|Birth: ||Jun. 5, 1942|
New York, USA
|Death: ||May 18, 2010|
Formerly of Lackawanna N.Y. Capt. Sambuchi died exactly 41 years to the date of being severely wounded in Vietnam.
Captain Ralph A. Sambuchi graduated from Lackawanna High School in 1960. He stared in football and held records in Track and Field., namely the triple jump and the long jump. He went on to play football at the University of Buffalo for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He went to Officer Candidate School and became a commissioned officer.
On May 18, 1969 Captain Sambuchi's unit of 200 men of Husky Compound were ambushed by 1400 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong Troops. His unit fought bravely, sometimes hand to hand, and stemmed the enemy's onslaught. They suffered nearly 80 casualties that night, while killing or wounding almost 700 NVA/VC. Captain Sambuchi's body was riddled with bullets, shrapnel and fire. He was left for dead. Sambuchi was struck 14 times by shell fragments and bullets. A bullet from a Viet Cong rifle tore away his nose and right eye. Another severed his toes. His burning bunker caused second and third degree burns. And a ball of fire from a flamethrower, hit him in the forehead and shaved off his hair and ear.
He laid for hours until he was awakened by someone calling his name. Corporal Barker, Pfc. Indelicato and Sgt. Clark risked their lives trying to find him. He was evacuated by helicopter to Long Binh Hospital about 25 miles away. At the hospital he had two cardiac arrests.
During the next 41 years Captain Sambuchi had in excess of 200 operations and as many hospital stays to repair a shattered arm, lost nose, eye and ear, skin graphs to face, legs and chest, 8 missing toes and multiple other shrapnel wounds. He literally died on an operating table but was revived twice.
During this attack, Ralph was wearing a new Army issued flack jacket that actually prevented his lungs from collapsing after being shot twice in the chest. In the hospital, the only part of his body that was not riddled with shrapnel wounds and burns was the area protected by this flack jacket. After learning of Ralph's story, the Army made the new flack jacket standard issue, citing Ralph's experience and how it saved his life and would go on to save others.
The doctors believe that the heart problem that caused his death was due to the many "wooden" and "plastic" bullet heads that had been fired into him which could not be extracted.
A sports scholarship is being set up by his high school graduating class of 1960. Captain Ralph A. Sambuchi was awarded many medals and commendations which included the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
Capt. Sambuchi was pre-deceased by his wife, Diane (Horskotte) and survived by a daughter Stephny (Aaron) Hallstad and a son Daniel (Consuela); he is also survived by his step-children, Toni, Terry, John and several grandchildren; also survived by brothers, Arthur (Theresa), Edward (Peggy), David (Nancy) and fiancee' Joan Quinn.
Capt. Sambuchi was awarded many medals and commendations which included the Silver Star and Purple Heart, he was a member of the VFW and American Legion in the Boston, MA. area.
Diana Horstkotte Sambuchi (1938 - 2002)
Created by: Ramm
Record added: Aug 07, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56341254