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Old 05-23-2020, 10:35 AM
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PALADIN85020 PALADIN85020 is offline
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It's with regret that I will not visit the Arizona Vietnam Memorial on Memorial Day this year - I also usually take a former boyhood neighbor lady, the widow of a WWII combat veteran, to visit her husband's grave. The risk to her from the corona virus is just too great - she's 94 years old. I usually lay a rose at the memorial beneath the names of two close friends who lost their lives in Vietnam.

I remember them with sadness and great pride - our country should be grateful that such men were available, standing ready to give their lives for us all.

This is 1/LT Ed Cribb, U.S. Army. Ed was a buddy of mine during high school, and we both served as ROTC cadet officers then. Ed didn't have much of a family. His dad was a drunk, among other things. He never had much money, but worked his way through one year of college. With a continuing interest in the military, he joined the Army as an enlisted man. The last time I saw him he was in uniform visiting Phoenix, and we lifted some glasses together and reminisced a lot.

Ed was accepted to Officer's Candidate School, and was commissioned as a Second Lt. He then volunteered to join the Army's air branch and qualified at Fort Rucker as both a helicopter and fixed-wing pilot. At that time he became married and fathered a daughter. He went to Vietnam, piloting twin-engine Mohawk observation planes. He was shot down by ground fire once, and parachuted onto a sand spit in the middle of a river. His only armament was his .45 pistol. After several days, he was rescued, his body covered with leeches.

He returned home for a short spell, and then volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam. Fate was not kind to him - he was again shot down by ground fire, but this time he was too close to the ground for his chute to open. He hit the ground hard; it broke his back in 3 places, and he died an agonizing death.

Ed left his wife, a daughter, and a son he never knew. He died in the late summer of 1964, age 25.

And this is Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Walling. I first met him in college, where we became fraternity brothers. Chuck loved to fly, and after graduation from college, he was commissioned and qualified to fly F4 Phantoms. He was sent to Vietnam, and volunteered for many successive missions over enemy territory. His plane was shot down, and his body was not recovered.

In recent years, U.S. teams visited the scene of his fatal crash, and found some bones which were DNA tested. They proved that they had found Chuck's remains. His body was first returned to Arizona where his family was able to see the casket. Chuck had a son that I first met at this time. He was Chuck's spitting image. I did a double take when I first saw him.

He accompanied his father's casket with the Air Force funeral escort to Arlington, where Chuck's last remains now rest.

I thought I'd share these two stories with you as we celebrate Memorial Day. For these two men and countless other people who gave the last full measure of devotion to our country, we will be forever grateful. Please never forget the fallen.

- Cogito, ergo armatus sum -

Last edited by PALADIN85020; 05-23-2020 at 03:48 PM.
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