Russel Edwin Temple Jr
February 12, 1950 – July 17, 2018
Russel, named after his father, was born in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts on February 12, 1950 to the proud parents Russel Edwin Temple Sr. (1911-1999) and Ora Bell “Leona” Onderdonck (1924-1993). Russ’s father Russel Sr. was a career soldier in the US Army Infantry, at the time stationed at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod. Russ felt himself very fortunate to have had two half-brothers from his mother’s first marriage. Robert Benton Vallow (1942-2001) and Andrus Wayne Vallow (1944-2011) both served as older role models for Russ instilling in him a lifelong sense of duty. Russ and his younger brother Phil Temple (B 1951) while having a different father, all shared the Temple family call to duty. The four brothers joined the Army and each served with distinction. They served at a tumultuous time in our country when military service was not considered to be a worthwhile endeavor for many men. At a time when some fled their own country to escape the danger of military service, this family understood honor was more than a simple word to be uttered during an unruly peace protest.
Russ enlisted at the age of 17. Like his brothers Bob and Wayne, Russ chose to fire the “big guns”. They were artillery men, members of the “King of Battle”. The year 1968 found Bob serving as a Forward Observer and Russ as a 13B Cannon Crewmember with 3/319 Field Artillery of the 173 Airborne Brigade out of Bien Hoa, Vietnam. It was a unit fitting for the Temple family. The 3/319 FA had the distinction of firing the first American Artillery round in Vietnam in May of 1965. What better way to serve in a unit heaped in a tradition of warfare than for a family heaped in a tradition of service and sacrifice. All four brothers served their country in Vietnam, Wayne in the Artillery also and Phil in the “Queen of Battle”, Infantry. After his first tour in Vietnam, Russel signed on to instruct other warriors as a Drill Sergeant at Ft. Benning, GA. It was at this time he changed his MOS to that of 11B, Light Weapons Infantryman.
During his second tour in Vietnam, 1969-70 he volunteered for K Co., 75th Rangers in the big, bad, Central Highlands. During his time patrolling with various Ranger Teams, he performed all tasks – as Team Leader, ATL, and patrolling member. He served on teams with many of our distinguished Rangers who, we are confident, would themselves consider the time in the jungle with Russ as more fortunate for them. All who knew Russ witnessed the warrior and team mate that could always be counted on to do more than was asked. No doubt, it would have been much easier for this country’s enemies if Russ had decided, instead, to become a plumber rather than an Army Ranger. When he left Vietnam for the final time, he did so with the knowledge he had done his best and in doing so was rewarded with the hard won respect of men whose opinion he valued above all others.
While brother Wayne “ONLY” served his time in Vietnam and then returned to civilian life, the other three brothers made a career out of serving their country. After all, it was the family business. Father Russel Temple Sr. retired in 1954, Bob in 1989, Phil retired to AZ in 1988, and Russ “pulled the pin” in 1987 after 20 years.
After retirement, Russ chose to stay relatively close to Ft. Benning to live in Douglasville, GA with his wife and son Sean Temple, born 10 years earlier, in 1978. Russ eventually found himself in Florida with a wonderful lady, Carol Foster, who he referred to as the “love of his life”. Russ was to prove, once again, that sometimes you have to search long for what you seek, but it is always worth the effort. Russ and Carol were regular attendees at Ranger Reunions and were always willing to help a brother Ranger. Russ always made time to attend funerals of departed Rangers. Russ grew up a military “Brat”. Because of the sacrifice of his family’s lifestyle, he was denied the comfort of growing up in one hometown or attending the same public school with the consistency of having friends to age with. Russ’s friends were Carol, his brothers, his son and Rangers. Russ never stopped serving, even after retirement. His focus changed from active duty to actively serving the needs of other Veterans. Both Russ and his brother Bob suffered illnesses that can be attributed to exposure to Agent Orange. It was the battle they fought long after the guns went silent in Vietnam.
Brother Phil, a year younger than Russ, remembers him as do we all, to be a very caring and unselfish person. He took his military service seriously and like all of us was thankful of the opportunity to serve. Russ took every opportunity to pass along his military knowledge to others, including the exchange of ideas with his brothers. Phil says “He talked about his Ranger reunions like it was a family event.”
I suppose they were. His many brother Rangers recall his and Carol’s attendance at reunions and other functions and are forever grateful Russ chose to serve with us. A comment was made that “He still looked sharp in his uniform the year he died”. For those of us who are Rangers, it is not possible to express in words the gratitude we maintain for Russ and his family. For those non-Rangers, there are no words that could help you understand that gratitude. Rest easy Ranger, you deserve an easy LZ and more.