Lance Corporal James Rizzo
51 Garfield Lane
James Rizzo, the 21-year-old son of Murphy and Catherine Rizzo, was killed in action on February 8, 1968, attempting to get support for his platoon while under a heavy ground assault by North Vietnamese forces. He had less than two months left on his tour at Quang Tri before being discharged.
James M. Feasel, the squad leader, gave the Marine Corps an official statement of the Rizzo’s actions. “On February 8, 1968, during the assault on Alpha One outpost while fighting was extremely heavy and close in. I, as the 1st squad leader, moved from my position down the trench line to the command bunker and found it empty.
“When I turned and attempted to leave the bunker, James Rizzo, the platoon radio operator, entered the bunker. Right behind him came heavy automatic and rifle fire from the NVA directed into the bunker.”
“The NVA were positioned right outside the command bunker and they were firing into the bunker and James Rizzo and I were returning their fire. Rizzo was attempting to transmit on the radio but due to the fact that we were in the command bunker, the radio would not transmit.
“Rizzo told me, ‘I’ve got to get out of the bunker so I can transmit and get artillery fire and reinforcements up here to help the platoon!”
“Being with Rizzo, I’m aware that he knew of the dangers of leaving a relatively safe position and moving into the open to transmit on the radio. At this time the NVA could be heard yelling outside the bunker, firing into the bunker in an attempt to take our position.”
“Rizzo again told me that he had to get into the open to transmit because we needed reinforcements to turn back the NVA assaults. At this time, Rizzo broke from the bunker and into the open and began to transmit. He was subsequently shot several times.”
“I pulled Rizzo back into the bunker and at this point Rizzo was still alive and he transmitted, ‘I’m the radio man and I’ve been shot and I’m dying.’”
Rizzo earned the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, National Defense Medal, Republic of Vietnam service Medal and Sharpshooter Badge.
Rizzo was born February 18, 1947. He attended Bratenahl School, Kirk Junior High School and Shaw High School. James was an outdoorsman. As a Boy Scout, he loved hunting fishing, and swimming. He was a star defensive back for Shaw High School and played catcher for the Bratenahl Brave for some years.
James Patrick Rizzo surprised his family when he came home one weekend and announced that he had joined the U. S. Marines. He enlisted on September 22, 1966, one year after high school graduation, and volunteered for duty in Vietnam. He arrived in Vietnam on March 22 1967 where he was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division.
Rizzo worked at the Bishop’s estate and was a good friend of the head groundskeeper, Mr. Gavin. He worked at TRW for a short time.
James Rizzo is buried in Calvary Cemetery. His name is on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 38E – Line 38.