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.
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Reinaldo A. Castro
1940-1967

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 VVMF.org:

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 pownetwork.org]

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.
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James C. Carlson
1947-1968

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

"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.
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Pepito Caguimbal
1947-1966

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

"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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Robert L. Bennett, 1947-1969

Made a mid-day run on this sunny December day. This run was for Robert L. Bennett of Salinas, who died in Binh Long province.

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.
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Robert L. Bennett
1947-1969

U.S. Army Specialist for whom an entry was made on his page at VVMF.org:

"My mother was married to Robert and was scheduled to go visit him on R&R but never got that chance. His death rocked my mom to the core and I don't believe that she ever got over her first love. I try to make it a point to take care of his headstone for his mom (who we lost last year) and for all veterans." - Janet Wohlgemuth


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Monterey County Vietnam Veterans Memorial

On Thanksgiving morning three weeks ago I took my run, heading out before the sun came up. I planned on a route I've done many times; one that is six miles long and takes me through Natividad Creek Park. It's a good length and always puts me in a right frame of mind when I finish.

That particular morning, at the 2-1/2 mile mark, something drew me up the hill off Laural Drive, toward the Regional Occupational Program site.
Before one gets to the ROP, on the hill off to the left sits the Monterey County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I was drawn to it as the sun broke over the Gabilan range to the east of Salinas. Before heading back down the hill and completing my run, I reflected on the day and on the departed souls represented on this spot.

This was not my first visit to the Memorial but probably my fourth or fifth time there. No matter how one feels about our country's 20th century involvement there -- support, condemnation, or indifference -- there can be only respect and reverence for those Americans who gave their last full measure in the conflict: over 58,000 U.S. military casualties, more than 5,500 of those coming from California, and 78 whose names are on the Monterey County Memorial.

Since that morning, I have made the run/visit to the Memorial five more times, and I have decided to dedicate each six-mile run on that route to a name listed there. The run helps me make each name more than just etchings on marble. Each name represents a person who lived and died and should be remembered.

Below are the names of the first six names on the Memorial. Biographical info and pictures, if available, are from VeteranTributes.org, VVMF.org, and other places on the web. You may notice that the list below, and in the blog entries to come, is not in true alphabetical order, but this is the order in which they appear at the memorial.

Please check out the official website for the Monterey County Vietnam Veterans Memorial at http://www.mcvvm.org/ for information on the building of the Memorial and the people responsible for erecting it. A lot of good information and photos of the Memorial there.

I will be running in the name of each of the other 72 persons. As I complete each run I will be posting their names, photos, and any other info I might find in subsequent entries in this blog.
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Frank G. Antone
1946-1967

Frank Antone was born on June 10, 1946, in Hersbruck, Germany. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on December 6, 1965, and completed basic training at Naval Training Center San Diego, California, in February 1966. SA Antone next served aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) from March to April 1966, followed by Underwater Demolition Team training with Naval Amphibious School Pacific at Naval Base Coronado, California, from April to August 1966. He served as a UDT Diver with UDT 11 in the United States, aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Ogden (LPD-5), at Subic Bay in the Philippines, and in Okinawa from August 1966 to July 1967, and then with SEAL Team ONE at Naval Base Coronado from July to November 1967. SN Antone's final assignment was with SEAL Team ONE in South Vietnam, where he served from November 1967 until he was killed in action on December 23, 1967. Frank Antone was buried at El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove, California.



Alton E. Baker
1941-1965


Alton E Baker from California had the rank of Private First Class in the U.S. Army when he was a casualty on 11/01/1965. This occurred in Republic of Vietnam. Private First Class Baker was enlisted as Active Duty Army as Light Weapons Infantry Army . Casualty circumstances were attributed to " Small Arms Fire

And this comment on his page at VVMF.org: "Alton was a true hero on November 1, 1965. We captured a full field hospital. I was the medic for A Troop which Alton was in. During the course of the fire fight Alton was hit in the hip and couldn't move even though he was very alert. Alton was one of the guys I carried back to the rear. I carried Alton back to the creek or river bed and put him down jumped down the embankment to pull him over and he got hit in the chest right next to my hand. To this day I think about Alton every day - a true hero and a wonderful person. I have been looking for his parents since I returned but to no avail." --Jay "Doc Hock" Hockenbury




Richard L. Barbee
1948-1971

Couldn't find any bio info for Sgt. Barbee, but here's an entry to his page at VVMF.org:

"Rick, it is finally done. I promised Jeannie I would get your picture on wall. Have been trying for years. The Army would never answer any of my requests, but 2 people I don't know worked and got it. Bob from Yuba City and Collette from Salinas . What a wonderful thing they did. I know your Mom is so happy. Rest in peace."






Richard L. Buckles
1942-1969

U.S. Army Captain for whom I could find little except this excerpt from VVMF.org:

"Richard and I were kids that played together on Kentucky St. in Bakersfield. The years were 1945 to 1947. As I recall, his dad was Ronald Buckles and was an officer in the Army at the time. Richard is the only person I know of as an acquaintance that died in Vietnam. A memory from the time is when we were throwing dirt clods at each other and I threw one in his direction and he ducked. The clod broke their garage window. My defense when asked why I broke the window was 'if he hadn't ducked, I wouldn't have hit the window,'" - Jim Rutter






John L. Bowen
1950-1969

From an entry on his page at VVMF.org:

"He is my brother, my best friend growing up. He protected me, gave me advice, listened, entertained me by singing or playing the piano, what he called the 'Boogy Woogy'. He played any musical instrument you gave him. My dad handed him the pick to his Fender Steel Guitar and when John played it my dad walked out of the room, evidently the steel guitar is very difficult to master. He was a terrific pitcher for the High School Mustangs. John had lots of friends and was/is loved by many." -Sandy Bowen Evanko






Cecil O. Bundage
1929-1968

U.S. Army Platoon Sergeant for whom I could find little except this excerpt from VVMF.org:

"I think of you and the others from that day often. It is etched in my memory like it was yesterday. The picture does not do you justice but it is the only one I can find right now. Though not with us long you gained the respect of us all." - Bob Witsaman









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So it's December 20, and I've made six runs... each in the name of one of these men above. I have taken to running the walkway star at the Memorial twice: once to honor the man from the day before; and again to note the name of the next man.

I'm not a fast runner, and these 60-year-old legs can't make the run every day, so this tribute may take awhile, but I'm determined to complete it.