The Wall – A Re-Post for Memorial Day

There are 58,272 names listed on that polished black wall.

Fifty Eight Thousand

Two Hundred

Seventy two.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized.  It is hard to believe it is more than 40 years since the last casualties.

Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of the East wall, appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E, May 25, 1968), then resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges from the earth (numbered 70W continuing May 25, 1968) and ending with a date in 1975. Thus the wars beginning and end meet. The war is complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that bounds the angles open side and contained within the earth itself.

The wall lists 4,120 service men who called New York State home  I don’t know how many were U.S. Army soldiers, Marines or Navy personnel.  I don’t know how many died between August of 1966 and November of1967.

For those  Army soldiers who perished between those dates and called New York home I was the one who arranged for a ranking officer to tell their mothers or their wives.  I arranged to have their bodies returned to their families.  I arranged for their burials and funerals, either in Arlington or a local cemetery according to their wishes.  Paper work,  Presentation of medals. Honor guards.  Insurance.

In many cases, where the soldier’s family lived in the city I grew up in, I was there with the officer for I knew my way around the city.  Their names are all on the wall.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956.

His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

Now look at your son.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

The largest age group, 8,283 were just 19 years old

3,103 were 18 years old.

12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.


But 15 isn’t too much different than 19. is it?


Of the total casualties in Vietnam, approximately 30% were conscripts.

It is estimated that 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.

They told their loved ones they were going to Vietnam and their loved ones worried something would happen to them.  And they died the day they stepped off the plane.

It is estimated that 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.

Their loved ones were joyous.  He was coming home today.  Leaving Vietnam.  He died before he got on the plane.

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers on the Wall attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.  I wonder why so many from one school.

8 Women are on the Wall.  Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 154 of them are on the Wall.  One of these was a conscientious objector who served as a weaponless medic.  His name was Corporal Thomas W. Bennett of Morgantown, W. V. and he died on February 11, 1969, one month and 2 days after arriving in country.  For Conspicuous Gallantry, medically treating and carrying his wounded comrades to a place they could be evacuated.  He loved his country but he would not carry a gun.  A medical clinic at Ft. Hood, Texas and a student dormitory tower at University of West Virginia are named in his honor.


Corporal Thomas W. Bennett


Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

Is anyone surprised?


Like vignettes that will make you weep?

This plaque outside Morenci High School honors nine graduates who decided to join the Marines together during the Vietnam War. After six members of the group were killed, they became known as the Morenci Nine.


The Marines of Morenci

They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home

The Buddies of Midvale

Frank LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. 

In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Such are the stories of small town America during the Vietnam War.


The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968  – 2,415 casualties were incurred.

That’s 2,415 dead in a single month.

For what?

Fighting Commies?  The Domino Theory?

Who remembers why?

If you shop at the mall this Memorial Day weekend check out the nice ladies blouses, Made in Vietnam at Kohl’s.

Pick em up and wonder what it was all for.

And commit yourself to work for peace.

As the threat of war grows under the current administration I will tell you whose names are not on the Wall.

George W. Bush

Dick Cheney

Donald Trump


Much of the above is from

maintained by the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment


About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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6 Responses to The Wall – A Re-Post for Memorial Day

  1. beetleypete says:

    All too much to take in, isn’t it? I have only seen that wall on TV documentaries. But across an ocean, in a country never involved in Vietnam, I was moved to tears.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      I’ve been there a couple of times Pete but not since I came to Florida. I spend my moments on the East wall looking at names I recognize, remembering their families.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very powerful post. Thank you. I have visited the wall, but many years before that, the traveling wall came to South Bend, IN where I was teaching high school. The school asked me to take my students to see it, and when I saw the name of my old high school friend from my hometown of Gainesville, GA I began to sob. Who knows what the impact was on my students?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jfwknifton says:

    A total waste of good men. The American government should have worked with the Viet Cong. Most of them were anti-colonialist nationalists when they started fighting the French. Only the absence of help led them to turn to the Chinese and the Russians.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jennie says:

    Thank you for this powerful post, Frank. Never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

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