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Clausen Dedication Invite

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  • Clausen Dedication Invite

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: <>
    Date: Jan 17, 2007 12:33 PM

    Please see what you can do to get the word out, that the long process of getting this project to fruition has finally been accomplished.

    Mike will have the fitting Memorial that he is entitled to.

    We have quite a distinguished list of invitees, who have confirmed their attendance.

    Best, and, Semper Fi!

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Monument to war hero unveiled

    Advocate Florida parishes bureau
    Published: Jan 28, 2007

    PONCHATOULA -- Hundreds stood in the pouring rain to watch a parade in Hammond that welcomed Medal of Honor recipient Raymond “Mike” Clausen Jr. home from the Vietnam War on July 31, 1971.

    Almost 36 years later, another crowd stood in the cold, drizzling rain to honor the U.S. Marine again Saturday morning. This time, they unveiled a monument at his gravesite in the Ponchatoula Cemetery detailing his heroic actions that led to the nation’s highest military citation being presented to him.

    What drew the veterans and Ponchatoula and Hammond residents to this site Saturday was a man they loved for his bravery who said what he thought despite the consequences, friends said. Yet they credit his impulsive nature to saving the lives of 19 Marines trapped in a minefield near DaNang, Vietnam, on Jan. 31, 1970.

    “He was a Marine you wanted with you when you were really in trouble,” said retired Col. Walt Ledbetter, the commanding officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263. Ledbetter flew the mission that led to Pfc. Clausen’s medal. Ledbetter received the Navy Cross for the same mission.

    Clausen died at age 56 from liver disease on May 30, 2004. Since then, retired State Trooper and Vietnam veteran Phillip Monteleone of Ponchatoula spearheaded the formation of the Mike Clausen Foundation and efforts to raise $19,000 to pay for the memorial.

    The memorial wall includes a carving of Clausen and an artist’s rendering of the mission that led to Clausen’s medal. The other side displays a narrative of Clausen’s Medal of Honor citation signed by President Richard Nixon.

    “This is not only for him,” said retired Lance Cpl. Ed West, one of the Marines rescued by Clausen. “This is your Vietnam Wall in south Louisiana.”

    Clausen did three tours in Vietnam and flew in more than 1,900 combat missions, Ledbetter said.

    On Jan. 31, 1970, Ledbetter briefed his crew on a mission to rescue two platoons trapped in a minefield. He warned the Marine crewmen not to get off the helicopter or they, too, would need rescuing.

    “I lowered the ramp,” he said. “Mike Clausen looked out on that minefield and he knew what needed to be done. Six times he walked out of that aircraft. If he had not done that, the mission would not have succeeded.”

    Ledbetter said Clausen’s entry into the minefield while under enemy fire meant that the pilot had to land in that field only three times to collect all of the men. If Clausen remained inside, Ledbetter said he would have had to land in that minefield six to eight times, increasing the chances that the rescuers would have landed on a mine as well.

    The platoons were “Kingfisher” forces, dropped into battles by helicopters to surprise enemy forces. Once the platoons landed, they surprised the targeted North Vietnamese troops, who ran for the tree line for safety, said retired Lance Cpl. Steve Bish, a radio operator on the ground during the fight.

    The Marines followed and ended up in the minefield, he said.

    With directions from helicopter pilots surveying the scene from above, Bish was able to walk out of the field unharmed. Others, such as West, who lost both his legs when a mine exploded, were killed or wounded by a mine before they could be picked up by rescuers.

    West said he never had a chance to meet Clausen again after that mission. He saw Clausen only twice — once when Clausen carried him from the minefield on a stretcher and then again when Clausen covered West with flight jackets to keep him warm enough to avoid going into shock from his wounds.

    In civilian life, Clausen graduated from Hammond High School before signing up for the Marines. He married his wife, Lois, in 1976 and moved to Ponchatoula.

    He also survived a debilitating car crash, having to relearn how to read and write during his recovery, Lois Clausen said.

    He also worked as an inspector for Boeing at its aircraft refurbishing facility at Lake Charles, and she traveled every weekend from their home in Ponchatoula to see him there, she said.

    “He was a wonderful person,” Lois Clausen said. “Everybody likes him.”

    Former U.S. Marine Lance Cpls. Steve Bish, left, and Ed West, center, along with retired helicopter pilot Col. Walt Ledbetter view the monument unveiled in Ponchatoula Cemetery on Saturday recognizing Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Raymond ‘Mike’ Clausen Jr. Lois Clausen, Pfc. Raymond ‘Mike’ Clausen Jr.’s widow, hugs former Marine Lance Cpl. Steve Bish after a reception following the unveiling of Clausen’s Medal of Honor monument in Ponchatoula Cemetery on Saturday.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      It was cold and rainy, but I think most did not notice the weather.
      Mostly a humbling experience.
      Mike made three tours, what other outfits did he serve in?

      Ed (Jamie) Jameson


      • #4

        It was a moving ceremony and, as Ed Jameson stated, a very humbling experience.

        Chris Breaux
        CH-53D and UH-1N
        Crew Chief
        UH-1N and CH-53D


        • #5
          clausen dedication

          the weather didn't co-operate, but the towns reception and reverance to this dedication couldn't of been better. The Mayor (bob) and secretary Julie went to extraordinary lengths to see accommodate us. a well put together service. Popasmoke can be proud of the memorial- truly awesome!


          • #6
            Mike Clausen Memorial

            I have e-mailed all of 263 members on my mailing list regarding the above posts and received a few respones. We want to thank all of you who helped make this possible. I know that a lot of time and effort was given by many members of this organization and others to make this happen.
            Thank you so much!!

            S/F Gary Alls
            HMM-263 '66-'67


            • #7
              RE: Mike's Dedication and memorial headstone

              As I watched the newsclip from wbrz 2 Baton Rouge, and the reporting of Mike's dedication ceremony, with the lead-up to how it got there in a interview with Phil, got me misted me up some.
              Seeing is believing. I saw respect and love and determination to get this project done.

              I thank you all who're involved in showing the world how Marines respect their heroes. Mike, there it is.

              Hand Salute to the doer's of this project.

              Semper Fidelis,
              Patrick Hayes

              Hope to see you all in Charlotte in October.
              In memory of the one-eyed fatman[FONT="Georgia"][/FONT]