By Martin | Friday, May 22, 2015 | 6:07 AM
His name is listed on panel 67E-Line 6 of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. He died in a place called Quang Nam, South Vietnam, on May 24, 1968, 47 years ago this Memorial Day weekend. He was a private in the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. His company was on a mission to rescue another Marine company when they were ambushed by North Vietnamese Regulars. He took the initiative and began crawling toward the trapped Marines. He was getting close when the enemy detonated a land mine, killing him instantly. He was 19 years old and had been in Vietnam for 11 weeks. His name was Dwight Wayne Carroll from Springfield, Tennessee. He was a member at Springfield Baptist Church.
His name is listed on Panel 34W-Line 58 of the Vietnam Memorial. He died in a place called Pleiku, South Vietnam, on January 22, 1969. He was an Army medic on patrol with a squad from the 4th Infantry Division. He didn't like war, but then who does? He was a medic because he wanted to help. The squad had been on patrol and stopped for a short break. As they stood to continue, the sargeant gave his .38 pistol to the young medic for protection. Normally the medic was unarmed but the sargeant "smelled death." When they went around a large boulder a single shot from a sniper's rifle killed the medic instantly. He was from Clarkston, Michigan, and had been in Vietnam for 5 weeks. He was 20 years old. His name was David Freeman Head. His sister is Tammy Pitt, the director of our Springfield Baptist Preschool.
His name is listed on Panel 55E-Line 22 of the Vietnam Memorial. He died in a place called Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, on May 5, 1968. He was a private in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. The Battalion was involved in a major thrust called Operation Napoleon/Saline. For 5 days a battle raged around Dong Ha. The Battalion had 81 killed and 397 wounded. During their retreat the North Vietnamese stopped for one last fight before they crossed the line into North Vietnam. In that last battle the Marines lost 15 killed and 64 wounded. One of the Marines killed was from Richmond, Virginia. He was 18 years old and had been in Vietnam for 7 weeks. His name was Richard Carl Madison. His brother is Marty Madison, husband of one of our Springfield Baptist Church secretaries, Kathy Madison.
Sometimes I think it helps to put a face on a casualty of war. Maybe it gives more meaning to those who are not personally affected. These boys did not die in places like Iwo Jima, Normandy, Guadalcanal, the Chosin Reservoir, or the Bulge. No, these boys died in obscure places in Vietnam, unfamiliar to most Americans. The names of the places are forgettable. The boys are not. They all died serving their country, and they died too young. As Neil Diamond sang in the late 1960's about some other people, their lives were "done too soon." These boys, and others like them, never lived to celebrate their 21st birthday. We have forgotten too many casualties of war over the years. That is why we have Memorial Day, to remember.
What about the families of Dwight Carroll, David Head, and Richard Madison? They are a casualty of war because they lost a loved one. What about the people you know who had a family member die while serving their country? They are a casualty of war. What about the veteran who still thinks of the buddies he left behind in forgotten places? Is he not a casualty of war? What about you? Do you remember? I hope so. On this Memorial Day take a moment ro remember. Say a prayer for the families. If we ever forget what our soldiers have done by giving their lives, it means their sacrifices were in vain. And to me, that would be the ultimate casualty of war.