U.S. Army Sergeant David James Rideout

U.S. Army Sergeant David James Rideout

(Presented here is the next installment in a continuing series of the Fontana Honor Roll’s recognition and appreciation for the men from Fontana who gave their lives in service to their country in foreign wars. Beginning publication on Memorial Day weekend and ending on Veterans Day, we extend our thanks and appreciation to the families of these men, our true Fontana heroes.)

United States Army Sergeant David James Rideout, age 23, was killed in action in the Tay Ninh Province of South Vietnam on Jan. 16, 1969.

He lived at 16125 Foothill Blvd in Fontana. He was born on March 25, 1945 in Highland Park, Michigan and lived in Fontana for 17 years. He was the son of George W. and Isabelle Black Morrill Rideout. He was a member of the Catholic faith and graduated from Aquinas Catholic Boys High School in San Bernardino, where he was member of the Kiwanis Club-sponsored boys’ service Key Club.

A San Bernardino Sun news article on Feb. 11, 1966 reported that David attended the State Young GOP (Republican Party) convention in 1965, at which the Fontana Young Republicans Club received an award for their Toys for Tots project participation. (This writer recalls also being a member of that club in 1964. Although I don’t recall meeting David, I’m sure our paths crossed.) The keynote speaker at the next monthly meeting of the club was the Rev. Howard Chipchase, who showed the film “Burn, Baby, Burn,” a story of the Los Angeles Watts’ riots. The meeting was held at the old Security First National Bank in Fontana. Rev. Chipchase’s subject was “Communism or Americanism.” Little did anyone know who attended that meeting that one of its members, future U.S. Army Infantry Sergeant David J. Rideout, would give his life fighting Communism in Southeast Asia.

Military records indicate David was drafted and started his 13-month Vietnam tour as a light infantryman (MOS 11B20) on Oct. 24, 1968. Less than two months later, he was killed by small arms fire on Jan. 16, 1969. Records also indicate that initially his body was not recovered; however, his remains were eventually sent home for entombment in Green Acres Memorial Park in Bloomington. (This writer had the honor of visiting his crypt in July and rendering a military hand salute in recognition of his sacrifice.)

Records also show that Sgt. Rideout married Mary Olga Frank, age 19 of Hesperia, on Sept. 22, 1968, a month before deployment to ‘Nam.

Rideout was a member of the 25th Infantry, 4th Cavalry, 3rd Squadron, “B” Troop, where he earned that Unit’s “Order of the Spur.” The Order of the Spur is a Cavalry tradition within the United States Army. Soldiers serving with Cavalry units (referred to as "Troopers") are inducted into the Order of the Spur after successfully completing a "Spur Ride" or for having served during combat as a member of or with a Cavalry unit. Sgt. Rideout participated in the Counteroffensive Phase V and Phase VI campaigns while in Vietnam.

In honor and recognition of his service, Rideout is remembered on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., Panel W34, Line 17. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, Marksmanship Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross and the Army Good Conduct Medal.

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