On Sunday, 29 September 2019, I along with four of my WOW sisters rode to Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, MO. I had been looking forward to this trip ever since it was announced earlier in the year. Being the daughter of a U.S Army officer who served two tours of duty in Viet Nam, it meant a lot to me to visit the Memorial Wall. I was very young when he was in Viet Nam, and I knew he was at war and in a very dangerous place. But, I was proud of my daddy then and I am so proud of him now.
For years I have heard my dad share stories about his time in the Army. Sometimes it was at home when I was curious and asked him questions or a few times when I was able to attend when he was a guest speaker at local high schools and community colleges during Veterans Day activities.
Our ride to Perryville was open to others, so I invited my parents to follow us or to meet us there. Unfortunately they were not able to go. I did ask my dad if he knew anyone with whom he served that might be listed on the Wall and, although there were undoubtedly many names on the Wall of people he might have come across in his 20+ years of service, he gave me two names in particular to check for: Kenneth Good and Richard Brown Heydt.
Inside the Military Museum there were brochures, information, and a gift shop. The Memorial Wall was a good walk from the museum, but we were offered a ride in a golf cart shuttle to the Wall. Our driver asked if there was anyone on the Wall we were looking for. I gave him the two names and he checked an app (www.vvmf.org/app) that gave the location of the names. Kenneth Good was found on panel 1E, line 15, which meant he was one of the early casualties. (From a Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial Wall Facts brochure, “The names are arranged in order of the date of casualty and alphabetically on each day, beginning at the center with panel 1E, down panel 1E, then moving right towards 70E, then 70W towards the center, and ending in the middle on 1W. The first and last casualties are side by side at the apex of the Memorial.”) Richard B. Heydt was on panel 16E, line 59.
In addition to the two names, I asked Dad to tell me how he knew them. Below is a little about the two men as written by my father. He mentioned that he did verify Kenneth’s and Dick’s names on the wall when he first visited the Memorial Wall in DC.
KENNETH NEWLON GOOD, CPT USA (Inf), (USMA, 1952)and I had been fellow company commanders in the 2nd Battle Group, 34th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in Korea in 1959. He had D Company: I had B Company. About the time I moved up to Operations Officer for the Battle Group, Ken was pulled out of the unit as part of the first major build-up in the advisory effort and sent to Viet Nam. He was one of the very early advisor casualties in 1961. His entry in the USMA Register of Graduates indicates he was KIA in Viet Nam as a member of MSAG-RVN on 2 Jan 1963.
RICHARD BROWN HEYDT, MAJ USA (Inf), was a fellow company commander in the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment (Cottonbalers), 3rd Infantry Division stationed in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, Federal Republic of Germany in 1965. He followed me to Viet Nam. I left in March 1966 to go to the Military Advisor Training Course at the Special Warfare Training Center, Fort Bragg, NC, then to Viet Nam in May of 1966. Dick took the same route and arrived in Viet Nam 21 Feb 1967, assigned to MACV Advisory Team in I Corps. He was killed by hostile fire 11 Mar 1967. He left a wife and two sons, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. I returned to the USA in May 1967 to an assignment at Fort Dix, NJ. We met with his wife and children while we were there. Dick and I had been close friends and our families knew one another in Germany.
Seeing the many names on the wall brought the reality of that war home to me. It will forever shape my view of war and its impact on the men and women serving, as well as the families at home hoping, praying and waiting for a safe journey home for their loved one. Often when I think of what my dad may have gone through or what could have happened to him I tear up. Even now in 2019, I can get tearful despite knowing that he has been safe at home with his whole family.
This memorial, like all memorials, is so much more than names. They are fathers, sons, brothers, and, yes, even mothers, daughters and sisters as there are eight women listed among the 58,276 names*. (*Wall Facts brochure) As in the case of Major Heydt and Captain Good, there are also good friends – but heroes one and all.
By Alice Jones Stewart Proud daughter of Major Ronald W. Jones USA (retired)