Twelve heroes from Newton County and 11 of their brothers from Rockdale County are coming home. Befitting the 40th Anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Moving Wall will be on display in May at the Walk of Heroes War Memorial. And thanks to one man — Bud Sosebee — our heroes will have a noble venue for their homecoming.
Sosebee is the most recognized veteran in Rockdale County. Folks may not have known his name, but untold thousands have seen Bud in his World War II uniform at various events. Always smiling, always welcoming. Bud’s easygoing disposition was sorely tested when he witnessed the treatment Vietnam veterans received when they returned home from an unpopular war. He decided to do something about it.
His vision was to honor Vietnam veterans by honoring all veterans with the Walk of Heroes War Memorial. The memorial is his baby, his vision, and now, because of this great man and patriot, we all have a memorial to be proud of, a place to honor the brave, a place to show our respect for the fallen.
Before honoring our returning heroes, a brief explanation concerning research is apropos. The internet Virtual Wall offers a ‘full profile’ on every veteran on The Wall in Washington, D.C., yet that information is basic and offers little about the human being behind the name. A few veterans have longer profiles including comments by loved ones and/or a brother from Southeast Asia. Further research indicated that the war memorial on Covington Square in Newton County and the one in front of the Rockdale County Courthouse may both be missing one veterans’ name according to the Georgia Registry. This is not unusual nor due to negligence. Veterans may have moved, been recognized elsewhere, or given their point of entry into the military as their home town. Photos are limited. The names of two veterans appear on both monuments. I respectfully offer the following tributes.
James Terrell Cofer — US Army, helicopter repairer, Specialist Five. Spec five Cofer died in a helicopter crash in Pleiku Province on May 18, 1969. He was 21 years old.
Raymond Jackson (two Ray Jacksons listed on Virtual Wall) —both US Army, both infantrymen, both Private First Class. Pfc. Raymond Columbus Jackson perished in a helicopter crash on January 15, 1967 in Phong Dinh Province. He was 21 years old. Raymond Lee Jackson died from enemy small arms fire on August 25, 1968 in Quang Ngai Province. He was 20 years old.
Jerry Johnson —US Army, infantryman, Private First Class. Pfc. Johnson lost his life to small arms fire on March 6, 1969 in Tay Ninh Province. He was 22 years old.
George E. McMullen, III —US Air Force, helicopter crewman, Technical Sergeant. Tech Sgt. McMullen perished in a helicopter crash on May 13, 1975 in Thailand. He was 31 years old. Note: Tech Sgt. McMullen was assigned to a special operations wing, classified missions.
Robert Littleton Phillips —US Army, infantry unit commander, Captain. Captain Phillips died from multiple fragmentation wounds on May 6, 1970 in Cambodia. Province not reported. He was 23 years old.
Robert Anthony Piper —US Army, infantryman, Corporal. Corporal Piper died from enemy small arms fire on July 31, 1971 in Quang Nam Province. He was 20 years old.
Danny Joe Richardson —US Army, Tactical Wire Operations Specialist, Specialist Four. Spec four Richardson suffered multiple fragmentation wounds on April 3, 1968 in Binh Dinh Province. He was 20 years old.
James Terry Savage —US Army, Aerial Sensor Specialist, Sergeant. Sgt. Savage lost his life on October 14, 1969 in an airplane crash in Khanh Hoa Province. He was 20 years old.
Earl Thomas Shaffer, Sr. (on both monuments) —US Army, infantry senior sergeant, First Sergeant. First Sergeant Shaffer was killed by enemy small arms fire on December 9, 1968 in Binh Long Province. He was 45 years old.
Roy Lee Singletary (not on the Covington Monument) —US Army, light air defense artillery crewmember, Private First Class. Pfc. Singletary died instantly from an explosive device on July 8, 1969 in Binh Dinh Province. He was 21 years old.
Isaac Thomas, Jr —US Marine Corps, rifleman, Private First Class. Pfc. Thomas died from hostile fragmentation wounds on June 7, 1969 in Quang Nam Province. He was 21 years old.
Millard L. Treadwell —US Army, Operations and Training Staff Officer, Major. Major Treadwell perished in a helicopter crash on June 6, 1967 in Bien Hoa Province. He was 34 years old. A note on the Virtual Wall: “Oh Daddy, how your little girl misses you.”
Harlow Gary Clark, Jr. —US Army, chopper pilot, Lieutenant Colonel. Lt. Col. Clark lost his life in a helicopter crash due to hostile fire on March 7, 1966. The province in Vietnam was not reported. He was 44 years old.
Donald Wayne Garrett —US Army, infantryman, Private First Class. On May 12, 1969, Pfc. Garrett died from multiple fragmentation wounds in Binh Long Province. He was 23 years old.
Robert Wayne Hamlin —US Army, 82nd Airborne, Sergeant. Sgt. Hamlin died from enemy small arms fire near Hua Nghia on February 5, 1969. He was 20 years old. A note from the Virtual Wall: “I remember you being a quiet easy-going person. I looked at the signatures in the book at Danny McGee’s funeral and there was your name where you paid your respects for a fallen brother. Months later you lost your life in Nam also. I know you did your best and I thank you. You are missed still and will always be missed. Thank you, my brother.”
Melvin Douglas Holcomb - US Marine Corps, radio operator, Staff Sgt. SSgt. Holcomb perished from enemy artillery, rocket, or mortar fire in Quang Tri Province. He was 28 years old.
William McCaskill - US Marine Corps, rifleman, Private First Class. On April 26, 1967, William was hit by enemy small arms fire in Quang Tri Province. He died immediately. William was 23 years old.
Danny Dean McGee (appears on both monuments) —US Marine Corps, combat engineer, Lance Corporal. Lance Corporal McGee died from hostile small arms fire on January 23, 1967 near Thua Thien. He was 21 years old. A note from the Virtual Wall: “You are missed by all, Danny. Your laughter, your kindness, and love of life were not taken in the jungles of Vietnam. Those who love you have not allowed that to happen. You live on in our hearts and minds. You left behind a mother, father, sister, three half-sisters, and a fiancé. When you went away you had plans like the rest of us grunts. All we wanted was to do our jobs, come home to our white houses on our tree-lined streets, and take up where we left off. Who would have known the hand of fate would take you and leave me? Perhaps heaven needed you. Those of us who came home were forever changed. The houses were not as white, and the trees didn’t look the same. Taking up where we left off was not an option. Sometimes, I thought you were the lucky one. I guess heaven will need me eventually, and when it does, we will meet again and talk of old times (I hope heaven has footballs). One day, both of us, along with Galen, will stand at the gate and pull duty together, welcoming our brethren into the fold. Semper Fi.”
Thomas Ronnie Range, Jr. (not on the Rockdale Monument) —US Marine Corps, antitank assault man, Private First Class. Pfc. Range lost his life in Quang Nam Province on September 17, 1968 from enemy small arms fire. He was 19 years old.
James Earl Skipper —US Army, infantryman, specialist four. Spec four Skipper died instantly from an explosive device in Quang Tri Province on February 3, 1969. He was 20 years old.
Thomas Clinton Smith, Jr. —US Army, infantryman, Corporal. Corporal Smith perished from an explosive device in Quang Ngai Province on April 8, 1970. He was 20 years old.
Pete Mecca is a Vietnam veteran, columnist and freelance writer. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or aveteransstory.us.