We Should Remember Them

We Should Remember Them

By Clayton Adams

We should remember the two men from Arkansas who gave their lives in the first major battle of Vietnam involving American military and the North Vietnamese Army.

We should remember the fifteen men from Crittenden County who gave their lives in the Vietnam War, unfortunately only a small part of their life stories are told in this writing.

We should remember the 585 others from Arkansas who gave their lives in this war.

We must remember and honor all of the men and women who served our country in the Vietnam War.

It is my sincerest hope that providing just a short glimpse into these men’s lives we’ll honor each man and their families.

How We Got Involved

It was as simple as choosing sides for any team sport. Two self-appointed captains representing two opposing sides. One captain, North Vietnam picked China as their first key player and the other captain, South Vietnam picked the United States as their first key player.

We must remember that in the 1950’s and the 1960’s America was fresh from saving the world in World War Two, the “Cold War” had its grip on the world and the sting of the Korean War, a war in which my father served was the beginning of the Vietnam War.

America foresaw North Vietnam taking over South Vietnam, another country lost to freedoms that we enjoy and subject to the iron-fisted rule of communism. American leaders just couldn’t let that happen.

President Eisenhower believed that South Vietnam was the foundation for freedom into Southeast Asia. Led by Democratic President Robert Kennedy who also believed that South Vietnam was the key to spreading democracy, free and open societies in Southeast Asia, a commitment was made to send military advisors into Vietnam. These advisors, were not to be involved in direct fighting, they were to train the South Vietnamese Army. But circumstances changed quickly.

President Kennedy wanted to show force on the heels for the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba and the communists who divided the German city of Berlin with a wall. The Berlin Wall was brought down by Republican President Ronald Reagan who triumphed freedom and who led the charge to end the Cold War.

Unfortunately, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated just three weeks before President Kennedy was assassinated. From these two assassinations the conflict boiled until in 1965, America officially entered the war in the Central Highlands surrounding a dry creek bed and a small area called Ia Drang Valley.

“X-ray” and “Albany”, were the two Landing Zones (LZ’s) for the Americans in this first ferocious battle.

Two men from East Arkansas were involved in this battle, we should know and remember them and we should learn from them.

The Two

Ia Drang Valley, (The Valley of Death) 14 November – 17 November 1965

A powerful and moving book We Were Soldiers Once…And Young written by the commander of the American Army, Lt. General Hal Moore and news reporter Joe Galloway, who, not only was an observer to these four days but was a combatant at times.

The Ia Drang Valley referred to as the Valley of Death because it was the place the American Army met for the first time the Peoples Army of Vietnam (North Vietnamese Army).

234 Americans were killed in the four days of this battle. It was a part of a larger, 35 day long campaign in Pleiku Valley of Vietnam (South Vietnam, then). Figures for the North Vietnamese soldiers varies greatly depending on the source used but suffice to say, they lost 559 to 3,561 soldiers during the battle.

The battle of Ia Drang required the lives of good soldiers from both sides and it taught costly, powerful lessons to both sides. The Americans, for the first time, used helicopters to ferry men and equipment into a battle zone and used those same helicopters to evacuate the wounded and dead.

This new “Cavalry” proved its worth. The North Vietnamese proved their fighting tactics were true too. They got close to the Americans, proved they could meet the feared American military and fight. If the Americans were agile and quick with their helicopters the North Vietnamese would be close and swift. Two men from eastern Arkansas were part of this battle. Sergeant Floyd Lardino Reed, Jr. of Heth, and Warrant Officer, Billy J. Talley of McCrory. Both men gave their lives in this valley of death.

Floyd L. Reed, Jr. of Heth, Arkansas was born on 3 November 1938 and was killed in action on 15 November 1965 in the battle of Ia Drang.

Sargeant Reed was assigned to A Battery, 1st Battalion, 21St Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division. SGT Reed is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 22 November 1965, SGT Reed “died… as a result of fragment wound of the head received in hostile ground action.”

Sergeant Reed was not married and had no children. His parents, living in Heth, Arkansas were notified of their son’s death.

SGT. Reed, Jr. was awarded the Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 03E Line 061.

Billy J. Talley, of McCrory, was born on 31 May 1938 and was killed in action on 16 November 1965.

Warrant Officer Talley, was a helicopter pilot assigned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, USARV and is buried in the Fort Lewis Post Cemetery, Fort Lewis, Washington.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 25 January 1966; WO Talley “died… as a result of extreme multiple injuries incurred while co-pilot of UH-1B helicopter on combat assault mission when aircraft crashed and burned. Death is result of hostile action.”

WO Talley was married and at the time of his death, his wife was living in Auburn, WA, she was notified of his death.

WO Talley was awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 03E Line 067.

1966

Richard W. Perry of Marion, was born was born on 2 February 1942 and was killed in action on 19 September 1966.

Sergeant Perry was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 28 September 1966, Sergeant Perry was killed resulting from “gunshot wounds to the left side of the neck and head sustained while participating in an operation against hostile forces.”

It is footnoted on the Report of Casualty, that Sergeant Perry at the time of his death had a brother, Pvt. Arthur L. Perry in the Army.

Sergeant Perry was not married and had no children. His parents living in Marion, were notified of his death.

Sergeant Perry was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal. Sergeant Perry is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 10E Line 121.

1967

Gary C. Cupples of Marion, was born on 27 April 1946 and was killed in action on 1 June 1967.

Corporal Cupples was a Rifleman assigned to L Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines,     3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park, Marion, AR.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 16 June 1967; Cpl. Cupples died as the “result of an unknown fragmentation wound to the neck from unknown hostile explosive device and gunshot wound right back from hostile rifle fire while engaged in actions against hostile forces during operation.”

Corporal Cupples was not married and had no children. His parents living in Marion were notified of their son’s death.

CPL Cupples was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 21E Line 026.

Robert T. Harris of Earle, was born on 16 December 1946 and killed in action on 17 June 1967.

Private First Class Harris was an Infantryman assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, USARV and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, AR.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 20 June 1967; PFC Harris was “on combat operation preparing light defense perimeter in landing zone when he engaged hostile force in firefight.”

Private First Class Harris was not married and had no children.  His parents, living in Earle were notified of their son’s death.

PFC Harris was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 21E Line 121.

Henry Johnson, of West Memphis, was born on 22 November 1946 and died on duty on 8 October 1967.

Lance Corporal Johnson was a Rifleman assigned to Headquarters Company, 7th Command Battalion, 1st Marine Division, III MAF. LCPL Johnson’s burial location is unknown according to official record.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 11 October 1967; LCPL Johnson died as the “result of a crushing wound to chest sustained during storm when his shelter collapsed while in a defensive position.”

Lance Corporal Johnson was not married and had no children. His father, living in Turrell and his mother living in West Memphis were notified of their son’s death.

LCPL Johnson is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 27E Line 069.

Eli J.B. King of Earle, was born on 29 May 1944 and was killed in action on 22 June 1967.

Lance Corporal King was a Rifleman assigned to L Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried at Russell Cemetery in Earle, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 1 July 1967; LCPL King was killed in action as the “result of fragmentation wounds to the neck, right shoulder and both legs from hostile mine while on patrol during operation.”

Lance Corporal King was not married and had no children. His mother, was deceased, his father’s location was unknown and his sister, Corine Wiley, living in Milwaukee, WI was notified of his death.

LCPL King was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 22E Line 043.

Clarence Varnado of Marion, was born on 27 November 1941 and was killed in action on 27 February 1967.

Staff Sergeant Varnado was an Infantryman assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, USARV and is buried in Memphis National Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 27 February 1967 at 1930 hours, SSG. Varnado was killed when he was struck in his neck by shrapnel from hostile fire while on combat operation.

Staff Sergeant Varnado was not married and had no children. His parents, living in Marion were notified of their son’s death.

SSG Varnado was awarded the Bronze Star (Merit), Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Panel 15E Line 111.

1968 – TET

1968 would prove to be the bloodiest year with 16,899 Americans losing their life in the war.

In English it is TET, in Vietnamese it is T_t and it begins the Vietnamese New Year. It is the most important celebration in the Vietnamese culture. The word is a shortened form of T_t Nguyên _án, which is Sino-Vietnamese for “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”.

31 January is when the North Vietnamese began their TET Offensive against South Vietnamese Army and the American military while South Vietnam began celebrating the New Year.

The TET Offensive was an unquestionable military defeat for the North Vietnamese but it was the turning point for anti-war protestors and changed the way Americans viewed Vietnam.

Though it was a defeat for the North Vietnamese militarily, it was an unquestionable victory because it turned the American psyche against the war. It would take another seven years to officially end but the end started with the beginning of TET. Perhaps the greatest single comment about Vietnam came from the trusted, respected and experienced CBS Evening News Anchor, Walter Cronkite who said; “To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could. This is Walter Cronkite; good night.” (27 February 1968, CBS Evening News)Undoubtedly, his commentary, the news about the TET Offensive and the total surprise in which the North Vietnamese executed the offensive convinced politicians, protestors and the American people it was time to leave Vietnam. It would take another seven years to leave and thousands more American lives.

1968

Charles H. Graham of West Memphis, was born on 22 January 1952 and was killed in action on 4 February 1971.

Corporal Graham was an Indirect Fire Infantryman assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, USARV and is buried in the Nevada Municipal Cemetery, Nevada, Iowa.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 5 March 1968; CPL Graham “died from wounds received while on combat operation when engaged hostile force in firefight.”

Corporal Graham was married and his wife lived in Nevada, Iowa was notified of her husband’s death. They had no children. Corporal Graham’s parents lived in West Memphis were notified of their son’s death.

CPL Graham was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 37E Line 022

Otis E. Isbell of West Memphis, was born on 21 October 1948 and was killed on 16 May 1968.

Private First Class (Promoted Posthumously to Corporal) was an Infantryman assigned to HHC (Headquarters and Headquarters Company), 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, USARV and is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery, Iuka, Mississippi.

According to the official Military Casualty in Vietnam as the Result of Hostile Action dated 20 May, 1968, CPL Isbell “died from wounds received while in base camp when engaged hostile force in a firefight.” Six other soldiers were also killed that night in the intense firefight.

Corporal Isbell was not married and had no children. His parents living in West Memphis, were notified of their son’s death.

Corporal Isbell was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 61E Line 012.

John Washington of Earle, was born on 25 April 1947 and was killed in action on 20 January 1968.

Private First Class Washington was a Rifleman assigned to A Company, 1st Amtrac Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 24 January 1968; PFC Washington died as the “result gunshot wound to the head from hostile rifle fire while engaged in action against hostile forces.”

Private First Class Washington was not married and had no children. His father was deceased and his mother, step-father, sister, and a friend, all living in Earle were notified of his death.

PFC Washington was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 35E Line 001

1969

Louis Brown of West Memphis, was born on 7 June 1947 and was killed in action on 5 April 1969.

Private First Class (Promoted Posthumously to Corporal) was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, USARV and is buried in Marion Memorial Cemetery, Marion, Arkansas.

According to the official Military Casualty Report, Corporal Brown was “killed while on combat operation when a hostile force was engaged.” A footnote states; “Individual was previously reported missing on 5 April 1969 and changed to dead on 13 April 60. NOK notified of death on 14 April 69.”

Corporal Brown was not married and had no children. Corporal Brown’s mother, living in West Memphis was notified of her son’s death.

Corporal Brown was awarded the Bronze Star (Merit) and the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 27W Line 015.

Houston F. Thomas of West Memphis, was born on 27 November 1941 and died on 4 February 1969 from injuries received on 16 January 1969.

Lance Corporal Thomas was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 10 February 1969, Lance Corporal Thomas “died at 1650 hours 4 February 1969 aboard United State Navy Hospital ship USS Repose as a result of wounds he sustained 1415 hours 16 January 1969 Quang Tri Province when a hostile mine exploded while on patrol.”

Lance Corporal Thomas was not married and had no children. Lance Corporal Thomas’s parents living in West Memphis were notified of their son’s death.

LCPL Thomas was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 33W Line 059.

1970

Ralph Phillip Hardin of Marion, was born on 5 September 1950 and was killed in action on 6 May 1970.

Lance Corporal Hardin was a Rifleman assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, III MAF. Lance Corporal Hardin is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park in Marion, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 14 May 1970; LCPL Hardin was “killed in action 6 May 1970 in Quang Nam Province.”

Lance Corporal Hardin was not married and had no children. Lance Corporal Hardin’s mother was deceased and his father, living on Old Millington Road in Memphis was notified of his son’s death.

In the September 11, 2017, page 3 of the Times, Crittenden County newspaper there is a photograph from 1963 of the ‘Boys of Summer ’63’ in which LCPL Hardin is pictured in the front row, fifth from the left (he was about 12 or 13 at the time of the picture).

LCPL Hardin was awarded the Purple Heart and 2 Gold Stars and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 11W Line 112.

1971

Randall L. Harris of West Memphis, was born on 13 July 1952 and was killed in action on 8 February 1971.

Private First Class Harris (Promoted Posthumously to Corporal) was a Food Service Specialist assigned to C Battery, 6th Battalion, 11th Artillery, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, USARV and is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park, Marion, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 14 February 1971; Corporal Harris, “was killed while the assistant driver of a military vehicle on a military mission when a mine detonated.”

Corporal Harris was married and had no children. His wife, living in Hot Springs, Arkansas was notified of her husband’s death. Corporal Harris’s parents living in West Memphis were notified of their son’s death.

CPL Harris was awarded the Bronze Star (Merit) and the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall Panel 05W Line 088.

Richard Wilson, Jr. of Crawfordsville, was born on 8 November 1947 and was killed on 15 June 1971.

Private First Class Wilson was a heavy vehicle driver assigned to the 523rd Transport Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, 26th Ground Service Group, Army SPT Command Danang, 1st Logistics Command, USARV.

According to official Report of Casualty dated 27 September 1971 PFC Wilson, “was killed while the driver of a military vehicle on a military mission when the vehicle ran off a bridge and into a river.”

Additional military records state; “On 15 June 1971 PFC Richard Wilson, Jr., was serving as a truck driver in South Vietnam. At about 1655 hours that day his truck went out of control while crossing the AN LO Bridge in a rainstorm, located in the vicinity of grid coordinates (left blank) and went off the bridge. On 17 June divers inspected the truck and were unable to locate PFC Wilson. 20 June the truck was recovered but no trace of PFC Wilson could be found in the truck cab. On or about the 20th, a Vietnamese youth reported seeing a body similar to PFC Wilson in appearance downstream from the bridge in the river. Efforts to relocate this body were unsuccessful. During this entire period of time U.S. and Vietnamese personnel assisted by helicopter made extensive searches in the area of the accident and downstream. All efforts were unsuccessful.” PFC Wilson’s body was never recovered.

A footnote in the Report of Casualty dated 27 September 1971 states;

“Previously reported missing on 15 June 1971 and changed to dead on 23 September 1971.”

Private First Class Wilson was not married and had no children. Private First Class Wilson’s mother living in Crawfordsville, was notified of her son’s death.

Private First Class Wilson is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall Panel 03W Line 077.

1972

My father had enlisted in the Army at a very young age and served in the Korean War. He left the Army and entered the Air Force from which he retired in 1970. As many military families did and continue to do, we lived on the many different air bases my father was assigned to.

Anchorage, San Antonio, Biloxi, Jacksonville are all cities that shaped my life for they are all locations of Air Force bases my family has lived. I remember particularly in Biloxi and Jacksonville we used to watch helicopters and jets arrive and take off – their destination was unknown but no doubt many of them ended up in Vietnam. Then, Jacksonville was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base and the activity on the airfield never ended.

My brothers, sisters and I were born in different states but always on a base. I look back with fond memories of my childhood, a great life! Every time we moved from one base to another we always had new furniture. I thought we were rich! I didn’t know until my teen years that most of our furniture was rented.

I remember watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and the other news reporters in Vietnam, the “body counts” of dead Viet Cong or North Vietnamese. I remember the protests and protestors. I thought it was wrong to protest and particularly for draft dodgers to do what they did.

It is true that we are shaped by our experiences and my experiences were rooted deeply in the military. One thing I learned, no matter if I agree or disagree with the war – I will always do all I can to support, encourage and defend the ones on the front line – it is their lives at stake, not the protestor, not the politician – if involved in a war – do everything to win.

Following the American Civil War there is not another more confusing, destructive and questionable time than our involvement in Vietnam. But… we continue to learn lessons and reflect on the very short path into Vietnam but the very long and terrible rode through and out of our experience in Vietnam.

I honor all the men and women who serve in our military. I am grateful for those who voluntarily enlisted and those who were drafted and served.

For the over 58,193 men and women who paid for our freedom with their lives, I am forever thankful.

1972

James Lathon of Earle, was born 17 May 1949 and died on 17 May 1972 (His Birthday) while saving an Air Force crew and removing them from harms way.

Sergeant Lathon was a Fire Protection Specialist assigned to the 388th CE Squadron, 388th Combat Support Group, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force and based in Thua Thien province of Thailand at Korat Republic of Thailand Air Force Base.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 19 May 1972, SGT Lathon died of “Shrapnel wounds combat related.” According to the Virtual Wall project at http://www.VirtualWall.org it states; “Member of the USAF Crash Rescue crew stationed at Korat Air Base in Thailand during Operation Linebacker. At about 0710, a fully-armed F-150G “Wild Weasel” aircraft carrying AGM-45 Shrike Missiles, made a crash landing at Korat RTAFB. Due to a left main gear collapse, the aircraft slid to a stop igniting its fuel in the 450 gallon left inboard tank.

SGT Lathon, along with other crash crew members, were instrumental in getting the cockpit canopies off and unbuckling the crew. They yanked the crew out and got them safely away from the burning aircraft, and suppressed most of the fire. However, after about 8 minutes following the arrival of the fire crew, the AGM-45 warhead on the left side of the aircraft detonated. In the blast and shrapnel, Sergeant Lathon, Staff Sergeant Daubendiek and four Royal Thai Air Force personnel were killed outright.

Sergeant Lathon was not married and had no children. Sergeant Lathon’s parents living Earle were notified of their son’s death.

SGT Lathon is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas.

SGT Lathon is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 21E Line 121.

The First and the Last

The First American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force Technical Sergeant (T-SGT) Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. Tech Sergeant Fitzgibbon, Jr. was born 21 June 1920 and was shot and killed by another American soldier on 8 June 1956.

Technical Sergeant Fitzgibbon Jr. had a son named Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon, who was a Lance Corporal assigned to the 3rd Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and was killed in action on 7 September 1965.

Both father and son are memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

There were three fathers and their sons killed in the Vietnam War.

The First Battlefield fatality was Army Specialist 4 James T. Davis was from Livingston, Tennessee. He was born on 1 June 1936 and was killed on 22 December 1961.

Specialist Davis was a Radio Direction Finder assigned to the 3rd Radio Research Unit, Army Sec Group Vietnam, MAAGV.

According to an official document; “on 22 December 1961 at approximately 1140 hours, Specialist Davis was riding in the front of a _ ton truck, which was proceeding west on Viet Nam provincial highway Number 10. An electrically controlled mine was exploded under the rear of the truck and immediately after the explosion approximately 10 Viet Cong rebels opened fire with rifles, automatic machine guns and hand grenades. Specialist Davis managed to open the door and escape from the vehicle; however, approximately 50 feet from the truck, he was hit in the head by a bullet. He died as the result of a laceration of the brain, due to a bullet wound. Death apparently was instantaneous.”

Specialist James T. Davis was awarded the Purple Heart. Specialist James T. Davis is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 01E Line 004.

The Last American killed in the Vietnam War was Private First Class Kelton Rena Turner, an 18-year old Marine. He born on 15 July 1956 and was killed in action on 15 May 1975, two weeks after the evacuation of Saigon, in what became known as the Mayaguez incident.

Private First Class Turner was a rifleman assigned to G Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF. According to official documents his body was not recovered when his helicopter crashed but his remains were repatriated on 6 December 1995 but not identified until 8 May 2000. He is buried in the Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.

PFC Turner is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 01W Line 130.

Private First Class Turner served with three others who have never been accounted for after the Mayaguez incident.

According to an official Extract from an MIA investigation report for PFC Gary L. Hall; LCPL Joseph N. Hargrove; PVT Danny G. Marshall (date unknown);

“That Hall, Hargrove and Marshall landed on Koh Tang Island, Cambodia at about 1230 on 15 May 1975. That Hall, Hargrove and Marshall comprised an M-60 machine gun team which was attached to the 3rd Platoon, Company “E”, 2nd Battalion, Ninth Marines. That the machine gun team formed by these three Marines was positioned on the extreme right portion consisted of the 3d Platoon of Company “E”…. That during the daylight hours of 15 May 1975; Hall, Hargrove and Marshall were observed in their defensive position by several members of Company “E”. That between 1830 and 1900 a prearranged signal was sounded initiating withdrawal of the defensive perimeter toward the beach, to execute the extraction of all Marine forces from Koh Tang Island. That prior to initiation of the preplanned withdrawal Hall, Hargrove and Marshall had been briefed on the sequence of events which would culminate with the extraction of all Marine forces from Koh Tang Island. That when the signal was sounded to begin withdrawing toward the beach area, PFC Rios, who was located about 5 meters from Hall, Hargrove and Marshall, shouted to the three Marines telling them to pull back, whereupon Rios withdrew and did not see the three men again.”

They were last seen together but unfortunately to date, their fate is unknown. They are memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel 1W Lines 103-131.

1975 – The End

The Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and others regardless of being drafted or volunteering had accomplished what they were sent to South Vietnam to do. They trained the South Vietnamese Army, they fought the battles to keep another country free of communism.

If America lost the war it wasn’t the military, it was the politicians who lost the war. The United States was “officially” out of the war in January 1973 but the fighting kept going between North and South Vietnam until April 1975 when South Vietnam was finally conquered by North Vietnam. To this day many veterans suffer from Agent Orange, a defoliant used to destroy the lush forest and dense jungles by stripping their leaves. Many more suffer from the terrible way they were mistreated when they arrived back home from Vietnam. Many of our Veterans continue to suffer from the poor medical services delivered through the Veterans Administration and the delays in getting these Veterans the services and benefits they were promised and earned. It is a tragedy that must be resolved.

In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was completed and unveiled in Washington, D.C. The Memorial has inscribed on its black marble panels the names of 58,286 (Names are continuously added when appropriate) of men and women killed in Vietnam or dying of the wounds received while serving in Vietnam.

It is a humbling experience to walk past the Memorial, to see the names, to see Veterans standing, gazing at names of their friends, to see the memorials left behind in honor of so many.

If you should have the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall I encourage you to do so – it is hallowed ground and a place for healing the American soul. What once divided us as a people can now unite us.

Perhaps a simple and sobering view of the war is to consider the inscription on the tombstone of Major James Carl Payne, from Marked Tree buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery, Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Major Payne was an Operations & Training Staff Officer assigned to ADV Team 4,  Headquarters, MACV Advisors, MACV in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 21 February 1968; “Individual died as the result of wound received while in base camp which came under hostile mortar and rocket attack.”

Major Payne was married and had two sons living at the time of his death in Trumann, Arkansas. Major Payne’s wife and sons were notified of his death. Major Payne was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel 36E Line 081.

Major Payne’s headstone, reads; “James Carl Payne, Major Army Artillery, Born July 27, 1936 Died Defending The Right of Men To Choose Their Own Destiny And To Live In Dignity And Freedom, Died February 2, 1968.

This is the ideal that this country was founded upon. This is the reason why so many gave their lives in Vietnam or any war – for the purpose of enabling others to “Choose Their Own Destiny And To Live In Dignity And Freedom.”

Many died to give us the ability to choose our destiny. I pray we make wise choices with the freedom we have been provided.

In honor of the 2 men killed in Ia Drang; The 15 killed from Crittenden County and,

The 585 other men from Arkansas and, The 2,709,918 Americans who served in uniform in Vietnam and, The 9,087,000 military men and women who served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from 5 August 1964 to 7 May 1975 – You have not been forgotten and, Thank You for serving!

To the men and women serving now – Thank You!

To the families who lost sons, fathers, uncles, cousins, grandfathers and friends, your loss has never left your heart and the memories of your loved ones will never die. By honoring your loved ones we also honor you.

Clayton Adams, Earle, AR

Statement of attribution and accuracy.

To the best of my ability I researched dates, facts and figures using various sources all of which are listed here, if I have made a mistake it was accidental and I would be happy to correct any mistake if I am made aware of the mistake and given the correct information.

• My Father, Victor L. Adams, whom I want to be like when I grow up.

• Men who served in Vietnam and I look up to:  Billy Rogers, Manual Clouse, Eddie Carlock, Richard Fritz, George Turnbo and many others.

• To the many men whose funerals I have conducted and who served in Vietnam, Europe, The Pacific, Korea and the Middle East – they have all been good teachers.

• The Coffelt Data Base of Vietnam Casualties at http://www.coffeltdatabase.org. This is perhaps the best source of information for researching individuals who were killed in Vietnam. Much of their information is taken directly from the LBJ Presidential Library located in Texas. It is copyrighted.

• Find A Grave at http://www.findagrave.com

• Wikipedia at http://www.wikipedia.org

• The Wall-USA at http://www.thewall-usa.com

• U.S. Wings at http://www.uswings.com

• History at http://www.history.com

We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by LT. General Harold G. Moore (Ret) and Joseph L. Galloway. New York, Random House, 1992.

• The National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam.

• The United States Census at http://www.census.gov

• Honor States.org at http://www.honorstates.org.

Requests

• If someone knows of the burial location of LCPL Henry Johnson of West Memphis, please contact me at cpalaa@yahoo.com

• If someone has a photograph of one of these men, please contact me at cpalaa@yahoo.com to complete the official record for each man from Crittenden County. The completed record will be donated to the Crittenden County Museum.

• If someone knows of the burial location of Sergeant James Lathon of Earle, please contact me at cpalaa@yahoo.com.

• If someone knows of a memorial site for Private First Class Richard Wilson, Jr. of Crawfordsville, please contact me at cpalaa@yahoo.com. His body was never recovered and if there is no known Memorial for him currently, one will be created and a service conducted on his behalf and with any family members known.

• To these Vietnam Veterans who did not enjoy a hero’s welcome home, perhaps we can have one soon for you in Crittenden County – you haven’t been forgotten.

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Our View: Objections won’t deter plans for 10 Commandments monument

Good for you state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, for standing up to the left-wing, self-interest Washington, D.C., based American Humanist Association wanting to ax your plan to place a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol. Rapert is forging ahead with his endeavors after he created an online fundraising account for the monument and has already raised over $6,000 in donations. We’re confident that when all is said and done Rapert will easily collect the necessary $10,600 needed to complete the fundraising drive. We’re told the account has already reported that $3,035 in donations were received through the GoFundMe account and the other $3,000 was made in direct donations from concerned Christian Arkansans who have had their belly full of being pushed around by these bully groups with self-serving and self-interest causes. In a legal response to Rapert’s efforts from this radical group’s legal center, he was informed of the organizations strong objections on, listen to this, “behalf of Arkansas residents and others who see it as a blatant attempt to promote religion and a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.’ Then came the threat of litigation, as if that was going to deter Rapert from pursuing his efforts. This radical Washington element, sticking its nose in the lives and beliefs of what we believe are the majority of Arkansans, told Rapert it has litigated cases involving church-state separation and the rights of humanists, other non-theists and non-Christians in state and federal courts across the nation and is biting at the bit to put him in his proper place. The fact of this matter, and what is giving Rapert the encouragement to pursue his endeavors, is a Supreme Court ruling that approved a Ten Commandments monument on a state Capitol grounds in 2004, and the Eighth Circuit approval for a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in 2005. “It is settled law that a Ten Commandments monument such as the one we intend in Arkansas is in full compliance with the Constitution. Act 1231 was passed by 99 out of 135 state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2015 and will be fulfilled according to state law,” Rapert said. Most of us should remember that in April, Hutchinson signed into law legislation requiring the secretary of state to arrange for a privately funded Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the Capitol grounds in Little Rock. Act 1231 states that the “placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol would help the people of the United States and of the state of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law.” It requires the secretary of state to permit and arrange for the monument to be designed, constructed and paid for by private entities at no expense to the state. Similar monuments have been constructed in Oklahoma and Texas. We say, Go For It! Sen. Rapert, and don’t let this radical group or any others hinder your efforts to not only collect the necessary donations but also have this important monument in a special place for all Arkansans to view and take very seriously.

It’s not just Tax Day — it’s ‘Shred Day’

Dispose of old documents safely at Fidelity Bank event April 15

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

April 15 is a day dreaded by many Americans — it’s Tax Day. But this year, many financial institutions around the country are also holding “Shred Day” events. “More than 19.5 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2015 according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics,” said Bill Pearson, a corporate communications officer with Navy Federal Credit Union. Pearson said that Shred Day offers the opportunity to safely dispose of important documents as a way to help prevent sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands. He said having seen an increase in attendee participation over the years, Navy Federal expects well over 50 tons of paper and documents to be processed during the event through their 2016 Shred Day. Locally, Fidelity National Bank will be hosting a free, open-to-the-public Shred Day event. Area residents can bring their old paperwork (five box limit, no plastic or other hard materials) to the Fidelity Mid-Continent branch in West Memphis, Friday, April 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Early voting starts today for JP Dist. 7 runoff

Marconi, Watkins contend for Quorum Court seat March 22

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

A handful of Crittenden County voters still have some voting to do. Voters in Quorum Court District 7, which includes parts of West Memphis, as well as Anthonyville, Edmondson and Horseshoe Lake, will have an opportunity to head back to the polls to decide a winner for the Quorum Court Justice of the Peace position in District 7. The runoff election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22. The two run-off candidates for the JP 7 position are Ronald Marconi and Kyle K Watkins. On election night, March 1, Watkins outpolled the incumbent Marconi, 128-127, with third candidate John Moore receiving 60 votes. Moore will be off the ballot for the runoff. Election Day voting hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The results will be counted at the Election Commission Office, located in the County Annex Building next to the County Courthouse in Marion, starting at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, there will be a week of early voting. Early voting begins today, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Crittenden County Courthouse, and continues daily through Monday, March 21. The polling sites which will be open for this election on Election Day are as follows: Anthonyville Baptist Church, 9161 Hwy. 147 S., Anthonyville; Bond’s Marine, 15263 Hwy. 147, Horseshoe Lake; Eugene Woods Civic Center, 228 Polk Ave., West Memphis; Edmondson City Hall, 61 Waterford St., Edmondson; Horseshoe Lake City Hall, 174 Highland Dr., Horseshoe Lake; West Memphis High School Arena, 501 W. Broadway, West Memphis.

WM Easter Weekend trash collection schedule

From Rhonda Standridge City of West Memphis

The City of West Memphis has released its modified sanitation pick-up schedule for the upcoming Easter holiday weekend. The city will be observing the Good Friday holiday on Friday, March 25. To accommodate the holiday, garbage collection service will be changed that week as follows: Regular Monday and Tuesday customers will be serviced on Monday, March 21. Regular Wednesday customers will be serviced on Tuesday, March 22.  Regular Thursday customers will be serviced on Wednesday, March 23. Regular Friday customers will be serviced on Thursday, March 24.   No service on Friday, March 25. The regular collection schedule will resume on Monday, March 28.

Marion Chamber hosts recycling expert at quarterly luncheon

Curran: ‘There are more markets now than I have ever seen’

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

Before Virco Manufacturing started a recycling program, they were sending 245 cubic yards a day of waste to the landfill. That was about five trips to the landfill every day. In 1989 — long before recycling was cool — the company decided to start looking at ways to reduce their waste stream and implemented a recycling program. “When we first started a waste control program, we were out of control,” said Don Curran, facilities manager at Virco, a school furniture manufacturer located in Conway. “But recycling is like those guys on TV who hunt for gold up in Alaska. You’re going to find a little bit. But one of these days you’re going to find that big nugget and it is going to turn in to something of value. And people will take notice.” Curran was the guest speaker at the Marion Chamber of Commerce Quarterly luncheon, and spoke about the Arkansas Recycling Coalition, and his company’s successful efforts to be better stewards of the environment. ARC is a non-profit educational coalition of individual, community, government, nonprofit, and private enterprise members who share ideas and technical knowledge to encourage recycling and waste reduction. “When we first started we didn’t know at that time if there were even markets,” Curran said. “We just figured we had to do something.” Virco formed a committee, mapped out a strategy, got ideas from employees, identified all recyclable materials on hand at the plant, and started a pilot program to see how much waste they could eliminate. It started with simple Dumpster diving. By the time they went through the Dumpster, the pile on the outside of materials that could be reused or recycled was bigger than the trash side inside. Virco eventually even purchased a cardboard baler and its own roll off truck, which cut down on trips to the landfill. “I remember cringing when we went $3,000 in debt to buy a baler,” Curran said. “Now you can’t touch one for under $15,000 today.” Curran said unlike today, there weren’t very many markets for recycled materials when they first started and they were glad to take what they could get for them. “The market was just very poor,” Curran said. “If we could get a penny a pound, we were going to take it because that is better than nothing. Now, we can get the price we want for our recyclables. There are more markets now than I have ever seen.” Virco has since become an industry leader in recycling and has been recognized with numerous state and national awards including the Keep America Beautiful Award, and recognition from the National Recycling Coalition, the Discovery Channel, and even the Sierra Club. “Was it worth it? Yes. Would Virco do it again? Yes. Will Virco continue to be environmentally focused? Yes,” Curran said. “It is a part of business now. You can not put a price on this. We are in the school furniture business. If you build school furniture and make a bunch of waste doing it, what are you teaching those kids? I don’t think there is anything that man has made that you can’t recycle somewhere or another.” Mary Singer, a member of ARC and owner of Funkee’s Cafe, which hosted the event, said she is very conscious about recycling at her business. She has a Dumpster for cardboard behind the business and takes home the empty plastic milk jugs to Memphis to be recycled. “I don’t want our gelatto milk containers to be in the waste stream,” Singer said. “Everything we do here I try and recycle. And I try and buy as many recycled materials as can here. We need to be doing more in eastern Arkansas. So hopefully there is something you can do or products that you are using that can be recycled. We’ve got to start doing things differently.”

WM Airport looking to the future

Public weighs in on 20-Year Plan

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

Thirty curious folks gathered at West Memphis City Hall Tuesday evening to participate with the municipal airport in developing a new 20-Year Plan. The airport recently concluded all the projects on its last plan and requirements call for a renewed look into the future. Airport commissioners, and FAA official, airport engineers and citizens turned out for the session. Some citizens thought they’d hear about the latest plans from the airport but the shoe was put on the other foot as Airport manager Lynda Avery and engineers with ETI asked about the hopes and concerns of those on hand. After covering the history of the airport and the wrap up of the last 20-Year Plan, Avery told the audience future plans were a “blank slate.” Residents in nearby neighborhoods worried about noise and traffic increases and expressed uncertainties about residential property values. The answer received was good new. “There are noise restrictions on new aircraft now,” said Avery. “So new jets are even quieter.” Asked about runway expansion and the effect on neighborhoods Avery provided a thoughtful answer. “We could only expand about 500 feet of runway toward the south, toward the railroad,” said Avery. “We could not accommodate bigger aircraft even if we were to expand that way.” In the airport presentation Avery pointed out the importance of the airport to the local community and that funds to operate and improve the airport were driven from aviation related taxes. The airport has twice been awarded Arkansas Airport of the year, both in 1998 and 2013. “We are a general aviation airport one of 13,000 in the country,” said Avery. 131 aircraft are based in West Memphis. According to facility statistics 91 percent of all operations art business flights with ground transportation to other locations at Mid-South. Jet fuel and Av-Gas sales provide an income stream. Frequent flights include air ambulances carrying patients or transplant tissue, freight and cargo services, search and rescue and military aircraft refueling. The airport served as an economic catalyst for the area as well with some big businesses settling in near the airport. “When Family Dollar located here, we were one of three very similar finalists,” said Avery. “Our airport gave us an edge because we were a reliever airport and just two miles away from their site. That is 500 jobs that came to our area.”