In June 11 Issue
LEST WE FORGET. I touched on the importance of understand the cost of freedom last week.
I have mentioned before that while I am considered a Veteran of the Vietnam Era, I spent the majority of my military service in West Germany. When I returned home on July 8th, 1974, there were no parades, no celebrations and certainly nobody thanking me for my service to our country, but that's okay. I really wasn't looking for anything other that returning home and praying that I would never have to leave again.
I was provided some interesting facts in an e-mail about the price we paid as nation for the Vietnam Police Action. I'm sure that many of my younger readers don't realize that the conflict in Vietnam was never officially called a war.
There are 58,267 names however listed on that polished black wall, we call the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. Here are some interesting facts about the wall and history those future generations should be made aware of and hopefully not forget!
The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties. Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of the East wall, appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E - May 25, 1968), then resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges from the earth (numbered 70W - continuing May 25, 1968) and ending with a date in 1975.
Thus the war's beginning and end meet. The war is complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that bounds the angle's open side and contained within the earth itself.
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 Wall 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. 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger. The largest age group, 8,283 were just 19 years old, 3,103 were 18 years old, 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old, and 5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old. One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old. 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam. 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam. 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall. Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons. 54 soldiers on the Wall attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. 8 Women are on the Wall, nursing the wounded. 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall. Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons. West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.
The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.
The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets 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. And they all went to Vietnam. In a time 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 Remembrance Day. The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths. The most casualty deaths for a single month were May 1968 - 2,415 casualties. To learn more about the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, go to www.touchthewall.org.
The above statistics should be shared with our children and grand children so that they understand why we are the most successful nation in the world. If our children have been lead to believe that it is time change, then ask them too what?
We are what we are today because of our Judeo-Christian values. Without that foundation, we will be just another nation struggling to find our place in the world.
May God Bless