you for a while in regards to 16 Nov 2005 an until now my search has left me empty handed. My son Lcpl Deeds, was one of those who sacrficed his life and knowing you were there it would be an honor to talk with you.
Semper Fi,Roger's old Man,
Scott Deeds

mdfay said...

Mr Deeds, please email me at with your contact info. I'd be more than happy to speak with you as well. I believe I forwarded some photos I had taken of your son in days prior to November 16th to his wife. I still have them. Mike

Jo Castillo said...

What a wonderful day you had. Thank you for sharing with us.

Dan said...

Ripley's Bridge... ahhh Right I must have slept through that bit of Marine History in Boot Camp. It was my great pleasure to receive slaps on the head but they must have missed me on that class.

Anyhow, I feel lucky and unlucky at the same time as I am missing out on all the real live fire sun and gun in the ole Persia Empire Lands... But, it is ok as I get paid more for firing off my English than I ever did with #6039065. Further I enjoy my charges more and they seem to speak much cleaner or maybe it is just that their paltry English skills prevent them from forming nasty Lexicon so common in the U(nified) S(landerous) M(alicious) C(oalition).

Still I do think it'd make for good stories at least. Oh well I suppose it is not worth the bother. Probably mstly it is sitting around in a base followed by intense conflict...

Regardless I am grateful for the thin harddd jajers those fellas who continue the crusade I left when I dropped my pack and gave my spear to the Del Mar armorer... I'm just a slow retreating angel puss now.

Anonymous said...

It's always a treat to actually meet Col. Ripley. During my cadetship at VMI, I had the good fortune of meeting the Colonel on several occassions and having the Colonel's younger son as a classsmate. Col. Ripley's heroics at Dong Ha was mandatory reading at the Institute. I never could figure out why he was never awarded the Medal of Honor though. I think his post-retirement assignment is an appropriate one --- who better to teach history than someone who made history?

Anonymous said...

I served under this man while with the 1st of 2nd. I personally witnessed him have two live grenades thrown about 25ft in front of him without protection of any kind.

When the first grenade went off a piece of something cut his face slightly. Disregarding the pleas of coreman and other officers he stood there in the open while another grenade was tossed and went off right in front of him. He had to give a direct order to a Lt. to toss it just before telling him to shut up.

I was in the observation hole with a 2nd Lt. who exasperatedly said "the man is crazy". Well he wasn't crazy he just knew his hand grenades!

Col. Ripley was demonstrating the blast patterns of grenades and showing us that they had a limited kill zone. His reasons for doing this was to settle our fears and misconceptions about grenades.

This man is a born warrior ordained by God out of his mother womb. He the kind of man who gives the substance to legend.