Branch: U. S. Marines
Rank: Private First Class
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: Vietnam War
Home Town: Shevlin Township
Richard “Dick” Dean Power was born March 10, 1947 in Webster City, Iowa to Robert Roy and Elva Jane Woehler Power. Robert and Elva moved to Minnesota in late 1949 or early 1950 and lived in Hackensack for a couple of years; Backus for about seven years, Walker for two years then moved to Shevlin in 1964. Robert was a towerman for the U.S. Forest Service. The Power family lived at the junction of Highway 2 and County Road 23 (Leonard Road) and Dick attended Bagley High School. Dick had three brothers and three sisters.
Dick joined the Marine Corps on April 1, 1965. He chose the Marine Corps because his father Robert had been a Marine in WWII. (All Dick’s siblings are also veterans except for his youngest sister.) His sister Cindy remembers that Dick was a very proud Marine. He wrote the family a letter from Vietnam, saying that when he went there he was very nervous because he couldn’t swim very well. His sergeant told him, “Don’t worry, Power. We’ll never be farther than one mile from land!” Dick later found out that his sergeant meant “one mile straight down.”
Dick became an antitank assaultman with L Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. (His headstone and the Vietnam Memorial Wall say he was a member of L Company, but the Coffelt Database says he was with Company M.) An assaultman was tasked with tank-busting and breaching, which often meant carrying demolitions charges, a 20-pound Mk 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon and its 16-pound rocket across battle zones.
The 3rd Battalion came ashore in Vietnam on January 28, 1966 in the largest amphibious operation since the Marine landing at Inchon, Korea. They landed north of Duc Pho in southern Quang Ngai Province and moved inland with only sporadic enemy opposition. In February they moved back to the coast, boarded ships and were taken to Chu Lai, where they lived on the beach in fighting holes and bunkers. The company’s numbers were steadily declining due to snipers and small unit firefights, mines and booby traps. In February they took part in Operation Double Eagle II where they swept through the Que Son Valley in pursuit of NVA and Viet Cong. During its first 90 days in Vietnam, the 3rd Battalion was constantly in the field on large multi-battalion combat operations in response to the Viet Cong-NVA build-up.
On July 28, 1966, PFC Power was in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam when he was killed by hostile action. His body was recovered and sent home to his family, who buried him in Shevlin Cemetery. The family erected a flagpole in his honor at the cemetery, where his mother and father were also subsequently buried. PFC Richard Dean Power was 19 years old.
He was awarded the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Purple Heart.