Special Collections Galleries
Georgia College Special Collections Galleries
This section brings tears to my eyes. When still an enlisted man in ’66, I served as pall bearer and on honor guard a funerals of men killed in Vietnam. I am 6’4″ and tall guys did a lot of funeral duty as the war heated up. It was heartbreaking to see the family and friends of those killed in the war gathered at small town churches in the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee. Images of those funerals remain sharp in my mind to this day.
When serving as an Army artillery officer in Vietnam, I had the sad task of sorting through the personal effects of a man in my gun battery who was killed by a grenade. I escorted his body and personal effects down to the Da Nang mortuary in a helicopter, turning them over to personal there among scores of other bodies in various stages of preparation for the journey home. That image is burned into my mind too.
And one fine morning at Fire Support Base C-1, a few miles south of the DMZ along Vietnam’s main Highway One, an ememy 122mm rocket impacted just outside the mess hall at breakfast, killing my two most senior NCOs, 1st Sgt Pedro De Herrera and SFC George Washington Pierce, our mess sergeant.
Another sad task, identifying their bodies at the graves registration point in Quang Tri City. There they were in a refrigerated conex container among many other bodies, all zipped up in rubber bags.
Excellent work done here by students and the library and as full disclosure dictates for an old journalist, excellent work by my good friend Dr. Jim Schiffman, PhD from our days in Hong Kong at The Asian Wall Street Journal.
Best to all of you for this good work remembering the fallen from your neck of the woods.
1Lt. Ashley W. Wright
US Army, Artillery
DMZ, Vietnam ’69-’69
I just want to chime in and make sure Evan Leavitt, our library’s Manager of Facilities Operations and Planning, gets the credit for this exhibit that he deserves. Evan is a modest man, but he created the exhibit, based on his own research and significant research done by my students. Evan combined the student narratives with his own, and Evan and I revised and copy edited the text over the summer. It was a wonderful collaborative effort.
To the students, their professor Dr. Jim Schiffman, and the library’s Evan Leavitt, exhibit designer: many congratulations for “Native Sons Lost: The Vietnam War Dead of Milledgeville, Georgia.” This is a deeply moving exhibit that brings the young men who lost their lives back to us. Thank you.
I was in Manhattan on 9/11, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. A few days later two military officer friends of mine walked across Central Park in uniform. The officers were visiting fellows at an organization in town and had been advised not to wear their uniforms in public out of concern that it could provoke unpleasant encounters. But on that day after 9/11, things had changed. New Yorkers in Central Park halted in mid-run, jumped off their bicycles, and leapt off their park benches just so they could shake the hands of the officers and thank them for their service. This was not the kind of reaction my friends were used to. During the Vietnam War and after, they often were met with disdain and even disgust.
The Milledgeville men profiled in this moving exhibit did not live long enough to receive from their countrymen the respect and honor they had earned. This impressive exhibit helps to rectify that omission. Thank you for your service, James, Marion, James, Jimmy, Willie, Ben, Charles, Earle and Donald. And thank you to Dr. Jim Schiffman, Evan Leavitt, and students for your fine work.
Many thanks for this terrific memorial. Enjoyed reading the experiences of these brave Americans. Charles Fraley was in my battalion (2/1) when I was there although I did not know him. His company XO was in my basic school class and we still get together every 5 years or so.
Ashley Wright forwarded me this truly moving tribute to these nine special Americans from Milledgeville. The authenticity and caring reporting made by these students is astonishing. To them the Vietnam War would have been an event in ancient history. Yet through the coaching of Dr. Schiffman and Evan Leavitt their writing and research of difficult to find facts honors these men. I was a Marine serving out of Dong Ha combat base in 1969/1970. As I read each story, the accuracy and language moved me to the edge of my seat. And the losses suffered by each family…those losses …I could feel. There are many Milledgeville’s across the USA…This work serves as a worthy proxy for them. Thanks to all who took the time to build this tribute.
Ashley, thanks for forwarding this to me….and thanks for your 175’s and 8 inch mobile mortars looking after us.
Karen Meyes sent this to her brother Ashley, who commented above:
“I just finished looking at the Vietnam personal profiles you sent me and had tears in my eyes when I read about the tears in your eyes. Mine were real and I didn’t even identify with the guys profiled. What struck me and made me so sad was their youthfulness, fitness and optimism when I knew their future.”
Dr. Jim Schffman Phd. My name is Bruce Cook & I was with Jimmy Bedgood when our gun jeep was struck by a RPG. I had been wounded in the leg about 2 seconds before. Jimmy was beside the Jeep & was KIA when the RPG hit. I was contacted by Miss Bailey Ballard by E-mail asking me if I would mind if she interviewed me about Jimmy for a project that they were doing in school about the “Fallen Hero’s of Milledgeville, GA. I had to think on it for a few days as to this day it hurts to talk about it. I contacted a gentleman named Ron “Trash” Haley who was with Jimmy on his first tour in Vietnam & asked what he thought of the idea. He said “By all means I should reply to Miss Ballard with a affirmative answer as we had to keep the memories of Jimmy & what he meant to us (his BROTHERS)& the rest of the people of the U.S.” So I did and included “Trash’s” contact information. Today I received the finished copy of the project. My regret is that I did not know any of the other BROTHERS that are included in the project. I have read their what the class found out about them & they did a higher than A+ job on collecting information. I’m appreciate that after 53 years that someone cares enough about what these & other BROTHERS/SISTERS did to make it a better world for us. I would also like to thank Christiana Bugg, Jordan Stewart, & Evan Leavitt for the work they done to preserve the memories of Jimmy. Keep up the good work. Every Vietnam veteran that I tell about this project says “Finally” & to tell the folks involved in it THANK YOU Bruce (Flower Power) Cook
I met Freeman, one day in Vietnam on hill called LZ peanuts, was abandoned by another unit, and used by the NVA as an ambush site, he told me he was a short timer, that he only had nine days left incountry, he set up his M60 machine gun, and immediately took out one of the bunkers, then was hit with a browning automatic, left behind, I’m having a hard time, wording the details. I was with him. It took all these years to find this story of Willie Freeman, if you go to that panel 65W, he died, that same day with some of the men in M co 3/4 3rd MarDiv. In that one day knowing him in 1968, he will never be forgotten RIP, thank you all for posting this very special collection
Calvin was my brother. He was awesome. He taught me to ride my bike, too me to check on his rabbit boxes, and took care of me on the School Bus. I always looked up to him. He came from a poor family, but his heart was huge. I love and miss him to this day💕💞
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To Dr. James Schiffman, and the library’s Evan Leavitt, exhibit designer: A big congratulations for “Native Sons Lost: The Vietnam War Dead of Milledgeville, Georgia.” For those who served under or with Sgt. Ben Howell there’s not many of us left. In August 2000 there was a reunion where there were 25 troopers that served with Ben in the 3rd platoon 3rd sqdrn. 7th Cav. 3rd Inf. Div. in Schweinfurt Germany. Only myself and SP5 David Meyer in Wisconsin are alive of that group.
If anyone has any more info of Bobby Lee Palk please contact me. I’m his grandson and I’ve always wanted to know more about him. [email protected]
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