The Wall of Faces

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CLAUDE RICHARD VAN ANDEL


is honored on Panel 23W, Line 4 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance

REMEMBRANCES

  • IN REMEMBRANCE OF THIS FINE YOUNG UNITED STATES ARMY SOLDIER WHOSE NAME SHALL LIVE FOREVER MORE

    Posted on 7/15/18 - by CLAY MARSTON CLAYMARSTON@HOTMAIL.COM

    IN REMEMBRANCE OF THIS FINE YOUNG
    UNITED STATES ARMY SOLDIER
    WHOSE NAME SHALL LIVE FOREVER MORE


    SERGEANT

    CLAUDE RICHARD VAN ANDEL


    served proudly and with distinction in


    D COMPANY

    4th BATTALION

    12th INFANTRY REGIMENT

    " DUCTI AMORE PATRIAE "

    ( Having Been Led By Love of Country )

    199th LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE

    " LIGHT, SWIFT, ACCURATE "

    " THE REDCATCHERS "


    He was a posthumous recipient
    of the following
    military decorations and service medals


    BRONZE STAR MEDAL

    PURPLE HEART with Oak Leaf Cluster

    NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL

    VIETNAM SERVICE MEDAL

    REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM CAMPAIGN SERVICE MEDAL


    and was entitled to wear the


    COMBAT INFANTRY BADGE



    He is interred in


    HILLCREST MEMORIAL PARK CEMETERY

    NORFOLK

    MADISON COUNTY

    NEBRASKA




    YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN

    NOR SHALL YOU EVER BE




    R E M E M B R A N C E




    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10129738/claude-r-van_andel


    Claude Van Andel was an unspoken hero of Vietnam.

    After he radioed his Captain to retreat and was told to proceed he took Point from Charles Fink and proceeded.

    Moments later he tripped a Claymore Mine and saved the lives of the troops following behind him.

    A popular person in his high school graduate class of Norfolk Senior High School in Norfolk, Nebraska, he is missed by many classmates and family who are proud that he was a true hero.

    ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~


    HOW A NORFOLK MAN WAS INSTRUMENTAL TO

    CONSTRUCTION OF D.C. VIETNAM MEMORIAL

    OMAHA WORLD HERALD

    By SHERYL SCHMECKPEPER

    16 August 2014

    This story was told at the Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Reunion, which is taking place this weekend in Norfolk. More than 800 veterans and their families are in Norfolk for the event that concludes Sunday morning.

    It was around 11:00 p.m. on a spring night in 1969.

    A young woman from Norfolk was studying for exams in her dorm room at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln when she felt a strange presence in the room. It was a good friend of hers. But how could that be ? He was out of the country at the time. Still, he was there.

    He said, “ I came back to tell you goodbye,” and then he was gone.

    The woman was shocked. She hadn’t even been thinking about her friend, and she hadn’t been sleeping, so it wasn’t a dream, said the woman’s father.

    “ It was neither rational or logical, and yet her friend’s presence had been real and his words were clear,” he added.

    The woman called her father in Norfolk and they talked for long time, and the father reassured her that she hadn’t lost her mind, “ that she was probably experiencing something none of us ever experience.”

    The daughter called her father again at 3:00 a.m., and they talked some more.

    The next morning, the father checked on the welfare of the friend and was told that he apparently was fine — information he shared with his daughter.

    Two days later, he learned that his daughter’s friend actually had been killed in Vietnam.

    And so begins the saga of Claude Van Andel.

    Van Andel graduated from Norfolk High School in 1967, and attended Norfolk Junior College for a while before joining the U.S. Army.

    There, “ because of his ability and personality, he became a natural leader whose influence went far beyond his rank as a sergeant in charge of search and destroy missions,” the woman’s father said.

    On 27 May 1969, Van Andel, a member of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, was leading a point squad in an area about 75 miles from Saigon when he radioed back for instructions “ because he thought they were walking into a trap.”

    “ Their regular commanding officer had been hospitalized, and the new captain radioed back that ... they should proceed. Seconds later, there was a loud explosion and a fight with the Viet Cong.”

    A radio man called for a helicopter for the wounded and the dead. Including Claude Van Andel.

    The radio man was wounded and evacuated the next day.

    Van Andel’s body was returned home and was buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery.

    Fast-forward to the early 1980s.

    Jan Scruggs had made it his mission to build a memorial to the men and women who died in Vietnam.

    He started with $ 2,800 of his own money, and within two years had raised the $ 8 million needed for the project.

    “ The Wall ” was dedicated on 13 November 1982.

    A few years later, Scruggs published a book titled “ To Heal a Nation ” that told the story of the building of the wall.

    It told about the mental anguish he had suffered, because after the war, he found he couldn’t contact many of his former buddies or their families because all he knew was their nickname or maybe their first name.

    Van Andel’s friend from Norfolk read the book “ and there, on page 96, it said that when Scruggs was ready to give up on the memorial, he kept going because of the memory of Claude, a young G.I. from Iowa.

    Curious, the woman searched the list of 58,000 names of men and women killed in Vietnam printed in the back of the book looking for a Claude from Iowa.

    There was no Claude from Iowa.

    Convinced the Claude that Scruggs was referring to was Claude Van Andel, she wrote Scruggs a letter. A few weeks later, he called her.

    “ Scruggs had checked the dates and the records for 27 May 1969, and indeed, it was her friend, Claude Van Andel. Scruggs only remembered that Claude was from out here someplace like Iowa or Kansas or somewhere. It was Claude’s death and the fact that Scruggs couldn’t remember Claude’s name ... that had prompted him to build a memorial where all of the names could be seen and never forgotten,” the woman’s father said.

    But the woman wanted more information.

    She wanted to know what time Van Andel had been killed.

    Could it possibly have been the moment she saw him in her room ?

    Scruggs did some research and estimated the time to be shortly after noon, Vietnam time, or somewhere between 11:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Lincoln time.

    “ But, of course, she knew the exact time,” her father said.

    While giving a presentation in New York, Scruggs told Claude Van Andel’s story. During a break, a young priest approached and asked Scruggs if he remembered him.

    “ No,” Scruggs replied.

    “ I’m Charlie Fink, the point man who Claude replaced. I helped with Claude’s body,” the priest said.

    Later, Fink called Van Andel’s friend and told her the rest of the story — how he was the newest replacement on the squad that day and had been put on point. He was hacking his way through underbrush when they came to a small clearing and Van Andel spotted the wire.

    Van Andel called back to his commanding officer, a call heard by Jan Scruggs, the radio operator. He also heard the officer order Van Andel to keep moving. But Fink couldn’t go on.

    “ The young man from Norfolk could have ordered anyone of his platoon to take point, but he didn’t,” the woman’s father said. Instead “ he ordered Fink to cover him while he went forward as point. A few short steps, and a large ... mine exploded almost in his face. When the firefight was over, a dazed and shaken Charlie Fink realized he was alive because Claude Van Andel had taken his place.”

    The experience influenced Fink’s decision to become a Catholic priest, the woman’s father said.

    Fink later sent a letter to Van Andel’s friend.

    “ I wish you could have seen him the day he died; blond, boyish, his sense of humor in tact, grubby like the rest of us, sick of war, but good and charming and wholesome. The war killed him . . . but it never destroyed him.”

    Forty-five years have passed since Claude Van Andel died. He will always be remembered by his fellow veterans, his family, and friends, especially the friend he visited the night he died — Jan Einspahr, daughter of J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh of Norfolk.

    ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
    MORE
  • We Remember

    Posted on 7/14/18 - by Daniel Cogné
    His name is listed (no photo) in the article "The Faces of The American Dead in Vietnam - One Week's Toll", LIFE, June 27, 1969, p. 31.
  • I'm proud of our Vietnam Veterans

    Posted on 10/3/17 - by Dennis Wriston
    Sergeant Claude Richard Van Andel, Served with Company D, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade, United States Army Vietnam.
    MORE
  • Norfolk High Schoolmates

    Posted on 11/11/14 - by Bob Bratager
    We were schoolmates together at NHS; I was a senior when Claude was a freshman. I look at the picture of the young kid in my '64 Yearbook, and then at the confident young man pictured on this Wall, seeing the growth of character and grieving for what we have lost. . . .
    MORE
  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 4/11/14 - by Curt Carter ccarter02@earthlink.net
    Dear SGT Claude Richard Van Andel, 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, Sir

    Curt Carter
    MORE
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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.