The Wall

I’ve been all over much of the world, but I’ve never been to Washington, D.C. Why? I just never had reason to go, and, deep inside I felt that I would be very disappointed. I would like to see the Wall, but only if I could go at night when there aren’t many people there, and the Wall is open 24 hours a day.

I’ve never been to Viet Nam. Not as a soldier nor as a tourist. My daughter, Rebecca, spent time in Viet Nam last year and loved it. Almost the entire Vietnamese population alive now was born after the Viet Nam War. For me “Viet Nam” has always represented horrible foreign policy, misguided and politically motivated decisions by old men in positions of power, and the total loss of an estimated 1,102,000–3,886,026 people on both sides. For many of my generation it is still an open wound. The Wall memorializes young Americans who did what they were called upon to do, served their country, and died in the process. It is also a tribute to those who served and were physically and or emotionally wounded. Hopefully as a country we will never forget and learn from their sacrifice.

Thankfully the names of my friends who served are not on the wall. One of those friends, who still bears the wounds of war, forwarded this valuable post.

The Wall

A little history most people will never know.

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Viet Nam Memorial Wall.

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.

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.

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.

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 Viet Nam.

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Viet Nam.

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.
I 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 Viet Nam 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 Viet Nam. 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 on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for one 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 friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

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