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THE KU 59

Scroll down to learn their stories

bell

Dean Allan Bell

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

Age: 21

Branch: Army

Rank: Specialist 5

Unit: 101st Airborne Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected)

Location on Wall: Panel 45W, Line 47

Notable: Nine months into his tour, Bell died on Sept. 6, 1968, from a grenade explosion in Hua Nghia, South Vietnam. He was a combat medic and had previously received a bronze star for heroism.

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bowman

Donald Robert Bowman

Hometown: Lawrence

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: 9th Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected)

Location on Wall: Panel 38E, Line 21

Notable: Six weeks after arriving, Bowman was killed Feb. 8, 1968, by small arms fire. On thewall-usa.com website, friend Richard Simon writes, “Don and I went to KU together and loved to raise HELL in Kansas. We both joined the service together. Don joined the Army and I joined the Marines. We never got to raise any more hell together. But, I raised enough hell for both of us after I returned to Kansas.”

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bray

Ralph Oscar Bray Jr.

Hometown: Olathe

Age: 27

Branch: Army Reserve

Rank: Captain

Unit: C Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade

At KU: Class of 1965, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 21 W, Line 105

Notable: Bray served in the Army for about seven years before an explosive device caused his death along with four other men in Quang Ngai on July 12, 1969, less than one month after his tour began.

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breeding

Michael Hugh Breeding

Hometown: Blue Rapids, Kan.

Age: 24

Branch: Marine Reserves

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

At KU: Class of 1968, School of Business

Location on Wall: Panel 14W, Line 130

Notable: While at KU, Breeding lived in Stephenson Scholarship Hall. On Feb. 12, 1972, Breeding and radio intercept officer Lt. Robert Bradshaw were on a mission near Quang Tri when his F-4B fighter jet flew above its flight leader upside down. The last thing Bradshaw radioed was, “It’s OK, we’re all right,” but the two crewmen would not return from their mission. Breeding and Bradshaw’s bodies were never recovered.

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carroll

Roger W. Carroll Jr.

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

Age: 33

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Major

Unit: Headquarters, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1970, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 1W, Line 74

Notable: Carroll served as assistant to the commander during his second tour in Vietnam. During a mission over Laos in September 1972, Carroll’s aircraft was hit by artillery fire and crashed. One week later, a search party discovered the crash site but did not find Carroll. Carroll was classified as having died in captivity. Evidence found during an excavation of the crash site in 1994 led to the identification of Carroll’s remains in 1995.

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champman

Kurtis N. Chapman

Hometown: Overland Park

Age: 20

Branch: Marines

Rank: Lance Corporal

Unit: D Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force

At KU: Class of 1969, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 57E, Line 16

Notable: Chapman served as a rifleman in Vietnam, participating in large counteroffensive campaigns from June 1967 to his death in May 1968. He died from small arms fire during one such campaign near Quang Tri province in South Vietnam. Chapman’s gravesite is at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

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christian

David M. Christian

Hometown: Lane

Age: 24

Branch: Navy Reserve

Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)

Unit: Attack Squadron 23, Carrier Air Wing Two, USS Midway

At KU: Class of 1963, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 1E, Line 129

Notable: According to the POW Network, on June 2, 1965, Christian left the USS Midway aircraft carrier on a mission to strike a heavily defended radar installation. While facing intense anti-aircraft fire, Christian destroyed the radar site. According to the Military Times, Christian’s plane was hit and he was unable to escape before it crashed into the sea. Christian was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1986, the Vietnamese returned the remains of 21 Americans, including those said to be Christian’s.

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claflin

Richard A. Claflin

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 28

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Captain (promoted to Major while MIA)

Unit: 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1961, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 24E, Line 2

Notable: On July 26, 1967, Claflin was on a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam when his aircraft exploded in midair. Search and rescue operations were initiated, but neither Claflin nor the co-pilot onboard was found. Claflin was designated MIA. Nine years later, in 1974, Claflin was classified KIA, but his remains were never found. He has two sons and one daughter.

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conroy

Ronald L. Conroy

Hometown: Topeka

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Warrant Officer 1

Unit: 1st Cavalry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Education

Location on Wall: Panel 24E, Line 2

Notable: A month after arriving in Vietnam, Conroy’s helicopter crashed over Thua Thien Province in South Vietnam on Oct. 3, 1968, when it collided with another aircraft. He was 20 years old and left behind a wife and daughter.

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cushman

Clifton E. Cushman

Hometown: Grand Forks, N.D.

Age: 28

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Major

Unit: 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1961, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 11E, Line 13

Notable: Cushman’s aircraft was shot down in September 1966 and he was declared MIA. He was declared KIA in November 1975, but his body was never recovered. According to the POW Network, in 1989 Vietnamese officials said Cushman died in the crash. In April 1992 the Joint Casualty Resolution Center heard from witnesses in Lang Son Province that Cushman died of a bullet wound after landing. His remains were buried and the burial site was later washed away.

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Olympian slain in the war had
always looked ‘up at the stars’


Trevor Graff

Posted on: May 25, 2014

On Sept. 13, 1964, Cliff Cushman lay bruised on a cinder track in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was an attempt gone awry to qualify for the 1964 Olympics in his main event, the 400-meter hurdles, the event in which he had won the silver medal in Rome four years earlier.

Cushman had caught his cleat on the fifth hurdle and fallen unceremoniously onto the jagged cinders. The Kansas University All-American responded in a letter to students of Grand Forks (N.D.) Central, his alma mater.

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KU All-American track athlete and 1960 Olympic Silver medalist Cliff Cushman was shot down in September 1966 and declared missing in action. He was declared killed in action nine years later but his body was never recovered.

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for some of you!” Cushman wrote. “In a split second all the many years of training, pain, sweat, blisters, and agony of running were simply and irrevocably wiped out. But I tried. I would much rather fail knowing I had put forth an honest effort than never have tried at all.”

In September 1964, Cushman was fighting for an Olympic berth. Two years later he was fighting for survival.

As an Air Force pilot, Cushman was shot down in North Vietnam in 1966. He was listed as “Missing in Action” until declared dead in November 1975.

While at KU, Cushman was an Air Force ROTC member, joining the Air Force following his graduation in 1961. He became an F-105 Thunderchief pilot in the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron in South Vietnam. The F-105 became the primary aircraft delivering bombs on tight targets. The bomber eventually was removed from service because of high pilot loss rates.

The Thunderchief’s personality fit the 28-year-old major from Grand Forks. It was a fast aircraft set for precise bombing missions. It provided an adventure for Cushman.

Before the Air Force, Cushman was a member of the Kansas track and cross-country teams.

Bill Dotson, a four-time conference champion and two-time All-American miler from 1960 to 1962, was a close teammate of Cushman’s. The two trained together during and after their time at KU.

“He was always very direct and articulate in everything that he expressed to other people,” Dotson said. “He had a sense about how to make everyone else a better person. He was a multidimensional person, not only a great athlete, but a great motivator. That’s why I gravitated toward Cliff. He was my mentor.”

Cushman’s time at Kansas was marked with championships.

He finished second in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championship in 1959 and won the same event in 1960. His 400-meter hurdle personal best clocked in at 49.6 seconds, good enough to earn a trip to the Olympics.

Cushman’s love of flying came from his father, Stan, who owned a Cessna 172 and took the boy flying often. That love of flying never faded.

“Cliff loved to fly with his dad,” said Carolyn Blaine, Cushman’s widow. “When he had the opportunity to do some flying in ROTC and later go to flight school, he jumped at the chance.”

The orders that sent him to South Vietnam came on Thanksgiving Day 1965, the same day the young couple brought home their newborn baby boy, Colin. The couple had nine months together before Cushman moved to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita to train in the F-105 bombers.

“He loved his country and he wanted to do his part to protect it,” Blaine said. “Even though the fighting wasn’t on our soil, he was over there to do the job he was told to do.”

Blaine said Cushman remained unshakable in his Christian faith. He went to Vietnam to fly bombers with a 9-month old and Carolyn at home. Blaine said he was simply following orders.

“In one of his letters to me, he said that he was always very careful to hit the target because he didn’t want to hit a family home where there might be a 9-month-old baby boy,” Blaine said. “He was just such a caring human being.”

Two years and 12 days after his fall at the 1964 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles, Cushman fell once again, this time in the jungle of North Vietnam. He was sent to bomb a bridge and was shot down on Sept, 25, 1966.

For years after Cushman was declared missing in action, Blaine continued to send her allotted three letters per month and one package every two months to her husband. The mail was never returned, so she continued to hope he was alive. As the director for the Forgotten Americans Committee and Nebraska coordinator for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Mission in Southeast Asia, Blaine gave dozens of speeches. In a 1970 Journal-World article, she said, “I can’t make 1,600 men real, but I can make one man real.”

Cushman’s legacy lives on. He is an inductee to the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. His 1964 letter to his former high school challenges students to set a goal and chase that goal.

“I dare you to look up at the stars, not down at the mud, and set your sights on one of them that, up to now, you thought was unattainable,” Cushman wrote. “There is plenty of room at the top, but no room for anyone to sit down.”

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dukelow

Cornelius Pellman Dukelow II

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 22

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: C Company, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 34W, Line 57

Notable: Known to his friends as C.P., while at KU he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. Dukelow died from gunshot wounds in Dinh Tuong Province, South Vietnam on Jan. 22, 1969, just 19 days after his tour began.

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few

Samuel Arthur Few

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 24

Branch: Army

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: D Troup, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

At KU: Class of 1966

Location on Wall: Panel W47, Line 8

Notable: Although he attended KU, Few graduated from Louisiana State University. Few served in the Army for just one year before dying in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam, from gunshot wounds on Aug. 8, 1968.

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fuqua

Harry Ivan Fuqua Jr.

Hometown: Leavenworth

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Education

Location on Wall: Panel 42E, Line 5

Notable: While at KU, Fuqua lived in Pearson Scholarship Hall. He was an infantryman who suffered multiple fragmentation wounds and died on Feb. 29, 1968, in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.

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gallagher

Ronald David Gallagher

Hometown: Fort Scott

Age: 27

Occupation: Freelance Vietnam correspondent

At KU: Class of 1962, School of Journalism

Location on Wall: Civilians are not listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Notable: While at KU, Gallagher was managing editor of the University Daily Kansan and a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. On March 11, 1967, Gallagher was killed on the ground by rocket fire in a rice field southwest of Saigon while working as a freelance correspondent for Missouri and Kansas newspapers, including the Topeka Capital-Journal. It is unknown whether the rocket fire came from Viet Cong or if Gallagher was the victim of a U.S. aircraft mistake. Gallagher was the ninth correspondent killed in the Vietnam War.

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gibson

David Parker Gibson

Hometown: Lawrence

Age: 28

Branch: Army Reserve

Rank: Captain

Unit: B Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division

At KU: Class of 1966, School of Education

Location on Wall: Panel 17E, Line 121

Notable: On April 8, 1967, Gibson died from gunshot wounds after a major action at Hung Long in the An Lao Valley of South Vietnam. Gibson was one of 25 U.S. soldiers who were killed during the battle.

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harris

John James Harris

Hometown: Iola

Age: 19

Branch: United States Marine Corps

Rank: Corporal

Unit: D Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force

At KU: Class of 1970 (expected), School of Education

Location on Wall: Panel 45E, Line 11

Notable: Harris had served in the Marine Corps for about one year as a rifleman before dying when his helicopter crashed over land in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam on March 17, 1968.

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hess

Kerry Eugene Hess

Hometown: Topeka

Age: 23

Branch: Army Reserve

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: A Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Engineering and Architecture

Location on Wall: Panel 23W, Line 74

Notable: Hess was one of two men who died from gunshot wounds in Tay Ninh, South Vietnam, on June 5, 1969, about six weeks after his tour began and two days before his 24th birthday.

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hewitt

Thomas T. Hewitt

Hometown: Topeka

Age: 25

Branch: Army

Rank: Captain

Unit: C Command, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101 Airborne Division

At KU: Class of 1967, Class of Liberal Arts and Sciences, geography major

Location on Wall: Panel 9W, Line 111

Notable: Hewitt attended KU on an Army ROTC scholarship. While at KU, he served as an operations officer and executive officer for the Jayhawk Battalion, and was president of the school’s parachute club. After graduating in 1967, Hewitt attended a basic course for infantry officers, then went to Airborne School and Ranger School. Hewitt received an Army Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star Medal while in Vietnam. He was killed in July 1970.

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holtom

Mark R. Holtom

Hometown: Baldwin City

Age: 21

Branch: Army

Rank: Warrant Officer

Unit: C Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division

At KU: Class of 1971 (expected), School of Engineering and Architecture

Location on Wall: Panel 7W, Line 93

Notable: Holtom was killed along with seven other U.S. soldiers in a helicopter crash over Long Khanh province in South Vietnam. On Sept. 26, 1970, Holtom’s battalion launched five helicopters into a “V” formation and climbed 4,000 feet above overcast skies. The helicopter Holtom was commanding struck another, and they both disappeared into the clouds. The helicopters hit the ground about 250 yards apart, and all eight crewmen died.

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hoskins

Charles L. Hoskins

Hometown: Shawnee Mission

Age: 29

Branch: Air Force

Rank: First Lieutenant (promoted to Captain while MIA)

Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1966, School of Engineering and Architecture

Location on Wall: Panel 5W, Line 111

Notable: Hoskins was reported MIA in February 1971 while on a combat mission over Laos. During the mission, the fighter bomber Hoskins was co-piloting was struck by hostile fire. Because of heavy enemy forces on the ground, there was no search for Hoskins. Military officials were unsure whether Hoskins was able to successfully eject during the crash. Hoskins was listed KIA in November 1973. He left behind a wife and 1-year-old daughter.

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humphrey

James G. Humphrey

Hometown: Shawnee Mission

Age: 21

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Unit: D Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Fine Arts

Location on Wall: Panel 39W, Line 49

Notable: Humphrey played trumpet while at KU. He died on Nov. 11, 1968, in small-arms fire near Pleiku, a province in South Vietnam. Don Walter, who served with Humphrey in Vietnam, wrote a tribute to him, saying Humphrey always carried a “big Kansas flag.” When Humphrey died, Walter said he hung the flag at half-mast, and he then carried it in his pack for several months before it was lost in a firefight.

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johnson

Charles F. Johnson

Hometown: Hutchinson

Age: 26

Branch: Army

Rank: Specialist

Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

At KU: Attended KU, year not verified

Location on Wall: Panel 19E, Line 26

Notable: Johnson served as a medical equipment repairman in the Vietnam War in 1967. He died less than two months after the start of his tour from fragmentation wounds caused by a grenade explosion in Binh Duong province in South Vietnam.

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keroher

Gayland E. Keroher

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

Age: 25

Branch: Army

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: A Company, 86th Engineer Battalion, 4th Engineer Group, 18th Engineer Brigade

At KU: Class of 1965, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 33W, Line 79

Notable: According to an obituary in the Kansas City Star, the combat engineer unit commander graduated from KU with a geology degree, then attended the Engineers Officers Candidate School in Fort Belvoir, Va. Keroher was an Eagle Scout and while at KU a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He was killed in February 1969 in small-arms fire near Dinh Tuong. Keroher left behind a wife and daughter.

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krehbiel

Kenneth D. Krehbiel

Hometown: McPherson

Age: 28

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Captain

Unit: 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron, 504th Tactical Air Support Group, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1961, School of Engineering, aeronautical engineering major

Location on Wall: Panel 28E, Line 40

Notable: While at KU, Krehbiel was an ROTC student and a member of Phi Gamma Delta. In Vietnam in 1967, Krehbiel’s aircraft crashed due to engine failure. He was cut out of the aircraft before it was consumed by fire, but he later died in a hospital in Phu Yen province in South Vietnam.

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lafrance

Jon Patrick La France

Hometown: Overland Park

Age: 24

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: B Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry, 1st Infantry Divisione

At KU: Class of 1964, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 35W, Line 5

Notable: La France, known to his friends as Pat, died from friendly fire in Binh Long province in South Vietnam, on Dec. 29, 1968, just one month after the start of his tour.

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laskowski

Anthony J. Laskowski

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 22

Branch: Army (Medic)

Rank: E3, Private First Class

Unit: 1st Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 40W, Line 38

Notable: Laskowski died on Oct. 26, 1968, only two months after arriving in Vietnam from small-arms fire in Tay Ninh province. According to a post on thewall-usa.com website, Laskowski, a medic, died while attending to a wounded soldier.

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lehnhoff

Edward W. Lehnhoff

Hometown: Fort Scott

Age: 42

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Lt. Col. (Captain before missing)

Unit: 44th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1959, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 30E, Line 16

Notable: Lehnhoff, then a captain, died after being shot down over Hanoi on Nov. 18, 1967. He was MIA, then declared dead 10 years later in 1977, two years after hostilities ended. His remains were found and returned to U.S. soil in 1987, and his body was identified in 1988. Subsequently, his obituary ran in the March 1988 issue of the KU Alumni magazine.

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lundy

Maurice E. Lundy

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 25

Branch: Air Force

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: 325th Bombardment Squadron, 4133rd Bomb Wing, Strategic Air Command

At KU: Class of 1965, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 25W, Line 42

Notable: Lundy was killed in a nonhostile crash at sea in May 1969. He was aboard a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, a jet-powered strategic bomber, when it crashed into the Pacific Ocean while taking off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

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martin

Larry E. Martin

Hometown: Wakefield

Age: 34

Branch: Air Force

Rank: O-3 at loss, promoted to Major while MIA

Unit: 388th Tactical Fighter Wing

At KU: Class of 1961, School of Business

Location on Wall: Panel 52W, Line 36

Notable: Co-pilot Martin was shot down over Vietnam five months after arriving in the country in July 1968. He was declared dead in August 1974 while missing in action. His body was returned to U.S. soil in 1989. According to a post on thewall-usa.com website, Martin’s pilot, Gobel D. James ejected from the aircraft and became a POW. James was released in Operation Homecoming in March 1973.

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mccubbin

Glenn D. McCubbin

Hometown: Almena

Age: 26

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Major (First Lieutenant at loss)

Unit: 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1965, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 63E, Line 14

Notable: McCubbin was shot down on May 19, 1968, while flying a bombing run over North Vietnam. His plane simply fell off the communication network and his wingmen couldn’t locate him. His body was returned to U.S. soil in 1989 and identified in 2006.

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mcdaniel

Michael E. McDaniel

Hometown: St. Louis

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Corporal

Unit: 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division

At KU: Class of 1967, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 17W, Line 42

Notable: In October 1969, McDaniel, an infantryman, drowned in Vietnam five months after arriving in the country.

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mchugh

Gary R. McHugh

Hometown: Park Forest, Ill.

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: 198th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division

At KU: Class of 1972 (expected), School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 6W, Line 27

Notable: McHugh, an infantryman, died about a month after arriving in Vietnam from causes other than combat in October 1970.

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mischler

Harold Mischler

Hometown: Osborne

Age: 26

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Captain

Unit: Detachment 1 Udorn (Thailand), 56th Special Operations Wing, 7th Air Force, a.k.a. The Ravens

At KU: Class of 1961, School of Business

Location on Wall: Panel 1W, Line 104

Notable: Mischler was one of a very select group of pilots who flew in the CIA’s secret war in Laos. After spending six months in Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller (FAC), he volunteered and was selected for a highly classified mission across the border in Laos. Mischler was shot down on Dec. 23, 1972, over Saravane, Laos. His body was recovered by Air America in a search and rescue mission.

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Star pilot volunteered for
dangerous, secret flights


Raelean Finch

Posted on: May 25, 2014

It was late in 1972. President Richard Nixon was on the verge of being re-elected. He had cut troop levels in Vietnam by 70,000. Rumors of peace talks entered a pool of speculation already churning with rumors of a secret war being waged by the CIA in Laos, a “neutral” country neighboring Vietnam.

Shirley Mischler-Davis had no idea her brother Hal had just signed up to fight in it.

“We didn’t even know where he was at the time,” Mischler-Davis said of her brother’s involvement in the secret war. “One day he just sent everything home and said that as far as we were concerned, he was no longer connected with the Air Force.”

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After Hal Mischler joined the Ravens, he shipped all his possessions home to his parents. Officially, he was no longer in the Air Force but one of 22 pilots fighting the CIA's secret war in Laos.

Hal Mischler was a good pilot — one of the best. After graduating from Kansas University in 1961, he got a commission in the Air Force and commenced crisscrossing the globe flying cargo planes. In February 1972, Mischler shipped off to Thailand to pilot high-flying reconnaissance planes called OV-10’s over Vietnam as a forward air controller. He’d find enemy positions, then guide bombers in so they could drop their cargo.

Then, as Mischler’s tour was coming to an end, he made a fateful decision: to join the Ravens.

A tiny unit comprised of no more than 22 men at any one time, the Ravens were forward air controllers for the CIA’s secret war in Laos. They flew in support of the Royal Laotian Army against contingents of the North Vietnamese Army that had infiltrated Laos.

Instead of relatively safe OV-10’s, they flew low over the Laotian countryside in single engine, two-seater, Cessna-like planes. They searched for North Vietnamese positions that ground troops couldn’t see, sometimes goading well-camouflaged gunners into firing at them to reveal their locations. To guide bombers to the enemy locations they found, the Ravens would sometimes use smoke grenades, other times landmarks. Ideally, the Ravens provided pinpoint grid coordinates. Sometimes, when bombers weren’t available, the Ravens strapped high explosive bombs to their wings and dropped them on the targets themselves, an extraordinarily risky technique.

“We were 25. We were immortal,” said Jack Shaw, former Raven and longtime friend of Mischler’s.

Mischler’s reputation and rank earned him a position as a senior Raven immediately upon his entry into his program. He landed in a tough spot. The war in Laos was getting hotter, but pilots and planes were in short supply.

Lew Hatch, whom Mischler had replaced as senior Raven, said the two of them frequently flew upwards of 180 hours each month, nearly double the flying time allowed by Air Force regulation.

On Dec. 23, 1972, Mischler and his Laotian co-pilot were shot down over Saravene, a hotly contested piece of terrain in southern Laos tenuously held by out-numbered and out-gunned Thai soldiers. It was a mission Hatch had been slated to fly. But Mischler was tired of flying training flights and yearned to get back in the fight. And it was quite a fight in Saravene.

“In that one 24-hour period, the 23rd and 24th of December [1972], we lost 40 percent of the Ravens that were in country. For years after the war — after we came back — I was really depressed over Christmas,” Hatch said. “It took me until about 10 years ago before I really got over that.”

A few weeks after Mischler-Davis’ parents received her brother’s trunks packed with uniforms and Thai souvenirs that he couldn’t take with him to Laos, they received Hal Mischler’s body. Among his effects was the camera he’d taken with him to his secret mission in Laos. There was no film in it.

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montemayor

James M. Montemayor

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 21

Branch: Army

Rank: E-3, Private First Class

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Business

Location on Wall: Panel 45W, Line 47

Notable: Montemayor, an infantryman, was killed in January 1969 by a personnel bomb three months after arriving in Vietnam. He is buried at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Kansas City, Kan.

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obrien

Patrick E. O’Brien

Hometown: Liberal

Age: 20

Branch: Marine Corps

Rank: E-4, Corporal

Unit: 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division

At KU: Class of 1961, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 15E, Line 75

Notable: O’Brien, a machine gunner in the Marines, was killed by small-arms fire in Quang Ngai province in Vietnam in February 1967.

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owen

William L. Owen

Hometown: Chicago

Age: 24

Branch: Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: 1st Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1967, School of Business

Location on Wall: Panel 27W, Line 58

Notable: In April 1969, Owen, an infantry platoon leader in the Big Red One, was killed by small-arms fire less than three weeks after arriving in Vietnam and taking over a platoon.

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pemberton

Gene Thomas Pemberton

Hometown: Cameron, Mo.

Age: 40

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Lt. Colonel (promoted posthumously)

Unit: 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron

At KU: Class of 1951, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 9E, Line 64

Notable: Pemberton’s plane was shot down on July 23, 1966, just 20 days after his tour began. He was interned as a POW in North Vietnam and died in captivity on July 24, 1966. His remains were recovered and returned on March 6, 1974. Posthumously, Pemberton was awarded the Silver Star for his “gallantry and devotion to duty.”

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petett

Larry W. Petett

Hometown: Shawnee Mission

Age: 23

Branch: Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: Advisors HQ, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

At KU: Class of 1966, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 41E, Line E53

Notable: Petett, an Army intelligence officer, was killed February 1968, four months after his arrival in Vietnam by a sniper who shot at the airplane he was traveling in. He was killed instantly.

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pugh

Dennis G. Pugh

Hometown: Shawnee Mission

Age: 23

Branch: Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: Advisors HQ, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

At KU: Class of 1966 (expected), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 41E, Line 53

Notable: Pugh attended KU for one year before accepting an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. While piloting a bomber over the Mu Gia Pass, on March 20, 1970, his plane was shot down. The next day, a search and rescue mission regained radio contact with Pugh, allowing the mission to listen in while enemy forces overtook him and a dozen shots were fired, presumably killing him. His body has never been recovered.

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richardson

Arlen D. Richardson

Hometown: Lawrence

Age: 27

Branch: Army Aviation

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: 23rd Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1965

Location on Wall: Panel 13W, Line 25

Notable: A month after arriving in Vietnam in early 1970, while piloting his aircraft on a reconnaissance mission over South Vietnam, Richardson’s helicopter began to experience mechanical problems. Two minutes after reporting the mechanical issue, Richardson crashed from an altitude of 1,500 feet. There were no survivors.

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ramsey

Milton Hardin Ramsey

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 34

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Major

Unit: 21st Special Operations Squadron, 56th Special Operations, 7th Air Force

At KU: Class of 1960

Location on Wall: Panel 4W, Line 14

Notable: According to a post on thewall-usa.com, Ramsey, a helicopter pilot, was assigned to the 21 Special Operations Squadron. He was killed while taking Laotian soldiers into northern Laos in March 1971. His helicopter took heavy fire, knocking out one engine. With a second engine failing, the crew crash landed, and Ramsey was killed. Ramsey had a wife and four children.

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rickman

Dwight G. Rickman

Hometown: Joplin, Mo.

Age: 25

Branch: Marine Corps

Rank: First Lieutenant at loss, promoted to Captain while MIA

Unit: Subunit 1, 1st Angelico

At KU: Class of 1969, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 1W, Line 105

Notable: Rickman, a Marine pilot, was shot down on Christmas 1971, while flying a reconnaissance mission over South Vietnam. Intelligence reports indicate that Rickman was killed either in the crash of the aircraft or shortly afterward, and was buried at the crash site. He was declared KIA in April 1978. His body was never recovered.

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ring

Harold K. Ring

Hometown: Leavenworth

Age: 21

Branch: Army, Field Artillery

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: 25th Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 31W, Line 18

Notable: Two months after arriving in Vietnam, Ring was killed by small-arms fire on Feb. 23, 1969, while conducting his duties as a forward observer in Tay Ninh province in South Vietnam.

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scanlan

Lawrence W. Scanlan

Hometown: Shawnee Mission

Age: 23

Branch: Army, Infantry

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: 1st Cavalry Division

Location on Wall: Panel 44E, Line 3

Notable: Scanlan majored in electrical engineering at Virginia Military Academy but he intended to transfer to KU. During the summers he worked at Lake of the Ozarks pumping gas at the docks and enjoyed water skiing with friends. Scanlan was drafted into the Army before he could enroll at KU. Three months after arriving in Vietnam in March 1968, he died during a grenade explosion.

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sevick

John Francis Sevick

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 25

Branch: Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: A Company, 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, USARV

At KU: Graduate Student

Location on Wall: Panel 36E, Line 60

Notable: Sevick was a platoon leader killed in action during the Tet Offensive on Feb. 1, 1968, at a place called Fort Courage near Saigon. He had served in Vietnam for 14 months. Sevick is buried at Mount Cavalry Cemetery in Kansas City, Kan.

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schambaugh

Dale K. Shambaugh

Hometown: Topeka

Age: 23

Branch: Marine Corps

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force

At KU: Class of 1964, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 2E, Line 60

Notable: Shambaugh was a highly regarded high school quarterback, and was in the Navy ROTC while at KU. He was sent to Vietnam soon after graduation. He was killed in action during an assault on a hilltop on Aug. 18, 1965, in Quang Tin, South Vietnam. He was an only child of Irvine and Floreine Shambaugh. Shambaugh is buried at Rochester Cemetery in Topeka.

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shannon

Richard Dean Shannon Jr.

Hometown: Piper

Age: 25

Branch: Army

Rank: Corporal

Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Battalion, 14th Artillery, 198th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, USARV

At KU: Class of 1965, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 25W, Line 84

Notable: Shannon was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and later a teacher at Washington High School in Kansas City. He died from multiple fragmentation wounds during a grenade explosion in Quang Ngai, Sough Vietnam, two months after beginning his tour in May 1969. He is buried at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Kansas City, Kan. He was posthumously promoted.

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simmons

John Stephen Simmons

Hometown: Hoisington

Age: 22

Branch: Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: B Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, USARV

At KU: Class of 1967, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 42E, Line 24

Notable: While at KU, Simmons lived at Gertrude Sellards Pearson Hall, on 11th Street, and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He was killed on March 1, 1968, 23 days after his tour begin. He is buried at Hoisington Cemetery.

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smith

Terry Lee Smith

Terry Lee Smith remains a mystery. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund lists him as a KU student who died in Vietnam. There are two Terry Lee Smiths listed on the Memorial Wall; one from Nashville, Tenn., and one from Piedmont, S.C. The KU Alumni Association has confirmed that Terry Lee Smith was in the KU class of 1965 and died in Vietnam in either 1966 or ’68. The alumni association could not provide a hometown. After speaking with the sister of the Smith from Piedmont, we learned that he was not a KU student. We were not able to locate the family of the Nashville Smith. After numerous emails and phone calls, information about KU’s Terry Lee Smith is scant. He might have been a civilian, so the military would not have information about him.

What we know is he attended KU, is listed on the KU Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. For that, he is to be recognized and honored.

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standerwick

Robert Laurin Standerwick Jr.

Hometown: Mankato

Age: 40

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Unit: C Company, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1952, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 5W, Line 76

Notable: Standerwick was declared MIA during a mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in February of 1971, when his aircraft was shot down. His backseater, Maj. Norbert A. Gotner, of Kansas City, Kan., was a POW and later released but didn’t know what had happened to Standerwick. Standerwick was declared dead in June 1980. His body was never recovered. He had four children, and his daughter Lynn is also a KU graduate.

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stone

George Davidson Stone

Hometown: Shawnee Mission

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: C Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, USARV

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Fine Arts

Location on Wall: Panel 50E, Line 2

Notable: Stone, also known as Dave by his family and friends, lived in McCollum Hall while attending KU, and was a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. He died from small-arms fire in Thua Thien, South Vietnam, about one month into his tour in April 1968. He was posthumously awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. He is buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa.

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taliaferro

Glen Johnson Taliaferro

Hometown: El Dorado

Age: 25

Branch: Air Force

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: 1st Special Operations Squadron, 56th Special Operations Wing, 7th AF

At KU: Class of 1968, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 3W, Line 122

Notable: Taliaferro majored in petroleum engineering while at KU. Relatives say he loved to fly and was excited to serve in the Air Force. While in service, he piloted an A-1 Skyraider model, commonly known as “Sandy.” Taliaferro died while missing in Laos in August 1971, after wing damage brought his plane down. He had been in the Air Force for just five months.

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thompson

Richard W. Thompson

Hometown: Atchinson

Age: 26

Branch: Army

Rank: First Lieutenant

Unit: 173rd Airborne Brigade

At KU: Class of 1964, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 30E, Line 34

Notable: After his time at KU, Thompson, also known as Buck, went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he graduated in 1966. He was killed in 1967 during the Battle of Dak To, a major military engagement that lasted 19 days. More than 370 U.S. soldiers were killed in the battle and more than 1,400 were wounded. Thompson is buried at the West Point Post Cemetery.

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thompsonw

William J. Thompson

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 37

Branch: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Unit: USS Kitty Hawk, Task Force 77, 7th Fleet

At KU: Class of 1955, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 34E, Line 60

Notable: Thompson was piloting a cargo aircraft when it fell overboard from the deck of the USS Kitty Hawk on Jan. 16, 1968. Seven men were rescued in the crash, but Thompson’s remains were never recovered. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

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tiderman

John M. Tiderman

Hometown: Kansas City, Kan.

Age: 31

Branch: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Unit: USS Enterprise, 7th Fleet

At KU: Class of 1956, School of Engineering

Location on Wall: Panel 6E, Line 35

Notable: Tiderman was part of the crew that launched an A-4 Skyhawk from the USS Enterprise on March 21, 1966, as part of an intensive bombing campaign called Operation Rolling Thunder. About 75 miles east of Ron in North Vietnam, Tiderman’s aircraft went down over the ocean, and his body was never recovered.

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walker

Charles B. Walker Jr.

Hometown: Overland Park

Age: 21

Branch: Marines

Rank: Lance Corporal

Unit: F Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force

At KU: Class of 1971 (expected), Centennial College

Location on Wall: Panel 18W, Line 30

Notable: Walker graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 1962, and he was one of the school’s 26 graduates who died in the Vietnam War. SMN dedicated a memorial to these men in September 2004. Walker died less than a month after his tour began from nonhostile illness or injury in September 1969.

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west

Paul E. West

Hometown: Shawnee

Age: 20

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1969 (expected), School of Engineering and Architecture

Location on Wall: Panel 42E, Line 44

Notable: West served as a medical corpsman. He died in small-arms fire on the ground in Gia Dinh province in South Vietnam on March 2, 1968, three months after his tour began. According to a post on thewall-usa.com website, West died while trying unsuccessfully to save the life of Larry Walden.

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willson

Loyd M. Willson

Hometown: Dallas

Age: 27

Branch: Army

Rank: Captain

Unit: A Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division

At KU: Class of 1962, School of Business

Location on Wall: Panel 40E, Line 71

Notable: According to an article by KU History, Willson was a native of Iola who was killed by enemy snipers in Binh Duong province in South Vietnam on Feb. 22, 1968. After his death, Willson was awarded the Silver Star for courage and leadership in battle.

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wilson

Michael L. Wilson

Hometown: Hutchinson

Age: 23

Branch: Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Unit: C Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade

At KU: Class of 1967, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Location on Wall: Panel 60W, Line 7

Notable: Wilson died from multiple fragmentation wounds on the ground in Quang Tin province in South Vietnam on Jan. 3, 1968, less than a month after his tour began. He was buried in Rio, Wis., next to his father, who died when Wilson was 14. According to a Hutchinson News article, Wilson’s Hutchinson High School class honored him during its 50th anniversary in October 2013.

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