SCHUYLKILL COUNTY VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL
FOR MEMORIAL DAY 2009
This article today is for the memory of my brothers who fought and died in the Vietnam War from Schuylkill County. Men who went when their country asked and fought and died for each other.
I tried to find out as much as possible so as to keep their memories and what they stood for alive, so that we will never forget their sacrifices.
1. TSgt. Donald J. Seaman from Mahanoy City died 16 May 1965, from non hostile action. First of the 39 Schuylkill men killed in Vietnam. A 500 pound bomb being loaded on a B-57 exploded, setting off a chain reaction 30 Americans were killed from multiple shrapnel wounds.
2. LCprl David C. Ney USMC From Schuylkill Haven, died of non hostile action on 21 August 1965. Cprl Ney was killed when a C-130 aircraft crashed from engine failure that caused the plane to veer to the left and plunge into 40 feet of water of the coast of Hong Cong. Tragically this accident occurred when Ney was returning from R&R. He had already served nine months in combat.
3. SP4 Stephen C. Brisuda 1st Infantry Division US Army Killed in Action by small arms fire. 1 October 1965. From Frackville. Killed by sniper fire, while on a search and destroy mission in an area called the Iron triangle. He was the point man on the patrol.
4. SFC Gust Callivas, Frackville. U.S.Army. 221ST AVIATION COMPANY. KIA on 22 November 1965 and died of multiple fragment wounds to the head and neck during a mortar attack at Soc Trang, RVN.
5. PFC Dale Umbenhauer US Army KIA on 17 May 1966, from Pine Grove. Dale was a gunner in the 121st Aviation Company on Huey 63-08552. The Huey he was on collided with another Huey.
6. LCprl Michael C. Reed, USMC From St. Clair KIA, 17 September 1966. On his second tour of duty Reed died when his jeep ran over a land mine. He was driving the jeep alone when he manuvered his jeep to help a medevac crew when he struck the land mine.
7. PFC. David J. Verbilla 1st Battalion 3rd Marine Division, USMC from Tamaqua KIA 3 May 1967. His secomd platoon was pinned down by enemy fire during operation "Beaver cage". Under heavy machine gun fire, David volunteered to flank the enemy. He sprinted 100 yards across an open rice paddy, firing as he ran and freeing his comrades to advance. But before they could catch up to him a bullet to the head killed him instantly.
Dennis Eugene Hoffman
Private First Class
Home of Record: Orwin, PA
Date of birth: 06/03/1947
Service: Army of the United States
Grade at loss: E3
Rank: Private First Class
ID No: 52986135
MOS: 11B10: Infantryman
Length Service: 00
Unit: B CO, 3RD BN, 39TH INFANTRY, 9TH INF DIV, USARV
Start Tour: 03/10/1967
Incident Date: 06/02/1967
Casualty Date: 06/02/1967
Age at Loss: 19
Location: Kien Tuong Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire
8. Dennis E. Hoffman, Orwigsburg, U.S. Army 1st Batt. 5th Infantry 25th Division “Bobcats” KIA 2 June 1967
ON THE WALL Panel 21E Line 036
9. Cpl. Howard A. Donald, 3rd Battalion, 5rh MArines, 1st MArine Division USMC From Tamaqua, KIA 8 July 1967 Was riding in a truck convoy when a land mine exploded, the open cab of the truck offered no protection from the flying shrapnel. He was severly wounded and died from his wounds.
12. Cpl. Reese A. Jones USMC, C Co, 1st Bn, 3rd Marines Quakake, KIA 11 October 1967. On 11 October 1967 Charlie 1/3 Marines engaged a larger North Vietnamese Army force in the Hai Lang Forest southwest of Quang Tri City, losing eight men. One of the dead was the Charlie 1/3 Commanding Officer, Captain William A. Neuss, who was awarded a posthumous Silver Star.
Charlie 1/1 Marines entered the fight on 12 October; they lost nine men including a combat photographer, Corporal William T. Perkins, attached from HQ Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Cpl Perkins received a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Delta 1/3 was not as heavily engaged as the other two companies, losing one man on 12 October. He was serving as a genadier and operated an M-79 Grenade launcher. While trying to relive other Marines his unit was over run by North Vietnamese. he was shot in the chest with a 50 caliber machine gun, and killed instantly.
13. PFC. Merlin C. Hollenbach, Andreas, U.S. Army, 25th Infantry Division. Medic HHC D/3/22 Infantry KIA 22 December 1967.
14. Major Leonard R. Demko USMC , Pottsville.
On Friday, 05 Feb 1968, a CH-46A (BuNo 153986) from Phu Bai was tasked for a medical evacuation flight in the vicinity of Hue City to pick up three seriously wounded Marines. The aircraft was crewed by
Major Leonard R. Demko, pilot
Captain John J. Burke, copilot
Corporal Gerald W. Conner, crew chief
Sergeant James D. Shelton, gunner
Corporal Norman O. Copeland, gunner
HM1 Jack Ehrhardt, Corpsman
While enroute, the aircraft was fired upon by enemy troops. HM1 Ehrhardt was hit by a round which penetrated his right thigh, destroyed the hip socket, and exited from his right buttock. Acting on Ehrhardt's instructions, one of the gunners packed Ehrhardt's entry and exit wounds, splinted his leg with Ehrhardt's M-14, and injected a syrette of morphine. Ehrhardt was placed on a stretcher near the CH-46's rear ramp. After consultation with Ehrhardt, Major Demko continued the mission. As the aircraft approached the pick-up point it again took fire, this time wounding one of the gunners and seriously damaging the aircraft's hydraulic and fuel systems. Although prone on the stretcher, Ehrhardt was able to tend to the gunner's wound. Because of the damage to the aircraft, Demko aborted the mission and attempted to return to Phu Bai.
He was unsuccessful. The CH-46 entered an uncontrolled pitch-up, rolled inverted, crashed, and burned. Demko, Burke, Shelton, and Copeland died in the crash. HM1 Ehrhardt and Cpl Conner were picked up by their wingman, but Conner died of his injuries 15 days later at the USAF Hospital in Cam Rahn Bay. HM1 Ehrhart was evacuated to the 106th Army Hospital in Yokohama, Japan, and eventually recovered from his injuries.
The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
LEONARD R. DEMKO
United States Marine Corps
for service as set forth in the following
For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Aircraft Commander of a UH-34 transport helicopter with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, in the Republic of Vietnam on the evening of 19 November 1967. While returning to its base after a search and rescue mission in support of a large helicopter borne assault force, Major Demko's helicopter was diverted to an emergency medical evacuation mission in support of a Marine rifle company. He arrived over the designated area and approached the landing zone. Just prior to landing, his aircraft came under intense enemy automatic weapons fire and was directed away from the site by the ground force. Orbiting over An Hoa and establishing radio contact with the Marine unit, Major Demko was informed that the wounded Marines were being moved to the landing zone. Then, after an hour, he was requested to return to the hazardous area for the evacuation. In complete darkness and guided by a single strobe light, he skill- fully landed in the zone as a heavy volume of tracer fire passed just above the rotor blades of his aircraft. Embarking six wounded Marines, he lifted from the site and, effectively utilizing the terrain as cover from the hostile fire, moved beyond range of the enemy's weapons before gaining altitude for the return flight to a medical facility. His exceptional ability and determined efforts were an inspiration to all who served with him and were instrumental in accomp- lishing the hazardous mission. Major Demko's courage, superb airmanship and unswerving devotion to duty at great personal risk were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
FOR THE PRESIDENT
For the President
/s/ L. F. Chapman, Jr.
Commandant of the Marine Corps
15. Sp5 William D. Eltringham, Branchdale, U.S. Army KIA 06 February 1968
16. Sp4 George C. Schultz, Pottsville U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division, 506th Infantry Rgt. 3 BDN. KIA 22 February 1968.
17. Capt. Thomas J. Margle, New Philadelphia, USAF.14th ACS, 14th ACW AC-47D 43-49859. On the night of the 14th a spooky gunship from Phan Rang was shot down just five miles south of the air base during a close air support mission.
18. Sgt. John A. Oscelus Cumbola, Sgt. U.S. Army Co. A 2nd Bn. 39th Infantry. 9th Infantry Division KIA 11 April 1968. As a member of the Army Selective Service, SGT Oscelus served our country until April 11th, 1968 in Dinh Tuong, South Vietnam. He was 20 years old and was not married. John died from small arms fire/grenade. His body was recovered. John was born on May 17th, 1947 in Cumbola, Pennsylvania.
SGT Oscelus is on panel 49E, line 026 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for one year.
19. Sgt. Michael J. Kaplafka. Mahanoy City, U.S. Army. KIA 12 June 1968 by hostile fire.
20. Sp4 Harold J. Kissinger, Pottsville, U.S. Army KIA 17 September 1968
21. Pfc. Dennis E. Witkowski Shenandoah, U.S. Army 27th Infantry Rgt. 25th Division. KIA 18 September 1968.
22. Lcpl Edward L. Daubert Pottsville, USMC. KIA 21 September 1968.
23. Lcpl William D. Frantz Schuylkill Haven, USMC, KIA 17 October 1968 on the 17th October 1968. On a medevac mission in mountainous terrain, the CH-46 Med-evac aircraft went inadvertently IFR and crashed. The wreckage was not located until the following day due to weather."
CH-46D BuNo 154794 crashed on a ridgeline about 12 kilometers southeast of Ca Lu. The six men who died were
Capt Joseph L. Powell, Alexandria, VA, copilot
1stLt James N. Sweet, South Lima, NY, pilot
Cpl John R. Ferrazzano, New Hyde Park, NY, aircrewman
LCpl Robert M. Cheek, Wolcottville, IN, crew chief
LCpl William D. Frantz, Schuylkill Haven, PA, gunner
24. Pfc. Francis P. Baldino, Ashland, USMC, KIA 14 November 1968.
25. Cprl. David F. Heiser, Orwigsburg, U.S. Army KIA 14 November 1968.
26. Cprl. Paul J.Mitchel, Mahanoy City, USMC, KIA 23 February 1969 Killed in Action February 23, 1969 Hill 327, 1st Marine Division Alpha Line Danang, Republic of South Vietnam Cause: hostile, ground casualty, other explosive device.
27. BM3 Ronald P. Yuhas, Shenandoah, U.S. Navy, KIA 23 February 1969 Check out the Blog ‘Do the right thing” story.
28. Sp. Richard D. Roberts, Pottsville, U.S.Army. Non Hostile 24 June 1969/
29. Sp. William R. McNelly Co.F. 75th Infantry Division 23 June 1969.
30. Cprl Joseph M Hashin Jr. Minersville United States Army. Killed in Kontum Province, South Vietnam August 6, 1969.
31. Sgt. Paul F. Kostick, Gilberton, U.S. Army KIA 25 August 1969
32. Pfc. Thomas P. McKerns, Mahanoy City, U.S. Army Co. C 31st Infantry regiment. KIA 28 August 1969
33. Capt. Norman L. Nesterak, Coaldale, U.S. Army, CAPTAIN NORMAN LOUIS NESTERAK WAS A DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY AT WEST POINT IN THE CLASS OF 1967 WHO WAS SERVING WITH THE 8TH ENGINEER BATTALION 1ST AIR CAVALRY DIVISION WHEN HE MET HIS UNTIMELY DEATH AT THE YOUNG AGE OF JUST 24 ON 9-3-1969 AND WAS POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED
THE PURPLE HEART MEDAL
From a soldier who served with him “.He was in the TOC that morning, brand new in country and in the company. The Col. came in looking like a wounded bull and asked Norm to come along. There was an empty seat on the chopper. He never came back. The chopper was shot down and everyone on it died.”
34. Sgt. James G. Anderson, Schuylkill Haven, U.S. Army KIA 4 May 1970.
35. Sp4 Lawerenece E. Scheib, Tower City, U.S. Army, KIA 29 August 1970. C/2/17 CAV#67-17699 A/C was involved in a Ranger team insertion. As the A/C settled into the LZ it was hit repeatedly in the forward section by 12.7mm AA machinegun and RPG fire.
36. Sp4 John J. Farnsworth Jr. Frackville, US Army, KIA 13 November 1970.
37. Sp4 Gary G. Geiger, New Ringgold, U.S. Army KIA 25 March 1971.
Tipping No Photo
38. Major Henry A. Tipping USAF, Schuylkill County, MIA KIA, MAj. Tipping was flying rescap for the SAR attempt to find A pilot who had ejected near the DMZ on the 1st. The Skyraider was orbiting at 5,000 feet near Thon Cam Son within the DMZ when it was damaged by 37mm AAA. The aircraft crashed din flames a few miles away and Maj.. Tipping was unable to escape and was killed.
39. Pfc. John McMonegel Girardville, USMC KIA 29 August 1967