1st Lt. Dennis J. Reardon

Hero Profile - Vietnam

Address when enlisted - 84 Elm St.

Date of Sacrifice November 29, 1969 - Age 24

Text of Memorial Dedication on November 11, 1996

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Wayne Harrington and I welcome you to the dedication of the Dennis Joesph Reardon Memorial Square.

The Reverend John Mulvehill will now give the benediction.

First Lieutenant Dennis Joseph Reardon grew up in Cohasset. He lived three houses down from this spot at 84 Elm Street. He attended the old Ripley Road School, the Deer Hill School, and graduated from Cohasset High School.

While at Cohasset High School he was selected Co-Captain of the football team, as well as the Co-Captain of the Mayshore league team. His coaches and the football writers of the Quincy Patriot Ledger chose him to be a member of the Patriot Ledger All Scholastic Team.

In 1963 he graduated from Cohasset High School, and went to Boston College. Majoring in finance, he was a member of Delta Sigma Pi fraternity and graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Upon graduating, Dennis volunteered for service in the United States Marine Corps. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on November 1, 1967.

He attended Flight school at the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida, earning his wings as a naval aviator on April 25, 1969. In September of 1969, Dennis received orders assigning him to HMM-364, a helicopter squadron located at Marble Mountain, in Vietnam.

On November 29, 1969 Dennis’s mission was to evacuate combat causalities from a location in the Que San Mountains, twenty miles south of Da Nang. While co-pilot during this med-evac mission, his CH-46 helicopter exploded in flight killing Dennis (age 24) and his entire flight crew. For his heroism in Vietnam, Dennis was awarded the Bronze Star medal with Combat “V”, the Air Medal with Numeral 7, the Purple Heart, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor medal.

On December 8, 1969 Lieutenant Colonel C.R. Dunbaugh, Dennis’s Commanding Officer, wrote to his parents, Mary and Norbert, and his five brothers and sisters, informing him of his death. He wrote, “Even though Dennis had been with this squadron for a short period of time, he quickly made friends and leaves us with lasting memories. He was extremely conscientious and devoted to his duties and immediately gained the respect of his fellow Marines. We will miss him a great deal and hope that you find some comfort knowing this”.

Today, Cohasset remembers and honors Dennis Reardon. Most of us here knew him, his quick smile, and his irresistible sense of humor. We might have known him as “The Duck”. We might have seen him at the Cove or riding his motorcycle up Jerusalem Road. For this memorial stands to remind us all of that little boy who lived up the street, played football at the high school field, swam at Sandy Beach, was an Alter Boy at St. Anthony’s Church…this boy gave his life for his town, for his country. This memorial seeks to keep his spirit here… and forever with us.

Reprinted from the Cohasset Mariner:

Sitting around the holiday table, many families will count their blessings this Thanksgiving. Some will be thankful their loved ones have returned home safe after serving on active duty in the armed forces, while others will be thankful there are brave men and women who have answered the call of duty to serve and protect our country, and have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The sacrifice of 1st Lt. Dennis Joseph Reardon is remembered every day by those who pass by the memorial square dedicated to him on the corner of Elm Street and Stephen's Lane near the police department entrance, just three houses down from the home he grew up in, 84 Elm St. As a living tribute, members of one of the Cohasset garden clubs planted a very rare cucumber tree, (Magnolia acuminata), which has continued to flourish since the 1960s.

Well known around town, Reardon, whose nickname was "The Duck" was often spotted riding his motorcycle up Jerusalem Road. His quick smile and irresistible sense of humor help those who knew him continue to remember him today. Reardon grew up in Cohasset and attended the old Ripley Road School, the Deer Hill School, and graduated from Cohasset High School in 1963. Reardon was very involved in the community he loved, serving as an alter boy at St. Anthony's Church, and playing football on the high school team. He was a standout athlete and was selected as co-captain of the Cohasset football team as well as co-captain of the Mayshore League team. He was also chosen to be a member of the Patriot Ledger Football All Scholastic team. After graduating from Cohasset High School, Reardon went on to study at Boston College, where he majored in finance. He was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity and graduated in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in science. Shortly after, Reardon volunteered for service in the United States Marine Corps, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. on Nov. 1, 1967. At that time, Reardon's brother Norbert was also serving as a Marine officer. Reardon was the third oldest of six children, and had three sisters and two brothers.

Reardon went on to attend flight school at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., and earned his wings as a naval aviator on April 25, 1969. That September, he received orders assigning him to HMM-364 - the Purple Foxes - a helicopter squadron located at Marble Mountain in Vietnam. On Nov. 29, 1969, Reardon received the orders which would be his last. On a mission to evacuate combat casualties from a location in the Que San Mountains, 20 miles south of Da Nang, Reardon's CH-46 helicopter exploded in flight, killing Reardon and his entire flight crew. After Reardon's death, his parents, Mary and Norbert, received a letter from Reardon's commanding officer, Lt. Col. C.R. Dunbaugh, informing them of the tragedy. He wrote, "Even though Dennis had been with this squadron for a short period of time, he quickly made friends and leaves us with lasting memories. He was extremely conscientious and devoted to his duties and immediately gained the respect of his fellow Marines. We will miss him a great deal, and hope that you find some comfort knowing this."

Vietnam took a heavy toll on the town, as eight men were killed, including Peter J. Albiani, Jr., Peter Cogill, Allen F. Keating, William C. Laidlaw, John Paul Lyon, Edward R. Maree, Craig M. Simeone, and Reardon. Cohasset lost the same number of soldiers during World War II. The worst eight months of Vietnam were in 1969, when the town lost five men, four at six-week intervals. By the end of the year, Cohasset had sacrificed three men from the Cohasset High School class of 1966. For his heroism, Reardon was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal with the Combat "V", the Air Medal with Numeral 7, the Purple Heart, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor medal. In addition, Cohasset residents dedicated the Dennis Joseph Reardon Memorial Square in his memory to ensure the boy who gave his life for his hometown and his country, receives eternal thanks.

Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee Glenn Pratt provided the Mariner with the information for this article. For more information on Dennis Reardon or any of the Cohasset veterans who have paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom, please visit the Cohasset Veterans Memorial Committee Web site at www.cohassetveteransmemorial.com.

Link to 1st Lt. Dennis J. Reardon's after action report
Link to 1st Lt. Dennis J. Reardon's unit web page
Home   Back to Hero Profiles

Cohasset Massachusetts