• north plainfield
  • Somerset
  • September 29, 1947
  • February 20, 1968
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • PFC
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


John F. Baranoski was born on September 29, 1947, to Longinus and Helen Baranoski. He had three sisters, Vicki, Joanne and Faye. His home of record is North Plainfield, NJ.

John, called "Bo" by family and friends, graduated from North Plainfield High School in 1966. Prior to high school, he attended Newark Prep School. He played Little League, was in the Boy Scouts and loved surfing. In high school he liked to ride motorcycles. He attended Bradley University in Peoria, IL, for one year. John was also a member of the Commodore John Barry Knights of Columbus.

John enlisted in the US Marine Corps on August 21, 1967. He attained the rank of Private First Class (PFC). John went to boot camp at Parris Island, SC. He served with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade.

Baranoski was killed in action by a Viet Cong sniper on February 20, 1968, less than two weeks after joining forces in Vietnam. He had been patrolling a section of Route 1 at Quang Tri, South Vietnam, about midway between Hue and the Demilitarized Zone.

Baranoski was awarded the Military Merit Badge, the Gallantry Cross w/Bronze Star, two South Vietnamese Medals, the Honorable Service Award and the Purple Heart. He is buried in Holy Redeemer Cemetery in South Plainfield, NJ.

The following is a paper written by John's sister, Faye, shortly after his death.

Two Weeks of Unreality
Faye Baranoski
March 14, 1968

I had written this paper in three different parts. This paper was supposed to be from a book I read, but I just lived through an experience that cannot come out of a book.

The first part is the initial shock. I wrote this in the mood of complete unreality. I was in a world of my own and maybe some thoughts are confused but whoever thinks straight.

Part two is my innermost thoughts and remembrances. It is what I had with him; what I want to share.

And the last part is the finish. It is a complete end of an unreal two weeks.

My thoughts are my own. If I read a book, this might not have been the same kind of composition. Mrs. Abrams, I asked you if I could write my feelings, I wrote them; but also with a true story to go with it. I want to thank you for setting me to write this because it is something I want to keep always.

Part I

I wrote this part in the middle of my troubles, but I am not going to change anything in it. It has the feelings I felt and all the unrest I had within me.

Right now I am in the middle of one of my trial periods of my life. This composition might be unfitted or incomplete, but when this segment passes, I will try to end parts of this. Maybe I will be able to compress my thoughts into what I hoped would have never happened.

The war in Vietnam will always have a special mark on my life. I know now that a bullet cannot settle a thing in this world. I hope someday soon other people will realize what I have just learned.

I can clearly remember Thursday, February 22. My sisters and I were playing cards on our kitchen table for a penny a point. I was dressed and ready to go to the store to buy records. However, the doorbell rang and I went to answer it.

It was a Marine Captain. He had come to inform us, my mother and father, two other sisters and myself, that my brother, Bo, was killed in Vietnam, February 19, 1968. He was on patrol in Quang Tri when a sniper shot him fatally in the head.

Immediately I prayed for my brother as all my family did. Then my mother and the Captain checked serial numbers, addresses, and all other means of identification to make sure it was Bo.

It seemed this tragedy just tightened the reigns of my family into a tight knitted spider web. All too soon, Bo's life was taken from our reach.

I had never really felt the loss of any person until February 22, 1968. Yes, people have died but losing a brother is like losing a chunk out of my life and setting it in a bottle on a shelf. A shelf and a bottle that will only stifle the remains and make the contents a mere memory. Even though the war has ended my brother's life, I will try and keep the memory of him alive in my mind. I will also try and keep his own life alive within me.

After the initial shock was over, we started calling relatives telling them the horrible news. That night I realized the next couple of days were going to be rough. People walked in and out and some stayed till 1:30 a.m., but who slept? We were all up by 7:30 hoping it was all a bad dream, but it was a reality. A reality that will linger in my mind as much as many other people's.

I then walked over to Steffie's house. She is my closest friend and I wanted to tell her. Before seeing her, I was composed and sure of the confidence of holding back my emotions. But I was wrong and I started to cry. I told her what happened and she was the first one to hold me in her arms. I felt just like a little girl again. I needed the feeling of being secure and I wanted consoling, but where does a sixteen-year-old girl find comfort in a confused world as it is now? Her heart was open with sympathy and I wanted to crawl in and be lost and buried in a place of pure security. Yet I knew I was being unrealistic.

Part II

I didn't know where to put my actual feelings so here is a special part for it.

People ask me if I am against the war. I was before now because I never knew the actual feelings of the boys when they had fought. My brother expressed his feelings, and I guess that is the feeling of most boys in Vietnam. He wrote, "None of us has any fear, but really are proud to serve and show that the Youth of America is not as bad as they say it is."

"I am full of pride and knowing that my parents and my girls are proud of me."

I am proud of Bo, and all the other men fighting for us. They deserved more in this world than any other human being crawling on this earth. No one can ask more of a boy than to turn into a man and sacrifice his life for his country.

I can remember when Bo came home on his leave, the changes in him. Of course, the habit of not making his bed was still with him, but he respected his responsibilities. He also knew there was little time left and he made sure he made the most of his stay at home.

I could go on for pages writing about him, but I guess personal memories are for oneself. But what I wrote is something I wish the world would learn.

Peace be with everyone and let everyone go in peace.

Part III

My family was waiting for my brother's body to arrive home to be with us. On Saturday, March 2, at 1 P.M., the phone rang. I answered the phone and listened to the other end say, "the boy's body is home." I again lost control but regained it long enough to get the details.

Mr. Higgins, a funeral director, came that evening and my family started making funeral arrangements. We then learned, from Mr. Higgins, that my brother's escort was Staff Sergeant Lester Jackson. Mr. Higgins said that the Sergeant would come to see us Sunday afternoon and go through the first initial duties.

We were not sure of what duties the Sarg had to do, but we figured a home-cooked meal wouldn't hurt. So we bought steaks, and planned to cook them on a small habatchie (sic). We all wanted a perfect meal, but as we should have expected it, everything went wrong. When Sergeant Jackson came into the house, it was completely filled with smoke. My sister was cooking in the garage and all the smoke backfired right into the living room. However, it broke the ice and Sarg just seemed to be one of the family.

Sarg was a hillbilly; a native of the Missouri Ozarks. He had the accent, talk and wit of a mountain man but the gentle kind heart of a newborn baby. Sarg too was a Marine, and a fine one at that. If this man has dedicated his life to the Corps for seventeen years, I feel that any boy can put in two of his own. The reason I am telling you about him is because if the Marines had sent anyone else, I don't think the warmth would have been there. He, too, felt the loss.

Sunday night was the first viewing. We went to Higgins Home for Funerals at 6:45. Walking up the stairs, I had the great anticipation of seeing Bo asleep. But as I walked up to the casket, I took one look. I never looked again.

To me he wasn't my brother. He was done up so much that there seemed to be little resemblance. But the worst part was listening to my father. Corky, Sergeant Jackson, held me just like Steffie had. There again was my little girl security.

The rest of the night dragged, but at 10:00, we said good-night to Bo. There were two nights left to say good-night to him.

Monday the funeral was announced in the paper along with an article. This really showed my brother's great loyalty to his country. This showed me that my brother had something I never, ever saw.

The whole day at the funeral parlor ended too soon, and there was only one night left to say goodbye.

Tuesday, March 5, was a day that I will never forget. No person could ask for a greater tribute than what my brother had. In the afternoon, my girlfriends came from school and I really knew I had swell friends. But that night I never realized we knew so many people. There were over 500 people at one time. There were so many people that some were wondering who I was.

However, we had two great honors bestowed on us that night. The Knights of Columbus had stood honor guard standing over my brother and the Marine Veterans had a service in honor of Bo. These two organizations meant so much to us that the place could have been empty and we would have thought there were millions of people in the home.

Then all too soon it was time to go home that Tuesday night. Even though Wednesday morning was the closing of the casket, this seemed the end. We invited friends over that night and none of us went to bed until after 1:00. Yet 7:00 the next morning, we were all awake.

At 8:30 we arrived at the funeral parlor. The black limousine had picked us up at 8:15 to drive us there. The car just symbolized death.

I said my morning prayers while staring at my brother's picture. His picture was placed on the glass bubble protecting him.

People had started to arrive at the funeral parlor but they also had the look of death on their faces. Death, with a mixture of pity, seemed to be on their faces everytime someone would look at you. The time came to go to the church. The first procession began---first friends, than relatives, and finally the immediate family. I remember my mother yelling Bo and my father holding onto her.

We were placed in a small room while the casket was being closed. Next, we were called to the car to start the ride to church. This was our second procession.

We got to the church and watched a beautiful Mass being performed for us. My favorite part was when my aunt sang "Ave Maria." She sang it with great feeling that it made you feel that a multitude of angels were lifting my brother's soul to Heaven.

As we were walking out of the church, my father turned and said to my sisters and myself, "This is the last time Bo will be in church," while in the background the Marines Hymn was being played.

We then rode in our third procession past our house and on to the cemetery. Many thoughts were going on in my mind but words were spoken only by my father. Words that had meaning and complete love for his son.

The military part of the ceremony at the cemetery was out of this world. As the body came out of the hearse, seven Marines saluted his body. This was his last salute. As he was placed in the ground, the Priest blessed him and we all said a holy prayer.

The Marines took over again and my brother had a gun salute but my thoughts wandered about the bullet that had ended his life. Taps were played and the flag was folded. The flag was then handed to Staff Sergeant Jackson and he presented it to my mother along with a top-notch salute.

It was over and we were leaving. I took one red carnation and threw it on my brother's coffin.

I had thrown the only flower to the only brother I had.

Sources: Helen Baranoski (mother) and NJVVMF.


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