Over the next week, A Backward Glance will be taking a look at some of the fighters who died while serving their country in battle.
Garland Jerome “Rip” Randall, a native of Longview, Texas, at one time the third-ranked welterweight contender in the world, lost his life in South Vietnam at the age of 26, one of 60 United States servicemen from the 28th Infantry to suffer fatal injuries on October 17, 1967 at the Battle of Ong Thanh.
Randall, married and a father of five, was awarded both the Silver and Bronze Stars during his first nine months in action, before being granted emergency leave to fly back to Texas to be with his son Garland Jr., who was undergoing a life-saving heart operation. Before returning to complete his tour, he told John Hollis of the Houston Post that he wished the war was over but didn’t mind going back as it was his job to do so.
You don’t do these things by yourself. Everything we do, we do together. That’s why it’s so hard on you when your buddies get it… I am not going to die in Vietnam. A lot of guys have gone over and come back. I am going to box again.”
- Garland Jerome “Rip” Randall, July, 1967
In a professional career that spanned almost a decade, Randall shared the ring with some of the sport’s best fighters–Luis Manuel Rodriguez, Nino Benvenuti and Curtis Cokes. He had risen up the ranks, thanks to wins over former champion Virgil Akins and title contenders Kenny Lane and Isaac Logart, before his career suffered a setback in August of 1964, when he was upset in in the third round by local rival Manuel Gonzalez.
Another quick knockout loss followed a few weeks later, but Randall was still confident of regaining his form at the time his tour of duty began in August of 1966. He looked forward to meeting Gonzalez, who had gone on to challenge Emile Griffith for the championship, one more time. “Manny’s a great guy,” Randall told Hollis. “But that fight cost me a lot. I’ve got to fight him again.”
Randall is buried in the Veterans Administration Cemetery in Houston.