There are two national memorials to the
soldiers who served in the Vietnam War - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The
Wall) and The Three Soldiers Memorial.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall).
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated to honor the "courage,
sacrifice and devotion to duty and country" of all who answered the call
to serve during the longest war in U.S. history. Inscribed on the black
granite walls are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave
their lives or remain missing. This photo of The Wall is taken from the
Three Soldiers Memorial.
The Three Soldiers Memorial
This is what the artist intended with the Three Soldiers Memorial: “I
see the wall as a kind of ocean, a sea of sacrifice that is overwhelming
and nearly incomprehensible in the sweep of names. I place these figures
upon the shore of that sea, gazing upon it, standing vigil before it,
reflecting the human face of it, the human heart. The portrayal of the
figures is consistent with history. They wear the uniform and carry the
equipment of war; they are young. The contrast between the innocence of
their youth and the weapons of war underscores the poignancy of their
sacrifice. There is about them the physical contact and sense of unity
that bespeaks the bonds of love and sacrifice that is the nature of men
at war. And yet they are each alone. Their strength and their
vulnerability are both evident. Their true heroism lies in these bonds
of loyalty in the face of their awareness and their vulnerability.”
Bravo Company Troopers at Memorial Ceremony
The troopers of Bravo Company conducted a
memorial ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., on
May 4, 2012.
It is a difficult task to describe our feelings about this very moving
ceremony to honor and remember our thirty-seven comrades who were Killed
In Action (KIA) in Vietnam during the period July 1967- August 1968.
This was one of those rare experiences where it was not only a great
honor, but also a great privilege to have participated in this ceremony.
It was a humbling experience, it was a highly emotional experience, and
it was one of those memorable experiences that we will never forget and
Prior to the ceremony, each trooper received a card with the name of one
our 37 KIAs for use in the Roll Call. Two of these cards were marked
with an X and the troopers drawing them had the honor of laying our
wreath at The Wall. To make it easy to locate the name of a buddy on The
Wall, everyone received a roster with the names of our 37 KIAs listed on
The Wall and including the panel and line numbers.
We formed a horseshoe formation on the grassy knoll at the center of The
Wall with elbow space between each trooper and with wives positioned a
little to their rear. Pete Genecki was located on the right flank, Gene
Hedberg was in the center with our Guidon, and Jim Beck was on the left
flank so that he could move around taking photos.
Invocation by Pete Genecki
The ceremony started with the following invocation by Pete Genecki:
“Heavenly father, as we gather here today at this Memorial which honors
so many, who gave their lives long ago, we wish to pay special tribute
to the men of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry of the First Cavalry
Division. We humbly ask that you grant our brothers, who were taken from
this life much too young, eternal peace in your blessed presence. Dear
God, grace the families burdened by the loss of their loved ones over
four decades ago very far from home.
We also ask you, Lord, to continue to bless those who survived this war,
including those gathered here this day. Help us to treasure the memories
of our fallen friends and nurture the bonds forged in combat that are
known only by soldiers. Also, bless our families who gave us their love
and support from the time we left the comfort of our homes, through our
return, to the present time.
God watch over and protect us during the remainder of our time here, and
during our journey home. Grant us many more years to share the
friendship and love you have graciously bestowed upon us, so that we may
continue to honor the memory of our fallen brothers.
I would now ask that we take a moment of silence so that we may
individually reflect on those we lost.
For this we pray, Almighty Father. Amen”
Remarks by Peter O’Sullivan
At the conclusion of the Invocation, Peter O’Sullivan made the following
remarks and a copy of this speech was left at The Wall:
“Ladies , Gentlemen and Troopers of Bravo Company.
This Wall stands as a symbol of America's honor and recognition of two
groups of heroes: those soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War and the
over 58,000 soldiers who died in service or are listed as missing in
action. It is very important to remember that this Wall is a Memorial to
all those American soldiers who served in the Vietnam War, both the
living and the dead. Thus it is a Memorial to our fallen comrades and to
you who fought with them. As one Vietnam veteran declared, this Wall
also symbolizes "the parade we never got".
We all bear the burdensome scars of war and close combat. After a long
and difficult journey since our combat tour in Vietnam during 1967-68,
we the troopers of Bravo Company have finally gathered here at The Wall
to honor all those soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam. In
particular, we are here to honor and remember the sacrifice of
thirty-seven courageous young men - our fallen friends, our brothers -
who were killed in action while serving with us in Vietnam. We're here
today because of the special bonds that bind us all together, both the
living and the dead, these lifelong bonds that were forged on the
battlefields in Vietnam. This bonding is the reason why these fallen
troopers are our brothers, it is the reason why they have constantly
been in our thoughts since 1967-68, and it is the reason why they will
always be remembered by us. Like you, they answered the call to serve
and they selflessly sacrificed their lives while doing their duty, and
some while rescuing or protecting their buddies. We know that these
brave troopers demonstrated unflinching courage during numerous bloody
battles and although many of their heroic deeds went unrecorded, we
witnessed them and we will always remember their courage and their
Bravo Company had an average foxhole strength of around 120 troopers and
this included attached personnel. Thus 37 casualties represents a loss
of over 30 percent of our unit during a period of one year. One reason
for our many casualties was due to the fact that we were an airmobile
company of the 1st Cavalry Division. As you all well know, the 1st
Cavalry Division was the fire brigade for the northern region of Vietnam
and we moved frequently to different areas to combat large-scale enemy
units. Another reason for our high casualty figures is that we served
during the peak of the Vietnam War and fought in some of the bloodiest
battles of the war that included; the Battle of Dak To in November 1967,
the Battle of Tam Quan in December 1967, the Tet Offensive starting in
January 1968, the A Shau Valley Incursion during April and May of 1968,
and the operations in the vicinity of the notorious and infamous Landing
Zone Carol during July and August 1968. It was during these battles that
we lost our 37 comrades whose names are engraved on this highly polished
black granite Wall.
For combat veterans like you, this Wall serves as a place of healing. It
is a place where we honor and remember our brothers who were killed in
action. It is a place where you can say hello or goodbye to them, where
you can shed a few tears, say a prayer or whisper a message. And let me
close with this message from all of us to our 37 fallen brothers and
this message is based on a note that President Reagan left at this Wall
twenty-four years ago:
"Our young friends -- yes, young friends, for in our hearts you will
be young, full of the love that is youth, love of life, love of joy,
country -- you fought for your country and for its safety and for the
freedom of others with strength and courage. We love you for it. We
you. And we have faith that, as He does all His sacred children, the
will bless you and keep you, and give you peace, now and forever more."
The Three Soldiers
At the conclusion of his remarks, Peter O’Sullivan started the Roll Call
of our 37 heroes, our 37 brothers, by reading the KIA name on his card.
This was the cue for Pete Genecki to read his KIA name, then the next
trooper and so on down the line to Jim Beck.
After we completed the Roll Call, Jim Beck passed the wreath to the
trooper on his right and it continued up the line to Pete Genecki. The
wreath was carried forward and placed in front of The Wall by Jim Bakich
and Steve Gordon.
A beautiful wreath of red and white carnations, representing the
After the wreath was laid in front of The Wall, Bravo troopers saluted
and the bugler played Taps. Taps caused many damp eyes because the
melody is both eloquent and haunting, and moves all who hear it.
The Bugler, Sergeant Todd Taylor
Following our memorial ceremony, Jim
Smith gathered the Blackfoot troopers to honor and remember their two
platoon comrades who were killed in action during the A Shau Valley
operation, Dempsey Parrott and David Shultz. In particular, Jim Smith
repeated the following words that he had used on that fateful day, May
4th,1968, before the bodies of Dempsey and David were evacuated by
I am only one, but I am one
I cannot do everything
But I can do something
What I can do, I ought to do
And what I ought to do
By the grace of God I will do
Jim Smith went on to say how the deaths of Dempsey Parrott and David
Shultz had deeply troubled him throughout his life and in memory of
these two heroes, he read the above to his graduation class every year
with the hope that they would also be inspired by these powerful words.
Jim Smith’s Blackfoot Ceremony at The Wall
Finally everyone received a carnation for laying beside the wreath or at
The Wall panel of a buddy. After spending 45 minutes at The Wall, you
could see 37 carnations spread out at all the panels containing the
names of our fallen comrades.
Gary Stine, John
Casey, Gerry Larson, Holly and Bob Hall placing carnations at The Wall
Jim Beck placing carnations and copies of invocation and speech at
The Wall and Washington Monument at Night