Monday, January 5, 2015

Eugene M. Christer, 1948-1968

Today's run was for Eugene Christer.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

Eugene M. Christer

An Army Corporal from Salinas, Christer died in Tai Ninh Province on his 20th birthday. 

Here is an entry from his page at

"Gene Christer was my step-brother. My mother married his father, Nick Christer, in the late 1960's when Gene was a teenager. This was a rather tumultuous creation of a family and Gene was drafted soon after. He was killed shortly after arriving in Vietnam on his 20th birthday. Gene was an only child and had lived most of his life in Salinas, California. I only met him a couple of times but came to know him after his death as I used his story in an 8th grade history unit on Vietnam that I taught. His story was told to many young people in my classes in the 1990's and until I retired in 2005. I kept his medals, a couple of letters he wrote from Vietnam and a small wallet size picture of him in his army uniform. And then out of the blue a couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from Doug Elliot, who has also posted on this site, and learned that Gene did have family members on the East coast. We have been in touch and have begun sharing our memories and I was astounded to find out that over the years he and I both had been involved in activities honoring this young man who died serving his country. I will also send along to the Vietnam Memorial Fund the picture I have of Gene. I look forward to visiting the Education Center at the Wall when it is completed." - Gerry Martin

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Rudolph R. Corona, III, 1947-1967

When I got to the Memorial this morning, I noticed that the volunteers had taken down the Christmas lights. Another holiday season has come and gone.

Today's run was for Rudolph Corona of Pacific Grove.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

Rudolph R. Corona, III

U.S. Army PFC Corona was from Pacific Grove and died in Quang Ngai Province.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ricky L. Cornell, 1948-1968

The flags at the Memorial bear witness
to the south wind this morning.
This was a good, brisk morning for a run. Frost again, and I was glad to have my gloves. Even though I waited until 8 to head out, more than half of my first two miles was run in morning shadow, and the frozen mud crunched in spots.

There were a few folks out for walks or runs or bike rides, and it was nice to share the morning with them.

When I got to the Memorial I realized that there was a south wind this morning... quite often the sign here in the Salinas Valley that rain is coming. Oh, but were that the case. We desperately need to break this three-year drought of ours. The above-average rainfall for December has trailed off to another period of "no rain in the foreseeable future".

This run was for Ricky L. Cornell.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

Ricky L. Cornell

A 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist from Salinas, Cornell was killed in action in Phuoc Long Province. 

Here are two entries from his page at

"Ricky was my cousin. I was 11 years old when he was killed in Vietnam. My last memory of him, was horseback riding with him. I was riding behind him and he stopped and started to tickle me. I laughed so hard I fell off the horse. And then we all laughed. I still think of him but not just on Memorial Day. His Mother and Father never really recovered from the loss of Ricky. I am sad that I never knew about this website until today. I am the first of the family to enter a Remembrance of Ricky, but I know I won't be the last. I miss you Ricky. Love Cindy" - Cindy Hisel 

 "I too, was very young when Ricky died. But I do remember the family get togethers. The fun and the laughter. Ricky was good with his cousins. And I'll never forget seeing my first bull up close and watching Ricky get on it. I thought he was the braviest person I had ever seen. There's always things that come up that remind me of him. And when I see his parents my heart breaks for them all over again. We love you Ricky!!!!" - Brenda Ratliff

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Last runs of '14; first run of '15

While I have been lax in making these posts, I have not neglected the running part of my commitment. I have made three runs since the last post; the latest being this morning, New Year's Day. So this post will cover those runs and three more Monterey County men who lost their lives in Vietnam.

The day I ran for Thomas C. Chaney my daughter ran with me again. Again we started before the sun came up, and again there was frost everywhere. We have had frost every day from Christmas through the 1st; not unusual for most places, but we here on the Central Coast of California are not used to it.

I waited a couple of days after that, and my son ran with me for David Chisum. My son's 27-year-old, 6-foot-two body set the pace for us (though he insists that it was I doing the pace-setting), and we shaved a minute off my usual per-mile time, finishing in just over 52 minutes. I am not fast, and I was pretty bushed when we were done.

Today, January 1, was two days after that run. My daughter and my son have gone back to their respective homes, and I am on my own for the running once again. I waited until late morning, but there was still ice on parts of the trail that hadn't seen the sun yet. This run was for Alfred H. Combs, Jr.

So here we are at the start of a new year, and I have run in the names of 13 of these 78 young men. There are 20 weeks between now and Memorial Day at the end of May. It is my goal to have run for the remaining 65 men by that day. Too many died in the Vietnam conflict, and this is my very small way of remembering all that they gave... for indeed, they gave all. Running six miles for each name is so very little to put forth in their memory.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

Thomas C. Chaney

A 19-year-old U.S. Marine Corporal from Greenfield, Chaney was killed in action in Quang Nam Province just over a month after his tour of duty started.

David Chisum

I have no bio info for Private First Class Chisum of Salinas, but here's an entry to his page at

"So sorry you left us so young. You were such a nice person at such a young age. You were missed at our "35" year high school reunion held on 9/29/01. An Old High School Acquaintance - Cecil Guerrero"

Alfred H. Combs, Jr.

U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Combs was from Seaside. The photo here is from his page on, and I believe it may not be an actual photo of him but a generic photo. There is this unsigned entry on that page:

"This is Alfred Combs's Granddaughter the youngest I never knew him. But of course I love him. Wish I did get the chance to meet him I have heard he was a very smart person. Thank you grandfather for all that you did."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Reinaldo A. Castro, 1940-1967

My daughter, home for the Holiday, ran with me early this morning. And it was cold, cold, cold. There was frost on the bouganvillea as we started down the driveway.

It was nice to have a running partner. She has made this run with me before, and twice we have spotted a fox just before he/she sprang back into the bushes along the blacktop trail that follows the creek. I haven't seen the fox in a couple of months.

This morning we found a gray-haired gentleman, whose kindness is misguided, putting food out for the feral cats that slink on and off the trail. I asked him if he had ever seen the fox. He said he had and also "two of those wild dogs."

"You mean coyotes?" I asked as I backpeddled my way on the path, not sure exactly what he meant.

"Yeah... those."

Still not sure that's what he was describing.

This run was for Reinaldo A. Castro.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

Reinaldo A. Castro

U.S. Marine Sergeant Castro was from Pacific Grove. I could find no photo of Reinaldo. The photo here is the best I can do... a shot of his name at the memorial. The entry below, an eye-witness account, was made on his page at

On April 27, 1967 a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter UH-34D tail number 148071 lost power and crashed into the sea after take-off from the aft platform of a navy ship positioned off the shore of Vietnam. Troops aboard the aircraft included LCP Richard H. Dallas, SGT Reinaldo A. Castro, LCP James A. Benton, LCP Blenn C. Dyer, PFC Samuel W. Osborne Jr., and LCP Ronald K. Pennington. All drowned and their remains were never recovered. The following are comments made by an eyewitness to the incident: “Years have passed, but I remember this incident clearly. I watched the bird take off, dip its blades, and then hit the ship. The aircraft sank fast. Navy crew members of ship ran out with M-1 rifles to keep any sharks off survivors if they came. Saw only a few crew members swimming and no grunts. We were loaded down with full gear and ammo for the operation ahead.” By Michael L. Meeker, Marine Infantry, 1 Bn/3rd Marines [Narrative taken from]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

James C. Carlson, 1947-1968

Christmas morning, and I got out of the house at 5:45, probably just following Saint Nick. It's finally feeling like winter, or at least winter in Central California, and I wished I had my gloves... fingers were getting prickly from the cold. I got up to the Memorial before the sun came up. Only one of the three decorated trees was lit; the smallest one, but it gave out a bright light. 

The run this morning was for James C. Carlson, listed as being from Salinas, but he was probably originally from Tennessee.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

James C. Carlson

U.S. Army PFC for whom an entry was made on his page at

"From his High School yearbook: Working on cars and motorcycles is Jim's favorite pastime, and he is an active participant in the T. & I. Club. His talent in art will probably lead him to study in that field at M.T.S.U." - Ken Neely

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pepito Caguimbal, 1947-1966

The afternoon shadows were long yesterday when I started my run. The sun was low over the Santa Lucias off to the west. I ran through the Safeway parking lot and picked up the trail that runs along the north side of the Twin Creeks golf course, a broken piece of blacktop that winds its way to Laurel Drive. The branches of trees along Gabilan Creek are starting to drop their leaves in earnest now -- late in the year, but it's been a strange few years, weather-wise, confusing nature and its cycles -- and little makeshift tent and tarp shanties set up on the creek are being revealed. I hadn't realized I'd been running just a few yards from folks' humble abodes.

When I got to the Memorial, I took note of the three fir trees that have been decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments. One or more volunteers have added a touch of the Season to the hill.

This run was for Pepito Caguimbal of Castroville.

If you're wondering why Twisselman is running for these men who died in the Vietnam War, check out the blog entry here that explains it.

Pepito Caguimbal

U.S. Army PFC Caguimbal was from Castroville. This tribute was made on his page at

"I am a sophomore a Gridley High School. For a History assignment we were assigned to post remembrances for those who died serving our country in the Vietnam War. I believe all the soldiers who died for my freedom deserve recognition. This remembrance is for Pepito Caguimbal. Thank you for your devotion to America and for your commitment in securing a bright future for me. Your commitment and sacrifice are priceless. Thanks again and God Bless."- Marie Shank