Below are selected stories of those mentioned on the map.
Phillip Henry Clark – Wisconsin Rapids (Private First Class, 101st Airborne Division)
Phillip Henry Clark, 20, was killed in South Vietnam by small arms fire in a very deadly engagement. Clark kept steady correspondence with his aunt throughout the war, and even had her write to some of his buddies that didn’t receive much mail. In his last letter, Clark wrote “If God wants me to come home, I would be home.” He felt that it was his duty to keep the United States safe. Clark was a very friendly guy that was always looking out for his friends and family. Clark was killed March 4th, 1966.
Sergeant Thomas L. Becker, 25, was killed in action. In 1960, Becker graduated
from Cathedral High School in Superior and went on to Superior State College for
two years. Becker then attended University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1965.
Becker was drafted into service on August 9, 1967, less than two weeks after getting
married to Darlene Vogel of Janesville. Sergeant Becker was killed in combat
twenty-five miles northeast of Saigon.
Sergeant Allen E. Singer, 21, was killed in action while on a combat operation in
Vietnam. Singer was a graduate of Shawano High School and later was employed at
Phoenix Manufacturing Company in Shawano. Singer entered the service in March,
1968. He had basic training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, took advanced training at
Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Singer also received Armored Personal Carrier Training at Ft.
Know, Kentucky. In early fall of 1968, Singer was sent to Vietnam. While in
Vietnam he was awarded the National Defense Ribbon and the Army
Commendation Medal for Valor. Allen E. Singer was killed on May 4th, 1969 while
on a combat operation.
William Hanson – Park Falls (Lieutenant)
Lieutenant William Hanson, 31, was killed in action. Hanson was an 11 year veteran of the armed services. He first served in the Air Force, and then re-enlisted with the Army. Hanson was a helicopter pilot and was serving his second tour of duty. After his first tour of duty as a Warrant Officer Pilot, he was assigned as a helicopter flight instructor at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He returned to Vietnam as a First Lieutenant. During his service, Hanson received several medals. He received the Cross of Gallantry with a Silver Star from the South Vietnamese Government. After serving heroically in support of ground forces, Hanson received the U.S. Air Medal with fourteen Oak Leaf Clusters, each cluster in lieu of an Air Medal was earned for Distinguished Meritorious achievement. Lt. William Hanson was killed in action on September 12, 1965.
Private First Class Gerald Benson, 20, died of wounds suffered in Vietnam.
Gerald Benson was a graduate of Darlington High School in 1966 and entered the
service in May of that year. Benson attended basic training at Fort Campbell
Kentucky and was assigned to a unit in Vietnam. Benson followed in the footsteps of
his brothers. Benson’s brother was also serving in Vietnam and his older brother
died in the Korean War. Pfc. Gerald Benson died of wounds suffered in Vietnam on
December 10th, 1968.
Ray Stubbe attended Washington High School in Milwaukee as a young teen, and in 1955 decided to join the Navy Reserve. Stubbe went on to Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary followed by a year at University of Chicago for a PhD in ethics and society. In 1966, Stubbe joined the Navy as a Protestant chaplain and was assigned to a battalion at Khe Sanh. Stubbe recalls how exhausted he felt after his first patrol, “I never participated in high school athletics. I was a bookish-type person, an academic, and a nerd. Here I am climbing these hills with these young Marines.” To reach the most men, Stubbe would hold a service for the Marines, spend the night in their bunker, go from hill to hill on patrols in the morning, and return in the afternoon to repeat the whole process. Khe Sanh endured a seventy-seven day long siege from the North Vietnamese Army, which marked the beginning of the Tet Offensive. He continued to hold services throughout the siege at Khe Sanh, while also dealing with his own medical problems. After a short stint on a hospital ship, Stubbe returned to Khe Sanh against medical advice. After serving in Vietnam, Stubbe was diagnosed with Glomerular Nephritis disease, a particularly destructive disease. Stubbe decided to remain in the service and would later return to Vietnam. Stubbe served a total of twenty-one years on active duty and eight years in the reserves as a Navy Chaplain. After the service, Stubbe worked as a Lutheran pastor and authored several books on the Vietnam War. Ray Stubbe resides in Wauwatosa, WI.
Edward Veser, a native from Milwaukee, WI, served in the infantry at Quang Tri, South Vietnam. Quang Tri was home to Firebase Henderson, located a mere twelve miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Firebases were isolated camps intended to provide artillery support to outlying infantry units. Due to Firebase Henderson’s close proximity to the DMZ it was in a hostile area and encountered many attacks from the North Vietnamese Army. While serving in Vietnam, Ed Veser became a good friend of fellow Milwaukeean George “Doc” Banda. The two men became close friends and passed time by talking about their future plans after they served their tour of duty and returned to Milwaukee. Sadly, their friendship was cut short when Edward Veser was killed in action during an early-morning raid on Firebase Henderson on May 6th, 1970. Edward Veser is survived by his wife Connie and son Eddie Jr.
George Banda was drafted in January, 1969. After undergoing twelve weeks of boot camp at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Banda was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for medic training. In November, 1969, Banda received orders that he was going to be sent to Vietnam. Banda landed in Cam Ranh Bay in early December, 1969. Shortly after, Banda was transferred to Firebase Henderson, twelve miles south of the DMZ. Banda recalls saying at the time, “I’m in I Corps. OK, what does that mean?” ‘Later on when I got home and started reading about it, I was like’, “Oh my goodness. That was not a good area.” Banda spent two and half weeks in a hospital after sustaining a severed artery on his head during an intense firefight. Banda earned several awards in his nearly two years of service in the 101st Airborne Division, including the Silver Star for Gallantry and two Bronze Stars with Combat “V” for valor and meritorious service. Banda also met Ed Veser, a native from Milwaukee who was KIA, during his tour of Vietnam and they became close friends. “I see them, those young kids. Those guys were nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. I look at the photos that I have and we were kids. What a thing to witness. It never goes away.” Banda lives with his wife Lorraine in Milwaukee and is affiliated with the Disabled American Veterans, American GI Forum and the American Legion.
After graduating from Rice Lake, Larry Miller followed in the footsteps of his brother and uncles and enlisted in the military. “I just figured it was the thing to do, so I joined in October 1965,” recalled Miller. Miller was shipped out to Da Nang, near the DMZ dividing North Vietnam and South Vietnam. This area in South Vietnam saw heavy action during the mid and late 1960s. “In the summer of 1967, the spring and summer of that year, that was when the action was,” said Miller. Miller was in a hospital from May 21st to early July after a mortar or rocket round hit his unit. Miller returned to Vietnam only to be wounded again within three days. “A guy stepped on a land mine and it killed him, killed the next guy, and I was the third guy. I got the leftover shrapnel,” said Miller. Miller survived sixteen major operations during his tour of duty, which he extended from the typical thirteen months to sixteen months. After spending two years in Vietnam, Miller returned to the U.S. and was a roofer and business owner. He married to Francine and the couple raised three children. Miller is now a member of the Disabled American Veterans and is coordinator for a Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
Nhia Thong “Charles” Lor – Long Cheng, Laos (Military Region II Special Guerilla Unit)
Nhia Thong Lor joined the Army in 1969 when he was twelve years old and fought in the U.S.’s Secret War in Laos. “I joined to protect my family and my country,” said Lor. Lor lived in Laos as a child near North Vietnam. At such a young age, Lor was not immediately put into a combat role. “In the beginning, they [did] not put me right [on] the front lines. They put me in the meat cent[er] for packaging food. One year later they sent me to the front line,” recalls Lor. Lor served until the end of the war in 1975 and then faced the threat of being persecuted by Pathet Lao for serving alongside the United States during the war. From 1976-1979 Lor and his family were forced to live in the jungle to avoid being caught. They made their way to Thailand where many Hmong were immigrating to the U.S. Lor and his family lived in Denver for four years and then moved to Milwaukee where he worked in a machine shop until 2005. Since 2005, Lor and his wife moved to Madison, own and operate an Asian market, and have six children. Lor is active in Lao Veterans of America, the color guard of Vietnam Veterans of America, and past president of the Hmong American Coalition Wisconsin Chapter.
Linda McClenahan grew up amidst the anti-war protests on the UC-Berkeley campus, which ultimately influenced her choice to join the Army after high school. “I was tired of the people in the street telling me how to think. At that moment I decided I’d give three years of my life to my country,” says McClenahan. She was assigned to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) detachment on Long Binh. Linda worked as a communications clerk. The casualty reports went out of her unit to the other branches in the service. “We saw everything from a sprained ankle in a parachute jump or getting out of a jeep to pieces of remains not positively identified,” recalls Linda. Before deciding to enlist in 1967, Linda intended to become a sister after high school. After experiencing the horrors of war, she was even farther removed from that idea. “I had traumatic things happen in a very short period of time in the summer of ’70. I lost God over there. My idea of being a sister after I got out was out the window,” says Linda. After the service Linda worked several jobs including a communications manager, high school teacher, and varsity softball coach. After earning her master’s degree in guidance and counseling she is now a sister in the Order of St. Dominic in Racine as a trauma counselor for veterans.
Will Williams – Crystal Springs, MS (Army, 27th Infantry Division)
Will Williams joined the military after high school graduation in 1962. On January 3rd, 1966 he was sent to Vietnam. Williams first was sent to a staging area in Bien Hoa and then moved on to Cu Chi where he stayed for the reminder of his tour. Williams recalls, “Coming out of Mississippi I was prepared for survival. During the time I grew up there, in Jim Crow, you had to know how to survive. I think I was more prepared than the ones who had never learned the tougher things in life.” After building the base at Cu Chi, it was discovered that the base was built on top of several enemy tunnels. “People within the perimeter were getting wounded or killed and the perimeter hadn’t been breached. No one had gotten in. We couldn’t understand it. After we discover[ed] tunnels, we went on special missions to locate them and try to blow them,” said Williams. Williams was wounded in 1966 from grenade fragments. During his two terms of duty in Vietnam, Williams earned two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He held a range of jobs from miner to construction worker and retired as a postal employee. He is an active member in Veterans for Peace, the Madison Area Peace Coalition, and founding member of Truth and Alternatives to Military through Education (TAME). He lives with his wife Dorothy in De Forest and they have one daughter.
John Mielke – Appleton (Army, Medical Corps)
John Mielke was a physician in the Army during the Vietnam War. He came from a medical family, his father was a physician in World War I and his father-in-law was a physician in World War II. Mielke joined the reserve military in 1952. He was later sent to Fort Sam Houston for training. Mielke recalls, “We spent two weeks down there [Fort Sam Houston] – two weeks to learn how to be a soldier. It took me six years to learn how to be a doctor but two weeks how to be a soldier.” Soon after, Mielke was told he was going to be sent to Vietnam to take care of helicopter pilots. Mielke and his crew of helicopter pilots were stationed in Saigon. The military did not adequately supply Mielke with medical supplies, or prepare him to treat soldiers in a tropical environment. Mielke reflects, “Why was it done that way? As I look back on it now, if the rest of the war was run that way… I was running my show, purifying my water, using the medications, with no knowledge of tropical diseases. Maybe that’s a reason that the men got frustrated and used drugs and drank and things were undisciplined, with no objective.” John Mielke and his wife, Sally, reside in Appleton, Wisconsin, and have raised six children.
Ken McGwin was drafted in 1967 and joined the Navy, spending four years as a fireman and a machinist’s mate third class. He took basic training at Great Lakes and then was sent to San Diego. McGwin was stationed on the USS Vancouver, a landing platform dock. “A big ship that could go into the beach, stern first, ballast down, drop a huge gate and unload tanks and troops,” says McGwin. From there, he was stationed on the Westchester County, which would operate near or on coastlines. He later moved to the Tripoli, which was a helicopter carrier. Speaking about his role on the Mekong River McGwin recalls, “We supplied the armored gunboats, the Tangos, and the very heavily armored troop carriers. They operated on the river so they were pretty limited in what cover they could take, too. It was very deadly work.” While serving on the Westchester County, the Vietcong detonated charges that were fastened on both sides of the ship. Twenty-six men were killed, the Navy’s worst single loss of life during the war. The horrific event has stuck with McGwin throughout his life. “I just think about how I’ve had the chance to have a good life and they never did. They never had a chance,” said McGwin. Ken McGwin spent two years in the reserves after the war. He was a dairy farmer for thirty years, and has worked as a power plant engineer for the past nine years. He has raised two children with his wife, Julie, and resides in Montello, Wisconsin.
James Rose quit high school when he was sixteen and decided to join the military as a heavy equipment operator. He enlisted in April, 1962. Rose did his basic training and heavy equipment training at Fort Leonard Wood. After training, he was shipped to Germany for three years. Rose was later stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to test a 40-ton shovel that was going to be used in Vietnam. In 1966, he was assigned to the 94th Quarry Detachment and boarded a ship in Oakland, California, bound for Vietnam. Rose recalls as his ship pulled into Vung Tau, “We were all above ship and you could see the helicopters and the gunships flying over and all the tracer rounds shooting into the jungle. You could see the big nine[-inch] howitzers shooting and you heard the sounds, and then you saw the big flash and the flare of the fire. We all sat up above and watched this and wondered what we got ourselves into.” Rose held the position of staff sergeant during the war. Rose spent thirteen years in the Army, and in June of 1974 he retired. James Rose lives in White Lake and has had three children with his wife, Jane.
Llewellyn P. Dickenson – Neopit (Specialist)
Specialist Llewellyn P. Dickenson, 20, was killed in action while serving in Vietnam. Dickenson attended St. Anthony’s Grade School in Neopit, and graduated from Shawano High School. Dickenson also attended Oshkosh Vocational School before he entered the service on May 28, 1968. After joining the armed services, Dickenson was sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington for his basic training. In November, 1968, he was sent to Vietnam. Dickenson was wounded in February, 1969 for which he received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor. Specialist Dickenson was killed in hostile action on May 3rd, 1969.
John W. Beitlich, 19, was killed in action. Beitlich graduated from Onalaska Luther High School in 1967. Beitlich had enlisted in the Army in July 1967 and was sent to Vietnam in January of 1968. After returning home in December, 1968, Beitlich volunteered for another six months of duty in the war zone in January, 1969. After his second tour of duty, Beitlich volunteered for a third tour of duty in July, 1969. Beitlich was killed in an ambush on October 26th, 1969.
Lance Corporal John K. Marshall, 19, died of fragmentation wounds to the body. Marshall attended West High School in Green Bay. On December 27th, 1967 Marshall entered the Marine Corps. He arrived in Vietnam on June 6th, 1968. Marshall was serving with his Marine unit in a defensive position near Quang Nam in South Vietnam. He died after sustaining fragmentation wounds to his body from friendly fire.
David F. Schuette, 21, was killed when the helicopter he was flying in crashed in South Vietnam. Schuette graduated from Premontre High School in 1967. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for one year before entering the service. Schuette was a Naval Reservist serving a two year tour of active duty. He was stationed at the Naval Support Detachment at Chu Lai upon arrival in March, 1969. Schuette was scheduled for rest and recuperation leave in Australia when his helicopter crashed, killing him and eleven other Americans.
Richard C. Fina, 20, was killed in action while serving at Quang Nam in South Vietnam. He was a graduate of Hudson High School in 1965. He worked at Hudson House Inn and attended WSU-River Falls before he entered the Navy on April 20th, 1966. Fina’s platoon came under heavy enemy fire as his platoon was performing a search and destroy mission. As Fina was applying first aid to a wounded soldier, he was hit by enemy small arms fire and was killed instantly. Richard C. Fina was killed in action on May 24th, 1968.