The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SP4 John Michael West, who died in the service of his country on March 31st, 1967 in Binh Dinh, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms Fire (DOW). At the time of his death John was 20 years of age. He was from Medicine Lodge, Kansas. John is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 17E, Line 83.
The decorations earned by SP4 John Michael West include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
(From his obituary in "Barber County Index")
Barber Country recorded its first fatality in the Vietnam War as Army Specialist 4th Class John M. West, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. John West, formerly of Medicine Lodge, was reported killed in action in the far eastern conflict.
The 1965 Medicine Lodge Rural High School graduate was reported wounded in action March 29 and died three days later in a Vietnam hospital. He joined the Army shortly after graduation and completed an eight-week Basic Training course at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in November 1965, and was assigned to a unit in Korea a month later. West transferred to Vietnam in August of 1966."
John is buried in the El Paso Cemetery, Derby, KS
His father was the former Meadow Gold milk representative in Medicine Lodge, and his mother served as circulation manager and society editor of the INDEX.
West was born February 8, 1947, and moved to Medicine Lodge with his family from Great Bend in 1961. During his senior year at Medicine Lodge Rural High School, he was elected secretary of his graduating class. He is survived by his parents of the home in Derby, and three married sisters.
The obituary also mentioned that John's death sparked a drive to establish a memorial plaque at the high school emblematic of all graduates who have been members of the Armed Forces.
(His BSV Citation)
General Orders 1130, Award of The Bronze Star for Heroism, 4th Division, 2 June 1967
For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam on 30 March 1967. On this date Specialist Four West was serving as a rifleman for the Reconnaissance Platoon, 1/35th Infantry, during a search and destroy mission in Binh Dinh province in the vicinity of a suspected Viet Cong village. The patrol was forced into a file formation for movement because of the rough terrain and the thick hedgerows in the area. As the patrol approached the village, the point element suddenly received fire from a hidden sniper to its front. Specialist Four West immediately returned fire and moved forward to a position to better engage the sniper. In doing so, Specialist Four West allowed the remainder of the patrol to cut its way through the thick hedgerow and begin to maneuver. Specialist Four West continued to cover the movement of the patrol by his own actions. Even after receiving a serious wound, which later proved to be fatal, Specialist Four West continued to fire until he had expended his ammunition and flushed the sniper. The decisive actions and personal courage he displayed undoubtedly prevented the sniper from inflicting additional casualties upon the patrol and allowed everyone time to maneuver. Specialist Four West's decisive actions, dauntless courage, and complete disregard for his own safety were an inspiration to the members of his platoon and contributed immeasurably to the accomplishment of its mission. Specialist Four West's outstanding display of bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.