RICARDO I ROMERO - SP4
- jersey city
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- January 28, 1948
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- April 13, 1969
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Ricardo I. Romero was born in Havana, Cuba, on January 28, 1948. Before Communist Dictator Fidel Castro overthrew the government of General Batista in January 1959, Ricardo attended a private elementary academy. He then immigrated to the United States with his mother and younger brothers. They joined their father in Jersey City, NJ.
Once settled in the US, Ricardo attended St. Augustine's Catholic Elementary School in Union City, NJ, and quickly learned to read and write English with the help of the Catholic sisters. He would later remain in frequent mail contact with them while serving in Vietnam.
In Memorial High School, he played on the school's football team. In the morning, before school, he would deliver milk so he could help his family financially. At the end of his sophomore year in high school, Ricardo dropped out and enrolled in the Teterboro School of Aeronautics in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot. He attended school part time while working as a truck driver for the Jonathan Logan Trucking Company in order to pay for his education at Teterboro.
Ricardo's father had been a Senior Staff Military Intelligence Officer, his grandfather a ranking police officer, both under the presidency of Batista in Cuba. Upon completion of his studies at Teterboro, Ricardo volunteered for service in the US Army. He entered the US Army at Fort Dix, NJ, in February 1968, where he received his basic training. He was then transferred to Fort Eustice, VA, where he was trained in the military occupational specialty of huey gunship helicopter mechanic. After graduating, Ricardo received orders for military service in Vietnam. After a leave spent with his family and fiancee, he reported for duty at Fort Lewis, WA for two weeks of additional training and orientation prior to shipping off to South Vietnam.
Romero arrived in Cam Rahn Bay, South Vietnam on February 25, 1969. He was assigned to serve with the 187th Assault Helicopter Company, known as the "Crusaders" as a huey gunship helicopter mechanic, based in Tay Ninh Province, just outside of Saigon. He attained the rank of Specialist 4 (SP4).
Shortly after reporting to the 187th, Ricardo was assigned as a door gunner and later as crew chief on huey helicopter No. 829. Ricardo frequently volunteered for combat infantry patrol duty whenever he wasn't assigned to fly assault missions with the 187th.
During the early evening of April 13, 1969, Tay Ninh Base Camp came under intense enemy rocket attack, spearheaded by the North Vietnamese Army Regulars. It was a major offensive in order to overrun the base camp. During this attempt, Ricardo sustained multiple fragmentation wounds to his forehead and chest from a 122 mm rocket that impacted in his company area. He died of his wounds at approximately 7:10 PM.
He was interred at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY, on May 1, 1969.
Ricardo frequently wrote home about his undying gratitude to the United States for the opportunity given him and his family to live and prosper in a free country. Now that his homeland was under communist rule, Ricardo felt immense pride upon learning that as a result of his serving his new country in combat, he was automatically granted United States citizenship.
During his service in Vietnam, Ricardo kept in close contact with his family urging his brothers to do well in their studies. He often reminded them, "We're four men in this family. If necessary, we must all serve our country. It is our duty and our moral obligation to the United States to serve as Americans and for allowing us to live and prosper in freedom."
Ricardo had lived in the United States for only eight and a half years prior to his death. He received the Combat Infantry Badge, Crew Chief Flight Wings, Silver Star Medal with Gold V, Bronze Star Medal with Gold V, Purple Heart, Air Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, US Army Good Conduct Medal, US Army Presidential Unit Citation, US Army Meritorious Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal, Expert Qualification Badges (M-14 Rifle, M-16 Rifle, Automatic Rifle, Pistol, M-60 Machine Gun and Hand Grenade.)
Sources: Franklin Romero (brother) and NJVVMF.
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