Fans of R.A. The Rugged Man are familiar with the name Staff Sergeant John A. Thorburn. Father of the Long Island Rap titan, the Vietnam War Veteran was the subject of one of R.A.’s most famed tracks, 2006’s “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story.” The song, appearing on Jedi Mind Tricks’ Serveants In Heaven, Kings In Hell would go on to be a Hip Hop Quoteable in The Source magazine, as well as being the HipHopDX “2006 Verse Of The Year.”
The song’s subject died on January 7th, 2010, due to lung, hip and kidney cancer. The news was announced to DX this morning.
Just two years ago, Staff Sergeant Thorburn was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross by New York State Senator John J. Flanagan for his accomplishments in the Vietnam War. Those accomplishments include surving a 1970 attack on his chopper in Duc Lac, South Vietnam that resulted in one dead and three wounded. Complications from that attack resulted in Agent Orange exposure that would lead to three of R.A.’s siblings living with disabilities.
R.A.’s father also made a cameo in the film Bad Biology and reportedly is the subject of another documentary film in the works.
HipHopDX extends our condolences and honor to R.A.’s family at this time.