In Memory of Major Albert Lawrence Russell
Al served as the 3/4 Cavalry Executive Officer when the squadron deployed to Vietnam in 1966. A World War II and career military officer who retired as a Colonel in July 1979. Al entered service in January 1943 at Philadelphia, PA. Trained at Camp Hood, TX and in April 1943 was assigned as a crew member in Company B, 629th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy on July 1, 1944. He was in constant combat until the end of the war. His M-10 tank destroyed three enemy tanks in Jan. 1945 at Bihain, Belgium, while attached to the 83rd Division. For this action he was awarded the Bronze Star with V device. Mentioned in the book "Tank Destroyer Forces WW II". He was discharged in Nov. 1945 as a Sergeant. Al re-entered the Army as a 2nd Lt. of Armor in June 1951 after graduation from ROTC at Temple University. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry in 1964 as the operations officer. He planned and implemented the squadron's training for deployment to Vietnam. He developed the first whole island squadron size field training exercise on Oahu. Squadron elements moved through Honolulu at night and established a CP at Diamondhead. To local citizens it may have looked as if WWII had returned to Hawaii. His most important contribution as S-3 was the development of independent platoon training for platoon leaders that paid off when the units arrived in Vietnam. When Al became the executive officer in 1965 he planned the deployment of the squadron to Vietnam. In Vietnam he planned the move to Cu Chi and the development of the 3/4 Cav portion of the base camp. Additionally he implemented Medical Assistance Programs with the local population.Al's driver, Roger McGill remembers him as a "take charge person." Al had been talking to a friend when the convoy from Saigon departed from the docks. Realizing the convoy had left, Al jumped in the jeep to follow. Roger had seen the direction the convoy had gone and started to follow. They stopped at a traffic light and asked two Vietnamese in a cab which way to Camp Bravo. Al turned to Roger and said, "We are in country, aren't we? Where's my .45?" Roger pulled the gun from the box between them and Al was now suitably armed.. Several days later the convoy moved from Camp Bravo to Cu Chi on Hwy 1. The convoy got bottled up at the Hoc Mon bridge. Al passed the convoy, jumped out at the bridge and directed traffic to speed up movement. After promotion to Lt. Colonel Al served in the G-3 section of II Field Force in 1966. Al returned to Vietnam in 1968/1969 and commanded 4th Bn, 3rd Inf Regt, 23rd IN Division. Other assignments included the Dept of Army Inspector General's Office, Military Advisory Group Ethiopia as a Colonel, and Chief of the Military Advisory Group Argentina. Colonel Russell retired in 1979.
Decorations include the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, DOD Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with V device and three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with V Device and fourteen oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart and misc. others. Married to Rita Ann Rusche in Feb. 1946. They have two sons and one daughter. Al Russell was born August 10, 1923 and passed away on April 22, 1996. He received an inurnment with military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Honolulu, Hawaii on August 9, 1996.