In Memory

Posted by • May 27, 2017

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, more popularly known simply as The Wall, bears the names of 58,318 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Among them are 40 soldiers from a single air cavalry troop that arrived in 1968 to join the 101st Airborne Division and left among the last U.S. combat units to return home in early 1972.

In Memory plaqueC Troop, 2nd of the 17th Cavalry, spent most of its combat time in the mountainous, northern jungles of South Vietnam, where the North Vietnamese Army stubbornly defended and maintained its critical supply routes to pursue the ground war in the South. In February and March of 1971, C Troop, nicknamed the Condors, crossed the western border into Laos in a joint U.S. and South Vietnamese offensive to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the last–and perhaps most ambitious–attempt to choke off the Northern enemy’s lifeline.

The audacious invasion triggered an intensive helicopter battle unlike any before or since as American aviators ferried thousands of South Vietnamese troops into the battle, carried them ammunition and reinforcements, evacuated their wounded and, ultimately, helped get the exhausted, retreating survivors home. The Condors lost six crew members in the battle to enemy ground fire, several more wounded and had many aircraft shot down or seriously damaged.

What the names on The Wall and the damage reports don’t reveal is that an alarming number of those who survived the war have carried the physical and psychological scars with them ever since. Most have learned to cope; some have died before their time. Many still fight their demons.

At The Wall but not on it is a simple bronze plaque that reads:  “In Memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We honor and remember their sacrifice.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund that built The Wall and still organizes memorial events around it publishes a list of more than 2,800 names of people who have been determined to meet the criteria for inclusion on the list.

Causes of death include: Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), exposure to Agent Orange, cancer, diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease. Families of deceased Vietnam veterans may apply to the fund to have names and photographs added to the list.

On the Condor Alumni Association’s website are the names of those members killed in action:

Photo by Wm K Geiger

SP4 McChesney, John T. III LRP 01/23/68 20 Phoenix, AZ
SP4 Tippet, Albert A. C 02/14/68 20 Whotakers, NC
PFC Littlejohn, Gregory L. C 04/07/68 19 Norristown, Pa
SP4 Puryear, Joseph A C 04/10/68 19 Auburn, NY
SGT Henderson, Jonathan C 05/12/68 20 Chicago, Il
PFC Hill, James L. C 06/02/68 22 Amarillo, Tx
SP4 Hawthorne, James L. C 06/14/68 19 Fredricksburg, Md
Cpl Edgerton, Arthur D. C 08/17/68 20 Hayward, Ca
SP4 Clifton, Terry W. LRP 11/20/68 19 Jacksonville, Fl
SGT Contreros, Albert D. LRP 11/20/68 19 New York, NY
SP4 Heringhausen, Arthur LRP 11/20/68 18 Oregon, Oh
SGT Reiff, Michael D. LRP 11/20/68 21 Independence, Mo
SGT Barnhart, Otto P. C 04/20/69 21 Hancock, Mo
SGT Cardwell, Henry W. C 04/23/69 20 Bessemer, Al
SSG Dedman, Julian D LRP 04/23/69 23 Norwalk, Ca
SGT Hammond, Keith T. LRP 05/05/69 24 Pittsburgh, Pa
SSG Reynolds, Ronald B. LRP 05/08/69 21 Dallas, Tx
SGT Marcy, William L. LRP 05/20/69 24 Norwich, Ct
SGT Howard, Robert L. C 06/10/69 24 Norwich, Ct
SGT Todd, Kenneth C 01/01/70 20 Covington, Ky
PFC Lawrence Emil Lundgren C 02/24/70 21 LaPorte, IN
WO James Joseph Burgoyne C 03/02/70 32 Alton, IL
SGT Johnson, Paul Allen C 08/04/70 20 New Haven, Ky
WO1 Minear, Mark Wendell C 08/29/70 22 Merritt Island, Fl
1LT Shiefer, John Fredrick C 08/29/70 30 Boise, Id
PFC Jay, Brian Edward C 08/29/70 19 Douglasville, Ga
WO1 Hamm, Franklin Alvin C 11/19/70 26 Little Rock, Ar
SGT Halbach, Bruce Charles C 11/19/70 21 Stacyville, Ia
SP4 Rogers, Ronnie Vago C 01/5/71 23 Fairfield, Al
CW2 Cramer, Donald Martin C 01/05/71 26 St Louis, Mo
CPT Latimer, Wilbur Dale C 01/19/71 26 Searcy, Ar
WO1 McLeod, Arthur Edward C 02/12/71 23 Bay Shore, NY
CPT Wilkinson, Clyde David C 02/12/71 25 Mineral Wells, Tx
WO1 Crandall, Gregory C 02/18/71 21 Tacoma, Wa
SP4 Engen, Robert Joseph C 02/18/71 19 Stockton, Ca
SP4 Lewellen, Walter C 02/18/71 19 New Albany, In
1LT Simpson, Morris Alfred C 02/28/71 27 Richland Hills, Tx
CW2 James, Clayton Wade Scout Pilot; KIA May 10, 1971
SP4 Witmer, Noel Bruce – CE Scout Observer; KIA May 10, 1971
E-7 PSG Cherry, Ervin Benjamin, involved in May 10, 1971; but died in Japan May 30, 1971

The Condors also went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, where one pilot, CWO Michael Slebodnick, was killed on September 11, 2008.



2 thoughts on “In Memory

  1. Michael, You are still my Hero for sharing the Condor story. You witnessed the mission and later the physical and mental results. We were not the only ones. Think of all of Air Cav units and the Assault Helcopter units that couragiously flew into the hot LZ’s to insert or rescue Troops on the ground. Remember the Medivac Crews that tried their best to leave no Troop behind. God Bless all of my Brothers, then and now, and God Bless those civilians that had the courage to join us in battle so that the truth of our missions would be shared.

    1. Thank you, John, for your kind words. The Condors certainly weren’t the only ones, but they–and their commander, Major Jim Newman–were the ones I saw most during those tough times.

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