RUSSEL W ENGLE

RUSSEL W ENGLE - SP4

  • HOMETOWN:
  • madison
  • COUNTY:
  • Morris
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • October 04, 1946
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • June 22, 1967
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SP4
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


Russel Warren Engle ("Rusty") was born October 4, 1946, in Oak Ridge, TN, to Mr. and Mrs. John Engle.  His family later moved to Madison, NJ, where Rusty lived with his parents and sister, Paula.  His home of record is Madison, NJ.

Rusty attended Madison Junior and High Schools and was a member of the undefeated football team in 1964 that won Group II State Honors.  He played defensive halfback and alternated as flankerback and split-end on defense.  He was also on the punt-receiving team and "lettered" two years in the sport.  Rusty was a varsity wrestler, participating in the State finals, and was a member of the track team.

Free-and-easy Rusty, a member of the Varsity "M" Club, graduated in 1965.  He attended Midwestern University and after a few months at college enlisted in the US Army in April 1966.  After completing basic training at Fort Dix, he received advanced training at Fort Benning, GA, prior to being sent overseas to Vietnam in November 1966.  He attained the rank of Specialist 4 (SP4).

Assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Rusty was a radioman whose duty was to relay messages from the battlefield to a command post behind the lines.

On June 22, 1967, his parents received a letter from Rusty stating that he spent four days on R&R in Bangkok, Thailand, and that he really "feels good". 

On June 26, 1967, the Rev. John W. Parks of the Madison Presbyterian Church and an Army Sergeant arrived at the Engle's home to advise them that Rusty had been killed in action near the Cambodian border on June 22nd.

Mr. Engle reflected, "Rusty participated in many major battles.  He liked the Army and expressed an interest about extending his time in Vietnam for six months over his one-year assignment.  He was doing what he thought was best for his country."  Mrs. Engle added, "Rusty wanted to help mankind and fighting in Vietnam was his way of doing it."

Ted Monica, athletic director at Madison High School and Rusty's former football coach, says, "Rusty wasn't the strongest or the best kid on the football team, but no matter what you asked him to do, he gave his best."

His former wrestling coach Jack Davis said, "Rusty had a dynamic personality and it affected the rest of the team.  He was great for perking up the kids."  Lee Romano, a former sportswriter for the Madison Eagle notes, "Rusty was always a gentleman in our presence."

Two weeks after Rusty was killed, Mrs. Delpha Keys came up with an idea that was adopted by his classmates.  The Russell Engle Memorial Fund was established and an annual award is given to a senior boy "who embodies cooperation, good sportsmanship and team spirit" as shown by Rusty during his sports career at Madison High.  Mrs. Keys sums up best who Rusty Engle was:  "We knew Rusty as a fine, sensitive young man who truly understood why he was in Vietnam as an American soldier doing what he could to fight oppression and the enemy of human values at work there."

Bob Jennings, now of Chatham Township, son of former Madison Police Chief Martin Jennings, grew up with Rusty Engle and reflects back, "The neighborhood had many young men all about the same age.  We would spend the days playing baseball and basketball as well as football and ice skating.  Tommy Carroll, Allan Myers, Donald Drew, Bob Stehlgens, Rusty and myself were all close neighbors before most of us were called into service."  Don Drew was severely wounded in Vietnam, and Bob was lucky to return from "Nam" without injury.  Bob said Rusty wanted to go into "Special Forces" but ended up in an airborne brigade.

Engle is buried in the family plot in Bonaventure Cemetery, Greenwich Section, Savannah, Georgia.

Taken in part from Always with us

Madison War Memorial Book Committee
Madison, NJ, 1998

Sources: Madison War Memorial Book Committee and NJVVMF.

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