Vietnam Conflict (1961-1975)

"They say:
      Our deaths are not ours;
      they are yours;
      they will mean what
           you make them."

from the poem "The Young Dead Soldiers" by Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)

–from Collected Poems, 1917-1982 by Archibald MacLeish. Copyright 1985 by the Estate of Archibald MacLeish. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Vietnam Photo
–NARA photo

Prelude to the War: 1954-1960

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu between Vietnamese forces and the French in 1954 lasted 55 days. Three thousand French troops were killed, 8,000 wounded. The Viet Minh suffered 8,000 deaths and 12,000 personnel were wounded.

This battle is considered by many historians to be a defining moment in Southeast Asia.

During 1959 a specialized North Vietnamese Army unit is formed to create a supply route from North Vietnam to Vietcong forces in South Vietnam. This primitive route along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border eventually becomes known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The U.S. Steps Up Involvement

1961 – President Kennedy orders more help for the South Vietnamese government in its war against the Vietcong guerillas. More than 3,000 military advisors and support personnel are sent.

1962 – Helicopters flown by U.S. Army pilots mark the first U.S. combat missions against the Vietcong.

Vietnam Photo
–NARA photo

Maine voters wrote about military service in Vietnam and the challenges of helicopter duty:

I am voting in honor of James Godfrey, a boyhood friend and schoolmate. He joined the Army and became a helicopter pilot. He was killed in Vietnam.
Robert D. Hodgkins, Greene
Served in Vietnam and Desert Storm

 

My Army buddy, James Franklin, was a fixed wing and chopper pilot in Vietnam.
Richard E. Giffard, Brewer
U.S. Army (Ret.), served in Korea and Vietnam

James Franklin
James Franklin


Vast tracks of forest are sprayed with "Agent Orange," an herbicide containing the deadly chemical Dioxin. Guerilla trails are exposed and crops that might feed Vietcong are destroyed.

 

Mark A. Michaud
Mark A. Michaud


I am voting in honor of my son, Mark A. Michaud, who received the following Award of the Air Medal for Heroism:

"While participating in aerial flight in the Republic of Vietnam, Specialist Four Mark A. Michaud distinguished himself as a crew chief of a UH-1H helicopter. When his aircraft became the target of intense enemy automatic weapons fire, Specialist Michaud continuously exposed himself to the enemy while providing suppressive fire. After the aircraft was rendered unflyable, and he was saturated with aviation fuel from the leaking fuel cells, he continued to suppress the enemy with intense machine-gun fire…Specialist Michaud's heroic actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."

He died on June 29, 2000 at 52 years of age from the effects of Agent Orange.
Lawrence A. Michaud, Ashland

1963-1964 The Vietcong and local guerillas ambush the South Vietnamese on January 2, 1963.

Almost 400 South Vietnamese are killed or wounded.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assasinated. Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson becomes President.

At this time 16,000 military advisors are in Vietnam. The Kennedy administration had run the war from Washington without large-scale commitment of American combat troops.

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson
36th President of the
United States

President Johnson, however, argues for more expansive war powers after the raid on two U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

April-June 1964 – American air power is massively reinforced and two aircraft carriers arrive off the Vietnamese coast prompted by a North Vietnamese offensive in Laos.

Early August, 1964 – Forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) attack two American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

August 7, 1964 – The U.S. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson the power to take whatever actions he deems necessary to defend Southeast Asia.

1965 – President Johnson sends the first combat troops to Vietnam.

1965-1967 – There are not enough volunteers to continue to fight a protracted war and the government institutes a draft.

Sentiment against the U.S. participation in the war increases. Growing numbers of citizens begin to question whether the U.S. effort can succeed, and they express their dissatisfaction in peace marches, demonstrations, and acts of civil disobedience.


This was a period of overwhelming personal losses and dramatic sacrifices:

We pay tribute to father and "Grampie," Richard A. Greene, who served in the Army in Vietnam during 1965-66.
Audrey Greene, Kenduskeag, daughter
Shauni Greene, Kenduskeag, granddaughter

I am voting in honor of Sgt. Charles Benjamin Norris, USMC. I left Vietnam in mid-March of 1966. Sgt. Norris took over my squad but he was killed on 21 April 1966. We had never met.
James N. Phinney, Pittsfield
Served in Vietnam, 1964-66

Born in Waterville, David Walter Marlborough was one of 34 killed June 8, 1967 on the USS Liberty. He was the only Maine resident to be killed during this "6-Day War."
Kenneth C. Johnson, Lamoine
Served in Vietnam era

 

Robert (Bobbie) Blye and I served in Vietnam together. At least once he saved my life. He was killed in action, November 21, 1967.
Frank D. Connors,
Bowdoinham

Served in Vietnam

Robert Blye and Frank D. Connors
Robert Blye & Frank D. Connors


I am voting in honor of my mom and dad, Rena and Gerard Wynn. Dad was a graduate of West Point, class of 1956. He was a Major and served with the U.S. Army, Special Forces. He died during his 2nd tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967. Mom had met Dad while she was serving as an Army Nurse, 1st Lt.
Elizabeth Wynn Shirk, South Portland

My best friend, Joe Shumpert, was killed in Vietnam in the Army on December 25, 1967. I sure miss him.
Randall C. Ellis, Belfast
Served in Vietnam, 1967-68


My brother, Marvin W. Woodbury, served with the 4th Infantry from 1966 -1969. He did two tours so I wouldn't have to go to Vietnam, but I went after he came home.
Donald P. Woodbury, Gorham
Served in Vietnam


1968 The Tet Offensive

Vietnamese tradition held that the turning of the lunar year should bring auspicious signs and gladness of heart; thus, it had become customary for both sides to observe a truce during the holiday celebrations. In 1968, a thirty-six hour cease-fire had been agreed upon, to commence at midnight on January 30.

Vietnamese tradition held that the turning of the lunar year should bring auspicious signs and gladness of heart; thus, it had become customary for both sides to observe a truce during the holiday celebrations. In 1968, a thirty-six hour cease-fire had been agreed upon, to commence at midnight on January 30.

Vets with a Mission Vietnam Photo Journal of the Tet Offensive

Tet Offensive, January 30, 1968
Tet Offensive, January 30, 1968


The Tet Offensive brought the war to the cities for the first time. General Westmoreland established Operation Recovery to coordinate the rebuilding process for these cities.


Please put the number "37" on my Vote for a Veteran button. This represents the men in my unit who were killed and that I helped to unload from my chopper during Tet in '68.
Willis Stanley, Palmyra
Served in Vietnam, 1967-69

 

I am honoring my uncle, Cpl. André Dubé, USMC, who was killed during the Tet Offensive. He was the youngest of 13 children and signed up because my father had also served in Vietnam as a Marine. My dad escorted his body home.
Mike Dubé, Madawaska
Served in Grenada,West
Indies, Beirut and Lebanon

André Dubé
André Dubé

 

André Dubé
André Dubé

 

My brother, André L. Dubé, served in the USMC from June 1963 to August 1966, when he was killed in action. He received his first Purple Heart in March of 1966. He requested to remain in country for his duration. He was 21 years old.
John T. Dubé, Jay
Served in Vietnam, U.S. Navy


I was wounded 3 times in the Tet Offensive in 1968. I served in the 9th Infantry, U.S. Army.
Jerry A. Elwell, Bristol
Served in Vietnam


By 1968, troop levels had reached 495,000. There had been 30,000 American deaths to date; approximately 1,000 were killed a month.


I volunteered another tour of duty for my buddy Mike Deschaine and will vote in his honor at this Election. Mike and I grew up together in Auburn. He served in the 1st Marine Division and was KIA in his 3rd month in Vietnam.
Bertrand L. Levesque, Lisbon
Did 2 combat tours in Vietnam, 1967-70

I am honoring Dennis Graham, my college friend at Texas A&M College, an all male military school at the time. Dennis was poor, as we all were in this small college. Most of our families were sacrificing to get us through college. I know he worked in the mess hall three meals a day to help pay for his education. He was the one of us who did not drink and also was the Wing Chaplin— just the All-American young man.

We all graduated and went to pilot training. Dennis was my roommate during pilot training. After graduation we went to different planes, I to B-52s and Dennis to the F-111. Dennis told me when he got home he would leave the Air Force and fly for the Texas Air National Guard (F-102). He said the F-111 was a dangerous aircraft because the terrain-following radar had some problems. That was the last time I talked to him.

Six F-111s were sent to fly into Vietnam. They lost 3 in two weeks. Dennis was in the first one, as I understand. He was killed (MIA), an example of the waste of fine young men this war produced, a war this country was not willing to make the hard decisions to win.
Windol C. Weaver, York
USAF, 3 tours in Vietnam

My son, S/Sgt. Wayne C. Cyr, was a great, courageous soldier. He enlisted at age 17. He served in the Army Infantry and was killed in Vietnam on May 7, 1968, barely 21 years old. His brother, Master Sergeant Alvin Cyr made the Army his career and recently retired.
Bernice Maxheimer, Cherryfield

A variety of requests to Vote in Honor of a Veteran were heartfelt memories that fondly recalled the importance of friends and loved ones:

 

Cloyce Gress was a good buddy in my unit in Vietnam when we served together from 1968-69. He found me via computer after 30 years of separation.
Randall Grady, Jefferson
Served in Vietnam

Cloyce Gress and Randall Grady 1969
Cloyce Gress & Randall Grady
1969

I am voting in honor of my son, George J. Bursey, who was awarded the following Army Commendation Medal for heroism:

"On March 14, 1968, PFC. Bursey was serving as a radio-telephone operator with a forward observer on a reconnaissance in force operation in the vicinity of Cu Chi. His platoon was moving through dense jungle terrain when they were suddenly subjected to intense small arms and automatic weapons fire from a well concealed Viet Cong force…He observed several seriously wounded personnel lying in an area which was exposed to heavy enemy fire and, with complete disregard for his personal safety, immediately ran to their aid and assisted in carrying them to safety. His exemplary courage and initiative were instrumental in saving the lives of several of his fellow soldiers, and significantly contributed to the successful outcome of the encounter."

George E. Bursey, Trenton
Served in WWII

 

My husband, Gerald L. Caron, served in Vietnam in 1968. He went with the priest to the orphanage on Sundays so he could translate because he spoke French. He loved the children and would gladly have taken one of them home with him if he could have. He is very patriotic. He would go anywhere in the world to protect his family and country.
Claudette Caron, Lewiston

Gerald L. Caron
Gerald L. Caron


My father, Manuel Moreno, served in the Army for 23 years and fought in the Vietnam War. He is disabled from the war. I have great respect and appreciation for him.
Janice Moreno, Richmond

I will vote in honor of my brother-in-law, Ken Stowe, of Topsfield, Massachusetts, who served in the army in Vietnam. His job was working with German Shepherds to train them to find land mines. One of his best dogs blew up in front of him on a land mine, saving his life.
Priscilla D. Hoekstra, Etna

1968 - 1972 – During 1969 action in South Vietnam is scattered and limited. In June, President Richard M. Nixon announces the withdrawal of 25,000 U.S. troops. There are more than 540,000 U.S. military personnel in Vietnam.

During spring of 1970 the Ho Chi Minh Trail is the constant target of B-52 bomber raids. Fighting expands into Cambodia, and new waves of anti-war protests erupt in the United States. By late 1970 the number of personnel in South Vietnam is 335,000.

The gradual withdrawal of military personnel in South Vietnam proceeds, but the peace talks are in a stalemate. The South Vietnamese take responsibility for fighting on the ground, but U.S. air support is still needed. The number of military personnel has dropped to 160,000.

In 1972 the North Vietnamese invade the DMZ and capture Quang Tri province. President Nixon responds by ordering intense bombing of the North.

President Richard M. Nixon
President Richard M. Nixon
37th President of the United States


Maine voters honor veterans who served during this challenging time:


I will be voting in honor of Robert W. Fields. Bob was a medical doctor that I served with in the 14th USAF Hospital, Nha Trang, RVN. He was in a helicopter, which was shot down. He died in the crash on 26 March 1969. He was a good doctor and a good man.
Charlie Smith, Presque Isle
Served in Vietnam

I met Joe Nye when he was in Togus VA Hospital with me. I don't know his real first name – all he ever told me was "Joe." He was one of the most decorated servicemen in Vietnam. He felt strongly that the vets who returned from Desert Storm should be treated like heroes, not like the guys who came home from Vietnam. I really admired him.
Robert B. Chapman, Bangor


I want to honor SFC Yano and all patriots who have made the supreme sacrifice to ensure the torch of freedom will always burn brightly. I never met Sergeant First Class Yano, but this General Order tells all:

"Sergeant First Class Rodney J. T. Yano, United States Army, distinguished himself on 1 January 1969 while serving with the Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Cavalry Regiment, in the vicinity of Bien Hoa, Republic of Vietnam. Sergeant Yano was performing the duties of crew chief aboard the troop's command-and-control helicopter during action against enemy forces entrenched in dense jungle. From an exposed position in the face of intense small arms and antiaircraft fire he delivered suppressive fire upon the enemy forces and marked their positions with smoke and white phosphorous grenades, thus enabling his troop commander to direct accurate and effective artillery fire against the hostile emplacements. A grenade, exploding prematurely, covered him with burning phosphorous, and left him severely wounded. Flaming fragments within the helicopter caused supplies and ammunition to detonate. Dense white smoke filled the aircraft, obscuring the pilot's vision and causing him to lose control. Although having the use of only one arm and being partially blinded by the initial explosion, Sergeant Yano's indomitable courage and profound concern for his comrades averted loss of life and additional injury to the rest of the crew. By his conspicuous gallantry at the cost of his own life, in the highest traditions of the military service, Sergeant Yano has reflected great credit on himself, his unit and the United States Army."

Daniel J. Mulcahey, Brooks
Served in Vietnam, retired after 30 years

 

 

I am honoring Raymond Bechard, originally from Augusta, who was KIA in Vietnam in 1969. Ray and I were classmates as children.
Gary P. Burns, Augusta
Served in Vietnam

Raymond Bechard
Raymond Bechard


I am voting in honor of my brother, Paul Joseph Frink. Paul was a Sergeant in the Army, Company D, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry. He died in Vietnam on April 7, 1970, 5 days after his 21st birthday. He was awarded 11 separate military decorations and awards posthumously: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Army Commendation, Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign & Service Medals, Combat Infantryman's Badge and Sharpshooter's Badge. He is my hero.

According to newspaper accounts provided by his sisters, Sergeant Frink entered the service in February of 1969 and was sent to Vietnam in July of that year. He had distinguished himself by serving as a radio telephone operator during reconnaissance in "force operation" near fire support base Granite in the Republic of Vietnam.

While set up in a night defensive position, Sgt. Frink's unit came under an enemy sapper* attack.

Sgt. Frink was severely wounded, when a satchel charge exploded in his fighting position. Fearful that a call for help might direct the sapper force to other friendly positions, Sgt. Frink maintained silence despite the pain induced by his wounds.

With great courage he crawled under fire from his fighting position to his radio and called for friendly artillery and illumination. Sgt. Frink remained at his radio adjusting artillery fire until his physical condition made it imperative that he be evacuated.

Barbara Musmon, Saint Albans

*A sapper is a military engineer who specializes in field fortification activities, such as laying, detecting or disarming mines.

 

I am voting in honor of 2 buddies. Percy Gagnon was killed in action March 23, 1970, in `Nam. He was a college classmate, teaching colleague, and fellow soldier. Stuart Woodman was killed in action June 6, 1970. I have dedicated each day of my life to their ultimate sacrifice.
Melford J. Pelletier, Wallagrass
Served in Vietnam, 1969-71

The following Maine voters used this opportunity to remember veterans whose names were on the MIA/POW bracelets they wore:


Roosevelt Hestle is an MIA from the Vietnam War. I wore an MIA bracelet of his for years. Last year my son placed it at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. I never knew him, but I honor his sacrifice.
Joan Leavitt, Palmyra

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

 

Designed by Yale student Maya Ying Lin, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built to honor the memory of those who served in the Vietnam War. Over 58,000 names are etched in the black granite Memorial whose walls point towards the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.


The person I am honoring, James Klimo, Specialist 5, is still MIA in Vietnam. I believe he was in the Army. His is the name on a POW/MIA bracelet that belonged to my mother.
Jennifer E.S. Ballweg, Waterville
Served during the Gulf War

Others respectfully remembered POW's or MIA's:


Howard David Stephenson and I grew up together on a farm, an apple orchard. He was MIA, shot down over Laos. His name is on the Wall in D.C. We're still waiting for him to come home.
Bruce W. Baker, Alexander
Served in Vietnam

I am voting in honor of Col. Donald G. Cook, USMC. He and I were POW's together in Vietnam, 1964-67.

According to an article enclosed by Mr. Crafts, "In December 1964, Cook was ordered to the Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rdMarine Division in Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. On December 31, 1964, Cook volunteered to conduct a search and recovery mission for a downed American helicopter and set off with the 4th Vietnamese Marines. Ambushed on their arrival at the site, Donald was wounded in the leg and captured while attempting to rally his Vietnamese allies.

Donald G. Cook
Donald G. Cook

Cook was incarcerated in a prison camp near the Cambodian border and committed himself to providing inspiration for his fellow prisoners to endure and survive. He often surrendered his own rations and medicine to aid prisoners whose condition was more desperate than his own.

It was reported that he died in captivity from malaria on December 8, 1967. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in May, 1980, and the Aegis Destroyer DDG-75 built and launched in Bath, Maine, was named in his honor."

Charles Crafts, Livermore
Served in Vietnam


Edward Darcy is a POW/MIA from the Vietnam War. He has been missing since 1969.
Edith Dearborn, Mattawamkeag

I will be voting in honor of John Huntley, who was a POW and is still missing.
William B. Boone, Eastport

When I vote, I will do so in memory of the 15 Maine men listed as POW-MIA from Southeast Asia.
William A. Thomas, Lisbon Falls
Served in USAF in Vietnam


REMEMBER ME?

Home, America, the land I long to see
To you, a Symbol of the free,
Do you Remember me?

It's been so long since I've seen home
I'm oh so far away...
Can't anyone hear me...please listen to me say.

Memories now are all I have to help me through each day
Yet in my heart, a spark of hope
I know you'll find a way.

Please bring me home, my journey's end
I know how hard it's been
But Please you must keep trying,
This battle YOU must win.
I did my part, I fought my best
So others could be free
My destiny lies in YOUR hands
Please Remember Me.

Signed,
Away, but never alone
Never forgotten
As Long as I have all of you.

A POW-MIA

Written by Carole D. Thomas in 1978


Responses like the following proudly pay tribute to husbands who served selflessly in Vietnam:


Michael R. Brochu, Sr.
Michael R. Brochu, Sr.

 

I am voting in honor of my husband, Michael R. Brochu, Sr., who was a parachute rigger in the Navy. He volunteered for Vietnam and he would go again.
Nadine Brochu, Denmark

My husband, J. Michel Patry, Sr., had a military career from 1965-1989. He served in Vietnam where he became disabled. Today he is an activist, a writer, a photographer, an educator, and an artist.
Evie Danika Patry, Lewiston

My husband, USAF Capt. Peter B. Smyth, served in the Vietnam Conflict. He was a dual-rated navigator/pilot whose mission was to refuel the fighters in mid-air. It is time that these Vietnam veterans are honored. These men served and sacrificed, some with their lives.
Evelyn Smyth, Rockland

 

I am voting in honor of my husband, Harry Gotham, who fought proudly and well for the freedom of other people in Vietnam from 1969-70.
Laurie Gotham, Buckfield

Harry Gotham
Harry Gotham

Everett A. Kaherl
Everett A. Kaherl

 

My husband, Everett A. Kaherl, served in the Air Force for 4 years during the Vietnam conflict and loaded bombs on planes. He became a law enforcement officer when he left the military and has been in law enforcement since then. He has 5 children and 9 grandchildren. He is a true and honest patriot.
Connie Kaherl, Lisbon

 

My husband, Winfield "Jay" Sanborn, served in Vietnam as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne. He has two Purple Hearts and I am very proud to be his wife.
Brenda Sanborn, Springvale

Winfield
Winfield "Jay" Sanborn

Vietnam Women's Memorial

On Veterans Day in 1993, a bronze statue of three women and a wounded soldier was dedicated on the Mall in Washington, D.C. This statue, in close proximity to the Vietnam Wall, was placed in honor of the 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam era. It was a historic moment in time, for it was the first time a country has bestowed national recognition upon women who answered their country's call.

Vietnam Women's Memorial


Other responses warmly praised the contributions of women military personnel during this conflict:


My wife, Melinda T. Goldberg, served 13 years in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, including 2 tours in Vietnam. She attained the rank of Major.

Colonel Stuart E. Goldberg (Ret.), Portland
Served in Vietnam, 1971-72

 

I am voting in honor of my sister, Capt. Roberta MacLean, who was an Army nurse. She served in the field in the 7th Surgical Hospital Unit.
Ralph A. Mac Lean, South Portland
Served on USS Independence,
Vietnam, 1965

Roberta MacLean
Roberta MacLean

Susanne Clark
Susanne Clark

 

Sgt. Susanne Clark, LPN, was an Army nurse who served in Vietnam from December 1972 - February 1978. She is presently a staff nurse at the Greenwood Nursing Home in Sanford, where she is a wonderful nurse and co-worker.
James A. Walke, Springvale
Served as US Army Medic, 1979-89


1973 - 1975 Peace talks resume in Paris on January 23, 1973. South Vietnamese communist forces, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States agree to a cease-fire. All U.S. Forces are to be withdrawn and all bases dismantled. The 17th parallel will remain the dividing line until the country can be reunited by "peaceful means."

But the fighting continues. Casualties are as high as they have ever been. In 1974 the North Vietnamese begin preparing for a major offensive while South Vietnam tries to hold the areas under its control. The North Vietnamese capture Phuoc Binh 60 miles north of Saigon in January 1975 and then begin a large-scale offensive in the central highlands in early March. The South Vietnamese military machine starts to unravel.

April 30, 1975 The South Vietnamese government surrenders unconditionally. North Vietnamese tanks occupy Saigon. The last Americans leave Saigon, including 10 Marines from the United States Embassy.

July 2, 1976 A military government is instituted and the country is officially united as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with its capital in Hanoi.


Veterans with connections to Maine served during these final years of the war:


I will be voting in honor of my son, a brother, and 2 brothers-in-law. My brother, Peter Potter, served on a carrier in Vietnam, and my 2 brothers-in-law, Bill and Herb Larck, each served 3 tours in the Navy in Vietnam. My son, Leslie B. Potter, served 6 years in the Army; he died April 17, 1988.

Tice L. Potter, Kittery Point
Served in the Navy in WWII


More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action. Nearly 11,000 died of other causes. More than 303,000 were wounded in the war.


I will be voting in honor of the 343 Maine boys that died in Vietnam.
Linwood E. Green, Orono

"Linwood Green created Mobile Memories to preserve the history of the Vietnam War as it affected Maine families, and to encourage veterans of the controversial war to come out with dignity. The traveling exhibit memorializes the 343 Maine boys that were lost in Vietnam between 1964 and 1975 and highlights the history of Maine's involvement with photos, letters, and memorabilia of our Maine Vietnam Veterans."

 

Canadian Henry L. Dew was hoping to become an American citizen by joining the U.S. Army. According to a local newspaper story, PFC Dew had enlisted in the U.S. Army in Jackman in January of 1965 and was sent to Vietnam in October. He was killed by sniper fire at the age of 21. He is much loved and often remembered. It was an honor to have served with him.
Lester "Randy" Thompson, Houlton
Served during Vietnam, 1965-66

Henry L. Dew
Henry L. Dew


I am voting in honor of Lt. Comdr. John McConnell. Flying a Crusader jet from the USS Saratoga, he spared my life and the lives of 150 others by staying with his out-of-control jet headed for us on deck. He could have ejected but didn't. It cost him his life, leaving behind his wife and family. I am now 60 years old, and I will never forget what this man did. He was a true hero. I wish I could tell his wife and kids what a great man their loved one was.
Charles Rideout, Bangor
Served during Vietnam era

I am voting in honor of my cousin, Capt. John "Jack" E. Duffy, a USAF Academy graduate. Jack was shot down over Vietnam while flying an observation aircraft. His body was returned to Maine only a few years ago, long after the deaths of his father, mother, and one brother.
Col. Richard D. Duffy, Belgrade
Serving in the Maine Army National Guard

Dana Gerald was a grade school and high school buddy who was killed in Vietnam.
Frederick W. Naborowsky, Vassalboro
Served in Vietnam, USAF (Ret.)

I am voting in honor of Bob Hauser. He was the first friend of mine that died in Nam.
Ray Weatherby, Rockland
Served in Vietnam

Leon Poland, Jr.
Leon Poland, Jr.

 

I am voting in honor of my neighbor, Leon Poland Jr. He and I were together for the last time in California when both of us were heading overseas.
Charles A. Lowe, Bryant Pond
Served in Vietnam, 1968-69

 

My half-brother, PFC Leon L. Poland, Jr., was a Marine from Woodstock, Maine, killed at Monkey Mountain near DaNang, Vietnam, on March 26, 1967. He was hit by a land mine while on patrol guarding an Air Force radar site.
Hazel R. Dillingham, South Paris

Leon Poland, Jr.
Leon Poland, Jr.


About 900,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops were killed. An unknown number were wounded. More than 1,000,000 North and South Vietnamese civilians were killed during the war.

The cost of the war is estimated at $200 billion.


I am honoring my brother-in-law, Ronald (Charles) Ouellette, who served in the Army during Vietnam. He returned home a doomed man with serious flashbacks. He passed April 26, 2000. He was 48.
Joseph A. Desrochers, Lewiston
Served in Vietnam

I am voting in honor of Larry Don Knippel. We went to NCO school together, roomed together at Ft. Hood, and I spent 3 days at his house before going to Vietnam together. He was killed on 3-13-70, but I didn't find that out until the last day of my first tour.
Charles M. Torno, Lebanon
Served in Vietnam, 1969-71

I am a 40% disabled service-connected veteran. Thank you for this program to honor veterans.
Russel S. Herbert, Portland
Served in Vietnam

Michael Gourley
Michael Gourley

 

I am voting in honor of my brother, Michael Gourley, a Marine who served in Vietnam. He was wounded 3 times, once in the head, and received the Purple Heart and medals for sharpshooting. He came home, but in a few years he committed suicide. He fought for his country as hard as he could.
Charlotte Stewart, Wellington


Evident throughout the responses about Vietnam veterans are compelling and unforgettable examples of heroism, dedication, and honor:


I am voting in honor of my brother, Edwin S. Dana, Sr. He served in the military for 28 years, including 3 tours in Vietnam in order, as he says, "to help my country and the buddies that I left behind."
Geneva Moulton, Bar Mills

My brother, Greg Tuholski, was drafted into the Army and killed in Vietnam.
Gerry Tuholski, Holden

My husband, Gerry Tuholski, joined the Air Force immediately after his brother Greg was killed in Vietnam.
Susan Tuholski, Holden

Thank you from all of us with hearts for the hurting. When we vote, we will be voting in honor of all hospitalized veterans and all homeless veterans. We give them value by remembering.
Lois Merrill, Kennebunk
Willis Merrill, Kennebunk
Served in Vietnam


Three Maine Medal of Honor Recipients from Vietnam Conflict

Sergeant Brian L. Buker, of Benton, served in the U.S. Army, Detachment B-55 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty," at Chau Doc Province, Republic of Vietnam, 5 April 1970. "Sergeant Buker distinguished himself while serving as platoon adviser of a Vietnamese mobile strike force company during an offensive mission. Sergeant Buker personally led the platoon, cleared a strategically located and well guarded pass, and established the first foothold at the top of what had been an impenetrable mountain fortress...As a direct result of his heroic actions, many casualties were averted, and the assault of the enemy position was successful. Sergeant Buker's extraordinary heroism at the cost of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the U.S. Army."

Specialist Fourth Class Thomas J. McMahon, who entered the military in Portland, served in the U.S. Army, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th Brigade, American Division. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously by distinguishing himself while serving as medical aidman with Company A in Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam on 19 March 1969. "When the lead elements of his company came under heavy fire from well fortified enemy positions, 3 soldiers fell seriously wounded. SP4 McMahon, with complete disregard for his safety, left his covered position and ran through intense enemy fire...He fell mortally wounded before he could rescue the last man. SP4 McMahon's undaunted concern for the welfare of his comrades at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army."

Sergeant Donald S. Skidgel, of Caribou, served in the U.S. Army, Troop D, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Division. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for distinguished service as a reconnaissance section leader in Troop D near Song Be, Republic of Vietnam on 14 September 1969. "On a road near Song Be in Binh Long Province, Sergeant Skidgel and his section with other elements of his troop were acting as a convoy security and screening force when contact occurred with an estimated enemy battalion concealed in tall grass and in bunkers bordering the road...His selfless actions enabled the command group to withdraw to a better position without casualties and inspired the rest of his fellow soldiers to gain fire superiority and defeat the enemy. Sergeant Skidgel's gallantry at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army."

 


From United States of America's Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients and Their Official Citations, provided by the Office of the Adjutant General, State of Maine


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