Felipe Herrera

Lance Corporal Felipe Herrera

Felipe Herrera Vienam Tribute Podcasts

The memories I have of you
as a young boy going to school and knowing that that you would protect me from the bullies there! You were my Hero. That one day when I returned home and asked where you were and was told that you were gone, I didn't believe it until I saw your marker and its inscriptions USMC, Navy Cross, 09/20/1968, It broke my heart not to be able say thank you for being there for me. You will always be my hero. I look at my bracelet with your name inscribed on it Felipe Herrera L/Cpl USMC, and I feel that you are still looking out for me. Rest my Brother!

Beloved Uncle
I knew you died in Vietnam. I knew my mother Eva was only five years old when you died. I have heard stories about you growing up. but until today, I don't think our family was really aware of the details surrounding your death. or of your heroic actions , in helping to save your comrades the day you died. since your passing, we have had other men, and women , in our family who have also served our county. but it was you who lead the path in our family, for others to follow. our family is very proud! I'm very proud! that your my great uncle.

Sergeant Larry A. Johnson

I was with him
I was with Filipe the day he died. I was "tail end Charlie" in our Recon team. We were just crossing below the ridge of a hill when I turned and saw an NVA regular crossing the trail behind us. We were far out in the jungle in a mountainous area and weren't expecting to make contact. Neither of us fired. He moved back the way he came. I signaled the team to stop. Filipe came up and when I told him what I saw, he went off in the direction of the enemy with L/CPL Koontz. The rest of us followed. The crest of the hill had previously been occupied. The vegetation was leveled and there were filled-in foxholes around its perimeter. We were just fanning out when the shooting started. I can't say how long it lasted. I remember at one point I was firing a M79 grenade launcher almost straight up in the air and we had to call in air support as close as they could come to our position. We found out later we'd run into a large NVA unit who were being pursued by a Green Berets and ARVN force. The amount of fire we took was incredible. Filipe went right after the enemy; I'm convinced he and his M60 machine kept us from being overrun in the initial minutes of the fight. When it was all over, I helped get his body on the chopper. Filipe Herrera was always smiling, always positive, and always ready to go out on another mission. Not a day of my life has passed since that September in 1969 when I do not think of him and pray for him. Great guy. Best Marine I ever knew. Semper Fi.

Date of Birth:3/20/1948

Date of Casualty: 9/20/1968

Home of Record:


HERRERA, FELIPE Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Rein.) FMF Date of Action: September 20, 1968 Citation: The Navy Cross is presented to Felipe Herrera, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with Company A, First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the afternoon of 20 September 1968, Corporal Herrera was the machine gunner of a reconnaissance team operating near Thoung Due in Quang Nam Province when he alertly observed a large hostile force maneuvering to attack the Marines. Reacting instantly, he warned his comrades of the approaching enemy, and almost immediately the patrol came under a heavy volume of hostile automatic weapons fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Herrera boldly moved from his position and fearlessly assaulted the enemy soldiers to within ten meters of their location, killing six of the attackers and halting their advance. Continuing his determined efforts, he resolutely remained in his dangerously exposed position and delivered intense machine-gun fire against the enemy until he was mortally wounded. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in enabling his comrades to gain fire superiority and deploy into advantageous defensive positions. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit, and steadfast devotion to duty, Corporal Herrera upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals Home Town: San Antonio, Texas

February 1, 2017

On September 18, 1968, 10 Recon Marines went on patrol near Thuong Duc in Vietnam. Two days later, 8 of the team returned from the jungle with the bodies of of their comrades - Lcpl. Felipe Herrera and Sgt. Larry Johnson.

We spent time with some of those other 8 men, and how nearly 50 years later the death of Lcpl. Herrera and Sgt. Johnson still cause ripple effects for those who did make it home

Sergeant Larry A. Johnson

He was a natural leader, and his squad had a mission to achieve. As a gunner for Company A, First Reconnaissance Battalion of the First Marine Division in Vietnam, his job was to scout ahead, and prepare the best approach for his squad to advance on the enemy. This day, as he neared a view post at the top of a hilly area, something wasn’t right. Following his instincts, he soon caught a glimpse of a large division of the enemy rapidly maneuvering towards them on the other side of the hill.

Reacting instantly, he alerted his comrades, and sent them back to a position of safety. It was a time for decisive leadership. He boldly moved from his position, and fearlessly assaulted the enemy soldiers to within 10 meters of their location, killing six of the attackers and halting their advance. He resolutely remained in his dangerously exposed position, and delivered intense machine gun fire until he was mortally wounded. A gun shot wound to the head brought the end of Lance Corporal Felipe Herrera’s leadership; however, the rest of his squadron would ultimately make it home alive, thanks to him.

Everyone said that he was a natural leader, and that he would go far in life. He was a great athlete, lettered four times in each of football, basketball, baseball and once in track. He was a campus student leader in high school, serving as either class president or vice president throughout high school, while active in the student council, annual staff, and the Future Farmers of America. He loved life, and looked forward to the future.

The Marines wanted leaders like Felipe, so he became part of the troops in Vietnam shortly after high school. He was proud to serve, like many of his family members. His mother worried, but she was proud of him for his service, and she knew that he was smart and physically gifted. She knew that his leadership would make a difference, and she was right. His brave, decisive actions saved many lives in his squadron that day.

How does a parent ever overcome the loss of a child, at any age? The pain stays forever, however his mother took some solace knowing that he died as a hero, saving others. He would have wanted it that way, she knew. In July 1969, Felipe’s mother, Mrs. Jesusa Herrera, was presented with the Navy Cross for Valor, the nation’s second highest award for bravery, at a ceremony in his home town of San Antonio, Texas. While a sad day, it was also a proud day to celebrate the strong soldier and leader that Felipe had become.

Felipe would certainly have been a leader in any profession that he chose, if the outcome on that dark day on September 20, 1968 was different. His gifted physical ability, mental acumen, and leadership skills would have helped him to great career success. Though his time on earth was short, his leadership made a big difference to the people around him.

On Memorial Day, we remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to save others, and to preserve our freedoms. Thank you, Lance Corporal Felipe Herrera, and your family, for the special gift of your leadership and valor, that lives on in each of us…

Felipe was my husband’s uncle. Our family remembers him with deep gratitude.

Lance Corporal Felipe Herrera

1st Reconnaissance Battalion

Missions / Patrol Reports

Alpha Company

Call Sign: Lucky Lark

Patrol Report #089668

Opbration Order #733-68

Felipe Herrera