Touch The Wall Fingers touching James W Herrick Jr's name on the Wall

Interesting Facts about the Memorial and the Veterans on the Wall

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Conflict Time Frame for Wall Inscriptions
The stationary or original Memorial (Washington DC)
The Moving Wall™
Similarities of both Memorials
Why does 1E have the dedication commencing on 1959?

Families

Sets of brothers - currently being updated
Fathers and sons that are on the Memorial currently being updated
Father not on the Memorial with son

Youngest, Oldest

Youngest veteran on the Memorial
Oldest veteran on the Memorial
Oldest veteran on the Memorial killed in country (Vietnam)

Groups

8 Female Nurses honored on the Memorial
Male Nurses on the Memorial
16 Chaplains on the Memorial
Veterans killed on the Mayaquez ship
12 high ranking officers killed
How many Medal of Honor recipients are on the Memorial?

Nationalities


Foreign Country with most names on the Memorial
But there is But!!!!!
Other nationalities on the Memorial
Which nationalities are represented?

Names

Most common name on the Memorial
How many most common names are represented?
Other most common names represented
How many names have duplicates?
Which duplicate name is the most famous?

Embassy Saigon


Who were killed at the American Embassy in Saigon?
List of American Embassy Diplomats KIA during the conflict
Embassy Evacuation on April 30, 1975

Notables

Who wrote "We are Soldiers"? Also a movie trivia fact
Actor Jimmy Stewart's relative
Is there a Rambo on the Memorial?
Is there a John Wayne on the Memorial?
Did John Wayne wear a POW/MIA bracelet?

First Casualties

Are Dale Buis and Chester Ovnard the first veterans killed in Vietnam?
How many were killed on their first and last day in country?
Veteran with the shortest tour of duty
First veteran classified as killed in country
First missing in action killed in country
Month and year of most casualties
Day, month and year of most casualties
Circumstances and classifications of first casualties
First veteran killed during occupancy in Vietnam
First Air Force veteran killed in country
First Army veteran killed in country
First Navy veteran killed in country
First Marine Corps veteran killed in country
First Coast Guard veteran killed in country
U.S. occupancy in Laos
First veteran battlefield fatality
Since 1982, yearly additions information
1. Native Americans on the Memorial
2. First veteran casualty in Cambodia
3. First veteran casualty in Communist China
4. First veteran casualty in Thailand

Last Casualties

Circumstances and classifications of last casualties
Paris Peace Accord
Last Marine Corps veteran killed in country pre cease fire
Last Air Force veteran killed in country after cease fire
Last Navy veteran killed in country after cease fire
Last Army pilots killed in country after cease fire
Last Army helicopter crew member killed in country after cease fire
Last veteran casualty in Laos
Last veteran casualty in Cambodia
Last veteran casualty at American Embassy
Last pilot casualty during evacuation
Last veteran to die in Southeast Asia

BACK TO TOP

Vietnam Conflict Time Frame for Wall Inscriptions

Congress designated the Vietnam War time frame from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, ending with the Mayaquez incident but it has no definitive reference to the "Vietnam Era" veteran time frame. The date is only designated for Wall inscriptions. Congress established this date, for the "start of the war" for within the war-zone boundaries, regardless of cause if the location of initial death/wound occurred and includes casualties who were “going to or returning from” a war-related mission (primarily pilots/crew). Please Note: the Department of Defense (DoD) does NOT recognize the date for anything other than consideration for being inscribed on "The Wall."

For clarification:

The war-zone is also referred to as "in country". Due to the date changes, names added to the Wall have increased to match the time frame. (This will be explained in the IDENTIFICATION section.)

For your information:

February 28, 1961, commences the time frame for a “Vietnam Era Veteran” who served within the war-zone.
August 5, 1964, designates a “Vietnam Era Veteran” who served in the timeframe, but outside of the war-zone boundaries.

BACK TO TOP

The stationary or original Memorial (Washington DC)

The stationary or original Memorial (Washington DC) is 493 feet long; east to west it is 246 feet from apex (center) to each infinity end (panels 70E and 70W). It is over 10 feet at the apex and there are a total of 140 panels (70 panels on each side of the apex). Indicator dots within the margins are every 10 lines on every other panel. The lettering is engraved (recessed), approximately three quarters of an inch in height. When you rub a name on paper, you obtain a black background with white letters. A graphite pencil is used for rubbing names on paper.

BACK TO TOP

The Moving Wall™

The Moving Wall™ is approximately 252 feet; east to west is approximately 125 feet from apex (center) to infinity end (panels 70E and 70W). It is approximately 6 feet at the apex and there are a total of 148 panels (74 on each side). The extra 4 blank panels on each end are to create the illusion of the image of the memorial. Indicator The Moving Wall™ dots within the margins are every 20 lines on every other panel of The Moving Wall™. The lettering is silk screened (embossed), approximately one quarter of an inch in height. When you rub a name on paper, you obtain a light background with black letters. A carpenter crayon is used for rubbing names on paper.

BACK TO TOP

Similarities of both Memorials

The Moving Wall™ Both memorials are exact with the longest panel 2E and 2W consisting of 137 lines. The shortest panels are 70E and 70W with just 1 line on each. The lines on any panel are completely determined by the topography of the land. Due to the 1959 and 1975 inscribed dedications, the apex (1E and 1W) has fewer lines than 2E or 2W. The memorial names are listed in chronological order as to their casualty date or missing in action (MIA) date. However, within each day listed on the memorial, the names are presented in alphabetical order. Each line has at least five names, but on some lines where the names are shorter - a sixth name could be added later.

BACK TO TOP

Why does 1E have the dedication commencing on 1959?

Dale R. Buis (1E, 001) and Chester A. Ovnand (7E, 046) were originally listed as the first hostile casualties on July 8, 1959. After the engraving commenced, it was discovered that Harry Cramer's accidental death on October 21, 1957 would have been the first casualty. He was immediately engraved (out of sequence on 1E, 078).

BACK TO TOP

Sets of brothers

Update after the first of the Year (under construction)

Confirmed Location Unconfirmed Location
Stanley H. Barrett 7W, 109 Charles Tank 26W, 012
Stephen Barrett 35E, 029 Phillip Tank 44W, 042
Jan Gillham 36E, 072
Richard Gillham 35W, 065
Bennett James Herrick 46E, 017
Dennis Haldane Herrick 8W, 110
Sylvester McFarland 39E, 072
Tommie McFarland 6E, 025
Kenny Olenzuk 32E, 059
Paul Olenzuk 49W, 043

BACK TO TOP

Fathers and sons that are on the Memorial

Confirmed Location Unconfirmed Location
Richard Fitzgibbon Jr 52E, 021 Bert Jenkins 26W, 072
Richard Fitzgibbon III 1E, 033 Fred Jenkins 39E, 072
Leo Hester Jr 16W, 019
Leo Hester Sr 16E, 052

BACK TO TOP

Father not on the Memorial with son

Although both father and son served in Vietnam during the same time frame, the father is not on the Memorial. Lt. Rex Chrisman, US Navy, died of a heart attack while assigned on the USS Estes that was being serviced in Bangkok. The ship was waiting for its next maneuver to the China Sea. His son, PFC Rex G. Chrisman took his father back home for burial. Returning to Vietnam, Rex was killed a month later (45W, 013).

BACK TO TOP

Youngest veteran on the Memorial

Dan Bullock, US Marine Corps who was 15 years old (23W, 096).

BACK TO TOP

Oldest veteran on the Memorial

Designated after the new time frame authorized by Congress, Frank Huddleston, US Army who was 68 years old (16E, 109) died in the United States.

BACK TO TOP

Oldest veteran on the Memorial killed in country (Vietnam)

Kenna Taylor, US Navy who was 62 years old (7W, 082) was killed in country, also known as Vietnam.

BACK TO TOP

8 Female Nurses Honored on the Memorial

(clockwise: 1st Lt Sharon 
Ann Lane, 2nd Lt Pamela Dorothy Donovan, 1st Lt Hedwig Diane Orlowski, Cpt Eleanor Grace Alexander, LTC Annie Ruth Graham, 2nd Lt Elizabeth Ann
Jones, 2nd Lt carol Ann Drazba and Cpt Mary Therese Klinker) - click to enlarge

Women did not serve in the same military capacity as they do now. There were approximately 7,484 female nurses who served in Vietnam, which was the only military assignment that they were allowed to participate. Since there were only 8 female nurses who died, the information on the nurses is featured in greater detail.


ALEXANDER, Eleanor Grace (Captain, New Jersey): Eleanor worked with Hedwig Diane Orlowski in a hospital in Pleiku. They were aboard the same plane along with two other nurses, Jerome E. Olmsted (31E, 015) and Kenneth R. Shoemaker (31E, 017), when the plane crashed on the return trip to Qui Nhon, November 30, 1967. She was with d the 85th Evacuation (31E, 008).

DONOVAN, Pamela Dorothy (2nd Lieutenant, Massachusetts): Pamela died of a rare Southeast Asian virus on July 8, 1968. She was with the 85th Evacuation in Qui Nhon. (53W, 043)

DRAZBA, Carol Ann (2nd Lieutenant, Pennsylvania): Carol was killed in a helicopter crash near Saigon on February 18, 1966, along with Elizabeth Ann Jones. She was with the 51st Field Hospital. (5E, 046).

GRAHAM, Annie Ruth (Chief Nurse, North Carolina): Annie suffered a stroke on August 14, 1969. She was with the 91st Evacuation in Tuy Hoa. (48W, 012)

JONES, Elizabeth Ann (2nd Lieutenant, South Carolina): Elizabeth was killed in the same helicopter crash as Carol Drazba, near Saigon on February 18, 1966. She was with the 51st Field Hospital. (5E, 047).

KLINKER, Mary Therese (Captain, Indiana): On April 9, 1975, Mary was part of the on-board medical team, a flight nurse assigned to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. She was only 27. Mary was posthumously awarded the Airman's Medal for Heroism and the Meritorious Service Medal.carrying 243 Vietnamese children and infants. Once airborne, the flight developed pressure problems and crashed on the return to the airport. It occurred 3 weeks before the fall of Saigon. (1W, 122)

LANE, Sharon Ann (1st Lieutenant, Ohio): Sharon was in-country less than 10 weeks when she was killed by rocket explosion on June 8, 1969. She was with the 312th Evacuation at Chu Lai. (23W, 112)

ORLOWSKI, Hedwig Diane (1st Lieutenant, Michigan): Hedwig was working with Eleanor Alexander in the same hospital in Pleiku. She was aboard the same plane along with two other nurses, Jerome E. Olmsted (31E, 015) and Kenneth R. Shoemaker (31E, 017), when it crashed on the return trip to Qui Nhon, November 30, 1967. She was with the 67th Evacuation. (31E, 015)

BACK TO TOP


Male Nurses on the Memorial

- click to enlarge


Jerome E. Olmsted, 1st Lt, Army was born on May 15, 1943. His Home of Record was Clintonville, WI. Jerome was a 3445 = NURSE ANESTHETIST with the 85TH EVAC HOSP, 55TH MED GRP, 44TH MED BDE, USARV.



- click to enlarge

Kenneth R Shoemaker, Jr, was a 1st Lt, Army born on April 2, 1941. His home of record was Owensboro, KY. Kenneth was also a 3445 = NURSE ANESTHETIST with the 67TH EVAC HOSP, 55TH MED GRP, 44TH MED BDE, USARV.


Along with Hedwig Diane Orlowski, 1st Lt and Eleanor Grace Alexander, Captain working in the hospital in Pleiju, on November 30, 1967, BINH DINH PROVINCE, SOUTH VIETNAM therir plane went down with these four nurses. They were on a return trip to Qui Nhon.


BACK TO TOP

16 Chaplains on the Memorial

Chaplain Rank Service Casualty Religion Panel Line MOH*
Barragy, William J. Major Army 05/04/66 Catholic 7E 022
Bartley, Don L. LtCol Army 06/08/69 Protestant 23W 109
Brett, Robert R. Lt Navy 02/22/68 Catholic 40E 058
Brown, Merle D. Capt Army 04/11/71 Protestant 4W 118
Capodanno, Vincent R. Lt Navy 09/04/67 Catholic 25E 095 Yes
Engel, Meir LtCol Army 12/16/64 Jewish 1E 077
Feaster, William N. Capt Army 10/26/66 Protestant 11E 109
Garrity, William J. LCdr Navy 10/26/66 Catholic 11E 110
Grandea, Ambrosia S. Major Army 06/13/67 Protestant 21E 097
Heinz, Roger W. Major Army 12/09/69 Protestant 15W 042
Johnson, James J. L. Capt Army 03/10/67 Protestant 16E 053
McGonigal, Aloysius P. Major Army 02/17/68 Catholic 39E 075
Nichols, Philip A. Capt Army 10/13/70 Protestant 7W 133
Quealy, Michael J. Capt Army 11/08/66 Catholic 12E 043
Singer, Morton H. Capt Army 12/17/69 Jewish 36W 037
Watters, Charles J. Major Army 11/19/67 Catholic 30E 036 Yes

MOH* Received the Medal of Honor

BACK TO TOP

Veterans killed on the Mayaquez ship

On May 15, 1975, there were 15 veterans killed on the Mayaquez ship. This incident is considered the very last incident of the Vietnam conflict (there has always been a question on three Marines left in country. This is addressed in the Last veteran to die in Southeast Asia section).

Benedett, Daniel A. 1W, 129
Blessing, Lynn 1W, 129
Boyd, Walter 1W, 132
Copehaver, Gregory S. 1W, 130
Garcia, Andres 1W, 132
Gause, Benard Jr 1W, 130
Jacques, James J. 1W, 131
Loney Ashton N. 1W, 131
Manning, Ronald J. 1W, 131
Marshall, Danny G. 1W, 131
Rivenburgh Richard W. 1W, 132
Rumbaugh, Elwood E. 1W, 132
Sandoval, Antonio R. 1W, 129
Turner, Kelton 1W, 130
Vandegeer, Richard 1W, 132

BACK TO TOP

12 high ranking officers killed

Bond, William R. BGeneral, Army 12W, 065
Casey, George W. MGeneral, Army 9W, 126
Crumm, William J. MGeneral, Air Force 23E, 023
Dillard, John A. Jr. MGeneral, Army 10W, 023
Girard, Charles J. BGeneral, Army 14W, 040
Hochmuth, Bruno A. MGeneral, USMC 29E, 095
Moody, Alfred J. BGeneral, Army 16E, 113
Robinson, Rembrandt C. RAmiral, Navy 1W, 015
Tallman, Richard J. BGeneral, Army 1W, 055
Ware, Keith L. MGeneral, Army 44W, 055
Worley, Robert F. MGeneral, Air Force 51W, 0475

BACK TO TOP

How many Medal of Honor recipients are on the Memorial?

There are 154 Medal of Honor recipients on the Memorial, as opposed to the 60 Vietnam recipients still living.

BACK TO TOP

Foreign Country with most names on the Memorial

Canada has 56 veterans on the Memorial.

BACK TO TOP

But there is But!!!!!



Canada remained firm that it would not get involved with the War since it was a part of NATO. Canada believed it should refrain from involvment and be more of a non-aligned state. However, with the anti-war demonstrations taking place in Canada and Americans fleeing into Canada, the Canadians without government support believed they should be more involved. Therefore, many volunteered for our military (1) because they were attending US schools (2) some were drafted because they were in the United States with a green card and their families and (3) some just could not make it in the Canadian military. There were numerous Canadians who crossed over the borders from Washington State to Maine to join within an American city home of record. Once again, it was the inaccuracy of the DD-214 that confused the recruits "what was truly their home of record?"


Although there were only 56 Canadians on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, actually there were 110 Canadian casualties who are recognized on various Canadian memorials. But (see I told you there was a but) the remaining 54 Canadian veterans had American city home of records and were not Americans.


The state breakdowns are as follows:


New York (10), Michigan (7), California (6), Massachuttes (6),
Civilians (4), Illiniois (2), Maine (2), North Dakota (2), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2),
Connecticutt (1), Indiana (1), Maryland (1), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1),
Nova Scotia (1), Texas (1), Utah (1), Vermout (1), Virginia (1), Washington (1)

BACK TO TOP

Other nationalities on the Memorial

There are 22 countries represented on the Memorial.

BACK TO TOP

Which nationalities are represented?

Australia Bahama Islands Bolivia
Brazil Canada Colombia
Costa Rica England France
Germany Ireland Italy
Jamaica Japan Mexico
New Zealand Pacific Island * Panama
Peru Philippines Rio Piedras *
Switzerland

Country * Home of Record is exact as veteran recorded on his DD-214 (military record).

BACK TO TOP

Most common name on the Memorial

Smith is represented by 667 veterans.

BACK TO TOP

How many most common names are represented?

There are 16 names that have at least 173 entries or more.

BACK TO TOP

Other most common names represented

Name Quanity
Johnson 524
Williams 432
Brown 413
Jones 346
Davis 306
Miller 283
Martin 262
Wilson 210
Moore 208
White 205
Taylor 201
Thomas 191
Green 189
Jackson 177
Clark 173

BACK TO TOP

How many names have duplicates?

There are 263 duplicate names on the Memorial with the same first and last name and in some cases the same middle initial.

BACK TO TOP

Which duplicate name is the most famous?

Billie Joe Williams is on the Memorial twice (1W, 94). Both names are next to one another on the same panel, same line. However, one was in the US Marine Corps (casualty 1966) and the other was in the US Air Force (casualty 1972). There is also a Billy Joe Williams (11W, 119).

BACK TO TOP

Who were killed at the American Embassy in Saigon?

During the TET offensive (North Vietnam's invasion on south Vietnam) on January 31, 1968, the Embassy in Saigon was attacked. There was a plaque erected on the Embassy for Charles Daniel, James Marshall, Owen Mebust, William Sebast, and Jonnie Thomas. All are located on 36E, lines 005 - 039.

BACK TO TOP

List of American Embassy Diplomats KIA during the conflict

From 1955 to 1975, these American Diplomats were killed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Although their names are not on the Memorial, they are recognized in the US Department of State as casualties of this 20 year old conflict.

Name Year Place
Everett D. Reese 1955 Vietnam
Dolph B. Owens 1960 Vietnam
Barbara A. Robbins 1965 Saigon
Joseph W. Grainger 1965 Vietnam
Jack J. Wells 1965 Vietnam
Norman L. Clowers 1966 Vietnam
William D. Smith III 1966 Vietnam
Don M. Sjostrom 1967 Laos
John R. McLean 1967 Laos
Robert K. Franzblau 1967 Vietnam
Dwight Hall Owen Jr 1967 Vietnam
Carroll H. Pender 1967 Vietnam
Thomas W. Ragsdale 1967 Vietnam
Donald V. Freeman 1967 Vietnam
Frederick J. Abramson 1968 Vietnam
Thomas M. Gompertz 1968 Vietnam
John T. McCarthy 1968 Vietnam
Kermit J. Krause 1968 Vietnam
Jeffred S. Lundstedt 1968 Vietnam
Robert R. Little 1968 Vietnam
Stephen H. Miller 1968 Vietnam
Steven A. Haukness 1968 Vietnam
Hugh C. Lobit 1968 Vietnam
Richard A. Schenk 1968 Vietnam
lbert A. Farkas 1968 Vietnam
Robert W. Brown Jr. 1968 Vietnam
Robert W. Hubbard 1968 Vietnam
Michael Murphy 1968 Vietnam
George B. Gaines 1969 Vietnam
Joseph B. Smith 1970 Vietnam
Charles W. Turberville 1971 Cambodia
Rudolph Kaiser 1972 Vietnam
John Paul Vann 1972 Vietnam
Charles McMahon 1975 Vietnam
Darwin L. Judge 1975 Vietnam
Thomas Olmstead 1975 Cambodia

BACK TO TOP

Embassy Evacuation on April 30, 1975

The only evacuation from the American Embassy took place at the end of April 1975. Frequent Wind was the code name for the evacuation plan. On the Armed Forces Radio station, "White Christmas" was played. The last flight out was at 7:53 pm on April 30, 1975.

BACK TO TOP

Who wrote "We are Soldiers"? Also a movie trivia fact

Joe Galloway wrote the book, "We are Soldiers" about Lt Col Hal Moore and his troop's battle on November 14 through 18, 1965. This was also also made into a movie. These veterans are located on panel 38E, lines 048 - 100.

Movie Trivia Fact: At end of the movie, Mel Gibson portraying Col Moore is at the Wall and touches a name. We presume that he did some research on the names of fallen warriors in the La Drang Valley because he touches the name PFC David James Carnevale who indeed did die on November 15, 1965, and is on 3 E, line 53.

BACK TO TOP

Actor Jimmy Stewart's relative

Jimmy Stewart's stepson, Ronald Walsh McLean (23W, 113) is listed on the Memorial.

BACK TO TOP

Is there a Rambo on the Memorial?

There is an Arthur John Rambo (16W, 126) on the Memorial, but the plot of this movie with Sylvester Stallone had nothing to do with this actual veteran.

BACK TO TOP

Is there a John Wayne on the Memorial?

John Wayne (actor) made the Vietnam War movie, "The Green Berets". There is no one actually listed on the Memorial with their first and last name as John Wayne. However, there are 36 veterans on the Memorial whose first and middle name is John Wayne, but all have a different last name.

BACK TO TOP

Did John Wayne wear a POW/MIA bracelet?

Yes, he actually wore two. One was of Captain Stephen Paul Hanson, (21E, 046) who was repatriated in 2000. The second bracelet was from the Montagnard Strike Force Special Forces that was given to him as a team symbol of friendship and respect.

BACK TO TOP

Are Dale Buis and Chester Ovnard the first veterans killed in Vietnam?

Dale Buis (1E, 001) and Chester Ovnard (1E, 001 - incorrect spelling) were originally thought to be the first veterans killed, since both were killed on the same day.

Chester is also on panel 7E. Chester A. Ovnand's (7E, 046 - correct spelling) name was originally spelled incorrectly during the engraving process (see 1E, 001) and later was re-engraved correctly (see DISCREPANCIES). Both entries for Chester are on the memorial (as indicated).

BACK TO TOP

How many were killed on their first and last day in country?

There were 997 killed on their arrival day.
There were 1443 killed on their departure day.

BACK TO TOP

Veteran with the shortest tour of duty

Leslie Gene King arrived on his second tour in Saigon on August 1, 1965. Within four hours in country, Leslie was rushed to the hospital with chest pains and died. (2E, 047)

BACK TO TOP

First veteran classified as killed in country

Flying Tiger John T. Donovan was killed on May 12, 1942, but our involvement in Vietnam was not considered official and his name is not on the Memorial.

BACK TO TOP

First missing in action killed in country

A. Peter Dewey, with Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the first killed on September 26, 1945, but our involvement in Vietnam was not considered official. His remains were never returned and he is also considered the first Missing in Action (MIA) in Vietnam.

BACK TO TOP

Month and year of most casualties

In May 1968, 2,415 casualties were incurred.

BACK TO TOP

Day, month and year of most casualties

The Tet offensive began on January 31, 1968 and incurred 245 casualties on that one day.

BACK TO TOP

Circumstances and classifications of first casualties

Due to various circumstances and classifications, there are numerous categories of which a veteran was considered the first killed in action. I have broken down the various variations in the following sections:

BACK TO TOP

First veteran killed during occupancy in Vietnam

Although the first to die in action at the start of the conflict on July 8, 1959 was Dale Buis (1E, 001) and Charles Ovnand (7E, 046), after just 3 days in Vietnam, they were officially classified by the Department of Defense as murders, not action casualties. Charles Ovnand is also on the Wall as Charles Ovnard (1E, 001) - see DISCREPANCIES.

BACK TO TOP

First Air Force veteran killed in country

Richard G. Fitzgibbon Jr., was killed on August 6, 1956 (52E, 021) due to the authorized official change by Congress of our official occupation in Vietnam. However, due to the length of his full name, it was too long to be engraved on any line on the beginning panels (i.e., 1E to 51E). Engraving his name was finally etched on panel 52E.

BACK TO TOP

First Army veteran killed in country


Harry Cramer,1E line 78
- click to enlarge
Harry Cramer Jr., once considered the first official casualty killed in Vietnam, died on October 21, 1957 (1E, 078). I received the most detailed and authentic description of Harry G. Cramer, Jr's participation from his son, Harry G. Cramer III LTC, US Army (Ret). He was generous granting me permission to give the entire, and certified explanation. I am honored to be able to present the real story, word for word.

"Dad's role in the history of the Vietnam War has always been murky, beginning with the fact that his team's mssion to train Vietnamese Special Forces was classified at the Top Secret level in 1957. Their training site near Nha Trang was chosen partly because it was far from the eyes (and loose lips) of American embassy and military staff in Saigon. The "cover story" was that they were training Ranger troops to conduct anti-guerrilla warfare against the Viet Cong (Viet Minh, as they were then called). In reality, the US Special Forces believed that Diem's government was doomed to fail, and the Vietnamese students they were training were the cadre of what would be a "counter-revolution" after the Viet Minh conquered South Vietnam.

Dad was killed while leading his Vietnamese Special Forces candidates on what was supposed to be a training patrol in the hills about 10 miles southwest of Nha Trang. A sudden explosion at dusk on 21 October killed him and his interpreter, and severely wounded an American sergeant. Dad's death was near-instantaneous from massive head trauma, but the team was desperate to medevac SSG Lester Ruper, who lost most of his right arm. There was no long-range communication to Saigon, so one of the team members had to go to a freighter in Nha Trang harbor and radio Saigon for help. The first ircraft to arrive that night did not have the range to reach the Philippines, and it was leaking oil badly. So instead it carried SSG Ruper and my father's body to Saigon, where they were transferred to a C-54 for the flight to Clark Field. In the meantime a terrorist bomb had exploded at the MAAG barracks in Saigon, so they were joined by about 15 more American casualties before the flight finally took off on 22 October.

The Army was quick to announce that Dad was killed by an "accidental" explosion and close the subject. That's understandable in the context of 1957, as they did not want a lot of inquiries as to why an American Special Forces team was in Vietnam, and especially the question of "what were they doing there?" The surviving team medic, Chalmers Archer, has stated in recent years that they were actuallky ambushed by the Viet Cong, who had been "casing" the American team for weeks. Although I find some discrepancies in Archer's story, it makes sense in the context that the Viet Cong staged a deliberate attack on American MAAG staff officers the next morning in Saigon. Another eyewitness told a darker and sadder story. He relates that the team was forced by MAAG to use old and deteriorated explosives, over the strident objections of my father and his demolitions sergeant. This witness believes that the team's own explosives went off prematurely, and that MAAG wanted to sweep the incident under the rug in order to conceal their culpability in causing the fatal accident. We may never know the truth.

In any event, Dad died in Vietnam leading a Special Forces patrol in the field. Our family accepted that sad fact and got on with our lives. Unfortunately the controversy won't go away. When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was first built, Dad's name was omitted because the VVMF was unaware of his loss, and the Army certainly didn't volunteer the information. After I produced the necessary records, the VVMF at first refused to add his name because "he died in an accident". (Even if you accept Dad's death as accidental, about 11,000 of the names on the Wall died as the result of accidents...so that was no premise to exclude him from the Wall). I believe the VVMF was embarrassed by the fact that the Wall was prominently engraved with "1959", and they simply didn't know how to proceed. (Even worse, Sergeant Ovnand's name was misspelled and had to be repeated elsewhere on the Wall). In 1983 the VVMF added Dad's name on Line 78, but went to great lengths to assertn that the two unfortunate soldiers (Major Buis and Sergeant Ovnand) who were killed while watching a movie in 1959 were the first "real" casualties, while my Dad's death on patrol in the jungle was an "accident". It only got murkier when the family of Air Force Sergeant Fitzgibbons, who was murdered in Saigon in 1956 by one of his own crew, successfully lobbied to have his name added to the memorial."Harry G. Cramer III, LTC, US Army (Ret)

Please note: I am including the entire message for several reasons but the first to ensure Harry G. Cramer's legacy is reflected accurately. One of the main reasons I started this website was to prove there were too many secrets and we owe our veterans on the memorial to be honored but honored truthfully. Mistakes are made yes, but why are they still being swept under the marble. Adding a name to the memorial is difficult but no one's life should be misrepresented. I wanted my site to be the "truth" and I wanted visitors to my site and "the wall" to remember it is just not a name engraved but it is the real life of a veteran. Sharon


These are a few websites Harry G. Cramer, Jr:

www.west-point.org/users/usma1946/15816/
www.groups.sfahq.com/1st/45_years_apart.htm
www.army.mil/-news/2007/10/22/5692-army-marks-50-years-since-first-vietnam-casualty/


Robert John Welch, F-4 pilot, US Air Force, 11th Tactical Recon Squadron, Udorn Airfield, Thailand, from Detroit, MI, went MIA on 16 January 1967, in NVN. On January 16, 1967, an unarmed Air Force RF4C Phantom aircraft flown by Capt. Robert J. Welch departed Udorn Airfield for a photo reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam near Hanoi. Welch's navigator was 1Lt. Michael S. Kerr but their aircraft was shot down northwest of Hanoi. Apparently their plane was fired upon but it did not make a direct hit. Kerr ejected but did not witness what Welch was doing so he did not know if he bailed out, nor did he know if the plane crash he witnessed also took down his friend. Robert's wall location is 14E, line 41.

Although Robert Welch had nothing to do with the circumstances of Harry Cramer, I am highlighting him because of his daughter, Susan. Harry G. Cramer III and Robert's daughter, Susan recorded a very moving song about their fathers (and other veterans on the Wall and written by songwriter, Joel Mabus.

Please listen to Touch A Name. (Permission was authorized for me to play this tribute on July 10, 2009).

BACK TO TOP

First Navy veteran killed in country

George Alexander was killed February 17, 1960, (13E, 006).

BACK TO TOP

First Marine Corps veteran killed in country

These five men of the US Marine Corps all died at the exact same time. Thomas Anderson, Richard Hamilton, Jerald Pendell, Michael Tunney, Miquel Valentin were killed on October 6, 1962, listed on 1E, lines 012-013. However, Thomas Anderson is still considered a POW/MIA since his remains have never been repatriated (returned to the Unites States and the family).

BACK TO TOP

First Coast Guard veteran killed in country

There were only seven US Coast Guard killed during the entire Vietnam conflict. However, Charles Brostrom and Jerry Phillips, both died on August 11, 1966, listed on panel 9E, lines 126 - 128.

BACK TO TOP

U.S. Occupancy in Laos

Laurence R. Bailey, Alfons A. Bankowski, Frederick T. Garside, Ralph W. Magee, Glenn Matteson, Leslie V. Sampson, Oscar B. Weston Jr., and Edgar W. Weitkkamp were all on temporary duty (TDY) in Laos. The last seven were all killed on March 23, 1961, panel 1E, lines 001 - 003. However, from this group only Laurence R. Bailey survived, and he was held as the first Prisoner of War (POW) in Laos. There were a total loss of 730 veterans.

BACK TO TOP

First veteran battlefield fatality

Specialist 4 James T. Davis was killed on December 22, 1961. He was officially assigned to the military, however, he was traveling on a civilian passport. His dual status still qualified his name to be engraved on the Memorial, (1E, 004).

BACK TO TOP

Since 1982, yearly additions information

Since 1982, there have been yearly additions of names engraved on the Memorial due to various authorizations from the Department of Defense and Congress. Although there are press releases on these veterans, there is vague information with no details available. Therefore, these four frequently asked questions are based on the CCAAF information available as of August 11, 2002.

1. Native Americans on the Memorial

Although there are various categories within each veteran biographical sheet which could be investigated, some categories were too limited in descriptions or details.

     - It is often asked how many Native Americans are listed on the memorial?

There are 226 Native Americans on the Memorial .

     - Who is the most requested Native American name?

Frank W. Jealous-of-Him, Wounded Knee, (22W, 002) is the most requested Native American name.

     - How many Native Americans are still considered POW/MIAs?

There are still two Native American POW/MIA's still listed, Elliott Crook (1W, 026), and George Joe Bu Eisenberger (3E, 126)

BACK TO TOP

2. First veteran casualty in Cambodia

Edward S. Krukowski, Charles P. Sparks, Ernest J. Halvorson, Robert G. Armstrong, Theodore B. Phillips, Eugene Richardson and Valmore W. Bourque were serving together and all seven were killed together on October 24, 1964, in Cambodia. They are located on panel 1E, lines 067 - 069. Cambodia had a total of 520 veterans that were killed or missing in action.

BACK TO TOP

3. First veteran casualty in Communist China

Ronald J. Fegan and Terence M. Murphy were both killed on April 9, 1965, in the Communist China arena (1E, 103). The Communist China arena had a total of 10 veterans either missing in action or killed.

BACK TO TOP

4. First veteran casualty in Thailand

Bruce R. Jones was the first veteran killed in Thailand on August 10, 1961 (1E, 004). Thailand had a total of 178 veterans either killed or missing in action.

BACK TO TOP

Circumstances and classifications of last casualties

Due to various circumstances and classifications, there are numerous categories of which veteran was the last killed in action in Vietnam. I have broken down the various catagory entries listed below:

Paris Peace Accord

The Paris Peace Accord was signed on January 17, 1973 and the cease-fire was official on January 27, 1973 at 7 pm, Washington DC time. This time frame is important for the last casualties.

BACK TO TOP

Last Marine Corps veteran killed in country pre cease fire

Mark J. Miller was killed on January 26, 1973 (1W, 112), a day before the cease fire was official.

BACK TO TOP

Last Air Force veteran killed in country after cease fire

John O'Neal Rucker was killed on January 27, 1973, (1W, 113) on the day the cease fire was official.

BACK TO TOP

Last Navy veteran killed in country after cease fire

Harley H. Hall was killed on January 27, 1973 (1W, 112) on the day the cease fire was official.

BACK TO TOP

Last Army pilots killed in country after cease fire

Eleven hours after the cease-fire was official, William B. Nolde was killed on January 27, 1973 (1W, 112). Although Anthony Dal Pozzo, (7W, 069) was actually wounded one hour and 45 minutes after the cease-fire, he did not die until the next day. FYI Anthony is also on the Memorial twice (1W, 113). His name was originally engraved but his name was spelled incorrectly (see DISCREPANCIES.)

BACK TO TOP

Last Army helicopter crew member killed in country after the cease-fire

James L. Scroggin on February 23, 1973, was the last pilot killed after the cease fire (1W, 116). He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from a SA-7 heat-seeking missile.

BACK TO TOP

Last veteran casualty in Laos

The conflict in Laos ended on February 21, 1973. Robert E. Bernhardt, Arthur R. Bollinger, Peter R. Cressman, Joseph A. Matejov, Todd M. Melton, Severo J. Primm, George R. Spitz, were serving together and all were killed at the same time on February 5, 1973, 1W, lines 114 - 116.

BACK TO TOP

Last veteran casualty in Cambodia

The conflict in Cambodia ended on August 15, 1973. Samuel B. Cornelius and John J. Smallwood were both killed together on June 16, 1973 (1W, 119).

BACK TO TOP

Last veteran casualty at the American Embassy

As the pullout continued in Southeast Asia (SEA), there were only 209 uniform soldiers serving in Vietnam, of which 159 uniformed soldiers were Marine Security Guards (MSG) and the other 50 were assigned to the Defense Attache Office (DAO) at the American Embassy. Darwin Judge and Charles McMahon Jr. were both killed on April 29, 1975 (1W, 124).

BACK TO TOP

Last pilot casualty during evacuation

During the Embassy evacuation in Saigon, William C. Nystal and Michael J. Shea both died on the helicopter on April 30, 1975 approaching the USS Hancock in the China Sea (both are located at 1W, 124).

BACK TO TOP

Last to die in Southeast Asia

Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove and Danny G. Marshall were the last three US Marines Corps veterans mistakenly left behind on May 15, 1975. They were last seen together but unfortunately to date, their fate is unknown. They are located on panel 1W, lines 130 - 131.

BACK TO TOP


BACK TO TOP      HOME      CONTACT