WEST CALDWELL, NJ - A new development is coming to West Caldwell and the road it is built on, off of Clinton Road, is known as "McNish Way." Saturday, members of the James Caldwell American Legion Post 185 Color Guard joined West Caldwell Mayor Joe Tempesta, Jr. in honoring Vietnam War Specialist James R. ”Ronnie” McNish, of West Caldwell, by dedicating a street named in his honor. McNish was a member of the James Caldwell Class of 1965.
From 1968 to 1969, during the height of the Vietnam War, 19-years old McNish served as a crew chief of an ambulance helicopter in the United States Army 45th Medical Company . On the night of Feb. 5, 1969, he and three other men were killed when their UH-1H was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while hovering for a night hoist medevac about eight miles southeast of Xuan Loc.
The army unit was on their third trip into hostile territory to pick up wounded soldiers. They nicknamed the helicopter they flew in the "Red Baron;" it was always unarmed and marked with the red cross denoting medical aid. Killed in action along with McNish were:
According to a friend of the family, Elaine Waters Spaetti, Ronnie and his father "Speedy McNish" were thrill motorcycle riders who performed in a Motordrome as part of a show which toured the US.
"They performed in their Motordrome,
McNish was living in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the time of his military service. He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously and his remains are interred in the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida.