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First Name: Jack

Last Name: Rittichier


Gender: Male

Branch: Coast Guard (1790 - present)


Middle Name: Columbus

Date of Birth: 17 August 1933

Date of Death: 09 June 1968

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant

Years Served:
Jack Columbus Rittichier

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Jack Columbus Rittichier
Lieutenant, U.S. Coast Guard

Jack Columbus Rittichier was born on 17 August 1933.

Rittichier was the first Coast Guardsman killed in action in Vietnam, and the only one who remained unaccounted for after the war's end. He died in a fatal crash just two months into his volunteer service as an exchange pilot with the U.S. Air Force. He and three Air Force crewmen were trying to rescue a downed and injured Marine pilot in Laos. His Jolly Green Giant helicopter made two passes before it was riddled with enemy bullets. It was shot down and consumed by fire within 30 seconds, according to crewmen on companion copters.

While 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Vietnam, only seven died.

Rittichier served in the U.S. Air Force from August 1957 to November 1962.

Medals and Awards

Silver Star Medal (Posthumous)

Purple Heart (Posthumous)


• The Coast Guard named buildings in Detroit and in Portsmouth, VA, in his memory. Virtually every air base erected a plaque.

• Web sites sprang up in his memory.

• A Naval League Cadet Corps in Colts Neck, NJ, was named for him.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Jack Columbus Rittichier died on 9 June 1968. His remains were finally recovered on 6 October 2003 and he is now buried on Coast Guard Hill, an area normally reserved for the top officials, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

A Coast Guard Commandant gave up his reserved burial site so that Rittichier could be buried there.

Honoree ID: 3006   Created by: MHOH




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