• north bergen
  • Hudson
  • December 21, 1947
  • February 25, 1968
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • CPL
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Michael J. Brellenthin was born on December 21, 1947. His home of record is North Bergen, NJ. His parents, Clara and Ed, had five children, three daughters and two sons. Michael graduated from North Bergen High School in 1965. Some of his hobbies included fishing, hunting and baseball. He was a talented artist and planned on becoming an architect. He entered the US Marine Corps in May 1967, attaining the rank of Corporal (CPL) and was sent to Vietnam.

On February 25, 1968, after his patrol was ambushed, Brellenthin was reported missing in action while following a patrol near Khe Sahn. he left behind a wife, Ruth, whom he had married two weeks prior to leaving for Vietnam. 

Six months later, Michael was one of nine men reclassified as "killed in action" but only four caskets were sent home for interment. Five remain unaccounted for.

There is some controversy regarding his status. The government declared him killed in action, but his family and others believe he is still missing in action. 

Brellenthin was buried on September 10, 1968 in the Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. Besides his wife Ruth, he left behind his parents and four siblings, Edward, Ellen, Diane and Barbara Milazzo.
Five years later, one of the “buried” men was released by the Vietnamese as a prisoner of war.  In August 1978, ten years after incident, the Department of Navy wrote, “there was a chance that Michael did survive.”  From then until now, the government has added nothing. 

The following was poem was written by Diane Cianci in 1981. She was seventeen.

Wedding Day

They waited so long for this event;
It was their wedding day.
Ruthie in white, Michael in blue,
Tradition to dress that way.
The buttons on his coat were shining,
His uniform brand new.
He placed the ring on her finger
As they said, “I do.”
The reception had ended quickly;
They were on their honeymoon.
They enjoyed their time together,
It would be over soon.
They moved in with his parents;
Their future was not forseen.
He was going soon to Vietnam,
With the United States Marines.
They spent two weeks as man and wife;
Love they did not lack.
But now he had to go to war;
He promised he’d be back.
Ruthie thought of him every day;
She prayed for him and peace.
Michael wrote to her every night;
But soon his letters ceased.
Then one day, in uniform,
Two men came up the drive.
They didn’t know where Michael was
Or if he was alive.
MIA was the term for that;
They stamped it on his stone.
The family cried for days and days
And Ruthie was alone.
Still to this day, she doesn’t know
What really happened to Mike.
All she knows is she’s alone
And war has ruined her life.
Sources: Ruth Brellenthin (wife) and NJVVMF


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