JOHN W CIALLELLA - LCPL
- sea girt
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- April 29, 1949
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- November 17, 1968
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
John W. Ciallella was born on April 29, 1949. His home of record is Sea Girt, NJ. He graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School in 1967, and loved football. He was co-captain of the football team and president of his homeroom class.
Ciallella enlisted in the US Marine Corps in October 1967, and attained the rank of Lance Corporal (LCPL).
On November 17, 1968, at the age of 19, Ciallella was killed in action in South Vietnam. According to reports, John was killed when the vehicle he was riding in went off an embankment during action in Quang Tri Province near the Demilitarized Zone.
John had received the Purple Heart for a wound he received a month after arriving in Vietnam. He received a fragmentation wound in the right chest and spent a month in the military hospital near Hue. A month after he returned to duty, he contracted malaria and was confined to the hospital ship, USS Sanctuary. Three weeks after he returned to duty, he was wounded again and sent to Guam to recuperate.
Ciallella was awarded two Purple Hearts, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, two Bronze Stars and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
John was fortunate enough to be born at home and his grandmother, who was a nurse, delivered him while waiting for the doctor who arrived just in time to wash his hands and tie the umbilical cord with a shoelace which was on the dresser.
He graduated from St. Catherine's Elementary School, Spring Lake, and continued on to Red Bank Catholic High School where he graduated in the class of 1967.
During his early years, John was an altar boy at St. Mark's R.C. Church, Sea Girt, and a Life Scout with Troop #55. He played little league baseball for the Sea Girt - Spring Lake Little League. Football was his love and while he was too big to play when he was young, he took it seriously at the high school level and played both offensive tackle and defensive end. He was co-captain of the 1966 team. During track season he threw the javelin and shot put. He was homeroom president in his senior year '66-'67.
At age 14, he went to work for Frosted Products in Spring Lake, where he worked in the freezer and also as a helper on the trucks delivering frozen products to restaurants in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties. He saved all his weekly pay except for $5 so that when he became 17 he was able to buy his own car. It was a red convertible. With that, in his last year at Red Bank Catholic, he drove many students from the area. Three of his childhood friends, and anyone else going his way, were regular riders. In fact, one of these friends, Brian Lynch, enlisted with him in the Marines and they went through Boot Camp together.
He was so proud to be a Marine that he once wrote he was going to stay in the Corps after his tour of Vietnam.
While in Vietnam, John's compassion for his fellow man was well expressed in a letter he wrote his father after another Marine had been shot, and he himself was wounded. He wrote he was not afraid, all he thought about was getting his dead friend back to their patrol, which he managed to do with his one good arm. He was taken to the hospital ship at Cam Ranh Bay where they removed shrapnel from him but one piece was too close to his spine to be removed. He took such a positive outlook on that, and he even enjoyed telling the doctors and crew when it was going to rain because he would sense changes in the weather thanks to his Vietcong "gift".
His second stay was in a hospital on Guam. He had broken his ankle in a foxhole and also contracted malaria. While there he wrote he was hobbling along a road near the hospital when a native Guamanian stopped and invited him to his home for a family picnic they were having. John accepted and had a wonderful time.
The last letter he wrote was to a family friend, which said he was going out on patrol and had to cut it short. That was on Nov. 17, 1968.
Written by Marguerite Ciallella, Mother
Sources: Marguerite Ciallella (mother) and NJVVMF.
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