In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to "hold and die" against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.
"I'll never forget that order, 'hold and die'," Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.
"The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous," Ripley said. "When you know you're not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."
Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy gunfire, rigging 500 pounds of explosives that brought the twins spans down, said John Miller, a former Marine adviser in Vietnam and the author of "The Bridge at Dong Ha," which details the battle.
Ripley was willing to make the sacrifice necessary to save the lives of our allies.
Three years later, fresh from victory in the fall elections, the antiwar left in Congress decided to abandon our allies. They
"voted to cut off all funding for US troops in Southeast Asia, and in 1975 even voted to deny re-supply (even medical supplies) to our South Vietnamese allies after our troops came home."
John Ripley, an honorable man and a hero, died last week.
One of those dishonorable men who abandoned our allies to the Communists and their re- education camps may very well be elected vice president today.