August 1, 2013:
Alan Rininger enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War, but his time serving as a corpsman for Company A, 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division is what he remembers.
“If you came to my house I don’t have a Navy flag hanging. I have a Marine flag,” Rininger said.
Former Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class Alan Rininger enlisted immediately after high school, and he decided to be a corpsman because he wanted to help people.
“I was raised that it was my duty to do something during a time like that,” Rininger said.
Rininger served from September 1967 to March 1968 and participated in operations in Quang Tri Province. When he first got to Vietnam he said he was in shock, but the Marines adopted him as one of their own.
“I can’t explain it,” said Rininger. “I was a part of something. I wouldn’t go anywhere without them. They wouldn’t let me.”
On March 7, 1968, Rininger was out on a mission with the Marines from Company A to seek out the North Vietnamese Army. When the platoon found themselves pinned down by enemy fire, Corpsman Rininger sprang into action.
“I was just doing my job,” Rininger said. “I was reacting. I wasn’t thinking about myself.”
Rininger treated the wounded Marines and prepared them for medical evacuation. He worked through the pain of his first combat wounds to save lives.
When Rininger spotted a Marine 30 meters away from the enemy, he didn’t falter. He ran over and began to tend to the wounded man. While helping him, Rininger sustained a second wound that put him in a coma for four days.
On March 11th, Rininger woke up on a hospital ship and spent the next year recovering at Great Lakes Naval Base.
“When I woke up, I was paralyzed,” Rininger said. “It took me six months before I could walk by myself again.”
Rininger was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions.
Rininger had some demons to fight when he returned home from war, but he defeated them and today he still loves to help people.
“It’s time for me to give back,” Rininger said. “God has touched my life, and I realize it.”
He made his first donation on July 2 in honor of his cousin Bruce Rininger, a Marine, who also fought in the war.
“He served in Vietnam the same time I did. We were even at the same base at the same time once, but we didn’t know it,” Rininger said.