Alakulppi, Vesa Juhani, CPT

Fallen
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Captain
Last Service Branch
Armor
Last Primary MOS
1203-Tank Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Armor (Officer)
Primary Unit
1967-1968, 1203, 199th Infantry Brigade (Motorized)
Service Years
1963 - 1968
Foreign Language(s)
German
Swedish

Armor

Captain


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

34 kb

Home Country
Finland
Finland
Year of Birth
1941
 
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Rovaniemi, Finland
Last Address
Seattle, WA

Casualty Date
May 14, 1968
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Multiple Fragmentation Wounds
Location
Gia Dinh (Vietnam)
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park - Seattle, Washington
Wall/Plot Coordinates
60E 007

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Association Memberships
Redcatcher AssociationVietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  1968, Redcatcher Association
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2018, The National Gold Star Family Registry

 Photo Album   (More...


 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award
Parachutist (Basic)

 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1958, US Military Academy (West Point, NY)
 Unit Assignments
4th Armored Division3rd Battalion, 35th ArmorJungle Warfare School, Fort Sherman3rd Infantry Regiment
199th Infantry Brigade (Motorized)
  1963-1966, 4th Armored Division
  1963-1966, 3rd Battalion, 35th Armor/A Company
  1967-1967, Jungle Warfare School, Fort Sherman
  1967-1968, 1203, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry
  1967-1968, 1203, 199th Infantry Brigade (Motorized)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase IV Campaign (1968)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1958-1963, United States Military Academy
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity


During the Vietnam Conflict, any officer whose basic branch is other than infantry who, under appropriate orders, has commanded a line infantry (other than a headquarters unit) unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size for at least 30 consecutive days is deemed to have been detailed in infantry and is eligible for award of the CIB notwithstanding absence of a written directive detailing that Soldier in the infantry, provided all other requirements for the award have been met. (AR 600-8-22)

   
Comments/Citation

Vesa Juhani Alakulppi was born in Rovaniemi, Finland, on April 23, 1941, to Olavi and Eevi Alakulppi, during the Russo-Finnish war. Vesa's father was a first lieutenant in the Finnish Army, and Vesa often proudly spoke of his father's exploits while fighting the Russian Army to a standstill. For his bravery, Olavi Alakulppi was awarded Finland's highest honor, the Mannerheim-risti. After a heroic fight however, the overwhelming might of the Soviet Union proved too much for Finland's small army and the war ended in 1944. Vesa's son Kurt recalled, "After the conflict was over, my grandfather was still wanted by the Russian military. In 1945, he escaped on skis to Sweden, followed by his family, and after a brief stay, he arranged for his entrance into the United States through the U.S. Consulate in Sweden." Olavi Alakulppi was soon commissioned in the U.S. Army, and Vesa, along with his sister Maija, had a typical "Army brat" childhood living in Virginia, Colorado, Germany, and Kansas.

Vesa began high school in Germany, attending the Nuremburg Dependent School, before transferring to Mainz where he met Sharon, his future wife. He finished high school in Junction City, Kansas. Vesa was an honor student, ranking fourth in his class of 113 students, with a grade point average of 3.68. Vesa also excelled in athletics, lettering twice in football in Germany, and playing on the Junction City basketball team that won the Central Kansas Conference championship. In March, 1958, Vesa competed for, and won a presidential appointment to the United States Military Academy. When a local reporter asked Vesa about his aspirations for the future, he replied, "I have looked forward to an Army career all my life." On 7 July Vesa reported to the Man in the Red Sash in Old Central Area, and, after learning the rudiments of close order drill, he and his classmates were marched to Trophy Point and sworn in as New Cadets in the Class of 1963.
 

Vesa loved West Point, and he thrived in the demanding environment. A classmate recalled, "he was a quiet, honorable, 'top drawer' person. He really had a good mind and while he wouldn't normally admit it in public, he studied pretty hard to make sure that he was always prepared for class." Contract bridge was one Vesa's passions. A K2 classmate reminisced about the time Vesa and three others were caught playing bridge in the sinks after taps. "As I remember, they successfully b'ached their DR because playing cards in the sinks was not expressly forbidden in the regs. I think that was changed the next day." One of Vesa's roommates reflected upon his love for handball: "He was a fierce competitor, and he was pretty washed out when he returned to our room indicating that, win or lose, he had given it 100%. That's the way he approached everything. If it was worth doing it was worth a 100% effort." Vesa often tutored classmates who were having academic problems. One classmate wrote, "I distinctly remember how he helped me prepare for the final exam in Mechanics when I got turned out. So, in no small measure, I owe him big for the chance to complete my degree." Vesa's academic perseverance was rewarded his first class year when he made the Dean's List, and became a star man.
 

Graduation day finally arrived and Vesa and his classmates were commissioned in the field house on 5 June, 1963. He chose Armor, and after jump school at Fort Benning, the new second lieutenant reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky for the Armor Officer Basic Course. Then it was off to Bamberg, Germany where he served as A Company Commander, 3/35th Armor. In April, 1966, Vesa and Sharon were married. A classmate remembers, "those times we truly enjoyed being with Vesa and Sharon, having the fun of going out together, and taking the outings and small trips out in the German towns." In 1967, Vesa received orders for Vietnam, with a stop enroute at the Jungle Warfare School in Panama.


Upon arriving in Vietnam, Captain Vesa Alakulppi was assigned to the 2/3 Infantry of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He was initially the battalion S2, but he volunteered to be a rifle company commander, and was given "C" Company. On 14 May, 1968, Vesa's company was attacked by a superior force, and, after a furious battle, he was killed in action. A fellow company commander provided this account of the battle:
 

Captain Alakulppi, on losing communication with his strong point and receiving the report of enemy penetration from other bunkers, left his command post to tighten the remaining defenses and organize a counterattack. He went to the adjacent positions of the danger point, issued the orders to shift fires in order to contain the penetration, then started a personal reconnaissance of the situation. As he moved to a vantage point among the trees and irrigation ditches of the orchard he was ambushed and killed.
On May 28, 1968, Vesa Juhani Alakulppi was buried at the Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in Seattle, WA. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.  From West Point's "Family and Classmates"
   
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