Johnnie Rae Sly, K/75 Ranger, L/75 Ranger, KIA Apr 24, 1971

Johnnie Rae Sly

SP/4 – U.S. Army
101st Airborne Division – Company L (Ranger), 75th Infantry

4th Infantry Division – Company K (Ranger), 75th Infantry

17 June 1952 – 24 April 1971
Independence, Missouri
Panel 03W – Line 9


Service:               Army Regular)

Grade at loss:   E4

Rank:                     Specialist Four

  ID No:                   340442436

  MOS:                       05C2P: Radio Teletype Operator (Airborne Qual)

Len Svc:               more than 1 year

Units:                   101st Airborne Division, Company L (Ranger), 75th Infantry

4th Inf Div, Company K (Ranger), 75th Infantry


Start Tour:         09/16/1970

Cas Date:             04/24/1971

Age at Loss:       18

Remains:               Body recovered

Location:             Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam

Type:                     Hostile, died outright, ground casualty

Reason:                 Gun, small arms fire


Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Combat

Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, National Defense Service Medal,

Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal


Mount Washington Cemetery, Independence, Missouri

Links to Remembrances:

        * * *

VHPA.ORG   – Information on Mission of U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D, Tail number 66-16588 – 23 April 1971

Ranger Radio Relay team CUBS was inserted near the east side of the A Shau on April 23, 1971, and made contact seconds after insertion while moving off the LZ. The team leader [Duren] was wounded and a B Troop ship [68-16199] went back into the LZ an hour later with a new team leader [Vodden]. It deposited him on the LZ where he was also soon wounded.

The ship was then was shot down while leaving the LZ. It crashed over the east side of the ridge line and turned upside down, trapping the pilot and co-pilot in the wreckage [Collum & Spiedel]. A medevac, Eagle Dustoff 913 (Berhens and Madison, 66-16588), came in and successfully extracted the wounded original team leader and a wounded door gunner from the B troop ship. It returned a short time later to extract more wounded and was shot down on the LZ, resulting in two KIA’s, medic SP5 Robert F. Speer and crew chief SP5 Michael L. Brummer, and another killed later, crew member SP4 David P. Medina.

The survivors had no radio contact through the night, and the next morning [24th] D troop was inserted into a hot LZ, just north of the team’s position. About this time a member of the radio relay team was shot, SP4 Johnnie R. Sly, while trying to retrieve a radio from the LZ. He died shortly after recovering the radio. They finally had commo, and started working the guns around their location.

D troop made an attempt to reach the team, but was ambushed while attempting to do so, and had 5 KIAs (CAPT Thomas D. Chenault, SP4 Christopher L. Vollmer, SP5 John W. Wilson, CPL Thomas H. Taft and SGT Jose A. Soto-Figueroa) and 14 wounded. At some time on the 24th B2502 was inserted, and later reinforced with the remainder of the 502 and A1-327.

Finally on the April 25th a rescue team led by the Ranger C.O. [Ohle] and 4 volunteers reached the team and wounded survivors, and effected an extraction.

Isako Malo was captured and became a POW for two years, and SSGT James Champion was listed as MIA. All in all, a major effort by all involved.

(From Randy White, January 2001, L75 LRRP 101st Abn 1970)

Roger Madison, 5514 Parkwalk Circle East, Boynton Beach, FL 33437 –

Remembering you

Hi Jonnie, The sun is in its final stages of closure. A brilliant sunset is about to be performed on clear, well defined, horizon. It is here, at sea, where I find peace and tranquility, where I can almost reach out and touch the hand of God. There is ten knots of wind, broad off the port bow, the sea is calm. In the distance there is another vessel making way to her berth and safe harbor. It is here in these placid waters, where my soul is at peace and all is well with the world.

It was over thirty years ago when fought to stay alive. There are moments when I can recall our battle so vividly that I can feel the heat from enemy bullets that passed my left cheek. The smell, the noise, it’s all there, in the waves of my mind. I can hear your cries for calling for help, knowing there was no help and the silence that signaled your passing.

In the past, there were two times when I succumbed to my emotions and wept with uncontrolled sorrow for your passing. It is here, at sea, where peaceful thoughts turn to you Jonnie. I’m not sure how to communicate with you. Perhaps I should close my eyes and let my heart lead the way. Thank you for saving my life. How I wish you were still here among us.

A red channel buoy, marking the channel entrance, has passed to starboard. The sky has played its last multicolored symphony. My slip is just ahead, off the port bow. I can see no one is ashore, no one to help guide my vessel into her slip. It will take longer but I can easily do it. Shortly, I will heave the sails and lash them to the boom. The docking lines will have just the right amount of slack. As I leave, I will turn to look at the vessel, to reassure myself that everything is right, and then slowly walk away grateful for the privilege of having known you.

1LT Roger Madison, 326 MED BN, 101 ABN DIV

July 30, 2003


I miss you so much Johnnie

2/12/12 – by Tom Sly – 1405 1/2 high st., Bowling Green, Ky 42101 –

There came a knock on the door that chilly spring morning. I’ll never forget the screaming, the crying and then news that had found home that fateful day in 1971. They had come to tell us you were fallen trying to save your brothers paying the ultimate price for us and them without a thought for your own safety. How proud I am to know that you are my big brother. Thank you so much for your smile your love and sacrifice. I miss you so much i hope I see you when i arrive. and thank you to my other brothers who were there with him in his final days for being there and watching over him and trying to keep each other safe. I love you all and i salute you every one you the bravest men on hill 809

Tommy   Sly   –   his little brother

My Hero of Heroes

Not a Day goes by that i don’t think of you. I still miss my big brother so much. i talked to a couple of your friends you were in good hands all of you such very brave and honorable men. i know you’re up there somewhere walking with me and giggling at some of my doings saying yep that’s my little brother for ya. Thank you Johnnie you were one of the best big brothers there could ever be. i am so proud to be able to call you big brother. I would like to thank all the Men, Rangers and Air Cav. who were there and risked their own lives to try to get each other home safe, you all each and every one stood so tall that day i salute you one and all brave men of the U.S. Army Rangers L Co.

Feb 12, 2012

Pamela Adame – 633 Minter Road, Griffin, GA 30223 –


I am Johnnie Rae’s cousin. I do not remember him as I was a very young child when he gave his life for our country. Johnnie Rae is very much remembered by all of his family and his sacrifice has been passed on even by those of us that did not live close to the family. May he Rest in Peace, knowing that his sacrifice was not in vain.

March 20, 2003