SGT Larry W Maysey
COL Gregory I Barras
SGT James D Locker
SSGT Elmer L Holden
CMS Charles D King
MAJ Carl B Mitchell
PFC Eric D Saltz
OTHER IN TRIBUTE PAGES
The Recovery of JG 23
The Search for JG 26
A Visit To The Wall
From The Other Side
Still The Noblest Calling
The Bravest of the Brave
The Fiery Loss of Strobe 01
The Prison Camp Raid
at Son Tay
A Man is Not Dead
Until He is Forgotten
Johnny Wheeler USA
By Ray Davidson, syndicated columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.
General Boylan, alumni and friends I want to take the time to share some notes with you about two former cadets who died in Vietnam, who lived by our motto of Duty! Honor!, and Country!
Johnny Wheeler was from St. Mary's, Georgia. He was with A Company, 1st Battalion, 327 INF RGT, 101 ABN, the Screaming Eagles. His unit was part of Task Force Oregon. They were on a search and destroy mission with Operation Benton at the time of his death, on his 27th birthday.
Those in Wheeler's platoon can tell you of a young man, a dedicated soldier and friend. A young soldier who always had a smile on his face and when the burdens were too great, when your stomach was tied in knots with fear, when death was so close you could smell the embers; Johnny would use a thick Georgia accent to lighten the burden and make you smile. They will tell you that on those times when they did get back to base camp, exhausted, freighted and lost, when sleep escaped them and they lay awake with their own fears and their own ghosts, Johnny would take out his guitar. The mood would change; they would sing together and one by one find sleep.
A sergeant in Wheeler's platoon will tell you that he can close his eyes and still see Johnny and with tears starting to well, he will whisper, "I still miss him".
GMC Baseball Coach Parnell Ruark can tell you of a young cadet and member of the 1960 State Championship Baseball Team. He will tell you of one of the best baseball pitchers he had ever coached. A talented young man, a highly motivated and competitive player, who during a playoff game that appeared to be lost, went behind a dugout to cry.
I can tell you of an ambush along an un-named path, in a lost jungle, somewhere in Southeast Asia. A platoon commander hit and lay exposed to enemy fire. The incoming fire was so heavy that the rest of the platoon lay hunkered down unable to initially return fire.
I can tell you of a young man from St. Mary's, a former cadet, that not knowing if his platoon leader was dead or alive, crawled under punishing fire to his side.
I can tell you that they both died on a hot humid August afternoon, there in that jungle clearing.
A young widow, who, after time, remarried, moved away, and raised a family, she too would tell you, softly, that she still misses him.
And there was Larry Knuth of Boynton Beach, Florida. Larry was also on the 1960 Championship Team. I should address him as Cadet Col. Knuth, Battle Group Commander. Larry graduated from GMC and entered the Marine Corps. He gave his life in Vietnam with 7 of his fellow Marines of C Company 1st Marine Division, 5th Amphibious Battalion, an "Amtracker", the Marines signature profession.
Coach Ruark can tell of a young pitcher whose enthusiasm, drive and leadership helped the team achieve even greater heights. Knuth was a team mate and Cadet Officer that lead by example. He took that same role with him to the Corps and as a 1st Lt; he led his Marines as he did on the Davenport baseball field.
I can tell you of Operation Osage, an amphibious assault mission that failed to encounter much enemy resistance and cost us 8 dead and 7 wounded. After failing to engage the enemy the Marines were dismounted when an Improvised Explosive Device, a bobby trap, was triggered in an old well.
A former Marine, Gary Johnson, can tell you of a respected Marine Officer, that they often called "gator". He and Knuth served together prior to going to Vietnam and deployed with their unit to the war zone. He remembers standing by the well, with Larry between him and the well. Johnson had replaced some water purification tablets back into Larry’s First Aid pouch and was about to take a drink of water himself when the explosion occurred. He can tell you that he is alive today because of Larry. He states, "I owe this man my life and he was a great friend. He has never been forgotten by this Marine and never will be." He told me that for all these years he has searched for Larry's family. It is important to him to let them know that Larry never suffered, that he was with Larry when he died.
He asked me of Larry's parents and I told him that Larry's father was dead before he left for Vietnam and of the death, years later, of his mother. He asked of Larry's three brothers and I was saddened to tell him of the last brother's death just months earlier. I did give him the telephone number and email address of the eldest son of Larry's oldest brother.
Johnson can tell you of reading Larry's name out loud at the 20th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall adding, "Thank you Larry".
I can tell you of a warrior... that came home in three body bags.
Duty! Honor!, and Country!; is what it takes to be a warrior; this is what it means to be a cadet.
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