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is honored on Panel 52E, Line 21 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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  • Remembering an American Hero

    Posted on 6/8/13 - by Curt Carter

    Dear TSGT Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon Jr, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for the ultimate sacrifice that you made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

    May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. And please know that men and women like you have stepped forward to defend our country yet again, showing the same love for country and their fellow Americans that you did- you would be proud.

    With respect, and the best salute that a civilian can muster for you.

    Curt Carter (son of Sgt Ardon William Carter, 101st Airborne)


    Posted on 12/18/05 - by CLAY MARSTON CMARSTON@INTERLOG.COM

    No. 581-98


    6 November 1998




    The Department of Defense has informed family members of United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon Jr. that his name will be added to the Department of Defense (DoD) Southeast Asia Casualty Database.

    Fitzgibbon died in the line of duty in Vietnam on 8 June 1956, while serving as a member of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam.

    His name will also be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known to all as " The Wall ".

    Earlier this year, the Air Force formally requested that the director, Information Operations and Reports add Fitzgibbon's name to the database.

    In the past he had not been included because the DoD Instruction established 1 January 1961, as the start date for the database.

    After an extensive high-level review of the qualifying criteria and the circumstances of loss for pre-1961 casualties, the Department decided to add his name to the database.

    Eight other pre-1961 casualties have been added in years past.

    As a result of the review, the establishment of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam, on 1 November 1955, is now formally recognized as the earliest qualifying date for addition to the database and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

    Fitzgibbon's casualty date of 8 June 1956, is now the earliest in the database.

    Fitzgibbon's son, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon III was killed in action in Vietnam on 7 September 1965.

    An extensive search of the records indicates they were the only American father and son Service members to die in Vietnam.

    Department of Defense and Air Force officials will present to the Fitzgibbon family a letter formally conveying the decision in a ceremony on Monday 9 November, at 10 a.m. (EDT) in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

  • NO ROOM ON THE WALL ... PAGE 3 ...

    Posted on 12/18/05 - by CLAY MARSTON CMARSTON@INTERLOG.COM

    "I looked across the street and noted something was wrong," said Burroughs. " We had a medic upstairs so I had someone grab him and a first aid kit.

    "After shooting Sakmar, Clarke left the bar, gun in hand, and proceeded up the street," said Johnson. " When the local police attempted to stop him, he ran into a building, went upstairs and positioned himself on a small balcony overlooking the street. The police opened fire on Clarke who slipped and fell to his death on the sidewalk below. He died as a result of the fall. He was not hit by police bullets nor did he shoot himself."

    "Fitz" was lying on the sidewalk in front of his quarters", said Burroughs. " We were over there while most people were keeping a respectful distance. It was quite obvious that Sergeant Fitzgibbon was dead.

    The Army sergeant who was shot three times was lying immediately inside the door and appeared to be in considerable pain. We applied pressure bandages and within minutes the ambulance arrived along with our doctor."

    SFC Sakmar, after being operated on in Vietnam, was air-evacuated to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

    "An ex-army provost marshall commenced an investigation within half an hour," said Burroughs. " Most of the rest of the night was involved in preparing casualty messages."

    There is one story that those who know Technical Sergeant Fitzgibbon remember him most for, beyond his ability as an outstanding NCO, beyond his ability as a damned good crew chief.

    Upon each trip he made to Hong Kong, "Fitz" would invariably make one purchase regardless of what else he might buy. It took the same form on each trip -- a brown paper package -- and the contents were always the same. "Fitz" would take quite a ribbing about his purchase but never once did he explain. However, one evening several weeks before his death, members of the 1173rd finally learned "Fitz's" secret. He was surrounded by a group of small Vietnamese children, obviously street urchins. He was passing out a piece of bubble gum to each dirty little hand being held out to him. Bubble gum he would buy on each trip to Hong Kong.

    Technical Sergeant Fitzgibbon had just finished his customary ritual of passing out the gum at 2145 hours when he was shot and killed. The quarters where he lived was named in his memory. The Fitzgibbon BEQ was the first known military installation to be named in memory of a serviceman to die in Vietnam.

    Others followed: Holloway, Radcliff, Frenzell, Jones, Enari and Meyerkord, just to name a few, but Fitzgibbbon was the first.

    " There is a Fitzgibbon on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Richard's son was in the United States Marine Corps. He died in the same country that his father did -- nine years later on the 7th of September 1965. He was killed in action in Chu Li," said Alice Del Rossi. " I have a reoccuring dream that I am standing in front of the memorial with a mallet and chisel in my hand and inscribing Richard's name next to his son's. I have been trying for seven years to get his name on the wall and although I have all but given up hope I cannot break faith with my brother for I know his name belongs there."

    The next time you visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC., look beyond the names, even beyond your own reflection, and if you look deep enough you will see the image of a young man standing on a street in Saigon passing out chewing gum to small Vietnamese children. But don't bother looking for his name -- only his spirit dwells there -- for there is NO ROOM ON THE WALL.

    written by

    Master Sergeant Ray Bows

    United States Army ( Retired )

    submitted by



  • NO ROOM ON THE WALL ... PAGE 2 ...

    Posted on 12/18/05 - by CLAY MARSTON CMARSTON@INTERLOG.COM

    Yet beyond these observations America's involvement goes back to 1956 when the Combat Arms Training Organization (CATO) was formed two years after the fall of Dien Bien Phu.

    In those early years American involvement in Vietnam was kept in the shadows and apparently has still not been recognized by the same government who sent young men to serve there at a time when most people had never heard of Vietnam.

    So, just as our governemnt refused to "recognize" China -- and with it a large percentage of the world's population until a political mood change -- so did our governemnt refuse to recognize that Technical Sergeant Fitzgibbon served his country and died in Vietnam during early United States involvement.

    Richard Bernard Fitzgibbbon Jr. served in the United States Navy from 1940 to 1954, transferred to the United States Air Force, and was assigned to Detachment 1 of the 1173rd Foreign Mission Squadron (HEDCOM) in Saigon. Fitzgibbon was a crew chief on a C-47 aircraft, flying missions throughout the Far East.

    " Sergeant Fitzgibbon was an outstanding Non-Com and was held in highest esteem by each and every member of the Command," said Colonel Arnold T. Johnson, Commander of the 1173rd. " He was conscientious, honest and always a gentleman. Professionally and technically he was outstanding. There was not a pilot in this command who had anything but praise for his competence. They all like to fly, as long as " Fitz " was crewing the plane. In a flying unit, no higher compliment can be paid to a crew chief."

    According to Mrs. Del Rossi, her brother shared some of his thoughts with her just prior to his death.

    " I think the Communists take pot shots at us when we fly over areas that they control, just to let us know that they are there. The occasional Communist fire has my radio man pretty shook up. At first some of us thought that it was funny, but for him it's a serious situation and he can't handle it. He has cried and even vomitted in fear. I'm genuinely concerned for his welfare, some people just aren't cut out for this. I've talked to my commander about Clarke a couple of times but the old man said, "he will do his tour and like it, just like the rest of us."

    In August of 1956, the First Sergeant of the Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam, Master Sergeant Jack Burroughs, stated, " In my opinion, this man Clarke was, for sometime a borderline case for a padded cell. But from the official point of view, we had nothing sound to go on, except that he was a retiring sort of individual and did not mix well within a group."

    " Fitz " as he was called by his friends, continued in his efforts to aid Clarke and to get him transferred to a location outside of Vietnam and away from the dangers inherent to the mission of the 1173rd.

    Unbeknownst to " Fitz " his concern for his fellow crew member and seeking help for him was only further aggravating Clarke's condition.

    " Action ... had been building up in Clarke's mind for a long time, maybe years," said Burroughs, " and " Fitz " was the scapegoat merely because he was convenient when that thin line of sanity snapped."

    According to Colonel Johnson:

    " Our MAAG C-47, on which " Fitz " was crew chief, had returned from a trip to Hong Kong at approximately 1300 hours on Friday, 8 June, after an uneventful flight.

    When all the passengers had deplaned " Fitz " and the other members of the crew went about their normal maintenance duties, readying the aircraft for another flight the following morning.

    When his work was completed, " Fitz " left the airfield for his quarters, in downtown Saigon, for a well-earned rest, a shower and dinner. As far as is known, he planned a quiet evening, relaxing and resting up for the next day's flight.

    That evening, at dinner, an incident occurred while " Fitz " and several of his friends were eating at the Non-Commissioned Officers Club.

    Staff Sergeant Edward C. Clarke, the radio operator on Technical Sergeant Fitzgibbon's crew, walked into the club and stood several paces away for a time, watching and glaring at " Fitz ".

    Shortly, " Fitz " got up and walked over to Clarke and according to observers they had several moments of what appeared to be rather heated conversation.

    Soon after Sergeant Fitzgibbon returned to his table, someone in the group told a joke and the entire group laughed.

    With this, Sergeant Clarke walked up to the table and said " you had better stop talking about me."

    Sergeant Clarke, without another word, turned and departed the club.

    After eating, " Fitz " left the club and walked the several blocks to his quarters.

    No one knows just how long it took Sergeant Clarke to cross the thin line of sanity that the MAAG First Sergeant spoke of.

    No one saw him return to his quarters and remove a .22 calibre target pistol from his locker.

    Nor did anyone give Clarke more than a glance when he presumably returned to the NCO club only to find Sergeant Fitzgibbon had returned to his quarters.

    At 2145 hours Richard Fitzgibbon was in front of the enlisted billet where he lived. He had been sitting in a chair that he would customarily remove from just inside the doorway after every return trip from Hong Kong.

    Minutes earlier Vietnamese children had been crowded around him.

    " Fitz " wouldn't let anyone chase them off. After all, he had gotten to know most of them and after a trip to Hong Kong they flocked around him as was customary.

    The sun had just set beyond the buildings -- Vietnamese women were just taking in the last of the wash hung from the balconies. Most of the children were on their way home. The gray haze just before darkness almost obscured Staff Sergeant Clarke as he approached.

    " Fitz " lived directly across the street from me," said Master Sergeant Burrooughs. " I was in my room with a couple of friends polishing off a jug when we heard two series of rapid fire -- at that moment it sounded like fire crackers, but immediately someone reported a shooting."

    Clarke had shot " Fitz " five times at close range.

    Immediately afterward, Clarke walked into a bar next door, and without a word shot and wounded SFC John Sakmar, an Army Sergeant, also assigned to MAAG. Sakmar was shot three times. be continued on page 3 ...

  • NO ROOM ON THE WALL ... PAGE 1 ...

    Posted on 12/18/05 - by CLAY MARSTON CMARSTON@INTERLOG.COM









    30 MAY 1999 - MEMORIAL DAY







    The story of United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon Jr. is unique in the annals of Vietnam, and there is little doubt that the very first facility to be named in Vietnam was named in memory of the native of Weymouth, Massachusetts.

    Technical Sergeant Fitzgibbon was murdered in Saigon on 8 June 1956, yet there is no room on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for his name.

    Mrs. Alice Del Rossi, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, has, for the past seven years been trying to have her brother's name added to the memorial without success.

    If you are wondering who says there is NO ROOM ON THE WALL, listen to these comments that echo off the gleaming black granite and resound in the ears of Mrs. Del Rossi and the Fitzgibbon family.

    14 March 1983..."...there is only a limited amount of space on the wall ... the precedent being set could soon lead to classifying more individuals who died outside of the war zone as casualties ..."

    --Jan Scruggs, President, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

    Yet, while Fitzgibbon died in Saigon, the names of forty Marines, killed in an aircraft crash, while on R & R in Hong Kong, are inscribed thereon.

    21 March 1985 ..."... the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed and built by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which set rigid guidelines for the inclusion of names on the monument walls.

    Unfortunately, the date and circumstances of your brother's death do not meet the criteria set by the fund."

    --Brian Donnelly, Member of Congress

    Yet, the hundreds who died in Vietnam, killed by misadventure, accident, homicide or friendly fire are inscribed thereon.

    5 June 1985 ... " As you are well aware, the official dates of involvement in Vietnam preclude your brother's name from being inscribed."

    --John Kerry, United States Senator

    The dates on the Wall are 1959 - 1975.

    Yet, the number of servicemen stationed in Vietnam after the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 until 1959 are more or less equal to those stationed in Vietnam from March 1873 until the fall of Saigon in 1975.

    " For a name to be placed upon the memorial, the individual's death must have occurred as the direct result or aftermath of wounds received in the combat area, defined by Executive Order 11216.

    This Executive Order, designated 1 January, 1964, as the date that American combatant activities commenced ... I regret we are unable to honor your request."

    --Edward F. Sullivan, Captain SC, USN
    --Office of the Secretary of Defense

    Yet, the first two names on the wall, DALE R. BUIS and CHESTER OVNAND, were considered murder in July 1959 when they died.

    The earliest name added, HARRY CRAMER Jr., was killed in a mysterious explosion in 1957.

    JAMES DAVIS, the first official battlefield casualty of the war, died in December 1961.

    Therefore, by any standard, the date 1 January 1964 has no relevance.


    NO ROOM ON THE WALL ... page 2 ...



    11 SEPTEMBER 2001


    submitted by -



    10 JANUARY 2002

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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.

All of these photos will be showcased in The Education Center at The Wall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the effort to collect these photos and ensure their faces will never be forgotten, visit