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The personal cost of the Vietnam War

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

Forty-eight years ago, President Richard Nixon signed the Paris Peace Accords, ending the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War,

West Virginia was not untouched as 36,578 Mountain State soldiers served in that war.

According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, 1,182 of them were killed, a higher per capita death rate than any other state in the nation.

That higher per capita death rate is a sad statistic for Pocahontas County, as well.

Pocahontas County lost more of its sons, per capita, to that war than any other county in the nation.

Pocahontas County Casualties ~ Vietnam War
PFC Luster Clark Friel, Marlinton, April 15, 1966
SP4 Lewis Dixon Wilmoth, Frank, July 25, 1967
SSG Jake Harold VanMeter, Jr., Slaty Fork, October 7, 1967
Sgt. Samuel Dewey Rider, Jr., Marlinton, March 3, 1968
Sgt. Watson Underwood, Jr., Huntersville, April 2, 1968
Sgt. Douglas Wayne McCarty, Frost, April 11, 1968
Cpl. Leroy David Sprouse, Dunmore, June 25, 1968
Sgt. John Ray “Chipper” Williams, Marlinton, November 29, 1968
SP4 Jack Lee Rexrode, Bartow, March 19, 1969

Source: Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1100, Marlinton, and virtualwall.org

The sacrifices made by West Virginia soldiers during the Vietnam War should never be forgotten.

Vietnam Memorial ~ Washington, D. C.

The Vietnam Memorial originally listed 57,939 names when it was dedicated in 1982. 

But more names have since been added. 

As of May 2018, 58,320 names have been inscribed on the polished black granite panels.

Of those young men, 39,996 were just 22 years old or younger – 8,283 were 19 years old; 33,103 were 18 years old; 12 of those soldiers were 17 years old; five of them were 16 years of age; and, it’s hard to fathom, but one of them was just 15 years old.

Sadly, 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam; 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day there.

The names of 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty-one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

There are three sets of fathers and sons honored there.

Eight women – all nurses – are memorialized on the Wall. 

Of the 244 soldiers who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, the names of 153 of them can be found on the Memorial Wall.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was authorized by Congress in 1980 to fund and build the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

As anyone who has been there will tell you, the Wall is a moving tribute to those who gave their lives in the Vietnam War.
Approximately 5,000,000 people visit the Memorial every year.

The VVMF features a virtual “Wall of Faces” dedicated to remembering every person whose name is inscribed there.

To preserve the legacy of all those who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam, VVMF is committed to finding a photograph to accompany each name on the Wall.

Many photos and memories have already been added, and family and friends are encouraged to share memories and photos on the Wall of Faces and connect with each other on the website.

You may also request a rubbing of a name on the Wall.

The rubbings are done free of charge by VVMF volunteers.

Visit the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund website at VVMF.org

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