Thursday, July 12, 2012

TFH 7/12: First Lieutenant Frank S. Reasoner, USMC

Frank Stanley Reasoner was born on September 16, 1937 in Spokane, Washington. He moved with his family to Kellogg, Idaho in 1948. After graduating from high school in 1955, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps three months before his 18th birthday.

Reasoner served in a variety of enlisted roles, and by 1958 had attained the rank of Sergeant. He applied for and received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy that year. After graduating from the academy in 1962, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and rejoined the active Marine Corps as an infantry officer.

He was assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion and the 3rd Marine Division at Kaneohe Bay, Hawai'i. In December 1963, he was promoted to First Lieutenant and deployed with his battalion for the Vietnam War in April 1965. Reasoner was placed in command of 3rd Recon's Company A on June 20.

About three weeks later on July 12, 1965, Reasoner led his company on a patrol deep into enemy controlled territory. Demonstrating that leadership can only be from the front, he took a position with the five-man point unit when they came under intense automatic weapons fire from a numerically superior enemy force. Isolated from the rest of his company, when his Marines suffered wounds he placed their survival above his own. For his indomitable courage, leadership, and supreme sacrifice he was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (M-Z):


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company A, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: near Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, 12 July 1965. Entered service at: Kellogg, Idaho. Born: 16 September 1937, Spokane, Wash. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. The reconnaissance patrol led by 1st Lt. Reasoner had deeply penetrated heavily controlled enemy territory when it came under extremely heavy fire from an estimated 50 to 100 Viet Cong insurgents. Accompanying the advance party and the point that consisted of 5 men, he immediately deployed his men for an assault after the Viet Cong had opened fire from numerous concealed positions. Boldly shouting encouragement, and virtually isolated from the main body, he organized a base of fire for an assault on the enemy positions. The slashing fury of the Viet Cong machinegun and automatic weapons fire made it impossible for the main body to move forward. Repeatedly exposing himself to the devastating attack he skillfully provided covering fire, killing at least 2 Viet Cong and effectively silencing an automatic weapons position in a valiant attempt to effect evacuation of a wounded man. As casualties began to mount his radio operator was wounded and 1st Lt. Reasoner immediately moved to his side and tended his wounds. When the radio operator was hit a second time while attempting to reach a covered position, 1st Lt. Reasoner courageously running to his aid through the grazing machinegun fire fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, valiant leadership and unflinching devotion to duty provided the inspiration that was to enable the patrol to complete its mission without further casualties. In the face of almost certain death he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

Lieutenant Reasoner, 27 years old at his death, was laid to rest in the Greenwood Cemetery in Kellogg. His name is inscribed on Panel 02E, Line 36 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our Nation's capital.

To honor this heroic member of the Naval Service, the United States Navy commissioned the Knox-class frigate USS Reasoner (FF-1063) on July 31, 1971. The Reasoner served our Nation for 22 years until her decommissioning on August 28, 1993. The vessel was sold to the Turkish Navy and renamed Kocatepe; she is no longer in service.

The Marines' 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion is still a component of the 3rd Marine Division. Their forward deployed home station is Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Okinawa, Japan.

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