|Birth: ||Jan. 10, 1944|
|Death: ||May 5, 1968|
Quang Tri, Vietnam
Captain, U.S. Marine Corps
Edward Walter Connelly, Jr. was born on 10 January 1944.
Ned was a single Marine who completed the 38th Officer Candidate Course with 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company. He then went directly to NAS Pensacola for flight training where he became a helicopter pilot (MOS 7562) flying the CH-46.
Upon Ned's arrival in Vietnam in August 1967, he was assigned to HMM-165 "The White Knights," Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Amphibious Force, along with his classmate Captain Bob Romero, and they flew out of the Hue/Phu Bai Air Facility.
In late April 1968, the NVA made a concerted effort to interdict the flow of supplies up the Cua Viet River to Dong Ha. This precipitated the Battle for Dai Do, fought primarily by 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in conjunction with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. After the intense fighting by 2/4 from 30 April through 2 May in the Dai Do area, 1/3 moved through the 2/4 lines and continued the pursuit of the NVA forces to the northwest. As the NVA forces withdrew northward toward the DMZ, they leapfrogged into previously prepared positions consisting of fortified bunkers, trench lines and spider holes, some of which were reinforced with concertina wire and claymore mines.
On 5 May 1968, Captain Ned Connelly was flying in support of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, which was tasked with keeping the Cua Viet waterway open. On 5 May Delta Company 1/3 was on the Battalion point. At first light, Delta, 1/3 ran into stiff resistance as they approached the ville of Truc Kinh. Marines in two salients had sustained heavy casualties and were pinned down. Efforts to reach them had been unsuccessful and some of the wounds were so severe the evacuation of the Marines casualties were categorized as "Emergency."
Ned had launched from Phu Bai at noon as the pilot of the lead aircraft in a flight of two CH-46s and was flying a milk run. His co-pilot was 1st Lt Klahn, who as co-pilot had successfully landed the aircraft 8 days earlier when Ned's friend and classmate, Captain Robert W. Romero was killed at the controls. After 10 sorties to various landing zones in Quang Tri Province, the flight was assigned the emergency medevac mission in support of the forward elements of Delta Company. They were pinned down 5 kilometers due north of Dong Ha Combat Base. Ned was advised that two groups of Marines, both with emergency medevacs had been pinned down for 9 hours within 150 meters of enemy positions. Supported by two Hueys, Ned began an approach into the fire-swept LZ.
Once on the ground at the first salient, several casualties were loaded aboard. Although his aircraft was under intense hostile fire, Ned elected to extract the second group, too. As he approached the second salient the aircraft sustained serious damage from enemy fire and crashed in a rice paddy (YD 242645). Ned exited his aircraft with his crew, assisting his co-pilot, 1st Lt Klahn, who had received a gunshot wound to his left leg. The crew joined the Marine infantry squad.
While awaiting rescue by his wingman, Ned was mortally wounded. His wingman, Captain Bucceri, did swoop in and extract all of the infantry Marines and the air crew. Ned was rushed to Delta Med in Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province, but he succumbed to the gunshot wound and burns sustained in the crash.
Perhaps the highest praise is found in the 3rd Marine Regiment's Command Chronology. In referring to Ned and his wingman, it concluded "the crews of these aircraft functioned without regard for their own lives, but only in the interest of the men they were to support."
[Most of the information above was provided by Captain Connelly's OCS classmate, Dave Mellon. Thank you, Sir.]
Medals and Badge
Silver Star Medal
Marine Aviator Badge
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Silver Star Citation
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Captain Edward Walter Connelly, Jr. (MCSN: 0-93033), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE (HMM-165), Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 5 May 1968, Captain Connelly launched as Section Leader of a flight of two CH-46 helicopters assigned an emergency medical evacuation mission in support of a friendly unit which was heavily engaged with a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force northeast of Dong Ha in Quang Tri Province. Arriving over the designated area, he was advised that two groups of Marines had been pinned down for fifteen hours within 150 meters of enemy positions and had sustained casualties. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Captain Connelly unhesitatingly commenced his approach to the fire-swept landing zone and immediately came under a heavy volume of accurate fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, he skillfully landed his aircraft in the hazardous area and expeditiously embarked several Marines. Although his helicopter was under intense hostile fire, he fearlessly elected to extract the second group. Upon making his approach, the aircraft sustained serious damage from the enemy fire and crashed in a rice paddy. Rapidly exiting his burning helicopter, he maneuvered to a nearby position where he was mortally wounded while awaiting a rescue helicopter. His bold initiative and sincere concern from the welfare of his comrades inspired all who served with him. By his courage, superior airmanship and selfless devotion to duty, Captain Connelly upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Action Date: May 5, 1968
The name Edward W Connelly, Jr. is located on Panel 55E Line 7 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
Capt Edward W. Connelly, Jr. has Honoree Record 8165 at MilitaryHallofHonor.com.
Agawam Center Cemetery
Plot: Section 18, Lot 13, Grave 2
Created by: Charles A. Lewis
Record added: Aug 24, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 95879586
|Photos may be scaled.|
Click on image for full size.
Added: Dec. 24, 2013
Thank you for your great sacrifice in preserving our country's freedoms. I will honor you in the only way that I can . . . by remembering you always. May you rest in peace.|
Charles A. Lewis
Added: Aug. 24, 2012