PVT Donald Rose

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U.S. Army Specialist Five Don Rose of Wichita Falls was a Huey helicopter crew chief serving with the 176th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam when he was Killed In Action on December 15th 1969. Rose was set to return home the next day when he volunteered to take one last flight on a night flare mission in support of ground troops.

The aircraft in which Rose was working, UH-1H tail number 68-16206, inadvertently went into instrument flight conditions in foul weather and the aircraft crashed before the crew could gain visual orientation. All five soldiers aboard were killed, including another Texan, Chief Warrant Officer Dee Hyden of Amarillo.

Because he was due to return, when the knock came at the Rose home, Donald’s mother assumed it was him. Instead, she was met by a U.S. Army representative who had come to deliver the worst possible news.

Donald Rose was 19 years old when he perished in service to his country. He is remembered at Panel 15, Line 60 on the National Vietnam War Memorial Wall.

The UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and its crew provided critical support to ground troops. Aircraft like Rose’s were known as “slicks,” and were used for troop transport and extraction, resupply and other support missions like the flare illumination request to which this crew was responding. As the aircraft’s crew chief, Rose was responsible for the maintenance and repair of his helicopter.

More than 7,000 Huey helicopters were used in Vietnam. Half were destroyed. The four-man crews of Huey helicopters were fearless in their commitment to helping the “grunts” on the ground, and many were shot down or, like Rose’s helicopter, crashed in bad weather conditions.

Photos and story submitted by his brother, Lester Rose.

We honor you, Donald Rose.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/donald-rose/)

CPL Frank Buckles

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Washington (CNN) — Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Lawmakers Monday began to move ahead with proposed resolutions that would allow his casket to be displayed at the Capitol Rotunda, and plans were already in the works for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Buckles “died peacefully in his home of natural causes” early Sunday morning [27 Feb 2011], the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.

Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1 [2011], but his family had earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what was then known as the “Great War,” rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended.

His assignments included that of an escort for German prisoners of war. Little did he know he would someday become a prisoner of war during World War II.

He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.

As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the “last man standing” among U.S. troops who were called “The Doughboys.” His death leaves only two verified surviving WWI veterans in the world, both of whom are British.

President Obama issued a statement Monday on Buckles’ passing, saying he and first lady Michelle Obama were “inspired” by Buckles’ story.

Frank Buckles lived the American Century,” Obama’s statement said. “Like so many veterans, he returned home, continued his education, began a career, and along with his late wife Audrey, raised their daughter Susannah. … We join Susannah and all those who knew and loved her father in celebrating a remarkable life that reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism and our obligations to each other as Americans.”

Buckles told CNN in 2007 he accepted the responsibility of honoring those who had gone before him, and to be their voice for permanent, national recognition after he was gone.

DeJonge found himself the spokesman and advocate for Buckles in his mission to see to it that his comrades were honored with a monument on the National Mall, pushing for improvements to a neglected, obscure city memorial nearly in the shadow of the elaborate World War II memorial.

Buckles wanted national status granted to the D.C. War Memorial, a marble gazebo built in the 1930s that, for now, honors only his comrades from the District of Columbia. His call was to elevate the designation of the site to join U.S. honors accorded to those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“We have come to the end of a chapter in history,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, a House sponsor of legislation to upgrade the DC War Memorial. “Frank was the last American Doughboy — a national treasure,” Poe said in a statement provided to CNN.

The “Frank Buckles WWI Memorial Act” passed the House but had not cleared the Senate before Congress adjourned. Poe on Monday restated his support for a House resolution that would allow a public display for Buckles in the Capitol Rotunda. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia is a co-sponsor of the Senate proposal.

Buckles, at the age of 108, came to Capitol Hill from West Virginia in 2009 to testify before a Senate panel on behalf of the D.C. War Memorial bill. He sat alongside Rockefeller and fellow proponent Sens. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Jim Webb, D-Virginia.

“I have to,” he told CNN when he came to Washington, as part of what he considered his responsibility to honor the memory of fellow veterans.

Rockefeller praised Buckles in a statement Monday, calling him “a unique American, a wonderfully plain-spoken man, and an icon for the World War I generation.”

“His life was full and varied and an inspiration for his unbridled patriotism and enthusiam for life,” the statement said.

Buckles, after World War I ended, took up a career as a ship’s officer on merchant vessels. He was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II and held prisoner of war for more than three years before he was freed by U.S. troops.

Never saying much about his POW experience, Buckles instead wanted attention drawn to the plight of the D.C. War Memorial. During a visit to the run-down, neglected site a few years ago, he went past the nearby World War II memorial without stopping, even as younger veterans stopped and saluted the old soldier in his wheelchair as he went by.

Renovations to the structure began last fall, but Buckles, with his health already failing, could not make a trip to Washington to review the improvements. The National Park Service is overseeing efforts that include replacing a neglected walkway and dressing up a deteriorated dome and marble columns.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced in the days ahead, the family statement said.

Flanagan, his daughter, said preliminary plans began weeks ago, with the Military District of Washington expressing its support for an honors burial at Arlington, including an escort platoon, a horse-drawn casket arrival, a band and a firing party.

“It has long been my father’s wish to be buried in Arlington, in the same cemetery that holds his beloved General (John) Pershing,” Flanagan wrote as she began to prepare for the inevitable in a letter she sent to home-state U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

“I feel confident that the right thing will come to pass,” she said.

Manchin issued a statement Monday that read, in part, “He lived a long and rich life as a true American patriot, and I hope that his family’s loss is lightened with the knowledge that he was loved and will be missed by so many.”

Buckles in 2008 attended Veterans Day ceremonies at the grave of Pershing, the commander of U.S. troops during World War I. He also met with then-President George W. Bush at the White House, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

“The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States,” Gates said at the time. “There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in.”

Buckles’ family asks that donations be made to the National World War I Legacy Project to honor Frank Buckles and the 4,734,991 Americans with whom he served.

More than 116,000 Americans were killed, and more than 204,000 wounded, in the 19 months of U.S. involvement in the war, according to the Congressional Research Service. The overall death toll of the 1914-18 conflict was more than 16.5 million, including nearly 7 million civilians, and more than 20 million wounded.

Details can be found at: http://www.frankbuckles.org.

We honor you, Frank Buckles.

(#Repost @cnn.com)

SP4 Raymond Rocha

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I was only 8 years old when my big brother Raymond passed away.  After 45 years I still miss him dearly and think of him everyday.  I am very proud of him. Of the letters I read that he had written, I know he was proud to serve his country.

Your little brother Salvador.

We honor you, Raymond Rocha.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/raymond-rocha/)

COL Sam Floca

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Retired U.S. Army Colonel Sam Floca is a sixth-generation Texan, as proud of his Lone Star State heritage as he is of his two tours in Vietnam in the First Infantry Division. One of his most prized possessions is the Texas flag flown at the Capitol in honor of the wounds he received in action and sent to him during his recovery.

As an infantry soldier, Floca was part of the core fighting force during the Vietnam War, and as a soldier with the First Infantry Division, he was part of a famed unit also known as the Big Red One.

Floca joined the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1966 and served as an artillery forward observer with armored cavalry, airmobile infantry, and Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP) units. Returning to Vietnam in 1968, he was the senior artillery officer with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division.

The First Infantry Division is the oldest division in the United States Army, and, consistent with its name and tradition, was the first Army division deployed to Vietnam. Within two weeks, its soldiers were engaged in battle, and during the next five years the Big Red One would see 6,146 of its soldiers killed and 16,019 wounded and 20 taken prisoner. As a veteran of the unit, Colonel Floca wears the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, five Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.

We honor you, Sam Floca.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/sam-floca/)

William J. “Doc” Boatman

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Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class
Served with 3rd Bn. 7th Marines and Aboard USS Eldorado (AGC-11)

First of all I joined the Navy in Oklahoma, not in Texas, although my parents lived in Fredericksburg at the time, so technically I am a Texas Vet. In 1965 I was a Pharmacy Major at the University of Oklahoma fighting to keep my grades up and working to pay for college…a battle I eventually lost when I did not return to school after my freshman year. I dropped out for a semester….not a smart move in 1965 and ended up getting drafted just after Christmas. I was going back to school in January, I thought, but the draft board had a different kind of education in mind for me.I guess I considered myself a conscientious objector at the time – I knew that I couldn’t shoot someone, so I had to make a choice, go to Canada or become a Medic. I talked to the Army recruiter who told me that if I was drafted I could not be guaranteed a medic position. The Navy recruiter told me that if I wanted to go into the Navy, he would sign me up as a Hospital Corpsman Recruit. I liked the sound of that and the idea of sailing the seven seas was definitely appealing to me, so I signed on hoping to be a pharmacy technician, the field I was interested in the first place.It went well to start, I was a platoon leader in boot camp and after boot camp I got posted to Hospital Corps School at Great Lakes, Illinois. Upon graduating from that training in the top 10, I got a spot at the Pharmacy Tech School in Portsmouth Virginia, although the class did not start for 6 months. I was posted at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth to await the opening of next class at Tech School. After about three or four months working on the wards at the hospital, I told to report to the personnel officer. I went eagerly, thinking that I was soon to be reassigned to the Tech School. Instead, I was given two weeks leave and told to report to Camp Pendleton, California to start a different Tech School, Field Medical Service Technician School and assignment to the Fleet Marine For ce. I was going to combat in Vietnam with the Marines.I think I was more afraid of being trained by Marines….I had heard all the stories about Marine boot camp, than I was of going to Vietnam. Training went well, however, even though I called a Woman Marine Major a BAM thinking it was the same as the calling a woman in the Army a WAC. No one told me that BAM meant Broad Ass Marine. Needless to say she was not amused!Upon arrival in Vietnam, I was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines who were then located in the DMZ at Dong Ha. I stayed in the rear with H&S Company for the first week because 3/7 was moving to an area Southwest of Danang, which in later years would be known as the Arizona Territory. My first job was to work with the 7th Engineers making road sweeps for mines. I eventually was transferred to a line company; India Company whom I stayed with until I was medivaced six months later with what I was told was Dengue Fever. After spending a few weeks in the hospital in Japan recovering, I was expecting and wanted to go back to my unit. Again, the Navy’s plans and my plans ran afoul. I received orders to the USS Eldorado, AGC-11. I objected to no avail, and found myself back in the Navy, doing what I had initially signed up for, running the ship’s Pharmacy. I made two Westpac Cruises with the Eldorado, spending a little over two years aboard.

After my release from the Navy, I attended the University of Texas and graduated with a BBA in Management. In reflection on my military experience, I am able to justify my service in Vietnam… I kept to my personal conviction to not kill, and was able to assist many who were injured or sick. I was proud to be a Corpsman, and prouder still of my service with the Marine Corps, short though it was. The Marines made a man of me, and I was honored to be counted among them. I am glad that I went into the service instead of Canada, although I hold no grudge on those who chose that route. I am a proud member of the Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans of America. I have spent many years as a veteran’s advocate, especially concerning Post Traumatic Stress issues.

We honor you, William Boatman.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/joe-boatman/)

PFC Mario Ybarra

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Posted in his honor by his son

It was March 5th, 1966, eight days before my first birthday, when my father (PFC Mario Ybarra) was killed as a result of a gun shot wound to the head in the jungles of Vietnam. He was with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines “India” Company. My father was from Weslaco, Texas and was one of the first ten to be killed in action from the Rio Grande Valley.

Without warning, I joined the ranks of countless other orphans of this tragic war. As the only son born to this fallen Marine, I have lived my life wondering why? And what if? The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument is to honor and remember those that fought in this most tragic and controversial war, but it is important for people to know that there are others who were just as deeply affected and impacted by this historical incident. I believe I can speak for others and safely say that we (orphans and surviving children of Vietnam Veterans) are also a BIG part of the “forgotten.” Countless of us suffer from the day-to-day repercussions of this war, if not directly, but indirectly. We “relive” the war just as much as our fathers/mothers do. And for those who lost a loved one, we will always wonder.

In 2009 PFC Mario Ybarra Elementary School in Weslaco, Texas was named for my father.

Please remember him.

MY FATHER’S GRAVE

All I have is but a stone…
A stone to look at
A stone to shine from time to time
A stone to weep on
Cold to the touch
That stone is mine.

All I have is but a plot…
A plot to admire
A plot to weed when covered by spines
A plot to pray upon
Walked on by many
That plot is mine.

All I have is but a memory…
A memory of silence
A memory of tragic acts of crime
A memory of death
Ill fate of war
That memory is mine.

All I have is but a dream…
A dream to see
A dream to love by all things divine
A dream to touch
Reality shattered
Never to be mine.

by Mario Ybarra, Jr.

We honor you, Mario Ybarra.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/mario-ybarra/)

SGT Vergil Maples

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I landed in Plieku, South Vietnam on December 22, 1967 with the 4th Infantry Division Field Artillery. I spent all but a few days of 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam. I am a 6th generation Texan from Buda, Texas where I still reside.

We honor you, Vergil Maples.

(#Repost @http://tcvvm.org/project/vergil-maples/)