• lakehurst
  • Ocean
  • December 27, 1946
  • May 16, 1968
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • PVT
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Robert E. Church was born on December 27, 1946, to Vernon and Elizabeth Church.  His home of record is Lakehurst, NJ.  Robert had a brother, John, and a sister, Marsha.  He graduated from Central Regional High School in Bayville, NJ, in 1967.  He loved hunting, fishing, swimming and anything to do with the outdoors.

He enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1967, and attained the rank of Private (PVT).  He served in the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, Company G.  He received his basic training at Parris Island, SC.

Church was sent to Vietnam in 1968.  He had to sign a waiver to go because his brother, John, was already there.  The Army tried not to send brothers to Vietnam at the same time.

Church was killed in action on May 16, 1968, by enemy fire, at Quang Nam.  His brother escorted him home from Vietnam.  He is buried at Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly, NJ.

Church was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with V for Valor, and the Gallantry Cross with Palm.

His Bronze Star citation reads:
For heroic achievement in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam while serving as a grenadier with Company G, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division.  On 16 May 1968, during Operation Allen Brook, Company G came under intense automatic weapons, rocket and mortar fire from a well-entrenched, numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force in Quang Nam Province.  In the initial moments of the fire fight, Private Church's platoon sustained several casualties and was pinned down by the heavy volume of fire.  Reacting instantly, he fearlessly maneuvered across the fire-swept terrain to an advantageous position and immediately commenced delivering accurate grenade launcher fire into the enemy emplacements.  When his platoon was directed to break contact, he steadfastly remained in his hazardously exposed position and continued to direct a heavy volume of fire on the hostile soldiers, suppressing their fire and enabling the Marines to move the wounded to positions of relative safety.  Attempting to withdraw from his position, Private Church was mortally wounded by the enemy fire.  Inspired by his heroic actions, his comrades subsequently commenced a determined assault and seized the enemy positions.  Private Church's courage, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.  He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Bob was born in Rome, NY, on December 27, 1946.  He had one brother, John, and one sister, Marsha.  His father, Robert E. Yager, died on Christmas Eve 1949.  His mother remarried Vernon Church, USN, and from then on he moved every couple of years.  He was adopted and his name then became Church.  Lakehurst became his last hometown.  He really liked it there and made many fast friends.

He graduated from Central Regional High School in Bayville, NJ, and enlisted in the Marine Corps before he was drafted.  He said it was hard training but he truly loved the Corps.

Bobby was killed on May 16, 1968.  His best four friends, from Lakehurst got permission and placed a memorial at Lake Haricon in Lakehurst.  Two of his best friends enlisted in the Marine Corps as well.  The graduating class of 1969 dedicated their yearbook in honor of my son and PFC William Hester.

Written by Elizabeth Church, Mother

Sources: Elizabeth Church (mother), and NJVVMF.


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