Next Presentation 

The Lexington Veterans’ Association under the auspices of the Friends of the COA will present their monthly program on Monday, Feb 11, 2019, at 1:15P.M., in the lower level meeting room at the Cary Memorial Library. 1875 Massachusetts Avenue. Open free to the public, come and enjoy coffee and refreshments along with friends and fellow veterans at 12:45 P.M. followed by our program at 1:15P.M.

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“The Dong Ha Bridge"

Jim Ramsey, former Seabee company commander in Vietnam,                                                       whose battalion built the Dong Ha Bridge 3      

On Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, U.S. Marine Corps Captain John Walter Ripley entered Marine                Corps lore when he single-handedly halted a major North Vietnamese offensive by blowing up                 the Dong Ha Bridge just south of the Demilitarized Zone in South Vietnam. “Captain Ripley is           credited with changing the course of the war”, declares Jim Ramsey, former Navy lieutenant                 and company commander with the Seabee battalion that built the Dong Ha Bridge three years           before Captain Ripley destroyed it.

On Monday, February 11 at the Cary Memorial Library lower level meeting room, Jim Ramsey                 will relate the story of Captain Ripley’s heroic actions that day, starting with the order to blow the     bridge at 9:00 a.m. By noon, Ripley began deploying 750 pounds of TNT at strategic points on                 the bridge and at 3:30 p.m. the bridge blew. 

On March 30, 1972, North Vietnam unleashed the Easter Offensive, a multi-division attack                 against targets throughout South Vietnam. Three North Vietnamese divisions poured across                   the DMZ and another division invaded east from Laos, setting their sights on Hue, the former           imperial capital of Vietnam. To reach this target, Dong Ha would have to be taken first. All of               the South Vietnamese positions north of Dong Ha had been overrun by April 1; the most immediate     threat to the town was a North Vietnamese division, with 15,000 troops and 200 tanks, that was rolling unimpeded down Route 1 toward the Dong Ha Bridge.

By mid-morning on April 2 the North Vietnamese had reached the north end of the bridge. Defending      the bridge and the town were a battalion of 700 South Vietnamese marines and 44 South Vietnamese Army tanks. Captain Ripley was the U.S. advisor to the Marine Battalion.This small force could not hope to stop the approaching enemy in conventional fighting. Their only chance was to destroy the bridge. Captain Ripley had acquired demolitions expertise while training with the Navy’s Underwater Demolitions Teams (now known as Seals), so it fell to him to bring down the bridge.

Jim Ramsey earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from Cornell University. He completed the Naval ROTC Program at Cornell and served in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps for 5 years. A Harvard MBA, Jim worked in management consulting and held marketing and business development positions with several companies. A member of the Executive Committee of the Lexington Veterans Association, Jim is a volunteer with the Veterans’ Library at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, bringing books and companionship to patients.