John J. Gutter

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Vietnam


John Joseph Gutter was born on 25 August 1940 to Samuel and Anna Gutter. John grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was a 1958 graduate of St. Michael’s High School in Union City where he was a member of the football, baseball and track teams. He also participated in glee club, mission club and student council. He entered the University of Rhode Island in September 1958 where he was a member of Phi Mu Delta Fraternity.

As a member of the football team, he earned All-Yankee Conference honors, All-New England honors and honorable mention All American in 1962. During his freshman and sophomore years, he participated in the Army ROTC Program and spent two summers in the United States Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course, an Officer Commissioning Program at the Officer Candidate School, Quantico, VA. Upon graduation from URI in 1963, he was commissioned as a Reserve Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps.

After graduation from the Basic School at Quantico, VA, in Dec 1963, Lieutenant Gutter was assigned to the Fleet Marine Force at Camp Pendleton, California. He deployed to Okinawa and then to the Republic of South Vietnam with Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Infantry Regiment. In February 1965, the Marines deployed around DaNang and Phu Bai along the Vietnamese coast. This area of Vietnam was a hotbed of Viet Cong activity. While on a combat patrol, 1Lt Gutter displayed heroic courage and was awarded the following valorous award:

                                                                     Citation – Bronze Star with Combat “V” device

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Bronze Star with Combat V device to First Lieutenant John J. Gutter, United States Marine Corps, for heroic achievement as Platoon Commander, Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 3d Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. On 18 September 18, 1965, while Company C was on patrol, it began to receive heavy sniper fire. One Marine was immediately wounded.

As the firefight continued, First Lieutenant Gutter maneuvered with complete disregard for his own personal safety to aid the wounded Marine. Upon reaching the Marine, he carried him from an exposed area to a position of relative safety and began to administer first aid. While tending the Marine’s wounds, he was wounded by enemy fire. First Lieutenant Gutter’s bold courage and unswerving devotion to duty were an inspiration to all who observed him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

1Lt. Gutter was flown to the US Naval Hospital, Japan, where he spent seven months recovering from his wounds. After recovering from his combat wounds and cleared to return to duty, Captain John Gutter volunteered to return to combat duty in Vietnam in order to complete his combat tour.

As a result of his combat experience, Captain Gutter was assigned as an advisor to the Commandant, Korean Marine Corps for Plans, Operations, Training and Intelligence, Seoul, Korea. During his assignment in South Korea, he earned his “Black Belt” in Tae Kwan Do. He went on to serve as Company Fleet Commander and participated in combat operations to recover the U.S.S. Mayaguez from hostile Cambodian forces in 1975.

As a Major and Lieutenant Colonel, Gutter subsequently served in various senior-level staff positions of increasing responsibility, culminating as the Program Manager for the Light Armored Vehicle and the Director of Studies Program for the Research and Development Branch, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Gutter’s outstanding performance made him an invaluable diplomatic link between Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps and various elements and agencies of the Department of Navy and Department of Defense.

In addition to being a graduate of URI, Lieutenant Colonel Gutter received a Masters of Education from George Mason University. His awards include the Bronze Star with Combat “V,” Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” Navy Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

LTC Gutter retired on 31 August 1984 and immediately stepped into his new role as Assistant Principal for Student Life, Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School, Arlington, Virginia. John was instrumental in the establishment of Bishop O’Connell High School as one of the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools through the innovation of projects and creation of learning environments, engaging students and increasing learning ability. John was the head football coach for several years and coached in all community spring and fall sports in his community.

Lieutenant Colonel John J. Gutter died from cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange on 29 July 2012. He was survived by his wife Ginny and four children. Colonel John J. Gutter was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

John was a loyal supporter of the Phi Mu Delta Chapter and University of Rhode Island Alumni Association. He was a brave and courageous Marine and a true hero and son of the University of Rhode Island.