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Remembering those who have served
The Vietnam Memorial Wall ... behind these numbers are the faces of the fathers, sons, daughters, and friends who did not come home.
The following information is being circulated on the Internet. La Vernia resident and Vietnam veteran John Larrison shared this with the Wilson County News. We honor all our veterans this Nov. 11, and pause a moment to hold in our hearts those special to each of us.
There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010. The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date, and within each date the names are alphabetized.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon of North Weymouth, Mass., listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the memorial with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.
There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
Of the total, 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger, and 8,283 were just 19 years old. The largest age group, 33,103, were 18 years old; 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old; and five soldiers were 16 years old. One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock, was only 15 years old.
A total of 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam and 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.
There are 31 sets of brothers on the Wall.
Among the names are 54 soldiers who attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.
The Wall bears the names of eight women who were nurses.
A total of 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of the names are inscribed on the Wall.
Beallsville, Ohio, with a population of 475, lost six of her sons.
West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation during this war; there are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.
The Marines of Morenci (pop. 5,058) led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town had ever known and cheered. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail and stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. In the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High School enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only three returned home.
The Buddies of Midvale -- LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, and Tom Gonzales -- were all boyhood friends who lived in Midvale, Utah, on Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. They all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day.
The most casualty deaths for a single day was Jan. 31, 1968 -- 245 deaths.
The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968; 2,415 casualties were incurred.
Most Americans who read this will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted by these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters.
There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.
Please pass this on to those who served during this time, and those who do care.
George J. Marrett was an A-1 Skyraider pilot in 602nd Fighter Squadron (C) at Udorn and NKP Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, from April 1968-69.
This poem was read by retired Brig. Gen. Kenneth A. Fleenor, U.S. Air Force, at the opening ceremony of the Moving Wall exhibit March 19, 1999.
For every man that walked the rail, twenty stayed behind,
Some were lost and some were killed
And some we’ll never find.
And in their place a memory,
A great long granite wall,
Sitting down in Washington right close to the Mall.
Now, not a single one of them expected they would die,
There was a job that must be done, they knew they had to try.
No politics, no great ideals, just dedicated men,
The only thing they had to do was go and fight and win.
In courage and devotion, not a single one did lack,
Didn’t know the day they left, they never would come back.
They knew they had to do their part to keep our country free,
Went out there, gave all they had for folks like you and me.
And to the cowards in our land that said they wouldn’t go,
Today you’re living in the greatest land of all,
Thanks to the men remembered there,
On that great granite wall.
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