Richard Hurrell Stube – First Lieutenant, United States Army


Richard Hurrell Stube was born on May 16, 1946 and joined the Armed Forces while in Helena, Montana.

He served in the United States Army, and attained the rank of First Lieutenant.

On September 20, 1970, at the age of 24, Richard Hurrell Stube perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Tri.

Richard was a fellow Platoon Leader in “A” Company, 1/61st Infantry (Mechanized), 5th Infantry Division in September 1970. He had 3rd Platoon, I had 2nd Platoon. We were the only officers leading platoons at that time. Our company was located just south of the DMZ at Con Thien (aka Firebase A-4 or Alpha Four). From this site we would conduct operations lasting anywhere from a day to weeks. Such was the situation of September 19, 1970.

That day our Company Commander (CO), Captain John Marshall, a West Point graduate, was tasked to conduct mechanized infantry operations within the lightly forested eastern outskirts of Alpha Four. He was also ordered to begin rotating individual platoons back to the main 5th Division Combat Base at Quang Tri for three days of “post combat maintenance”also known as a “stand-down.” As Richard and I stood there listening to our CO’s instructions, CPT Marshall instructed me to take my platoon back first for this stand down. He instructed me to keep my platoon at Alpha Four that night while the rest of “A” Company, including Richard and his platoon, would proceed just beyond Alpha Four and NDP (Night Defensive Position) there.

That night I stayed in the underground officer’s bunker that Richard and I shared. Sometime in the night I was awaken by a terror of something unknown, possibly a nightmare, possibly something else. In fact I was so terrified of being in that bunker and was unable to stay inside, I ran up the wooden steps out of it with my poncho liner that I wrapped myself in to sleep and spent the rest of the night on the ground outside it (a more dangerous place since I was unprotected from incoming rocket or mortar rounds that frequently struck that Firebase). I was totally, and this is the only word I can conjure, “spooked,” and nothing could have forced me back into that bunker. I am not sure to this day what I was so terrified of, but to me it was more threatening than anything that I had ever felt.

About dawn, my RTO (radioman) ran to my location and alerted me that our Company had been “in contact” and that there were casualties. As we monitored the communication between the CO’s RTO and the battalion headquarters, we heard the list of casualties given, not by name, but by a numerical code so as to maintain the confidentiality of the actual names from the enemy that would also be monitoring our unit’s radio transmissions. The numerical code was designated as a function of position in the company, i.e., the CO was 001, the XO (Executive Officer) 002, etc. The voice on the radio begins to communicate casualties, with the first being KIA’s, he states “004” … I was “003,” which meant that that was Richard. So that is how I learned that my fellow platoon leader and friend had been killed.

My thoughts are still about my friend. I speak of him at high school classes, History of the Vietnam War, that are taught in Hillsborough County, Florida. High Schools include Brandon, Bloomingdale, Durant, Sickles, Blake, Armwood, Wharton, Riverview as well as several others. These “Honors Classes” have about 30 students each, usually the best and the brightest Seniors and Juniors of the school. Some have to qualify to take the class (Sickles) and other schools have more than one class occurring (three at Bloomindale). Also I have spoken to High School literature classes, general history classes, a theater class (all who were reading about the Vietnam War) and several private 7th grade classes. I have completed my third school year and will be continuing this as long as these classes are offered and my contribution accepted. I show the photos he took, that his widow sent me copies of a few years ago, to these students. I tell them of the chopper that was shot down while inserting Rangers and how our unit was sent to the rescue. They know that between the crash and the following mortar fire, eleven American men were killed that day in September before the sun ever came up. They all know where to find his name on The Wall. Many have shown me their etchings from a Moving Wall that has frequented our area in the past few years. They all know what happened to Richard on September 20, 1970. They all try to understand the tragedy that extended beyond the loss of his own life but how it must have impacted his family: his six siblings, his parents, his wife, his 18 month old daughter and his second daughter which would be born shortly after his death. At least a thousand students here in Florida know about this. August 2003 begins another school year. Hundreds more will hear his story, look at the photos he took, and make Richard an integral part of their understanding of the Vietnam War, the tragic consequences of war, and the unpredictable and tenuous nature of life itself. John Kieffer, fellow Platoon Leader.


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