MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's

Vietnam Personal Accounts

Pete Ritch Shares Storey

 

by Pete Ritch

Pete Rich

Pete Ritch, Bravo Co., 3rd Tanks, Viet Nam 1968/1969, was mentioned in the book Under Fire, by Oliver North, published in 1991.

  Pete had no idea who North was in 1969, when the two of them were Marine 1st Lts. conducting combat operations near Con Thien in Quang Tri Province, Viet Nam.

Because everyone has a nick name in the Corps, North was known as "Blue" and Pete was "Bravo 3", and that is how that addressed each other.

  Pete did not read North's book until 1992, and only did so then, because of a school assignment.

  In 1992, Pete's daughter, Susan, came home with a school assignment for Veterans Day. Susan's teacher had asked the students to share a story with the class, from a family member or friend who was a veteran. Pete told Susan about a time when he was operating a tank in Viet Nam and swung the turret of the tank around, hit a young Marine with the barrel of the 90 MM cannon and sent him flying like a batted baseball.

  Susan shared the story with her class. About three weeks later, Pete was in the neighborhood 7/11 convenience store, when one of Susan's classmates, stopped him and said "Mr. Ritch, your in the book". Pete asked "What book"? "Oliver North's book", Stevie responded. Stevie said that when he went home and told his dad about Susan's school presentation, his dad said that in a recent book by Oliver North, there was an episode where he, North, was knocked off the fender of a tank. North described the incident as being hit like a baseball.

  Pete purchased the book and in chapter # 5, North describes his tour of duty in Viet Nam. North told of being on an operation with a tank platoon and of being hit by the gun barrel and "batted into the air like a baseball". Pete wrote to North after reading "Under Fire" and reminded him that if he, North, had not been standing in the way, playing John Wayne, he never would have been hit like a baseball. Pete also corrected North's spelling of his last name- Ritch, not Rich.

  North sent Pete an autographed copy of "Under Fire" with a hand written spelling correction on page 106. Along with the book, was a personal letter from North thanking Pete for "literally saving the day" and for breaking three of his ribs.

  Pete and Oliver North stay in touch. Like all Marines they share stories, that seem to get longer and more exaggerated over time.