This spring I have been doing a great deal of research to identify those men who died in Vietnam from my alma mater — Hobart College. Hobart is a small mens’ college in upstate Geneva, NY that had only about 200 students per class in the 1960s.
I have written in the past about Major Ted Shorack, my ROTC instructor, who died in Vietnam three days before my graduation from Hobart. As a result, my class (1966) will dedicate a new memorial to those who served in Vietnam at our 50th reunion in June 2016. Thorough a great deal of research we were able to identify a total of five who will be honored:
Major Theodore J Shorack Jr — Honorary Member of 1966
Air Force ROTC 1961-1965
Date of Casualty: June 9, 1966
Died in Plane crash on patrol
PFC Thom T Osborn 1961 USA
Date of Casualty: January 28 1966
Died on Patrol SVN
PFC James K. Kirkby 1968
Corporal USA Medical Corps USA
Date of Casualty Feb 02, 1970
Cause Explosive Device in Quang Tin, SVN
Major Charles C Winston III 1961 USAF
Date of Casualty: August 1, 1967
Led a flight of two unarmed and unescorted RF-101 photo reconnaissance aircraft against one of the most heavily defended target areas in North Vietnam
Captain Robert Beale 1961 USMC
Date of Casualty: March 17 1967
Died Quang Nam SVN aircraft crash.
There are also several men from the Geneva New York area that are listed on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. *
SP4 Ronald Charles Boothe USA
Date of Casualty: May 28, 1969
Ground casulty in Vietnam
PFC Kenneth James Helstrom, USMC
Date of Casualty: November 7, 1967
On patrol Explosive Device
2nd Lt John Bigelow Moore, USMC
Date of Casulty: December 21, 1968
Booby trapped explosive device.
CPL Steven Blaine Riccione, USA
Date of Casulty: September 27, 1967
Small Arms Fire Quang Tin province
Captain Charles Edgar Wuertenberger, USA
Date of Casulty: January 17, 1968
Hostile action small arms fire
They all died young in service to their nation, leaving behind families that mourned their loss and never understood why they were taken. At least they were remembered by loved ones.
It took the nation a long time to come to terms with Vietnam and these sacrifices. Any one who served in the military in the 1960s and 1970s knows what a terrible time it was. Service men and women were spit on, people moved away from them when seated next to them, and in some places signs appeared in windows: “No servicemen allowed.” The frustrations of a divided nation were vented on those who simply did their duty and in some cases paid the price, as did the men above.
The names of all these men are on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.
These men all were heroes.
*Names provided by the Geneva New York Historical Society