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We should remember them

ATimes Special Feature We should remember the two men from Arkansas who gave their lives in the first major battle of Vietnam involving American military and the North Vietnamese Army. We should remember the 15 men from Crittenden County who gave their lives in the Vietnam War, unfortunately only a small part of their life stories are told in this writing. We should remember the 585 others from Arkansas who gave their lives in this war. We must remember and honor all of the men and women who served our country in the Vietnam War.

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

Richard W. Perry of Marion, was born was born on 2 February 1942 and was killed in action on 19 September 1966. Sergeant Perry was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas. According to the official Report of Casualty dated 28 September 1966, Sergeant Perry was killed resulting from “gunshot wounds to the left side of the neck and head sustained while participating in an operation against hostile forces.” It is footnoted on the Report of Casualty, that Sergeant Perry at the time of his death had a brother, Pvt. Arthur L. Perry in the Army. Sergeant Perry was not married and had no children. His parents living in Marion, were notified of his death.

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

Gary C. Cupples of Marion, was born on 27 April 1946 and was killed in action on 1 June 1967. Corporal Cupples was a Rifleman assigned to L Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park, Marion, AR.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 16 June 1967; Cpl. Cupples died as the “result of an unknown fragmentation wound to the neck from unknown hostile explosive device and gunshot wound right back from hostile rifle fire while engaged in actions against hostile forces during operation.” Corporal Cupples was not married and had no children. His parents living in Marion were notified of their son's death.

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

Robert T. Harris of Earle, was born on 16 December 1946 and killed in action on 17 June 1967. Private First Class Harris was an Infantryman assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, USARV and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, AR. According to the official Report of Casualty dated 20 June 1967; PFC Harris was “on combat operation preparing light defense perimeter in landing zone when he engaged hostile force in firefight.” Private First Class Harris

was not married and had no children. His parents, living in Earle were notified of their son’s death. PFC Harris was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 21E Line 121.

Henry Johnson,

of West Memphis, was born on 22 November 1946 and died on duty on 8 October 1967. Lance Corporal Johnson was a Rifleman assigned to Headquarters Company, 7th Command Battalion, 1st Marine Division, III MAF. LCPL Johnson's burial location is unknown according to official record.

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

Lance Corporal Johnson was not married and had no children. His father, living in Turrell and his mother living in West Memphis were notified of their son's death. LCPL Johnson is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 27E Line 069.

J.B. King

of Earle, was born on 29 May 1944 and

was killed in action on 22 June 1967. Lance Corporal King was a Rifleman assigned to L Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried at Russell Cemetery in Earle, Arkansas.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 1 July 1967; LCPL King was killed in action as the “result of fragmentation wounds to the neck, right shoulder and both legs from hostile mine while on patrol during operation.” Lance Corporal King was not married and had no children. His mother, was deceased, his father's location was unknown and his sister, Corine Wiley, living

in Milwaukee, WI was notified

of his death. LCPL King was awarded Class Washington was not married and had no children. His father was deceased and his mother, step-father, sister, and a friend, all living in Earle were notified of his death. PFC Washington was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 35E Line 001.

Louis Brown of West Memphis, was born on 7 June 1947 and was killed in action on 5 April 1969. Private First Class (Promoted Posthumously to Corporal) was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, USARV and is buried in Marion Memorial Cemetery, Marion, Arkansas. According to the official Military Casualty Report, Corporal Brown was “killed while on combat operation when a hostile force was engaged.” A footnote states; “Individual was previously reported missing on 5 April 1969 and changed to dead on 13 April 60. NOK notified of death on 14 April 69.”

Corporal Brown was not married and had no children. Corporal Brown's mother, living in West Memphis was notified of her son's death. Corporal Brown was awarded the Bronze Star (Merit) and the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 27W Line 015.

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

Lance Corporal Thomas was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MAF and is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas. According to the official Report of Casualty dated 10 February 1969, Lance Corporal Thomas “died at 1650 hours 4 February 1969 aboard United State Navy Hospital ship USS Repose as a result of wounds he sustained 1415 hours 16 January 1969 Quang Tri Province when a hostile mine exploded while on patrol.”

Lance Corporal Thomas was not married and had no children. Lance Corporal Thomas's parents living in West Memphis were notified of their son's death. LCPL Thomas was awarded the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 33W Line 059.

Phillip Ralph Hardin of Marion, was born on 5 September 1950 and was killed in action on 6 May 1970. Lance Corporal Hardin was a Rifleman assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, III MAF. Lance Corporal Hardin is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park in Marion, Arkansas. According to the official Report of Casualty dated 14 May 1970; LCPL Hardin was “killed in action 6 May 1970 in Quang Nam Province.”

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

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

Randall L. Harris of West Memphis, was born on 13 July 1952 and was killed in action on 8 February 1971. Private First Class Harris (Promoted Posthumously to Corporal) was a Food Service Specialist assigned to C Battery, 6th Battalion, 11th Artillery, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, USARV and is buried in Crittenden Memorial Park, Marion, Arkansas.

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

Corporal Harris was married and had no children. His wife, living in Hot Springs, Arkansas was notified of her husband's death. Corporal Harris's parents living in West Memphis were notified of their son's death. CPL Harris was awarded the Bronze Star (Merit) and the Purple Heart and is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall Panel 05W Line 088.

Richard Wilson, Jr. of Crawfordsville, was born on 8 November 1947 and was killed on 15 June 1971. Private First Class Wilson was a heavy vehicle driver assigned to the 523rd Transport Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, 26th Ground Service Group, Army SPT Command Danang, 1st Logistics Command, USARV. According to official Report of Casualty dated 27 September 1971 PFC Wilson, “was killed while the driver of a military vehicle on a military mission when the vehicle ran off a bridge and into a river.”

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

A footnote in the Report of Casualty dated 27 September 1971 states; “Previously reported missing on 15 June 1971 and changed to dead on 23 September 1971.” Private First Class Wilson was not married and had no children. Private First Class Wilson's mother living in Crawfordsville, was notified of her son's death. Private First Class Wilson is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall Panel 03W Line 077.

James Lathon of Earle, was born 17 May 1949 and died on 17 May 1972 (His Birthday) while saving an Air Force crew and removing them from harms way. Sergeant Lathon was a Fire Protection Specialist assigned to the 388th CE Squadron, 388th Combat Support Group, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force and based in Thua Thien province of Thailand at Korat Republic of Thailand Air Force Base.

According to the official Report of Casualty dated 19 May 1972, SGT Lathon died of “Shrapnel wounds combat related.” According to the Virtual Wall project at www.VirtualWall.org it states; “Member of the USAF Crash Rescue crew stationed at Korat Air Base in Thailand during Operation Linebacker. At about 0710, a fully-armed F-150G “Wild Weasel” aircraft carrying AGM-45 Shrike Missiles, made a crash landing at Korat RTAFB. Due to a left main gear collapse, the aircraft slid to a stop igniting its fuel in the 450 gallon left inboard tank. SGT Lathon, along with other crash crew members, were instrumental in getting the cockpit canopies off and unbuckling the crew. They yanked the crew out and got them safely away from the burning aircraft, and suppressed most of the fire. However, after about 8 minutes following the arrival of the fire crew, the AGM-45 warhead on the left side of the aircraft detonated. In the blast and shrapnel, Sergeant Lathon, Staff Sergeant Daubendiek and four Royal Thai Air Force personnel were killed outright.

Sergeant Lathon was not married and had no children. Sergeant Lathon's parents living Earle were notified of their son's death. SGT Lathon is buried in Paradise Gardens, Edmondson, Arkansas. SGT Lathon is memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Panel 21E Line 121.

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

It is a humbling experience to walk past the Memorial, to see the names, to see Veterans standing, gazing at names of their friends, to see the memorials left behind in honor of so many. If you should have the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall, I encourage you to do so – it is hallowed ground and a place for healing the American soul. What once divided us as a people can now unite us.

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

[ Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Clayton Adams for this piece, which, due to its size, was edited to fit in the available space. The complete unabridged article is available on the Evening Times’ Facebook Page]

By Clayton Adams

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