In Search of Heroes

F4 sunrise over Cambodia 1973

F4 sunrise over Cambodia 1973

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

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in Air Force, American History, AntiWar Protests, Hobart College, SEA, US Army, Veterans, Vietnam Memorial, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to In Search of Heroes

  1. jenorv says:

    Reblogged this on Tales of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and commented:

    This is the story of how we discovered the men who died from Hobart in the Vietnam War.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.