“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.” - President George Bush
SOMETHING to think about – Most of the surviving Parents are
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 in 1975. Thus the war’s
beginning and end meet. The war is complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that boundsthe angle’s open
side and contained within the earth itself.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North
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. I wonder why so many from one school.
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
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
· 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 feelthe pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers,
because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wife’s, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.