Passing of Veteran Ralph Denton
It is with a heavy heart I must announce the passing last evening of our fellow comrade and Veteran Ralph Denton. Mr. Denton was one of our Post's recipients of the Purple Heart Medal. To honor his service and sacrifice but most importantly his life we are displaying his Purple Heart Plaque along with his exploits by which he received the medal. -Post Commander Edward Novak
19 yr. old CPL Ralph Denton had already been in Korea for 6 months. He was assigned to support the 30th Infantry Regiment. On 1/7/51 he was ordered along with his 5 man crew manning a M16 Quad .50 Half-track to engage an enemy force that had dug in behind a ridge after placing a vehicle roadblock.
CPL Denton’s job was to keep the .50’s on the right side of the vehicle loaded as well as maintaining visual contact on his side.
He was well-armed, having “re-acquired” a WWII era Thompson sub-machine gun from a now deceased enemy soldier during a prior encounter.
As the track moved some 600 yds. and engaged the enemy on the ridge he did in fact spot an enemy soldier to his right attempting to return to his lines and was able to bring him down after several bursts. The enemy wrapped themselves in multiple layers of heavy clothing – their form of body armor which did prove effective with certain smaller calibers. The .45 caliber Thompson eventually cut through however and did the job.
Returning to his duties in the turret he maintained the flow of ammo to the guns when all of sudden he saw sparks dancing around his legs and found himself “exiting” the vehicle and not by his doing.
Landing roughly on the ground he knew he had been hit – but where? Like the enemy he was wrapped up in several layers of clothing but this was to protect against the cold. Fearing the worst from where he believed the rounds had hit he frantically began peeling off his jackets and then pants and then long johns. He needed to know, he needed to see.
He knew he had bit hit by a Russian burp gun but where? Clothes pulled off he looked down. To his relief everything was where it was originally intended to be. He began counting the holes. Two rounds had hit and passed through his upper pants leg right by that area which he was most concerned. Another 11 rounds had hit and passed through his pants leg, traveling down from his thigh to his foot. Not one round hit. One round found the mark – hitting him in the heel.
One of the men in the crew jumped down to check on him and upon seeing he was wounded but still capable of fighting started to climb back in the track with CPL Denton when a burst of automatic fire hit the other man in both legs. Those rounds also hit on the side of the vehicle on both sides of CPL Denton at helmet level but miraculously missed his head. It was like the 1st burst hit to the left of his head and the 2nd hit to the right, missing him in the middle.
Both men lumbered back into the track and continued the fight until they were forced to withdraw for medical attention. A medic patched them up and within a short period of time they re-engaged the enemy and this time they succeeded in breaking the roadblock and driving the enemy away from their positions.
All in all CPL Denton got away pretty lucky until he returned to the aid station. After a large medic carried him in for care he contracted pneumonia and fell into a coma for 3 days.
After awakening and finally recovering 3 months later he was sent back to duty in April 1951 and was immediately promoted to Platoon Sgt. of the 2nd platoon because he was the only remaining “blooded” non-com left.
He stayed on and survived for another 7 months before rotating home in October of 1951.
When he was in the hospital recovering he was enjoying a hospital meal which compared to field rations must have seemed like food fit for a king when a major appeared to pin his PH on his chest. CPL Denton was eating a rather sloppy gravy pork chop meal and when the major saluted him he returned the salute, utensil still in his hand throwing gravy from his knife all over the major’s crisp uniform. Fortunately the officer was not the least concerned, smiled and walked away.
Another good day.
Welcome to our Post
We are located at 1714 Morse Road, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050. We strive to make a difference in our local community. We rely on the support of our membership to achieve our community service goals through promoting volunteerism. The purpose of our Post shall be fraternal, patriotic, historical and educational: to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead, and to assist their widows and orphans; to maintain true allegiance to the Government of the United States of America and fidelity to its constitution and laws, to foster true patriotism and to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom, and to preserve and defend the United States from all her enemies whomsoever.