Douglas Wauchope

This is his photo from 3/3 Marines while on ship to Chu Lai, Vietnam in early 1965.

United States Marine Corps First Lieutenant. He was killed from small arms fire in Vietnam. 

Lt. Wauchope, who was taking part in Operation Starlite, was the first Marine officer killed during the Vietnam War.


Douglas was one of “our” cadets when my dad, a Marine officer and Annapolis graduate, taught at West Point from 1958-1961. Douglas came to our quarters most every weekend from his plebe year until we were transferred. He became and older brother to my brothers and sisters and I. I will never forget when my dad came home from work when we lived in D.C. and told us that Douglas had been killed. We will never forget him, he was loved by us all. His photo hangs on my wall. Semper Fi Douglas and my Dad, Col. Mac Richards, CO 9th Marines 66-67 and CO 2nd Marines 62-63. 


Lt. Douglas Wauchope was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, with Combat Distinguishing Device (V), for his exemplary gallantry in action. He served as an Infantry Officer and was assigned to L CO, 3RD BN, 3RD MARINES, 3RD MARDIV. 


Cullum No. 24103-1962 | June 29, 1965 | Died in Chu Lai, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam

Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Douglas Joyce Wauchope was born the son of  Vice Admiral George M. Wauchope, USNR, and Helen J. Wauchope of Lloyd Harbor, NY. This heroic Marine was killed in action on Jun 29, 1965, while serving with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) at Chu Lai in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Doug’s name appears on the Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC; Class of ’62 U.S. Ranger Memorial, West Point, NY; and a Historic Marker at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA.

Doug graduated from the Staunton Military Academy, Staunton, VA. He attended VMI, 1955-57, while serving in the Virginia National Guard, February  to November 1955, and the USAR, November 1955 to May 1957. Following VMI, Doug completed basic training with the USMC at Parris Island. He received a Congressional appointment to West Point from Representative Stuyvesant Wainwright, 1st District, NY.

Steve Warner and Bernie Martin recall that Doug’s evenings were spent reading books related to international affairs, and that he attempted to correspond with Fidel Castro to learn more about the Cuban revolution. Academics were not a burden.

Doug was a competitor, enjoying cross country running and boxing. Al Wilhelm recalls Doug falling back to encourage others and assure there would be “no man left behind.” During firstie year, Doug would frequently invite his roommate, Roger Andrews, to go a few rounds in the gym. Doug Wauchope could take a punch and give one too!

Doug had a terrific sense of humor, and having a slender frame provided opportunities. Harry Boyd tells how Doug would tightly make up his bunk, slip into and out of the top folds, and not have to remake it until the weekly change of sheets. When an Officer in Charge mistakenly reported Doug absent during bed check, Doug explained that he was there, just not disturbing the tight bunk enough to be noticed.

Doug was a congenial and well-mannered gentleman. During leave, he hosted classmates at Lloyd Harbor. Roger Franke remembers Vice Admiral Wauchope at the helm of the family sailboat, and Roger McNamara remembers, from the lump that he still has on his head, that he should have ducked, to avoid the swinging boom. Gerry Tysver figures that Doug’s gentlemanly manner helped to convince Gerry’s late wife, Arlene, that cadets weren’t all that bad.

Doug was eager to get into the fight. After Officers Basic Course at Quantico, VA, he was assigned to Camp Pendleton and then to Okinawa, from which he volunteered to go on a 30-day TDY to Vietnam as advisor to a company of Republic of Vietnam (RVN) Rangers. During one operation, two RVN battalions encountered a force of Viet Cong (VC) and engaged in an intense firefight. When the RVN battalions began to break, Doug, with four USMC NCOs, stopped some of the Rangers and put down a heavy volume of fire, such that the VC were stunned and broke contact. After this TDY, Doug returned to Okinawa.

In Okinawa, Doug made a quick turnaround and rejoined his unit as the Executive Officer of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd MEF, which had been transferred to Chu Lai. On June 29th, 3rd Battalion engaged in a classic hammer and anvil maneuver, with Lima in defensive positions, acting as the anvil. When there were reports of VC activity to the rear of Lima, Doug led three fire teams from his platoon plus an EOD team in Amtraks to probe the threat to Lima’s rear.

About a half mile behind Lima’s position, they began to receive fire from an abandoned village. Doug ordered the Marines to disembark and to take up defensive positions. When enemy fire was suppressed, he formed a skirmish line and several tunnels used by the VC were discovered. The EOD team destroyed the empty tunnel. Another tunnel entrance had women and children cowering. Doug ordered his Marines not to use lethal force to drive the women and children out. As the hostile fire died down, Doug rallied the Marines back to the Amtraks. At that point VC fire increased sharply, and the Marines began to take casualties, at which point his detachment was reinforced with three more Amtraks. It is now understood that the VC used the women and children as human shields, and when the Marines moved away, the VC came out and opened fire. Doug deliberately exposed himself to demonstrate leadership and to calm his men. As he directed fire from the commander’s hatch of one of the Amtraks, he was mortally wounded.

Doug’s younger brother, Keith, was serving in Vietnam in the Army and escorted Doug’s body for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Keith then returned to Vietnam to complete his tour of duty, where he had the opportunity to travel to Chu Lai and interview Marines involved in Doug’s final operation. Douglas’ humane treatment of Vietnamese noncombatants, while it may have contributed to his death and those of his men, reflects the highest standards of American military conduct. For his actions with the RVN Rangers, Douglas was awarded the Bronze Star with the “V” for valor, which was presented by the Vice Commandant of the USMC to his parents after Doug’s death.

Doug’s family has a proud tradition of service to the Nation. His father served in the Pacific Theater during WWII, where he commanded the Attack Transports USS DuPage and USS Hamblen. Doug’s sister Anne was a Head Nurse at Montreal General Hospital for many years. Doug was proud to be a West Point graduate and a Marine. His death was a great loss to our Nation.

— Roger Andrews, Classmate & Ambassador Keith Wauchope, Brother


The “Friends of Rocky Versace” remember one of Rocky’s fellow alumni from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point – a Plebe in Cadet Company D-2, USCC when Rocky was a Firstie in Co. K-2 – 1st Lt Douglas Joyce Wauchope, USMA Class of 1962, USMC, on what would’ve been his 84th birthday – 18 August 2020.


Thank you Doug. You were a great roommate, older brother and example to a very, young and inexperienced cadet. You continue to be missed and often remembered for your help and encouragement. Al Wilhelm

One Comment

  1. criscione6
    Posted June 17, 2022 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Semper Fi. RIP.

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