LCpl Jerry Ferren, KIA Feb 10, 1968 Khe Sahn RVN
LCpl Ferren was a crew chief on an ill-fated KC-130 making a critical resupply run to the Marines at Khe Sahn in Feb 1968. The NVA had the runway bracketed with arty and rockets making any aircraft, especially fixed-wing, touchdowns a suicide mission. On this day of February 10th, 1968 the KC-130 from VMGR-252 was delivering fuel bladders to the besieged Marines at Khe Sahn to sustain defensive operations against the enemy. As the artillery and rockets rained down on the make-shift martial matting runway, the aircraft was struck midship engulfing it in flames immediately. Of the seven crew members, six were KIA that day in the burning inferno. LCpl Ferren was burned over 100% of his body with 3rd degree burns. He was med-evac’d state-side to the burn hospital in Texas where he died from his wounds on March 1st, 1968.
Jerry was my friend before the Marine Corps. We worked together as 17-18 year old kids at J.C. Penney. We used to talk a lot about joining the Marine Corps, and planned on enlisting together. However, he went in about three months before me in 1966 because I was recovering from a broken jaw. He used to borrow my old 54 Chevy to date his future wife since he rode a motorcycle which wasn’t well suited for dating. I suspect that his little girl, whom he never saw, was conceived in the back seat of that old black Chevy.
Jerry could probably have escaped that fiery inferno that day of Feb 10th, 1968 since he was on the door as the crew chief. However he stayed at his post trying to assist other crew-members – an unselfish act which he paid for with his life. For his efforts, LCpl Ferren was awarded the DFC as an enlisted crew member. Almost every documentary that is shown about VietNam includes film footage of the burning inferno of that KC-130. This is a perpetual reminder of Jerry’s mortal injuries.