Honoring an American Hero

May 25, 2020
The following story appeared in the Purcell Marian Annual Report magazine in January 2020.

Madisonville native Staff Sergeant John (Jack) Freppon (Purcell ’67) attended Purcell High School from 1963-1967. He served in the United States Army as a Sergeant and then Staff Sergeant until his service cost him his life during his second tour in Vietnam. Staff Sergeant Freppon was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (full citation listed below) for his brave actions in Vietnam.

“Jack is a hero of mine. Being from Madisonville, my older brothers would ride to school with Jack and talk about the kind of person he was,” said Todd Mayer ’81. “He was instrumental in my commitment to serve in the armed forces, and I am glad to be part of a project that honors his memory.”

In 2019, Jack’s younger brother Jeff Freppon began an endowed scholarship at Purcell Marian in his late brother’s name. The John (Jack) D. Freppon Scholarship will support a student annually who is committed to community service while enrolled at Purcell Marian.

“My brother Jack was a special person. This scholarship is just a small way for our family to honor his memory,” says Jeff. “I am so happy that Todd Mayer and the rest of the community is so willing and excited to honor him at Purcell Marian.”

Work has begun on a special display for Staff Sergeant Freppon.

“Staff Sergeant Freppon is the most decorated Cavalier in our community and the entire GCL. We are grateful the Freppon Family is willing to loan the school his medals for a display. This display will serve as a constant reminder of his and his family’s sacrifice for America,” says Principal Andy Farfsing. “Our current and future students, as well as the greater Cincinnati community, will get to learn and recognize Staff Sergeant Freppon daily.”

Any members of the Purcell Marian community wishing to contribute to the Freppon Scholarship or our veteran displays, please contact: Lenny Hamm at (513) 751-1230 or Todd Mayer at coloneltamayer@gmail.com.


Staff Sergeant John Dennis Freppon Distinguished Service Cross Citation.

"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Staff Sergeant [then Sergeant] John Dennis Freppon (ASN: RA-11654412), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company E, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. Staff Sergeant Freppon distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 2 February 1969 as a squad leader for a platoon which was conducting a reconnaissance-in-force mission near Lai Khe. Sergeant Freppon was serving as point man when he was suddenly pinned to the ground by fragmentation and rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire from well-concealed North Vietnamese Army troops. Fearing that his men would be trapped by the devastating hostile fire, he stood up to warn them of the entrenched enemy. Then, with complete disregard for his safety, he charged through the fusillade toward a North Vietnamese bunker. Although he was wounded repeatedly, he continued his assault on the fortification. He succeeded in destroying the bunker, and was stopped only when he was mortally wounded by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade. His courage and self-sacrifice prevented many of his comrades from being killed or wounded. Staff Sergeant Freppon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."

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