Wallace “Ratman” Fred Thibodeau
SSGT – U.S. Army
4th Inf Division, 1st Bde LRRP – Company K (Ranger), 75th Infantry
Adv. Team 32 / 56th Artillery Bat (HERC) A Btry / 52 Security Det / 10th Avn Grp / 197th Inf Bde
8 March 1943 – 19 July 1969
Garden Grove, California
Panel 20W – Line 23
This picture was taken on 22 Feb, 1969. 1st Bde. LRRPs
Left to right: Emmett Mulroney; Wallate Thibodeau (was KIA on a later mission on July 19, 1969); Mathrew Gentilella.
“RATMAN” returning from mission – 2nd from left (KIA) 7/69.
L to R front row, Hulet, Thibodeau, Handris, Long. Fire Base Black Hawk
L-R: Larry Flanagan, Jim Zwiebel, John Duffy, and the “RATMAN”
(when John Duffy put his hat on, you knew it was time for serious drinking)
SSGT “Buddy” Thibodeau’s forename in official records is spelled Wallate, but his family confirms it is Wallace
From “Never Forgotten” by Mike Lapolla (4thdivrangers.com) –
SSGT. Wallate Fred Thibodeau 1st. Bde. Lrrp 1966 – July 19, 1969 ( KIA ) Rat (so named for being a Tunnel Rat) was a very courageous and a heroic soldier as well as a good person. He served 4 tours of duty in South Vietnam. He was in line for a field commission, to be a Second Lieutenant. He said he would still go on missions even after he was to be promoted, I use to tease him and tell him that I would not salute him after he got promoted, but I would like to salute him now. He was well liked by his fellow LRRPs and the top brass. My regret is that I could not save his life on our last mission, but the memory of him will live on forever with me and with his fellow LRRP’s. Farewell my friend, Emmett
The following comes to us from Ratman’s mom:
As Buddy’s dad use to say to us, all of the time; “there are men, and then there are the men among men”
You are those men! I am so very proud that my son kept such great company.
Think of me with laughter and love for each other,
Or do not think of me at all.
Service: Army (Regular)
Grade at loss: E5
Rank: Sergeant (promoted posthumously to Staff Sergeant)
ID Number: 563560373
MOS: 11F40: Infantry Operations And Intelligence Specialist
Len Svc: More than 4 years
Unit: 4 INF DIV, 1st BDE LRRP, Company K (Ranger), 75th Infantry
Start Tour: 11/27/1967 (fourth Vietnam tour)
Cas Date: 07/19/1969
Age at Loss: 26
Remains: Body recovered
Location: Binh Dinh, South Vietnam
Type: Hostile, died outright, ground casualty
Reason: Gun, small arms fire
Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters(3 times), Purple Heart, Air Medal
with two oak leaf clusters, Combat Infantryman Badge, Vietnam Service
Medal,Vietnam Campaign Medal
Westminster Memorial Park, Orange County, California
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Emmett L Mulroney:
My last mission..July 19, 1969..Team leader Wallace Thibodeau and Team member Dennis Belongerâ€¦Killed in action. Team member Emmett Mulroney..Wounded in action on ground.. Rescue chopper with Commanding Officer William Filippini, Pilot Thomas Trebby and Crew Chief Door Gunner Clarence Veddar..Wounded in chopper in air. Team member Bob Thomas and myself boarded the chopper via a cable ladder then the chopper was shot down by a B40 rocket and we crashed..broke my neck and back in two places..The Air Force got us out with a jungle penetrator on a HH43 Husky helicopterâ€¦
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The following is an email that was received from Renee Thibodeau, Wallace ” RATMAN” Thibodeau’s Sister – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for this wonderful place. I have been in it several times, just in the last 2 days. Emmett Mulroney of Haweye 1 Alpha, gave me the information so that I could find it and now I just can’t seem to stay away from it. I have several articles from different newspapers out of Viet Nam you might be interested in.
One article by Benny Perez, says that Rat had been in Viet Nam since July 28, 1964, which is when I kind of thought he went over there as an advisor?? At that time, however, he was attached to the 52nd Security Detachment as an infantry machine gunner. It mentions that he was at Camp Holloway and had to go on a sweep made to Pla Ma Naiu, they came across a tunnel in which Buddy was sent in to investigate.
Another one is Feb 2, 1968 where Lt Breeman Baker, Camp Holloway Security Force Commander, Thibodeau and 2 squads were sent out to the Rice Paddys to look for the enemy who had that morning had them under mortar attack. What they found were three mortar positions that ‘Charlie’ had used to hit Camp Holloway that a.m. These positions were on the outskirts of Plei Monu Village located about one and a half miles from Camp Holloway. It goes on to tell of how Thibodeau had to enter a tunnel without his Lucky Chicken Feather, and the exchange that went on between him and his friends there at the tunnel. It was a very funny story, but then again, Buddy ‘Rat’ was a very funny guy.
I have a couple of more recent clippings, one, out of Camp Radcliff, about the Hawkeye team with Thibodeau, PFC Dennis Belonger, PFC Robert Thomas and an unnamed montagnard team member. Written by PFC Chuck Colgan. This one is pretty funny too, except I imagine it was also pretty scary as it was happening.
It is a time when there team ran into about 15 enemy soldiers carrying rucksacks and AK47s, the Hawkeye team just happen to have some detainees with them to worry about AND the dilemma as to how to get out of there safely. The team did get out of there safely only after they had confused the enemy. Thibodeau had Belonger stay in a nearby structure, they had come across, with the detainees while Thibodeau, who had a whistle, started running and blowing it, the other men were running around yelling like crazy, zigzagging and firing into the tall elephant grass.
They say the team never got any closer than 40 meters of the enemy force, as the enemy was really moving out in all directions. Thomas didn’t even think the enemy got off more than a few rounds at them. Thomas captured one and led him back to the structure, Thibodeau dashed back in to report the action to headquarters and Belonger decided it was his turn to run out and join in on the fight. When he got out there the Montagnard was still running around firing into the tall grass, so Belonger joined in with his M79. The article says that every so often one of the enemies heads would pop up out of that tall grass as if they were trying to locate one another.
The last article I have is from the Ivy Leaf, Famous Fourth, Camp Enari. Firebase Blackhawk dated 2/23/69 By Sp5 Robert G. Frechette. The name of the article is ‘Hide and Seek VC Lose in Bad Game’. This one isn’t funny at all. It reads, the Famous 4th Division 1st Brigade Long Range Patrol team were instrumental in the death of two V.C. during a harrowing game of “hide and seek” Private First Class Norvert Yan of Palau Island, Thibodeau, Emmett Mulroney of St Paris, Ohio, Specialist 4 George Pender of Beaverton, Ore, and Private First class Randy McBride of Hayward, Calif were engaged in a lot of pretty hairy stuff with the bad guys, which later, after the reinforcing element from Co. C, 1st Battalion 8th Infantry arrived they uncovered several huts and two small grain caches..It was a successful mission the article says.
If you would like, I have no way of sending these via e-mail, but I could retype the full articles and send them to you.
Thank you Emmett and Larry for telling me about this site, and Ron for making it available. I have tried to find those of you that I’ve known of for years.
I have always been proud of my brother and have always wanted to connect with his friends. I was able to get to know Al Kidd not long after you all sent Buddy home to us. Back then I was THE spoiled brat teenage sister, but he was still my idol and even then I looked up to him. From the pictures and things I would like to tell you all, Thank you for caring so much that even after 30 years you still remember him like I do.
Thank you and WELCOME HOME
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4/21/13 – by Renee – email@example.com
His name is spelled Wallace Fred Thibodeau. He was not born in NY, we believe that is where he may have re-enlisted, but was raised in Garden Grove, California. We still love and miss you everyday big brother..our children, their children know you and love you through our memories. I am proud but would rather have you here..
5/4/00 – by JUDY MITCHELL – JMITCH7382@AOL.COM
I’ll never forget when you came to see me at Ft. McClellan, Al. You were stationed in Ft Benning and were getting ready to go on leave. After your leave, you would ship out to Vietnam. You didn’t know how to find me, I was one of many troops taking basic training but it happened. It was on a Sunday and I was going to Church when I saw you walk by. What a moment! It was meant to happen.
Unbeknown to me, this was my chance to see you, one last time. I did not get a chance to say “Farewell Sweetheart, God be with you.”
You will always and forever be my “first love”.
Renee Thibodeau – Sunday, June 27, 1999
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROUD TO BE ABLE TO SAY I WAS YOUR LITTLE SISTER.
You were the best in being a big brother too. Thank you for coming home so we could celebrate my 18th birthday together and extending so that you could go to my high school graduation. I have always felt special because you did that. Buddy, your love, your attention and kindness toward me, the times we played and how you could always make me laugh, has stayed with me and brought me joy when I would miss you and feel sadness. You have always been my hero. I have missed you terribly all these years but your friends from so long ago have made the distance from you seem not so far anymore. Buddy, you would be so proud. I know that you are smiling now. With all my love, Your spoiled brat little sister, Squirt.
Emmett Mulroney – 13390 Speaks Rd., St. Paris,Ohio 43072 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Long Range Patrol team member
Wallate was a member of the 1st Bde Long Range Patrol 4th Inf Div. He was my team leader. I was with him on his last mission. He displayed Great Heroism and Courage while confronting a hostile NVA force. He truely was a Great person, and my best friend. I shall never forget him. He recieved 3 Silver Stars during his tour in Vietnam, his last posthumously. He also recieved 2 Air Medals and the Purple Heart Medal. He was one of the Great-Ones! Emmett Mulroney
Friday, April 23, 1999
Larry Flanagan – 304 Lynn Rd., Brockton,Ma. 02402 – LFlan34846@aol.com
We served in the same LRRP unit[1st.Bde 4th. Inf. Div]
Wallate [Ratman] Thibodeau
Bud, you’re gone but you will never be forgotten by the many friends you made. You helped me and others be the best soldiers we could be, and in the end you showed us what courage really was. Goodbye old friend.
Sunday, May 23, 1999
james zwiebel – 11406 wapak-fryburg rd, wapakoneta, ohio – email@example.com
I served with him from 11\\68 till his death in 7\\69
one of the great ones
Myself and others in our unit 4th div. 1st bde LRRP’s will be eternily gratful for the things that were learned from this man. What he taught probably made the difference how things turned out for many others. A friend that is thought about offen and missed forever. Jim Zwiebel
Monday, May 24, 1999
Links to Remembrances:
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