Tunnel Rat

Veteran: Kenneth Ritchie
Artist / WriterMike Koulermos

Standing only five foot tall in a line of thirty other young men, Kennith Ritchie waited for what everyone knew what was to come – they were going to Vietnam.

Drafted in Oklahoma when he was nineteen, Ken had been a jockey. Now he was to be a soldier.

He was spotted by a former trainer and found himself with the label: Tunnel Rat. His small stature, tough nature, and not being claustrophobic fit the situation well.

Soldiers were dropped into certain areas by helicopter. The red clay of the area made good tunnels. To Ken it seemed the whole country had tunnels. He would go in with a pistol and a knife – though the knife was the weapon of choice should he encounter the enemy.

Firing a gun in the tunnel was like, “Stickin’ your head in a 55-gallon barrel and firing a .44 magnum. 

Kenneth Ritchie may have been small in stature but he was big when it came to saving American lives in Vietnam.