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Born on Sept. 25, 1949
Casualty was on May 27, 1969

Panel 23W - - Line 1

(Photo from: "Vietnam: One Week's Dead" LIFE Magazine, Vol. 66, No. 25, June 27, 1969

Pfc. John Kirchner served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Mike Company. He was Killed In Action during Operation PIPESTONE CANYON.His name stands proud on the Mike 3/5 Wall of Honor alongside the Marines he fought and died with. Semper Fi, Brother Marine. We will never forget.

MAY 1969

Mike Company marched from An Hoa, (My Son 1 actually), to Goi Noi Island to join the rest of the Division. On the first day of the march, they hit a heavily booby-trapped area. PFC. Kirchner was walking point about 50 meters in front of the column. 

We had always been told if you hit a trip wire or trigger a mine, drop to the ground immediately. Explosives blow up and out in a cone pattern, if you are lying flat close to the center, you stand a very good chance of survival. 

Kirchner tripped a booby-trapped 175mm. artillery round, he had a second or two to drop and save his life. Instead of thinking of himself, he turned and screamed for the company to drop and take cover. He was still standing, trying to save his fellow Marines, when the trap exploded. He died instantly, his unselfish actions probably saved many others, but it cost him his life. He was, and is a Hero in the truest sense of the word. ~ Grady Rainbow, M Co. 3/5


Semper fidelis, Brother

John, I didn't know you, but I was only 20 feet away from you when it happened. My fireteam from Mike2Bravo was attached with you going out on an OP. My fire team consisting of Derrick Stockhausen, Bill Hegwood ( later killed in the Que Son mountain range at the tail end of Pipestone Canyon), our radioman (I can't remember his name), and myself was going on an OP with the First Platoon. 

We were walking on the right flank when a tremendous explosion occurred on our left. I lay on the ground, knocked out from the concussion, not feeling my body or anything. It seemed like 15 minutes, but it must have been only seconds when I came to. We had not been more than 20 or 30 feet away, just luckily on the backside of the blast. The next few minutes were crazy!

We (my fire team) were told to fall back to the tail end, and prepare to drop off. I remember hearing the next booby trap going off when the LT for the 1st, and his radioman, got it. You will always be a part of me. Semper Fi!

~Chris Hamner ~
M Co. 3/5


John was the sole Marine from Recruit Platoon 1021, San Diego, 20,August 1968 to make the ultimate sacrifice in the war in Vietnam. The image of John used to make this composite image came from the Recruit Yearbook for Platoon 1021, San Diego, 20 August 1968. The image was sent to me by Steve Holmes, a platoon mate of John's in Platoon 1021. Steve was a platoon mate of mine in Vietnam with 3rd Platoon, Delta 1/7. The Platoon Right Guide, for Recruit Platoon 1021, Marine David Bice, retired as a Major General from the Corps. Semper Fi~Neil Wilson, USMC, 65-69, RVN 68-69, Delta 1/7