Decorated New Bedford Marine Gave Everything to Vietnam War
Thursday, November 9, 1967, I was but nine years old. As a student at the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School on Ashley Boulevard in New Bedford, I counted the days until our family's annual Thanksgiving Day feast, just two weeks away.
Soon it would be Christmas and a week off from school.
Like many kids that fall, I was still smarting from the Red Sox' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series, but as a young Red Sox fan, I'd already come to understand there is always next year.
All and all, life was pretty good for this kid from New Bedford.
Meanwhile, on that same Thursday, a world away, another kid from New Bedford was fighting for his country and battling for his life.
U.S. Marine Corporal Robert Roland Gonneville was only 19 when he died on November 9, 1967.
Born January 29, 1949 in Acushnet, Gonneville was living in New Bedford when he enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 30, 1966.
He began his tour in Vietnam on July 13, 1967 as a rifleman.
According to FindAGrave.com, "CPL Gonneville was killed in a defensive position by multiple fragmentation wounds from hostile artillery fire."
The site says, "The Marines defensive position on Hill 158 at Nui Con Tien in the Gio Lihn District of Quang Tri Province came under one of many attacks by the NVA firing artillery and mortars at the defenders."
SouthCoastToday reported that Gonneville was assigned to the H&S Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d MRVID (Rein) FMF. Gonneville was injured previously and was the recipient of a purple heart.
The heavily decorated CPL Gonnville is honored on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C. A plaque and a flagpole honor Gonneville's sacrifice and service at Brooklawn Park's Whaling City Youth Baseball League ball field.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund operates The Wall of Faces online to "remember and honor those who served."