Viet Nam

"Beyond the door,
there's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
tears in heaven."

from "Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton & Will Jennings

It was a frightening time to be a teenager.  Nightly newscasts began with the daily casualty report.  Jungle scenes became firmly embedded in the fabric of one's mind.  Even our southern college campuses included a counter culture that radically opposed the war.  Career and educational choice was influenced by one factor above all else.  Before the lottery, educational deferrals saved many young men from facing their mortality.  But the young men who chose to party during Freshman year ended up as helicopter pilots in Viet Nam during everyone else's Sophomore year.  Some who came home safely in body did not do so in spirit.  The nightmare dreams of Viet Nam returned to constantly battle the reality of the present.  Many were never quite right again.  Families were torn apart by the vestiges of a family member's Viet Nam experiences.  They are entering their senior years now, those Viet Nam warriors who never received the adoration and appreciation they so deserve for putting their life on the firing line for our country.  May they live and rest in peace.

Tidewater (VA) Viet Nam Veterans

Pay Tribute to Their

Fallen Brothers

With a Moving

Display of Remembrance

In Memory of
Viet Nam Dead

Neshoba & Newton Co, MS

Pictured Right & Above:  The Viet Nam Memorial, Washington, DC.

Pfc. Bennie Joe Graham            Little Rock, MS

Bennie Joe Graham January 15, 1946 - March 11, 1969
Buried Beulah Cemetery, Newton Co, MS
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 29W Row 8
Son of Mr. & Mrs. William E. Graham; brother of Union resident John Graham
Attended Beulah Hubbard High School
PFC Company C, 21st Infantry, Americal Division, Vietnam
Killed in action March 11, 1969 by ground casualty artillery rocket or mortar hostile, died in Quang Ngai South Vietnam.

The Citation that accompanied Bennie Joe Graham's posthumous Bronze Star of Heroism:  PFC Graham distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 9 March 1969 while serving with the fourth platoon of Company C, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade. On that date the company was conducting a search and clear operation southwest of Duc Pho when the fourth platoon was ambushed by an enemy force of undetermined size. Positioned in four fortified emplacements, the insurgents pinned down the entire platoon in a murderous crossfire.

The enemy rounds impacting all around him, Private First Class Graham disregarded the danger involved and crawled across an open rice paddy to a vantage point. Pinpointing the hostile positions, he initiated heavy volumes of suppressive fire on the insurgents. While he kept enemy occupied, his comrades were able to withdraw to safety. Through his timely actions, he contributed greatly to the success of the operations and undoubtedly saved the lives of several of his fellow soldiers.

PFC Grahamís personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflected great credit upon himself, the American Division, and the United States Army.

Cpl. Canoy Lewis Sistrunk        Sebastopol, MS

Canoy Lewis Sistrunk was the son of Norman Canoy Sistrunk & Sibyl Hughlein Thrash.  He is buried at Rocky Hill Church of God in Neshoba Co, MS.

Photos courtesy of  Pam Upton

Canoy L. Sistrunk October 12, 1946 - July 11, 1969
MS CPL Co C1 BN7 Cavalry Vietnam
Viet Nam Memorial Panel : 21W, Line 103 
Army Corporal / Specialist Four / Pay grade E3
Posthumous Promotion 
Killed in action by ground casualty multiple fragmentation wounds hostile
Died in Phuoc Long South Vietnam at age 22.
Married. Religious affiliation Church of God.

Warrant Officer Willis Wilson Smith           Decatur, MS

WO Willis Wilson "Bubba" Smith, Jr. May 11, 1946 - April 19, 1968
Buried Decatur Cemetery, Newton Co, MS
WO 155th Aviation Co, Vietnam
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 51E Row 3

"Phu Bon Province, II Corps, South Vietnam. Description: 155TH ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY Perhaps the worst tragedy in the history of the company occurred on April 19th, 1968 when 2 HU-1H helicopters collided in mid-air while flying formation during a combat assault. All personnel aboard both aircraft were killed. WO/1 Herbert R. Hayashida, WO/1 Paul N. Larson, SP/4 John R. Brooks, SP/4 Oran B. McCardol, 1LT. Dennis E. Painter, WO/1 Willis W. Smith, SP/5 Janis Miculs and SP/4 Frank L. Freedle. Among the dead were 18 Vietnamese Military Passengers."

A Willis "Bubba" Smith Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded to an East Central Community College student, has been recently established.  Contributions to the fund are being accepted via mail at P.O. Box 129, Decatur, MS 39327. Please make checks payable to the ECCC Foundation, Inc. All contributions are tax-deductible when made payable to the ECCC Foundation.

Maj. Thomas Moody Felton         Union, MS 
 

Thomas M. Felton
Mississippi
Major Armor
Korea Vietnam SS-DEC & OLC
BSM & OLC - AM & 38 OLC
July 19, 1932 - July 14, 1969

Buried Union Cemetery, Newton Co, MS

Charlie Troop Commander (Troop C, First Squadron, Ninth Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division - Airmobile):  May 1969 - July 14, 1969 (KIA)
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 21W Row 116
Major Felton was our neighbor. He volunteered for that last helicopter flight. At age 36 he left a wife, two daughters, and a young son. My father remembers their conversation prior to Maj. Felton's deployment for his 2nd tour of duty in Viet Nam, "He told me just the day before he left that he had a feeling he would not make it back. He had everything worked out for his family." Major Felton's parents lived just south of Newton, MS.

The helicopter crash is detailed on http://www.pownetwork.org as follows:  "On a rainy July 14, 1969, a UH1B helicopter from Troop C, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry was sent on a night combat support mission in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam about 10 miles northeast of Ben Cat. Its crew included Maj. Thomas M. Felton, pilot, PFC Dewey R. Butler, door gunner; Sgt. Ray G. Davis and another unnamed crewman (these two served as aircraft commander and crew chief). The UH1B was operating with a "Pink Team" when it collided in mid-air with the team's OH6A Loach helicopter, flown by Ernest Burns. The UH1B exploded and caught fire, and continued in a northwesterly heading until it hit trees and exploded. It then crashed and burned. All four crewmembers of the UH1B were killed, but the three crewmembers of the OH6A survived and were evacuated from the area. When search teams located the wreckage of the planes, they recovered the bodies of Burns, Davis and Felton."

Sgt. Tom Kermit Tingle               Philadelphia, MS

Tom Kermit Tingle February 13, 1930 - April 10, 1966
Buried Henry's Chapel Church Cemetery, Neshoba Co, MS
1st Infantry Division, Alpha Company
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 06E Line 96

Sgt. Derrell Keith Sharp            Philadelphia, MS

Sgt. Derrell Keith Sharp December 24, 1942 - August 15, 1966
Sgt. US Army, Viet Nam
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 10E Row 10
Killed in action August 15, 1966 by ground casualty gun, small arms fire hostile. The body was recovered. Married. Religous affiliation Baptist.
Derrell Keith Sharp's name is found on a monument for area war dead in Dawson Springs, KY.

Cpl. Clinton Chapman                 Newton, MS

Cpl Clinton Chapman November 14, 1946 - May 24, 1968
Corporal US Marine Corps, Viet Nam
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 67E Row 6

Lt. Charles Jerry Gaines             Newton, MS

Lt. Charles J. Gaines October 18, 1937 - November 20, 1966
Buried Masonic Cemetery, Newton, Newton Co, MS
2nd Lieutenant, US Marine Corps, Viet Nam
Viet Nam Memorial Wall Panel 12E Line 95

In Memory of Princess Anne Co, VA
Viet Nam War Dead

ANGE, RONALD EDWARD (Army/SP4) 07E 092
BALFOUR, DENNIS R (Army/PFC) 10E 082
BECKMAN, DOUGLAS MARTIN (Army/PFC) 05W 032
BENOIT, PAUL BRIAN (Army/SGT) 15W 003
BOYKIN, ROBERT THOMAS (Marine/PFC) 20E 054
BRIM, JOHN LARUE (Air Force/SSGT) 17E 066
BROEGELER, HERMAN C III (Marine/LCPL) 24E 059
BURNETT, WILLIAM A (Army/PFC) 04E 045
CARTWRIGHT, RALPH WINDALL (Army/PFC) 03E 053
EMMANS, WILLIAM ROBERT (Army/SP4) 11W 030
GIMBERT, MARTIN JOSEPH (Marine/LCPL) 34W 081
GOODMAN, EDWARD LEE (Army/SSG) 49E 031
GREGORY, PAUL ANTHONY (Navy/LT) 08W 051
HERSHBERGER, DAVID HARPER (Army/SGT) 34E 017
HINES, JOHN LESTER (Army/SP4) 26E 075
HOGGARD, JAMES LUTHER (Marine/PFC) 09E 029
JONES, LAVOYN AUGUSTUS (Air Force/SSGT) 17W 062
KNACK, RICHARD CARL (Army/1LT) 59W 024
KNIGHT, MICHAEL KAY (Army/SP4) 17W 048
KOREL, EMERY LOUIS (Army/SP4) 21W 028
KOSTER, ANTHONY ALBERT (Marine/1LT) 33W 057
LEE, WILLIAM ROBERT (Army/WO) 36E 021
LOGAN, CHARLIE MATTHEW (Army/SP4) 04W 068
MATTOX, DWAINE ELBYRNE (Air Force/CPT) 08W 101
MC FARLAND, WILLIAM JOSEPH (Army/SP5) 26W 065
MEALER, FERRELL EUGENE JR (Army/SGT) 07W 059
MILLER, DONALD WAYNE (Army/1LT) 32W 071
OSTERHOUS, JOHN GARDNER (Marine/SGT) 29W 091
QUINN, STEPHEN WAYNE (Army/CPL) 62E 010
SEAMANS, OTTO ANDREAE JR (Army/WO) 20E 035
SMITH, MARVIN BONNEY JR (Army/SP4) 04E 065
SWEAT, LORAN EDGAR JR (Army/SP5) 11W 042
TATEM, HAROLD PAUL (Army/SGT) 26W 087
WHEATON, ALLEN THOMAS (Army/PFC) 07E 056
WHEELHOUSE, CLIFTON P JR (Army/SGT) 12W 077
WOODS, STERLING SADLER (Marine/CPL) 19E 089
YOUNG, HAROLD EARL (Army/SP5) 24E 011

 

James Luther Hoggard

Virginia

PFC 1 Engr BN

1 Mar Div

Vietnam

July 2, 1945

July 17, 1966

Buried:  Hoggard Family Cemetery - The cemetery is located in a field at the corner of Princess Anne & Landing Road in the Back Bay section of Virginia Beach (formerly Princess Anne County), Virginia.

Water, Water, Everywhere

by Don Edwards

I spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy, starting as a seaman apprentice in 1946 and ending when I retired as a Commander in 1976. I am not going to try to summarize my career. Instead, I will relate a single incident.

Early in 1965 I joined Attack Squadron 75 (VA-75) and deployed with them to Southeast Asia (off the coast of Viet Nam) aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence. I was a Lieutenant at that time, and was the assistant Maintenance Officer. The squadron was flying the Grumman A6A Intruder, a new aircraft. This was the first combat deployment of that aircraft, although the squadron had deployed on a training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for two months. VA-75 was the first operational squadron to fly the A6A, but VA-42, a training squadron, to which I belonged at the time, had trained VA-75 in flying and maintaining the A6A. I joined VA-75 upon their return from Cuba and we immediately deployed to Viet Nam. I am not going to talk about the crews who were shot down and killed, captured, or rescued, nor will I talk about the problems of maintaining and keeping a brand new aircraft repaired. I will tell you about an incident that happened during that cruise that is somewhat amusing.

During my deployments (two) to SE Asia, the carrier would usually operate off the coast of Viet Nam for about a month, then we would have a rest period (very much appreciated) in the Philippines (NAS Cubi Point), Hong Kong, or Yokosuka, Japan for a few days. Normally, three carriers were in the area, so always at least two would be on combat duty. Usually, we went to the Philippines. On our first deployment, especially, it seemed to rain every day we were at NAS Cubi Point. It was what was called the ďmonsoon season.Ē We would fly planes off before we arrived, so our flight crews could get some training flights in. Usually, there would be enough good weather between rains that we got some flying in. However, we had extremely heavy rains for part of each day, normally. We had lots of rain also when we were in combat operations off the coast of Viet Nam. Nevertheless, every night my squadron launched flights for bombing missions, usually over North Viet Nam. The A6A had very sophisticated electronics and was one of the very few aircraft types of the Navy or Air Force that could operate day or night in all kinds of weather.

Now, I will explain a little about my living conditions. Iím sure that most people know that the enlisted people live in crowded bunk rooms. Iíve had some of that, too, but I wonít talk about it. The squadron was assigned sufficient staterooms for our officers. Each stateroom had a double bunk for the two officers assigned, a small desk, a chair, clothing lockers, and a sink. No portholes! Our commanding officer, a senior Commander, did not have a roommate and had a pretty nice room, with more furniture. The other rooms were assigned by the squadron. The more senior officers had first choice. Several of the rooms were slightly larger than the one I described above, with two chairs and more room, although none could be described as luxurious. Since we had several commanders and quite a few lieutenant commanders, before the lieutenants, like me, were reached, there was really no choice except to take whatever was available. Iím not complainingóI know I had much better quarters than our enlisted men. I had the bottom bunk. After I became a lieutenant, I always made sure my roommate was junior to me, so I could have my choice. I didnít like to climb into the top bunk. The bunk had a drawer beneath it for storage. The only things I put into the drawer were my black dress shoes, which I rarely or never wore, except with my dress blues for an inspection. I wore white uniforms for the only inspections during that deployment. Back then naval officers wore white shoes with white uniforms.

My roommate was a member of VA-75, but he had been assigned to duty with the Air Wing commander, since he was a specialist in data analysis. He was a Limited Duty Officer like me, limited to duty in his specialty. Unlike me, he had worked only in his specialty since being commissioned. (Commanding officers had soon learned that LDOs, ex enlisted men, mostly were very good officers and assigned them to any duties that they wanted done well.) My specialty was aviation electronics. My second assignment after being commissioned was to an Air Wing Staff. Although my primary duty was as Avionics (Aviation Electronics) Officer, my secondary duties as ordnance officer, nuclear weapons officer, First Lieutenant, assistant Administrative Officer, assistant maintenance officer, etc. took much more of my time. In my previous tour in squadron VA-42, I had started as the Avionics (Aviation Electronics) Division Officer, but I later served as division officer for the engine mechanics, metalsmiths, and parachute riggers. My last several months were spent as the division officer in charge of Supply, because of the problems we had obtaining repair parts for a brand new aircraft and also to correct another problem that existed in that division. (A problem that led me into conflict with VA-75, to which I already had orders.) That problem never was never held against me, though, once I joined VA-75. I can still remember an argument with the VA-75 Maintenance Officer, my boss after I joined the squadron, who later in our deployment to Viet Nam became the Commanding Officer, after a couple of other COs became captured or killed. We were in the Administrative office of VA-75, where the offices of the XO and CO adjoined. The door to the COís office was open, and after a few minutes of our argument, he shouted to the Maintenance Officer, ďJust settle the gÖdÖ thing!Ē) In VA-75, I was originally the assistant Maintenance Officer, concerned with all aspects of aviation maintenance. Now, back to data analysis. A couple of years before this time the Aviation Navy had embarked on a system to record and analyze all the time spent on maintenance. All maintenance officers and maintenance enlisted men had to account for every minute of their time every day. Eventually, the system resulted in a lot of useful information, such as the amount of man hours used in working on various aircraft equipment, the most common types of problems, and the actual monetary cost (of man-hours and replacement parts) to repair the various types of equipment. The various officers (and enlisted men) involved in maintenance soon decided that it was ridiculous to try to record every minute of their time. I would fill out a card stating that I spent from 0730 to 1130 doing paperwork or overseeing some aspect of maintenance, from 1130 to 1230 at lunch, then 1230 to 1630 doing more paperwork. The officers who were pilots or bombardiers would say they were flying, debriefing, etc. in addition to doing paperwork in their jobs as division officers or as the Maintenance Officer. All of this information was recorded in the computer of the Air Station (ashore) or of the ship (afloat). My roommate was an expert in designing reports and interpreting the information in those reports. As I said, eventually we obtained a lot of valuable information from those reports when we began to limit our recording of information to items such as what the problem in the aircraft had been, how many people of what rating had spent what amount of time, and what parts had been used fixing the problem. The mechanics and technicians involved in fixing problems were pretty good at recording on the maintenance documents the amount of time they had worked on the problem and parts required to fix it.

None of the above information has anything to do with the story Iím eventually going to tell, but Iím the one telling the story so Iíll include what I like. Younger readers of this story might have noticed that I said the computer of the ship or air station. In those days, computers, which may not have had as much computing ability as an ordinary desktop computer of the present, were extremely large and expensive. Input of most data was on key-punched cards. A ship or air station had one computer which held data on personnel and payroll records, etc. To illustrate the differences between then and now, Iím going to include a copy of a card my sister-in-law, Oneta Nichols, gave me a short time ago.



Now, to continue my story. Our stateroom was on the 03 level, just below the flight deck. Of course, the flight deck, and our stateroom walls and floor was made of steel. All over the flight deck were places where power cables (28 Volts DC) could be pulled out to be attached to aircraft for power when working on equipment, when starting the aircraft, etc. When the cables were rolled up and the covers to these places were closed, aircraft could roll across the flat deck and the covers with no trouble. One of these power stations was located directly above our stateroom. The cover to the power cable did not seal well enough to keep water out during the extremely heavy rains we experienced and the little compartment that held the cable would get a lot of water in it. Unfortunately, that compartment leaked water into our room below it. We had been getting a lot of water and had started keeping a mop in our room to dry the floor. One day, the morning after we had arrived in Subic Bay in the Philippines, we must have had a cloudburst the night before. My roommate and I awoke to find that there were 4 or 5 inches of water on the floor. Although the door to the stateroom had a threshold, the door did not make a seal, and water had seeped out of the room and was floating around in the nearby passageways. I donít know what the Engineering Officer of the ship was doing roaming around up there that early in the morning, but he was. His stateroom was on a much lower deck. He traced down the source of the water to our stateroom. By that time we had dressed, poured the water out of our shoes and had put our wet shoes on. We told him we had complained about the problem but nothing had been done. He was a commander, a tough old Engineering Duty Officer. He looked the situation over, and stated, ďOf course, the leak in that little compartment should be fixed, but the easiest, cheapest, and fastest fix would be to run a drain pipe from that compartment to the drain pipe beneath your sink. Get some clothes, and move to the BOQ at Cubi Point. Donít come back to this stateroom for the next three days. The Damage Control Officer and his crew work for me, and I guarantee that the problem will be fixed within three days. Iím not going to have water splashing around on the inside decks of my ship!Ē Of course, we were delighted to move off the carrier for three days. After my roommate informed the Air Group Commander, and I informed my Executive Officer that we had been ordered to move to the BOQ by the Engineering Officer, we moved off the ship. We came back during the day to do our work, but we never checked on the progress of work in our stateroom. We were afraid that we would find out that the work had been completed on the first day and we would have to move back aboard ship. We were not about to give up our 3 days of staying ashore. At the end of 3 days, we reluctantly returned and found the work completed. We had no more problems with water in our stateroom.

Quite some time after that, for some reason I pulled out the drawer beneath my bunk. My dress shoes were green, completely covered with fungus! I took a picture of them with my Polaroid Camera and sent the picture to my wife, Edna. Unfortunately, the film was black and white, but the picture showed that there was something drastically wrong with my shoes. If I could find the picture, Iíd show it here. I cleaned up the shoes, but I could never get what I considered a proper shine for an inspection shoe. I had to buy new shoes.

 

 

 

07/12/2008 11:54:59 AM

Pictured Left:  The walkway leading from Constitution Avenue in Washington to the Viet Nam Memorial is a peaceful, picturesque pathway to travel.