|Birth: ||Oct. 20, 1946|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Aug. 21, 1969|
Bin Thang, Vietnam
US Army Warrant Officer(WO),Rupert Albert Funderburk Jr, Vietnam Veteran, Native of Monroe, NC.
WO Rupert Albert Funderburk Jr, was a member of the Army Reserve. WO Funderburk served our country until August 21st, 1969 in Bing Doung, South Vietnam. He was 22 years old and was married. It was reported that Rupert died when his helicopter crashed. His body was recovered. WO Funderburk is on panel 19W, line 085 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for at least 6 years.
WO Funderburk started Warrant Office Flight School as a Enlisted Man, earning the Rank of SSG before Flight School. His Medals include the Combat Infantryman's Badge, The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Silver Star Medal, The Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device for Valor, Two Purple Heart Medals for his combat related wounds, the Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Army Good Conduct Medal(s), and The Air Medal with multiple Oak Leaf Clusters(s). This was his Third Tour in Vietnam, two were as an Enlisted Man.
Thank you, You have not been forgotten. I will forever be grateful for your sacrifice and the impression you made on this young man. You are truely a hero. Ken Hasty, 4108 Bay Road, Marion, SC 29571, firstname.lastname@example.org.
He was my classmate in Flight School, 69-70, Good Friend: Rusty, I miss you. I trust your in a better place. You taught me a lot in the short time we knew each other. I will never forget you. Richard Blount, email@example.com.
Written by: Victoria Mackey, Correspondent, Indian Trail Newspaper. Rusty was pushing the Loach really hard over the Binh Long Province of South Vietnam so he could get as far into Cambodia as he could, so Nick could see first hand what the chopper could do. His commanding officer had asked him to take Nick along for the ride so he could see what he would be doing the next day. Nick was so new that he did not have a black Stetson. Rusty thought that the first Army issue for new arrivals in B Troop, 9th Calvary should be their Stetson. That Stetson that meant as much to the 9th Calvary as did that little piece of Army green cloth did for the 82nd Airborne. Rusty pushed his flight helmet back a little on his head so he would have good peripheral vision. He recognized the small hooch's under his bird and knew he wouldn't get any fire from them because those Vietnamese didn't seem to care who was coming over their land as along as no one bothered them. He told Nick that pretty soon he would see some real action.
Suddenly bullets started flying from the trees below. Rusty radioed to the two Cobras that he was taking fire and he was going to make another pass over the area where he thought that the fire was coming from. Suddenly, the Loach shook all over and the stick was moving every which way and Rusty had to really use all his might to keep the chopper on course. Danny was holding on for dear life since these choppers do not have doors. The two Cobras that accompanied the Loach on a hunt kill missions were a few hundred feet above them, ready to spring into action when the Loach encountered enemy fire. Everyone in Vietnam who was assigned as a crew member for the Loach knew that their chopper was pretty much a sitting duck, whose goal was to draw out enemy fire for the two Cobra's. The two Cobra's would send all of their firepower to the location from which the Viet Cong was shooting at the Loach.
As the Loach passed back over the suspected site, which was outside a Vietnamese village, the aircraft suddenly pitched nose down and impacted into a rice field outside of the village. The Cobras never had time to return fire. The pilots of the 9th Calvary hated to lose one of their own and did everything they could do to prevent it. They were a really close group of men who were gung ho, military, eating, breathing, and shooting together all the time. They lived for the next battle in the air.
Warrant Officer Rupert Albert Funderburk Junior, or Rusty, died in his Loach chopper on August 21, 1969 along with his gunner, Specialist Fifth Class Daniel Perry Holtrey, and Warrant Officer Michael Nicholas Masuen, who had just arrived in Vietnam the day before. Rusty was born on October 20, 1946 to Rupert Albert and Sarah Long Funderburk in Monroe. He graduated from Heath Springs High School in South Carolina in 1964. Right after Rusty graduated the family moved to Monroe. He started attending Queens Business College in Charlotte however he decided before he had a year of college that he wanted to join the Army.
Rusty went through basic training at Ft Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina and he was sent to Vietnam, to join the 173rd Airborne Infantry where he was a "ground pounder" or infantryman. After his first twelve months in the military, he reenlisted in Vietnam for another eighteen months. During his first tour in Vietnam, he was wounded by some shrapnel. As a result of his wounds, he received his first Purple Heart and Silver Star. He was shipped back to Ft Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina where he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne and he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. While stationed at Ft. Bragg, Rusty was accepted into helicopter pilot training in July, 1968. On June 6, 1969, when he graduated from helicopter school, he was reassigned to Vietnam and he was assigned to B Troop, 9th Calvary, where he was the pilot of a Loach helicopter in hunt and kill missions with two Cobras.
Rennie Funderburk said that he was also a helicopter pilot in Vietnam however since he was younger than Rusty, he never served with him. Rennie served in F Troop, 4th Calvary during his tour in Vietnam. He said that the men who remembered Rusty said that he was one gung ho military man and had no doubt in his mind that he was fighting for freedom in Vietnam. Rennie also said that the black Stetson's are the official uniform wear for all United States Calvary units going back to the tradition of the Calvary in the Old West. The 9th Calvary was often the only source of security in the western United States during the 1870's and 1880's and their gallant history shows them wearing black Stetson hats. The 1st Squadron, 9th Calvary began combat operations in Vietnam on September 15, 1965. In February, 1969, Operation "Cheyenne Saber" began which Rusty was a part of, with the mission to straddle and cut enemy infiltration routes that began in the northeast areas of Bien Hoa. Some of these infiltration routes actually came into South Vietnam from Cambodia.
During the entire year of 1969, the 1st Calvary Division fought relentlessly to close the infiltration routes from all sources and finally reached their goal at the end of 1969, of stymieing Viet Cong infiltration along the 'Serge's Jungle Highway' which was hidden beneath the canopy of heavy jungle growth. The 1st Squadron, 9th Calvary of the 1st Calvary Division participated in several pivotal battles in the Vietnam War such as la Drang Valley, Khe Sahn, Binh Dinh, and Quang Tri. While in Vietnam, the 1st Squadron, 9th Calvary earned fourteen campaign streamers, three Presidential Unit Citations, five Valorous Unit Citations, and the reputation as one of the finest combat units in Vietnam. It is estimated by the military that the 1st Squadron, 9th Calvary was responsible for fifty percent of all Viet Cong killed by the 1st Calvary Division during the war; for this reason, the battalion earned its current nickname "The Headhunters". The film "Apocalypse Now" honored the squadron in its fictional portrayal of an attack on a communist base camp. Rusty was 22 when he was killed and he was buried in Lakeland Memorial Cemetery in Monroe on August 27, 1969. Rusty had five sisters; Cynthia, Shelia, Andrea, Kathy, and Alison and one brother; Rennie. Rennie and his wife Elaine live in Saudi Arabia where he works as a helicopter pilot for an oil company.
Another Union County soldier has been killed in the Vietnamese conflict, according to word received here this week. Warrant Officer Rupert Albert("Rusty") Funderburk, Jr, 22 of Monroe, was reported missing August 21 when the helicopter he was piloting was shot down by enemy fire during a mission according to the Department of the Army. His body was found August 26. An Army spokesman said that Funderburk, who had just begun his third tour of duty in Vietnam, was piloting the helicopter when it was shot down by hostile fire, crashed, and burned. Funderburk was the son of Mr and Mrs Rupert Albert Funderburk of 1405 Concord Ave, in Monroe. He was a graduate of Heath Springs High School in SC. Funeral arrangements are incomplete pending arrival of the body at McEwen's. Surviving are his wife, Mrs Nancy Hendricks Funderburk, a step-daughter, Stacey June Hinely of Charlotte, his parents; five sisters, Mrs Cynthia Middaugh, Mr Pleasant, SC., Mrs Shelia Jenkins of Monroe, Mrs Andrea Efird of Wilmington, Miss Kathy Funderburk and Miss Alison Funderburk of Monroe; a brother, Rennie Charles Funderbirk of Monroe, and maternal grandmother, Mrs Guy Max Long of Charlotte. Funderburk was the fourth war casualty of 1969 and the 10th Union County Soldier claimed in the Vietnamese War.
Funeral Services for Warrant Officer Rupert Albert "Rusty" Funderburk Jr, US Army Helciopter Pilot who died in Vietnam August 21, will be held Thursday at 2pm at McEwen's Colonial Chapel, Monroe. Rev Joseph S Larrimore, pastor of the First Baptist Church, will officiate. Burial will be in Lakewood Memorial Park. Funderburk is the son of Mr and Mrs Albert Funderburk of 1405 Concord Avenue, Monroe. Other than his family in Monroe, he is survived by his wife and step-daughter in Charlotte. The body arrived at McEwen's Tuesday night. Funderburk had just begun his third tour in Vietnam when his helicopter was shot down by hostile enemy fire.
He was the husband of Mrs Nancy H. Funderburk, who died in 1993. She never married after Rusty's death.
He was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division and also served in the 82nd and the 173rd Airborne Divisions at one time. He served with Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, USARV.
He was awarded Army Aviator Wings, The Silver Star Medal for Gallantry in Action, Three Bronze Stars for Bravery with "V" for Valor Devices, Three Purple Hearts for his combat related wounds and The Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm.
WO Rupert Albert Funderburk Jr died in Combat along with SP5 Daniel Perry Holtrey and WO Michael Nicholas Masuen
Lakeland Memorial Park
North Carolina, USA
Plot: Sect C, Singing Tower
Created by: Tom Reece
Record added: Jan 20, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 17594896