Our society teaches us that nothing important happened before yesterday. Oh how wrong they are!
Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest
to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national
treasure that we call the American dream.”
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. 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 in1975. 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 33,103 were 18 years old.
12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
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 attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia ….
wonder why so many from one school?
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 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 was May 1968 – 2,415
casualties were incurred.
For most Americans who read this they 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
with these numbers, because they were our fellow servicemen and women,
friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.
There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.
We Vietnam Veterans stand as one when we say,
“Never again will one generation of Veterans abandon another.”