An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC
This first cradle-to-grave biography of Colonel John W. Ripley provides readers with the complete story about a great man who is considered by Marines, such as General Carl Mundy, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, to be on the same level as legends Chesty Puller and Dan Daly.
Colonel Ripley is most commonly known for his heroics in Vietnam during the Easter Offensive of 1972, where Colonel Gerald Turley ordered him to “hold and die,” in the face of over 30,000 North Vietnamese and 200 enemy tanks. John Ripley proceeded to blow the Dong Ha bridge, preventing the enemy from crossing. He unhesitatingly obeyed and earned the nation’s second highest honor, the Navy Cross.
As stunning as the Dong Ha story is, there was much more to Colonel John Ripley. An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC narrates his early life and the influences which shaped his personality.
In youth, he was a rambunctious “Huckleberry Finn” who spent his days getting into all kinds of mischief in Radford, Virginia. The stories from this time period, so well narrated in An American Knight, will leave the reader with at least a smile, if not a laugh.
After his mischievous “Huckleberry Finn” days in Radford, he learned to discipline his wild side and, in spite of his intellectual weaknesses, went on to graduate from the Naval Academy. The strength of will with which he accomplished this task was later applied on the battlefield, where he earned the status of legend during his first tour in Vietnam as a 28-year-old Captain.
Readers will also get to know about John Ripley, the father, but more importantly the chaste husband. When he was approached by people wanting to make a movie about his life he agreed as long as his character was not portrayed as having a romantic relationship in Vietnam. “I have never been,” he said, “nor will I ever be unfaithful to my wife.”
This was one of the motivating factors which led him to give a brilliant testimony before congress against sending women into combat. He could not conceive of women being subjected to the harsh realities of war and spoke out strongly against it.
An American Knight also narrates his courageous stands against homosexuals in the military. He saw their admittance as “a deviation from values that Marines hold dear and one which attacked their very honor.”
The final chapters narrate the struggle Colonel Ripley endured with a bad liver. He would finally undergo two liver transplants, the last one of which was defined as the “most dramatic” in history.
“If a young officer or Marine ever asks what is the meaning of Semper Fidelis” Colonel Ripley once told a friend, “tell them my story.”
This is his story!
What readers atre saying about An American Knight and the great hero, Col. John Ripley
“To those privileged to know him well, John Ripley unquestionably manifested many of the personal and professional characteristics and qualities associated with the noblest of those who are called to the profession of arms. He was, indeed, a modern day Knight, and a Marine leader well above “standard issue”. Marines idolize the icons of our Corps: Lejeune, Puller, Daly, and a few others. History should, and I have no doubt will, include John Ripley on that short list. He stands tall among the best of the best who bear the title Marine.
Norman Fulkerson has produced afine book which provides well-deserved tribute to a great man.
General Carl E. Mundy, USMC (Ret.)
30th Commandant of the Marine Corps
I knew Colonel John W. Ripley like a brother for 42 plus years, but the facts are that I learned still more about my Marine buddy from Norman Fulkerson’s book An American Knight. Norman goes into family and early life details that started this Marine on his most successful Marine career as well as John’s perception of the obligation and performance of his duties in uniform. This is a “must read” for all desiring to be a leader, especially those desiring to lead Marines.
Colonel Wesley Lee Fox, USMC (Ret.)
Medal of Honor Recipient
Author of Marine Rifleman: Forty-three Years in the Corps and Courage and Fear.
In his new book An American Knight, Norman Fulkerson has vividly captured the extraordinary active journey in life of Colonel. John Ripley. In this first ever biography, of a truly legendary Marine, the reader will see a man of many images; a gentle person who was comfortable with people of all stations of life, a caring father, a faithful husband, and a Marine capable of doing the seemingly impossible when I ordered him to destroy the Dong Ha Bridge.
Because of his compelling and uncommon level of service to this great nation Colonel John Ripley truly deserves to be held up as a role model for all to follow. Norman Fulkerson’s book will help ensure this.
Colonel Gerald Turley, USMC (Ret.)
Author of The Easter Offensive
An American Knight by Norman Fulkerson is an outstanding tribute to one of the finest men to ever wear a uniform of the United States of America.
Commander Paul Galanti, USN (Ret.)
POW for seven years
“I have never known anyone with enduring repetitive courage who was not also a person of faith. In combat my faith was for me a substitute for fear; it was a source of comfort, calm and courage — it allowed me to do things that for me would have otherwise been impossible. John Ripley was also a man of faith. It was clearly the source of his extraordinary physical and moral courage. He was a true hero, not a celebrity. Not only a person who performed acts of courage, rather he was a good person who performed acts of courage. Only when you combine courage with goodness do you have a true hero. His goodness crowned his courage and defined his character which marked him as an extraordinary example for those who follow the warriors path.
“It is for this reason that I highly recommend Norman Fulkerson’s book on John Ripley, An American Knight, to all who seek to understand heroism.
General Pat Brady US Army (Ret.) Medal of Honor Recipient
“I attended The Officers Basic School and the Naval War College with John Ripley and got to know and admire him as a truly professional combat warrior. His heroics and leadership are legendary. After reading An American Knight, I realize the strong foundation upon which he built his life from childhood, to marriage, to a dedicated life as a United States Marine. John Ripley, the total man, dedicated his every breath to his God, his family, his country and his beloved Marine Corps. I was honored to call him my friend.”
Colonel H. C. “Barney” Barnum USMC (Ret.) Medal of Honor Recipient
“An American Knight, by Norman Fulkerson tells an inspiring story of a brave soldier, true leader and devout Catholic. I believe, as Mr. Fulkerson narrates so well, that his faith in the one true Savior, and in the Church He established, was the source for Colonel Ripley’s brave actions. Truly he was a great warrior who led by example.”
Major General Billy J. Ellis USAF (Ret.)
“Beside being very well written, An American Knight is, even more importantly, very accurate in describing the John Ripley I knew. While I never served with John or worked directly with him after he retired, we did have occasional contact on various Marine Corps matters over a period of several years. John enjoyed an excellent reputation among his Marine peers for far more than his heroism in Viet Nam. His quiet manner did not detract from the strength of his positions – all of which were well grounded intellectually and morally. After reading An American Knight I am only disappointed that I didn’t get to know him even better. I learned from it that he was even better than his reputation. Not an easy accomplishment.
Maj. Gen. Mike Coyne (Ret.)
“While the world knew my brother John as a Navy Cross recipient, I will always remember him simply as my darling little boy. Being the oldest member of our family I had the joy of caring for him as if he were my own child. It was for this reason that I was overjoyed when Norman Fulkerson contacted me, after John’s death, with the idea of writing a book about his life.
“The final product, titled An American Knight, gave me the chance to see a side of John I frankly never knew. Although I was well aware of his heroism at Dong Ha, I did not know he was such a legend in the Marine Corps, because he did not tell me those things. John was very humble.
“While I thoroughly enjoyed An American Knight and found it to be an extremely accurate account of my brother’s life, it was, at the same time, a painful read since it brought back so many happy memories of someone I sorely miss. I have had, since John’s death, this feeling that he would never die. That is to say that his memory would live forever. Now I know it certainly will because of Mr. Fulkerson’s book. As Irving Berlin, the Jewish-American songwriter said: “The song is ended but the melody lingers on.”
“On behalf of my family, of which I am the last living member, I say thank you!”
Mary Susan Goodykoontz, Radford, Virginia
Dear Norman Fulkerson
I was delighted with the copy of your excellent book. Everything about it was exceptional. The photo on the cover and the title were real gems.
Upon reflection, Ripley was everything a Knight embodied in fact and fiction. I was so proud to see him many times over the years at many USMC and private functions. He and his sons came to my Museum to talk to a large group of ole’ Marines and cut the ribbon unveiling the painting. Marines aren’t supposed to cry, but his eyes and others were a bit moist as he talked of his Marines and other.
You put into words the feelings I try to put into my paintings. Ripley was a great Marine and Legend and your words will give others the chance to be awed by this lasting tribute.
Colonel Charles Waterhouse
Artist who painted image of Col. Ripley under the Dong Ha Bridge
“I believe you picked a winner when you picked Col. Ripley USMC as a subject of your new book. This is a gentleman that all America should look up to.
“They say a pendulum (here meaning extreme liberalism) can move just so far then it must retreat. Just after the election of Obama the pendulum was out as far as it could go. Now I think the retreat has started with the help of your friend Col. Ripley and other devoted conservatives like yourself.
“I think their are still a lot of good people in America. I think that what we have just experienced with Obama’s first year in office, was a wake up call. People that were really conservative in their beliefs had become very complacent, but now they making themselves heard. And I say the louder the better.”
C.H., Louisville, Ky.
“Thank you for the bio of our captain (then). As the Col. would also say, “Pass the infantry to the front.” You passed a treasure for his grunts to the front!!!! Semper Fi Mr. Fulkerson”
L.G., Omaha, NE.
“While I was away, I read your book and had trouble putting it down. T. is halfway through it now. Colonel Ripley was certainly a hero in more ways than one. I wish I could have met him. How blessed you are to have spent time with him…, and how different our world would be if men today aspired to be half the man he was. I felt such sadness at the end to think that our country has moved so far away from the values he stood for.
“You have certainly accomplished a good work and I hope you will be inspired to write another book. T. and I will treasure this one forever.
May God bless you for your faithfulness.
Mr and Mrs. T.D., Hudson NY.
“I just finished An American Knight. It was a very uplifting, gripping and pleasant read. Each night I relaxed by reading a bit of it. I did not know he was such a good man, a genuine aristocrat – a hero. It is people like him who will make the America of the future — a great, magnanimous, idealistic and aristocratic country. That is the America that I was given the grace to know, even now in its early beginnings; and I love that America.
P. F., Sydney Australia
“Norm, I’ve been meaning to write you since I finished reading your book and found that you did an outstanding job of portraying the “real” Ripley!!!
“Rip changed a lot of lives for the better and for this, God rewarded him in ways we cannot comprehend in this life. One “blessing” God gave Rip was taking him in his sleep. No more fear–just an eternal reward!
“You did an outstanding service to all of America by writing this book. Friends who have read it wept with me as they learned more about Rip’s character!
“Norm, thanks for writing this wonderful book. All Marines owe you a debt of gratitude!”
Col. R. L., South Bend, Ind.
“I picked up your book this evening and as it is now 1:00 AM, have to admit that I couldn’t put it down. I cried – more than once.
I had to send a note of congratulations. Well done!! You have greatly honored an American hero.
A.D., Endicott, NY
“I wanted to personally thank you for both writing and sending us a copy of your book. I cannot tell you the range of emotions I went through reading every page. I could identify with Col. Ripley in many ways and it was heart warming to know there are people like him in our military and in America. I am hopeful that this American spirit will prevail and our Country’s greatness will not diminish. I hope we get a chance to meet and talk in the future. Thanks again.
T. H., Ocala, Fl.
“I simply cannot thank you enough for writing this wonderful story of a man who was truly a legend in his own time.”
B. K., Sacramento, CA.
Thank you for writing a book about a true “American Knight”. There isn’t enough written about our true national leaders, people who still believe in what made America the country she is and are continuing the fight to keep her that way; and for taking a stand and echoing the thoughts of Colonel Ripley, as I’m sure he would not want his beliefs to pass on with him.
Unfortunately, when our leaders stand for what they were taught from their mentors and seniors, the contemporary establishment pushes them aside and denies them promotions and positions of influence. I remember what people would say about others who stood for something…”put them in a glass jar and place on a shelf with a label on it, break only in case of war or national emergency.”
K.M., Richmond, KY. CWO5 USMC (ret)
“I enjoyed the book immensely. I had met Col Ripley a few times when I was stationed at USNA and this book showed the moral side of him completing the total warrior concept.”
S. D., Murrieta, CA.
“A family friend who is a retired Marine just called to tell me how very much he enjoyed reading An American Knight. He is calling his Marine buddies to tell them to get a copy and read it; he said every American should read it.”
C. D. New Orleans, LA.
“I’ve read your new book, An American Knight, The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC. It is absolutely outstanding!”
Col. G.C. Army (Ret.) Harrisburg, PA.
“I found the end of the book very enlightening, when he was talking about the two issues of homosexuals being in the military and women fighting in combat. Before I read the book, I believed that women should be allowed to fight in combat and I wasn’t too sure how I felt about homosexuals being in the military. After reading Ripley’s speech of his battle experiences and how blood was covered all over him, I now feel that they should not be allowed in. It would risk the chances of diseases being spread through the blood. Also, as Ripley said, it would not be a comfortable relationship between the commanders and those below them if one of them was gay, and there is an ethical code all military men and women have to live up to which includes not being homosexual. So it is not discrimination to forbid homosexuals from being in the military, but a good way to maintain safety and ethics.
“As far as women being in combat, before I read your book, I believed they should be allowed because, putting myself in their place, I would not want someone telling me that I couldn’t fight in combat for my country. However, as Ripley points out in his speech, I now realize that women become victims of certain kinds of abuses when they are captured. His speech also made me realize that women would be treated differently by everyone in their squad if they fought in combat because gentlemen would not expect women to do certain work, and since everyone has to be treated equally when fighting in combat, including women would jeopardize that. At first, when my Grandmother told me that Ripley argues against allowing women in combat, I figured he was going to be chauvinistic. However, he argues that this is meant to protect womanhood, which, as you say in your book, makes him similar to a knight.
“I graduated from college two months ago with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and two minors; one in History, the other in Criminal Justice. Currently I am applying for Officer’s Candidate School with the Army. Right now I am waiting to hear if they are going to grant me a medical waiver; I had a spontaneously collapsed lung two years ago. It is good to have men like John Ripley, as role models and to hear the inspiring story of their careers. John Ripley was a great man and I’m glad that the Marines, the Naval Academy, and yourself are keeping his memory alive. The story about his liver transplant was great too, how the marines got involved to make sure they got the liver to him on time. Thank you for sharing his life story.
“Last night I finished reading your very excellent book… It is an inspiring book of truly good person and fabulous Marine. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting to give us his story. It is a valuable piece of work.
Maj. C.J. SIGAR, Afghanistan
“I finished your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Most Marines know and admire Col. Ripley but few know much about the man. I have often wondered about who Col. Ripley and many of our other heroes really were outside of the uniform, and what made them the way they were. In other words “What is the essence of the man and what made him this way… Now you have shown me the other side of Col. Ripley and for that I thank you.
Maj. B. W., USMC Ret.
“It was a great book. Being a former Marine myself (1982-1984) I knew of Col. Ripley and had read The Bridge at Dong Ha. Good book, but not enough detail about the Colonel. He is truly what every Marine should aspire to be like. The qualities he displayed through out his life should be a yardstick to measure your own leadership, whether in the Military or day-to-day life. His devotion to his family, in particular his wife when she became ill, shows more about him than any award he might have received in combat. His stance on women in combat should be applied today. Having served in combat as an Infantry NCO I can tell you having women around has a negative effect on troops. Only Liberals with no clue as to the workings of a small-unit would want women in combat. Do they want this for their daughters? Of course not.
We need men like Col. Ripley to run for President
S. H., Mendenhall, MS
USARNG- 1984 PRESENT
“I read the book on the life of Col. Ripley and found it to be exceptional reading. Col. Ripley characterizes the “Leadership Principles’ and “Essential Leadership Traits” all Marines should inspire towards. The book itself is “hard to put down” once you start it. I would recommend it to any 2nd Lieutenant going through TBS. Col. Ripley and Chesty are both cut from the same stone and defiantly a Marine’s Marine.
I feel as Col Ripley does about Homosexuals in the military. It is neither good for moral, discipline nor combat effectiveness. I entered the Marines in 1969 in the PLC program, finished college 1971 and was on active duty 1971-1974. Reserves through 1976. Some of the best times of my life. I continue to keep track with many
former Marines that served with me. Thank you again for your book.
Capt. T.F., USMCR Chesterfield, VA.
“Yes, I received An American Knight and read it within two days because it was hard to put down.
“I am so glad someone is writing about the American courage, sacrifice, and patriotism of our fine military soldiers who fought so very well in that very difficult war in Vietnam. I am 56 years old and remember well the anti-American bias coming from our media during the 60′s and early 70′s. Our brave and gallant troops fought this very difficult war despite the poor support of the Leftist media.
“Colonel Ripley is a fine example of the gallant Americans who fought so well and made the merciless and ruthless enemy pay a high price for all their gains.
“I enjoyed the book and was glad to get it.”
Dr. R.B., Omaha, NE
University of Nebraska
“Unfortunately, I did not finish reading it as I presented it as a gift to my son, PFC A.T., who is presently stationed at… What I had read sparked my interest and enthusiasm for not only reading the book myself but also recommending it to others. There are many aspects of Col. Ripley’s life which have parallels in my own experiences. I am the proud daughter of retired Colonel D. who served in WW II and Korea, Third Division, and retired after almost thirty years of faithful service. When I was homeschooling my three children, I remember that stories of knights were a favorite with [them]. My son, J. had always wanted to join the USMC but thus far has been prevented because of his medical history (he underwent treatment for leukemia as a high school student). If God is willing, he may still be able to serve his country but probably not as a Marine. We brought up our children in a Catholic home with Mass and Rosary and other devotions being a vital part of our home life. When I hear from A. how challenging life as a Marine can be (and he has not yet been deployed!) I am mindful how much a faithful Catholic worldview and lifestyle would benefit him… My hope and prayer is that this true story will inspire A. and others like him to rise above ungodly views and behaviors so prevalent in our society. My plan is to order another book to keep at home. May God bless you for your faithfulness and witness to the truth.”
Sincerely in Jesus and MARY,
A.T. Peabody, MA.
“The book “An American Knight” was an excellent read. Colonel John W. Ripley was an outstanding character, never forgot his roots, maintained his religious beliefs throughout his life, protected the small guy, was a tremendous living example as a leader of small as well as of controversial subjects, and exhibited exceptional moral values in living his life. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this incredible Icon of the USMC.”
R.A. Ottawa, IL
“I read Norman Fulkerson’s book about Colonel Ripley. He did enormous honor to Ripley’s heroism, and portrayed an ideal representative of the American character–an officer who was courageous, decent and who answered the call to defend the moral fabric of our nation.
“Battlefield heroes are in good supply. But a man who plants his moral feet squarely–like a rock in the tides of ever-shifting trends–is a man worth studying.
“Colonel Ripley stood without flinching against the introduction of notorious homosexuals into the armed forces. He did so, knowing that admitting them would subject his men to sexual bullying and forcible sodomy. It would undermine the discipline to which he had devoted much of his life.
“…He was just as correct in his testimony before Congress as he was in his remarkable actions on the field of battle. It would be a great disservice to his memory to separate the two aspects of his remarkable life.”
Colonel Richard H. Black (Ret.)
[Pilot, HMM 269 (The Ugly Angels); Forward Air Controller, 1st Marine Regiment]
Wounded in action during an attack across defended positions across the Hoi An River, 1967.
“What is most striking about “An American Knight” is that in the telling of John Walter Ripley’s life story one learns how ordinary men are capable of performing extraordinary acts.
“In our postmodern world of moral relativism, which unfortunately continues to expand around the globe, there are very few people who possess a moral compass with the quintessence of good and fewer still that possess the moral courage – the highest form of courage – to act on their convictions; but the truly rare person is one, such as Colonel Ripley, who possesses both and thereby becomes capable of performing unwonted acts of virtue.
“Colonel Ripley’s story alone is worth reading, but “An American Knight” also shines light on that deeper, timeless message, which is that while America is still “the last best hope of earth” she will remain so only as long as leaders with the moral compass and moral courage of a Colonel Ripley are willing to accept “the privilege to serve” and make the hard decisions that leaders of less character choose either to refute or pass on to future generations.
“An American Knight” is a story about an American Marine that all warriors should read; and the story’s enduring message for America’s leaders is one that all Americans should be told.
“Thank you so much for telling this story.
Very truly yours,
G. L. (Marine) Austin, TX.
“Let me begin by saying that it was truly Our Blessed Mother that led me to buy this book. My dear friend, E. “Rocky” B. was about to have a birthday and I did not know what to get him. I then rec’d the email promoting the book and it immediately caught my eye. Rocky has been surrounded by military all his life and has been fascinated by it. Reading that this book was about a true Catholic hero was absolutely the clincher for me. It arrived just in time before I was to see him and from the moment he opened it, I knew he was thrilled. This was on Sat., May 15th. He called me on Monday, the 17th, hardly able to speak. He told me he would have finished the book on Sunday but was too tired from the festivities the day before. He admitted he had to compose himself before calling me, especially reading about Col. Ripley’s funeral.
“Last Sunday, my middle son made his First Holy Communion and he was talking about it with another friend of ours that was present. By the way, I have forwarded him the info on the book (he was a marine) as well. I will send Rocky your email so that he may provide you with a firsthand testimony but let me tell you that he told me directly, he had not been moved so greatly by a book in a long time. Thank you for writing this book on the life of a man truly worthy of the word “hero”. May God bless you and His Blessed Mother protect you always!
“In the hearts of Jesus and Mary,”
F.D. El Paso, TX.
“An American Knight has motivated me like no other Marine Corps book has. It is disappointing I will never be able to meet Col Ripley, however, he is still teaching Marines and still motivating them thru your book.
“…I have a church friend who bought your book when he traveled to Hawaii and had it autographed for his father. He showed me the book last Sunday and I purchased it from a book dealer on Ebay. Received it in the mail yesterday and I couldn’t put it down.
“Col Ripley testimony when he addressed Congress in 1993 on the gay ban was an incredible speech. Someone should present it again to Congress today. Very, very powerful.”
R.D. MSgt. USMC
“This biography of Col. Ripley is a beautiful example of what happens when a man bases his entire life on convictions and principles. I have no doubt that his awe inspiring feat of blowing the Dong Ha bridge was nothing short of a miracle. His cadence, “Jesus Mary get me there” says it all. From childhood until death his religious beliefs played a pivot role in his actions. In todays society where political correctness is more important than principles, Col. Ripley’s stance against homosexuals in the military, and women in combat probably took more courage than his superhuman feats in Vietnam.
“I am sure everyone will enjoy, for example, reading of the “most dramatic liver transplant in history.” For me this is the way a nation shows its gratitude to a true hero. Bring out the presidents own helicopter if that is what it takes to save the life of one of our veterans.
“All of this and much more is explained in an easy and relaxing read in Mr. Fulkerson’s book. I highly recommend it.”
G.S. Herndon, PA.
“Mr. Fulkerson’s book, An American Knight, to me is truly an inspiring read. The world of today is much in need of knights, both to fight for what is right and to act as role models. Colonel Ripley was just such a man. A knight is first and foremost a warrior for a noble cause, but he is also much more than that. This book helps one to see Colonel Ripley, the total knight. Intransigent in warfare, yet a caring and faithful son, husband and father. I have read the Bridge at Dong Ha some years ago. That too is a very good book, but that book is limited to what Colonel Ripley was most noted for in his military career. This book by Mr. Fulkerson tells the complete story from the beginning of Colonel Ripley’s life until his natural end.
“Colonel Ripley’s great feat during the Vietnam War is well told in this volume. If you don’t know his story, Colonel Ripley singlehandedly blew up a bridge built by the Navy Seabees in order to prevent the North Vietnamese from crossing. He repeatedly made trips back and forth with explosives and under constant enemy fire. He moved under the bridge hanging by his arms to the support beams under the bridge and praying all the while, “Jesus, Mary get me there.”
“Colonel Ripley’s bravery was not limited only to the battlefield. He battled the politically correct issues of our day, homosexuals in the military and women in combat. Just as he didn’t measure the odds at Dong Ha, he also did not measure the odds when taking on these issues.
“The quote at the beginning of Chapter 25 says it all, “Great men are those who are not only interested in great things. They are those who know how to recognize vast horizons in small things as well.” In a nutshell, this is the Colonel Ripley so ably written about by Mr. Fulkerson.
“The book is also amply illustrated.
“If you are interested in knightood, chivalry, the ideal Marine, the ideal warrior, the ideal husband and father then this book is for you.”
F.S. Topeka, KS
“An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC by Mr. Norman J. Fulkerson, is truly a wonderful book about a truly heroic person. I enjoyed reading it from start to finish and was so enthused that I bought several copies to give as Christmas gifts to my sons and sons-in-law. Heaven knows that today, more than ever, we need exemplary role models for ourselves and our children, and NOT of the Hollywood type. Colonel John Ripley is just such a man. I must say that I admire Col. Ripley’s fortitude and bravery in the face of physical dangers during wartime battles, but even more do I admire his willingness to face the opposition of “political correctness” and to put himself on the front lines in the moral, spiritual battles that are relentlessly bombarding us every single day.
Save yourself some precious shopping time, and order this book today!”
J.H. (Ohio mother and teacher) Solon, OH
“As a reader from outside the US, I came to admire even more the moral strength and qualities of so many Americans upon reading this book. “An American Knight; The Life of Col. John W. Ripley” opened my eyes to a fundamental feature of a major part of the American people, that is mostly unnoticed, as it is either ignored or underestimated by the international media and the movie industry – the strong, deep-rooted Faith and Christian traditions nurtured by countless American families, thus constituting the very foundation upon which formidable characters such as Col. Ripley are built.
“…Col. Ripley’s awesome soldierly virtues are precisely those for which the American people ought to be gratefully admired across the world. In the many wars waged by the United States for the good of the international community and other nations’ interests, millions of American soldiers have heroically risked their lives far away from their homeland for the sake of foreign peoples, as on that unforgetable Easter Sunday, when a single US Marine, gifted with a lionhearted bravery, with a tremendous strength and endurance, destroyed the Dong Ha Bridge against all odds, under enemy gunfire, while fervously shouting “Jesus and Mary, get me there”. Just like the Christian knights of old, Col. Ripley drew his courage from his unshakeable Faith.
“In short, Col. Ripley’s unparallelled military virtues should inspire not only the American people, but the whole world. I highly recommend this book.”
C.P. Santa Cruz, Porto Alegre, Brazil
“This book should be recommended, no, required reading, for all young men. The life of Colonel Ripley will show them that strong Faith is not only compatible with true manliness and strong patriotism, Faith is required for true manliness and true patriotism.
“As a former Marine, the whole book was wonderful especially the last couple of chapters that dealt with the illness and the burial and honors bestowed upon Colonel Ripley. My only complaint about this book is that it had to end.
“The unspoken questions throughout the book is why Colonel Ripley did not receive the Medal of Honor and why he was not made a general officer, in my personal opinion, it was because of his strong and unshakeable Catholic Faith which compelled him to speak the truth especially about women and homosexuals in the military.
“Thank you, Mr. Fulkerson, for this book about Colonel Ripley, a true and noble Catholic knight. Requiescant in Pace.”
M.Y. Fullerton, CA.
“An American Knight, The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC, is a brillantly written book. Mr. Norman Fulkerson does more than recount the heroic events of Colonel Ripley’s service. He tells you why the Colonel thought and acted as he did.
“A devout Catholic, Colonel Ripley fully understood that fulfilling his state in life, that of husband, father and warrior, required an uncompromising zeal for and love of the truth. Whether fighting America’s enemies on the battlefield or the proponents of political correctness in the congress, Colonel Ripley never sought comfort or cover. His brave stand to protect womanhood from the ravages of war and to keep homosexuals from dishonoring the military show he was a complete Catholic man.
“Well done Mr. Fulkerson.”
S.S. Leesburg, VA.
“Every patriotic American worth his salt should admire Col. John W. Ripley. His extraordinary courage in combat and the moral values that guided his entire life are a true inspiration. This book by Norman Fulkerson does a fine job presenting the life of this American war hero with accuracy and verve. Wow!
“I highly recommend this book to anyone searching for an authentic American role model and hope its pages serve to promote the legacy of a hero whose story is not yet widely known.”
J. B. Hazleton, PA.
“I am a retired Marine reservist… While I knew of Col Ripleys’ heroism in Vietnam I was not aware of his testimonies before Congress or his Catholic faith.
“I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the powers that be waited until his passing to try to redesign the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy. The fact that they waited is an indicator of the type of influence that he brought to the table.
“His story should be required reading by all Marines and anyone who appreciates the values that our Country and Corps has been founded on; honor, courage and commitment. Col Ripley exemplified the essence of these values and lived them every day.
“I also pray that this story gets made into a movie so that even more people can be made aware of this amazing person and what he stood for.
“Thank you for this fine work and may God continue to bless you.”
B. M., Lt. Col USMCR (Ret), Brea Ca.
“Seldom does a book’s story live up to its potential; “An American Knight” was much more than just a true tale about an American hero. This book delivers the riveting life experiences of a real hero without any worry about being politically correct in today’s world. The author, Norman Fulkerson, takes us right to the heart of the man and his black and white world of morals and righteousness. The author does not meekly skip past those elements that made John Ripley idolized by his fellow Marines and perhaps greatly criticized by social liberals bent on changing the traditions and standards of this national.
“No matter how one feels about women in combat, or about allowing women to attend all-male military schools – or about his outspokenness on the issue of allowing gays to serve in the military – one has to admire Ripley’s courage to say what he felt in his heart and not step aside from controversies. He was uncompromising and courageous on and off the battlefield. His social views certainly made him very few friends on Capitol Hill, or in political circles – and surely ended his military career hopes.
“The section in the book about his heroics in Vietnam are bigger than life exploits which one would expect to see in some Rambo movie. But the key difference is that it was all for real and he risked his life and limb for the mission he was asked to carry out. If you do not understand duty and honor then you will never understand John Ripley. He was all about honor and duty and he was willing to put it all on the line.
“I did not agree with all of what John stood for, in regards to his social beliefs, but I have to admire his ability to cut through all the superfluous and get right to the point regardless of what the results would be to his career. He was someone that we veterans could admire. He was always true to his self and to his personal beliefs- what more can we ask of anyone.
“I personally recommend this book regardless of your political and social views – it will teach you about true courage.”
“The American Author Association / Author of: A Spiritual Warrior’s Journey”
“I really enjoyed this book! I picked it up and couldn’t put it down! Read it cover to cover amid piles of laundry!;) Colonel John Ripley is a wonderful role model for today’s youth and young men. The story of John Ripley debunked the Myth that a good and faithful Catholic cannot be a good and faithful military man. I especially appreciated that he kept his language clean. I really admired his wife. She must have been an amazing woman.
“As to the Nay Sayers: The book itself is by no means a literary masterpiece. Just a good and easy read. It is obvious that the author loved and admired Colonel Ripley. As to the accusations that the author was trying shape Colonel Ripley’s life to match his own beliefs: That might have been believable except for the court testimony. You can’t fabricate those. Thank you Mr. Fulkerson for putting those in the book. They gave me more of an understanding and insight into what the very real and serious issues are with women, as well as homosexuals in the military. Particularly in combat.
“After reading some of the negative reviews, I realized in appreciating this book, I’m a raving; foaming at the mouth, sexist and homophobe. Self discovery is soooo refreshing!;)
“I thank the author, Mr. Fulkerson, again for bringing to light, the life of Colonel Ripley. A real hero.
B. M., Weatherly, Pa – Housewife and Mother
“Except for the times tears fill your eyes, this book will be for most Americans a quick and easy read. John Ripley and Nathan Hale are American heroes who gave their country the last full measure of devotion. An American adversary executed Nathan Hale and John Ripley died before he was 70. John’s death was directly related to the wounds he sustained during unspeakable combat against another, more amoral American adversary. Whilst John Ripley faced the jaws of sure death many times, he exhibited great compassion for the defenseless and innocent. John Ripley was born and nurtured into adulthood in Virginia by his loving parents. Many of John’s heroes were Virginians, but John was above all an American hero.
“Many will not agree with John Ripley’s position on two hot-button issues of today (women in combat and excluding alternate life-style persons (homosexuals) from uniformed naval or military service). However, if after reading this book, you cannot recognize the bravery and devotion to God and country, in that order, exhibited by John W. Ripley, then your soul is dark; you’re walking dead.”
D.Y. Fairfax, VA.
“First of all I am not a reader. My wife was reading An American Knight and a couple of chapters into the book my wife said ‘read this’. That was all it took. After starting the book I could not put it down. During the last three chapters, I didn’t just shed a tear, I wept. I cried because I understood Col. Ripley as a soldier, as a Catholic, and as a caregiver. I could not recommend this book more. Thank you for writing it.”
Mr. R. G. Lacon, IL.
“My wife and I had the privilege of knowing this man and his wife. He was everything that this book, An American Knight, reported him to be. His wife, Moline, was a saint who stood by her husband throughout his many, many absences and raised some wonderful children. John was one of a kind. Many of us today could use his courage and conviction in standing up to many of the issues we face today. I thought this book did an excellent job at telling his story.”
F.Y. Rehoboth Beach DE.
I finished your book last week and have thought about it a great deal.
While reading, I have to admit to thinking you should meet with Mel Gibson (or someone who has worked with spiritual and action films); this would make a terrific film for audiences who rely less on the written word and more on the movie/DVD presentations.
The prayer, “Jesus, Mary, get me there” needs to be on all our lips today as we combat the eroding of our long-held values in America. I felt honored as I read of Colonel Ripley’s heroic service to our military, our country, and, therefore, to each of us, as Americans.
Your book made clear the sacrifices military personnel make and how little recognition they have so often received upon return from a tour of duty. As I continued through those passages describing what combat is like, it was very unsettling to read what captured military men had
to endure. Those who witnessed and/or tried to rescue the captured endured a trauma of their own. Unsettling, indeed! It made very real the reasons some of the men I have known suffered PTSD, each in his own unique way. None really wanted to discuss the details. Your book made the reasons very clear.
I am grateful for the passages that clarified why women do not belong in combat and why Col. Ripley would want to preserve the ban on homosexuals in the military. You have done a true service in presenting both these issues through Colonel Ripley’s statements. How I wish that every person currently in position in government to vote on these matters were to read what you have recorded before casting a vote. The logic and truth recorded in AN AMERICAN KNIGHT could make all the difference in where we go as a nation in these matters.
A book for our times, for all times; may distribution grow rapidly, reaching the hearts of Americans everywhere.
Well done, Norman Fulkerson. Well done.
Mrs. J. G., Lacon, Il
I had the great privilege of knowing Col. Ripley and was a Midshipman First Class when he passed away. Col. Ripley was well-known to the Brigade of Midshipmen for his actions at Dong Ha but his position as a paragon of morality was known to far fewer of us. I enjoyed reading your biography, An American Knight, and learning more about this side of this American hero.
Currently, I am a Marine awaiting flight school and in my tougher times at The Basic School and afterward thoughts of previous Marine heroes like Col. Ripley have sustained me. Part of the strength of the Marine Corps comes from our ancestors in arms. Col. Ripley was an integral link in the Marine chain and his name will be taught to all Marines from Recruit Training to OCS.
M. F., Fountain Hills, AZ. 2ndLt. USMC
I found An American Knight to be a great read. In a word, Colonel Ripley’s life story is truly “inspirational.” As a Desert Shield/Storm Marine veteran and a Catholic man, I found that the way he lived his life challenges me to be a better man, husband, father, American and Catholic on a daily basis. I received the Combat Action Ribbon for my service in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but it can’t compare to the level of combat experienced by Colonel Ripley in Vietnam. The world needs more “hard chargers” like him. I have a friend who’s son is beginning his second year at the Naval Academy soon and I gave him the book to read. He liked it so much, his wife is now reading it. Thank you for writing the book and sharing the inspiration. I would recommend the book to everyone.
God Bless and Semper Fidelis,
D.F. Erie, PA Corporal, USMC 1987-1993
I have read the book, An American Knight, and also my 3 oldest homeschooled boys and we all loved it. We are just an average middle class family with no real ties to the military but were thoroughly captivated by the valor and courage of Col. Ripley. It would be great if this were required reading for all school age boys to see what real men act like and how they can live their faith in the world around them. Thank you for putting in print this awesome modern story.
R.V. Hudson, Iowa
“I just finished reading “An American Knight – The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC,” by Norman J. Fulkerson, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, Spring Grove, PA, 2009. I highly recommend it (I get no cut of the profits).
John was a classmate and a company mate at the Naval Academy. He passed away a couple of years ago. Many of you knew him well, others may have known only about his accomplishments, primarily his heroism, grit, and determination as a Marine (Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, etc. etc.), others of you may never have heard of Col. Ripley. This book tells his life story from his childhood with a focus on his moral values. John was a devout Catholic, but not just in the routine practice of his religion. He had high moral principles which he passed on not only to his children, but also to the many Marines he commanded and recruited during his 30+ years in the Corps. His public opposition to allowing women in combat and against allowing gays in the military no doubt cost him his stars, but he stood on principle. As a midshipman at USNA, he did not always strictly observe some of the pettier rules and regulations, but there was no doubt about his honesty and integrity. He eventually earned advanced degrees, headed a department at USNA, was Professor of Naval Science at VMI, and his first post-retirement job was as a college president.
Among John’s other accomplishments, he earned the wings of the Marine Force Recon (graduated from the US Army Airborne Course, Jumpmaster Course, and US Navy SCUBA school), graduated from the Army’s Ranger course, and completed the Royal Marine Commando Course, and later the Royal Marine Mountain and Arctic Warfare courses (while serving with the Royal Marine Commandos). I believe he is only the second person to ever accomplish all these qualifications. He later became the first Marine to be inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. The author unabashedly calls John a true American Knight.
William T. Brunelle, CDR, USN (Ret.), Annandale, VA
“I have finished reading An American Knight and found the story of Col. Ripley completely amazing and intriguing. While I found many similarities with his youth, I expect many readers did the same. But his endless pursuit of excellence and strong character and integrity made me look back on my life with a measure of disappointment. I wish I would have read his story as a youth, but he hadn’t yet lived it. And our sad education system in the public schools and higher education do not steer youth towards the Ripleys of the world, but rather presented a revisionists history. I must highly commend you on the way in which you approached his story. Your book was very interesting and easy to read. Not only should it be mandatory for the military academies, but also for each and every public school student in this country. While you put many, many hours of hard work into researching the history you present in your book, I’m sure you received an intrinsic reward much more valuable than your books sales having met and entered the lives of the Ripley’s and their friends and aquaintanances. I am buying a copy for my son, my three sons-in-law, and my two grandsons. Col. Ripley’s story must live on. Thank you, Norman.
D. D., New Oxford, PA. USN 1972-1978
“I must confess that before reading this book I was not very favorable to the thought of war, the army, and the men who I thought put on the uniform to be “macho”. Though with every single page that I got further in the story of Col. John Ripley, the more my false illusion of modern G.I Joes began to transform into the medieval knights that I so adored when reading. Everything that I adored was in the very pages in front of me (being a young teenager in college, I don’t usually pick up non-fiction books) adventure, courage, a deep love not only for his family but his country and above all his Love and Faith in his religion. Not only did he use his brawn to protect, but he used his brain to teach and to fight for his beliefs when others did not have the courage to speak. All I could think was, “Oh my gosh! Could this man possibly have lived? He seems more like an angelic warrior than a living, breathing person” His actions and courage in the Marines are legendary, and it makes me so sad that I will never have to chance to meet this truly amazing gentleman. After closing “An American Knight” I am full of pride and gratitude to the many fighting men (Especially the Marines) who fight for us each and everyday in the face of danger. I can’t help but tell my friends and family about his great story. “Have you ever heard of Col. John W. Ripley?” “You have got to read his story!” When discussing the book with my friend whose father is a Colonel in the Air Force, I couldn’t help but proudly proclaim. “Someday, I am going to marry a man like John Ripley. Every girl wants to marry a Knight…and I intend to marry one too.” Thank you Mr. Fulkerson for sharing this story with me.”
Amazon Review – AMMSTA10
My mother passed away in February, but she had the pleasure of reading An American Knight just before her death. My father, myself and some of my siblings read your book also and were truly edified by the great example Col. Ripley showed, not only as Marine fighting for his country, but also as Catholic fighting for his faith. My family had many good discussions, as each of us read the book in turn, about his courage, chivalry, fortitude, and faith - things that are severely lacking in today’s society, where men no longer know the meaning of manly, and where being environmentally friendly is considered heroic.
An American Knight is an excellent book, one which I will read again, many times over, and will share with family and friends, especially young men who are looking for a true role model. It should be required reading for all young men.
Thank you for your fine work.
S.K. Medicine Bowl, WY.
I received my copy of your book, An American Knight, and have read it twice. I am in awe of Col. Ripley. He is the epitome of a Roman Catholic, husband, father and military leader. I retired from the U.S. military a few months ago. When I look back through my 40 plus years in the military I must admit it would have been an honor and privilege to have served under the leadership of Col. Ripley. I agree with him, without any reservation, in regard to those things which he saw as weakening our military. I admire him as a man of integrity and more importantly as a man of God.
SMSgt Tony Lamb
As far as your book about Colonel Ripley is concerned, I love it and recommend it often. As a Catholic, graduate of the Naval Academy, and former USMC officer, I find Colonel Ripley’s story to be extremely inspiring. I currently work with a boys’ youth group (ages 11-18) at our parish and I have used excerpts from your book to help show the boys what is possible when a man of principle relies on his faith in difficult circumstances. I want to especially thank you for highlighting the influence of Catholicism in Colonel Ripley’s life. I often heard stories about Colonel Ripley during my time in the military, but I was never told that he was Catholic, much less how instrumental his Catholic Faith was in his life. Armed with that knowledge, I am now able to provide Catholic young men with a relevant role model who is often easier for them to understand and emulate than other examples from times much different from our own.
Capt. Matt Smith