The Wall of Faces

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ROBERT CHARLES HARKINS


is honored on Panel 28E, Line 67 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance

REMEMBRANCES

  • TO MY FATHER

    Posted on 5/22/16 - by dianeandtami@bellsouth.net
    Dear dad, Even though I wasn't quite 2years old at the time you left. I have and will always wonder how life would have been So different with you here. Sometimes I cry Alot. Especially on your Birthday,All of the Military Holidays,and especially the day you left this earth!! It Hurts so bad because I was so young and I feel I Never had the Honor of having you as my dad or getting to know you.I was TOO young to remember you, but you were a very BRAVE MAN. You gave me life as you ALSO gave Yours for others. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY HEART AND SOUL DAD!! LOVE ALWAYS AND FOREVER!!!!! Tami
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  • Reflections on a Windy Hillside

    Posted on 11/1/15 - by Rick Parker
    On 4 NOV 68 I was 22 years old and O.I.C. of the military funeral for PFC Robert C. Harkins, of New Boston, Texas.

    He had been killed in action in VN before he turned 21.

    My military detachment from Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, consisted of fifteen uniformed soldiers in dress greens. Six wearing white gloves to carry his flag-draped casket from the hearse to the grave, and a seven-man firing party carrying M-14s firing blanks to honor his sacrifice with three volleys of fire to comprise a 21-gun salute. There was an NCO to command the firing party so that their volleys were in unison, Sgt. Tom Conway of Tampa, Florida and one lone bugler, PFC Hampton (Lionel Hampton's nephew) to blow taps as the American flag which had draped PFC Harkins' casket was being folded. The bugler was strategically hidden behind a cypress tree off in the distance.

    PFC Harkins' next of kin was a five year old girl, his daughter, to whom the folded American flag was to be presented at graveside.
    It was a sunny but brisk November morning and we were gathered together in a humble little cemetery on a bleak hillside overlooking a highway on the outskirts of Texarkana, Texas. As the ceremony began, I remember I noticed a truck, an 18-wheeler, speeding along in the distance, the moan of its diesel engine seemed to fit the occasion. As the white-gloved soldiers carrying the remains of PFC Harkins inside the silver casket reached the grave and set him down gently for the last time they lifted the flag and held it tight at waist level, while a Southern preacher drawled a soulful and brief prayer.

    I thought it strange that the cars and trucks down on the highway did not stop, but continued on their way, oblivious to the scene that was unfolding before our eyes. It seemed to me that the whole world should stop.

    The preacher concluded his remarks, closed his Bible with a dramatic thump and took one step back. This was the signal to begin to fold the flag. My men, who had spent a week training for this day, very smartly folded the flag and then the Senior Pallbearer, Specialist Bennie K. Stephens of Little Rock, Arkansas, executed a left face took several steps forward and bent down with the American flag in his upturned and white-gloved hands. He spoke softly to the little girl who was seated nearest the freshly-dug grave of her father.

    "Please... accept this flag.... on behalf of a grateful nation...."

    For a brief moment, the little girl looked up at him as if unsure of what to do. Then she reluctantly took the flag and held it up against her chest as if trying to keep warm. It struck me as much the same way that her dead father must have surely held her when she was a baby only five years before.

    The moment was shattered as the firing party fired the first volley of the 21-gun salute. It startled everyone, myself included. It drowned out the whir of the tires from the passing trucks far below. It drowned out the thoughts of the little girl and the few who were gathered there who had known PFC Harkins in life.

    When the last volley of seven shots had rung out and echoed off down the hill past the roadway and the barbed wire fence beside it, SP4 Hampton began to slowly blow taps on his golden trumpet. And the few gathered there who had known Pfc Robert C. Harkins in life began to softly cry as the funeral director released a lever and began to slowly lower PFC Harkins into his own little corner of America.

    Off in the distance, another truck whined down the highway. The wind picked up and I felt a shiver run through me. Suddenly, PFC Harkins' daughter began to cry out, "Daddy....Daddy...Daddy....."

    ....she cried "Daddy" over and over again, as the top of his now bare silver casket descended forever from view.

    I thought about how he would not be there for her next birthday party... or to tuck her into bed... or to read her a story. He would not be there to watch her in the school play or see her graduate from high school. She would have no father to give her hand in marriage--or for any of those things in life that we all live for.

    I wondered what kind of memories she would have of her father that she might carry with her as she lived out her life.

    That little girl would be 50 years old now.

    I have often wondered what kind of guy PFC Harkins was. I wondered what his life was like, and where his wife was. I have thought about him many times over the past 45 years. Today for the first time, I saw his face.

    I think it's good to remember that there are many men and women like Robert C. Harkins who have served in our military and sacrificed their lives for our country.

    We owe them all a debt of gratitude which we can never repay.
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  • Saying Goodbye

    Posted on 10/7/15 - by RONNIE CHISUM chisumr@yahoo.com
    I was at your funeral and was so sad to hear you had been killed in Vietnam. Seems all of New Boston was at your funeral. You are our hometown hero Charles and will never be forgotten.
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  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 10/18/13 - by Curt Carter
    Dear PFC Robert Charles Harkins, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice 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. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

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

    Curt Carter
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  • Remembrance

    Posted on 7/6/12 - by Ronnie Chisum chisumr@yahoo.com

    Robert Charles Harkins was born in New Boston, Texas and graduated from James Bowie High School. He enlisted in the Army in Texarkana, Texas. Robert was married when he was 18 and had a beautiful daughter. Youngest of 3 brothers and was killed in Vietnam in 1967. He was our hometown hero!

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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 www.buildthecenter.org.