Thursday, October 6, 2016

Jimmy Stewart’s Stepson Ambushed in DMZ: “He didn’t have to go on the patrol, but once committed, he had a premonition that he would get killed”.

March 19, 1985

Dear Robert Lake,

My wife Gloria and I wanted you to know that we are grateful to you for your kind and thoughtful letter. We are so grateful to you for telling us about our son, who died in Vietnam. To tell you the truth, you are the only Marine who served directly with our son that we have heard from….

Best wishes,

James Stewart


War stories, as the adage goes, are all true and all false. The survivors of one patrol had been telling a mostly false version of this story for 31 years—not deliberately, but because each man’s personal survival strategy had repressed large parts of the traumatic memory. One thing that helped unlock those memories was a celebrity’s published account of the loss of his stepson, who had been one of their teammates (see end of story for a letter written by Jimmy Stewart about the loss of his son).

When America first landed on the moon in July 1969, the world knew about it. But the previous month in Vietnam, when a U.S. Marine Corps ­reconnaissance patrol code-named “American Beauty” fought for its life, nobody knew the whole story of the Marines’ ­bravery. And none of the survivors could tell it themselves.

On June 8, 1969, those Marines were trapped in an ambush that claimed the life of actor Jimmy Stewart’s stepson, Marine 1st Lt. Ron McLean. The remaining five were pinned down for 24 hours by a dug-in NVA platoon. The resulting onslaught of automatic-weapons fire, grenades and 12 hours of close air support should have killed the team many times over.

“We all expected to die on the hill,” said Bob Lake of Aitkin, Minn., who at 19 had been the assistant patrol leader. “We were in no man’s land, unknowingly dropped into a [1,200-member] enemy battalion, and [helicopter extraction from] the hilltop was the only way out.”

More @ History


  1. Thanks for posting this. My admiration for those who served has once again grown as a result of learning of their combat experience.

    1. Thank you and have you read about MADDOG on my site?

  2. The article about Jerry Shriver? If so yes. His exploits are exceptionally unparalleled in anything I have read regarding courage and fearlessness on the battlefield, ancient or modern.

    Please let me say it once again, thank you for this site - it is a very frequent source of education and information, one which I value highly.

    1. Thank you and yes, Sir, I never tire or reading about him. In fact although I have never gotten a tattoo, I am seriously considering one in his memory. You might check the search below in case you missed a posting..


      I got out of the Army in May although I went back as a civilian.

      Mad Dog Shriver
      24 April 1969
      Giết VC