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POSTED ON 6.3.2005
POSTED BY: Post 504, American Legion, Jackson, NJ

For God and Country

SSGT Walter Alan Cichon will Not Be Forgotten. At the beginning of every American Legion meting a POW empty chair is presented and saluted, a silent reminder of those comrades who can never attend a meeting. Our post has dedicated this chair to SSGT Chicon for his ultimate sacrifice. Once a month, every month, every year. May he rest in peace.
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POSTED ON 2.11.2003
POSTED BY: Candace Lokey

Not Forgotten

I have not forgotten you. I chair the Adoption Committee for The National League of Families of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. We will always remember the 1,889 Americans still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia and the thousands of others that lost their lives. We will not stop our efforts until all of you are home where you belong.

We need to reach the next generation so that they will carry on when our generation is no longer able. To do so, we are attempting to locate photographs of all the missing. If you are reading this remembrance and have a photo and/or memory of this missing American that you would like to share for our project, please contact me at:

Candace Lokey
PO Box 206
Freeport, PA 16229
[email protected]

If you are not familiar with our organization, please visit our web site at :
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POSTED ON 10.17.2002
POSTED BY: William Curtis

I wore your bracelet for years, and even when I lost it I did not forget it.

I wore the bracelet of Staff Seargent Walter A. Cichon on my right wrist for years. I got it from my step-father who lived with Spinabifita his whole life, and was a very vocal proponent of POW/MIA rights. I will never forget you. I never knew you, and the world has shown I probably never will, but I will always care for you.
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POSTED ON 6.1.1999
POSTED BY: John Oltarzewski

Rock & Roll Dream - Lost in Vietnam

A promising rock 'n' roll voice was silenced in Vietnam
Published in the Asbury Park Press

He was a quiet, soft-spoken guy who wore dark clothes and pointy-toe boots, and had shoulder-length hair before it was in fashion.
He liked listening to The Animals, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, but never tried to be a guitar god. Instead, the only instrument he really played was a tambourine. When he got up on stage and began to sing, people saw something special in Walter Cichon.

"He wasn't just a singer, he was a front man. He was a character, a personality," said "Stormin' "Norman Seldin. "This guy had a magnetism about him." Cichon was the lead singer for The Motifs, the Shore-area's first "hot" rock 'n' roll band. His older brother, Raymond, was the lead guitar player, and Seldin was the group's teen-age manager.

In 1967, the future looked bright for the band. They had work every weekend, a regional hit song and a dynamic front man. But that fall, Walter Cichon was drafted. He joined Company A, 3rd Battalion of the Army's 8th Infantry. And having completed his training, Staff Sgt. Walter Cichon volunteered to go to Vietnam. "He felt the kids going over there were so young," said Walter's mother, Helen. "He was a little older, and he thought maybe he could help the younger soldiers."

Cichon was 21 when he volunteered to go to Vietnam. He was 22 when he died, on March 30, 1968, when he was hit in the head by an enemy bullet while in action in Kantom, then-South Vietnam. "Walter, so the story goes, came up from a trench with a hand grenade in his hand, and was shot right in the head," said Vinnie Roslin, the group's bass player. An Army buddy told Helen that he held the mortally wounded Walter in his arms until the rest of the unit was forced to retreat under heavy enemy fire. Walter and about 10 other dead or wounded soldiers were left behind. When the other members of Walter's unit returned to the area, the bodies had been cut to pieces, Helen Cichon said. Because the bodies could not be identified, Cichon was at first declared missing in action and presumed dead.
It was not until November 1974 that the Army officially declared him dead. His mother knew all along. "When they first came to the house, I knew right away," she said. "I don't know why, but I knew he wasn't coming back." Several days after Walter was shot, his mother received his last letter from Vietnam, dated March 29, 1968. In the letter, his mother said Walter describes how green his young troops are.
"He said the young soldiers didn't know what they were doing, that they really weren't very well prepared," Helen said. But he closed the letter as he always did, telling her not to worry. "He always said that. He was such a considerate boy."
In July 1975, the Army paid for Walter Cichon's funeral. A white memorial marker was placed at Evergreen Cemetery in Farmingdale, and taps was played by a unit from Fort Dix. Walter was given a memorial marker, not a gravestone, because his remains were never recovered.
Walter received two Purple Hearts, including one with an Oak Leaf Cluster. Black and white photographs of the funeral show Helen; Walter's older brother, Raymond; and his younger sister, Ann, standing by a stark white marker decorated with flowers. But Walter's father, the senior Walter Cichon, was not there.
He died in 1969, a year to the day after his son's death. "My husband went a little crazy after Walter died," Helen said. "He was drinking so heavily. He never really recovered from it."

'Bad boys' of Shore rock
In a scrapbook kept in the basement of her home in Lakewood, Helen Cichon preserves memories of a happier time, more than 30 years ago, when The Motifs and their "bad boy" image made them the leading band at the Shore.
Bruce Springsteen himself referred to Cichon as "the best front man in New Jersey at the time," in an interview he gave earlier this year to Mojo, a British music magazine.
The Motifs started in Howell, where the Cichon boys had moved when Walter was 13. By the mid-'60s, the band, which first played gigs only in the western Monmouth area, had extended its range and become the biggest band at the Shore. They often earned $125 or more for gigs at teen clubs and high school dances. The Castiles, Bruce Springsteen's first band, earned $75 a night. The Motifs played for 1,000 people at the West End Casino in Long Branch, and opened for The Duprees at the Keyport-Matawan Rollerdome. They even had a regional hit: The single "Molly," produced by Seldin, sold more than 2,000 copies, and garnered some airplay on WMCA in New York.
"Molly," described by Seldin as a "talking, moaning type of thing with a cow bell," earned praise at the time from WMCA disc jockey Joe O'Brien, who said The Motifs had "a new, original sound that's strictly their own."
"We were the bad boys," said Roslin, the bass player, who auditioned for The Motifs after crashing a Lakewood party to see the band play. "Our hair was a little longer than the other guys, and we liked the Stones more than The Beatles. Walter really had that bad boy look down."
Walter's mother said the band rehearsed at the family home or in the back yard. "I'd make them cookies," she said. "They'd say, 'When are we going to eat, Mom?' They always called me Mom." Sometimes, as a special treat, she'd make home-made pierogies. "Vinnie (Roslin) really liked those,"
Helen said. "We all got along real well," Roslin said of his former band-mates. "In those days, the bands were like family. We all stuck together."
Occasionally, a young guitar player from Freehold, Bruce Springsteen, would stop by the Cichons' house to jam with the band. Raymond had helped teach him how to play guitar. "He always would grab one or two cookies on the way out," Helen said. In those practice sessions, Walter developed his own singing style. While Raymond imitated other vocalists, Walter had a unique way of singing, Helen said. "Walter was always ahead of his time," she said. "The way he dressed, the way he spoke, and with his singing."

'A brilliant kind of guy'
Seldin described Cichon on stage as a combination of Eric Burdon and Mick Jagger. "He was very muscular. He looked like he could rumble," Seldin said. "But he also had a high I.Q. He was really a brilliant kind of guy."

When Walter graduated from Freehold High School in June 1963, a teacher told his mother that he had the ability to do anything he wanted. "You could ask Walter anything about anybody or anything, and he would know it," Helen said. "He used to read a book a week." Despite his brains, Walter chose not to go to college. "He said, 'You need the money, Mom; I'm not going to go to college,' " Helen said. Instead, Cichon had begun work as a printer's apprentice shortly before he was drafted, hoping to eventually learn the printing trade.
Walter was drafted on the same day as another member of The Motifs, rhythm guitarist Murray Bauer, who survived the war. Walter's younger brother, Michael, was also drafted at the same time, but he was sent to Korea instead of Vietnam.

After Walter and Murray were drafted, The Motifs were not the same. "He (Walter) was the band, he was the front man," Seldin said. "As a group, they were very, very good. With him up front, they were extra special."
Seldin still wonders what might have happened if Walter had not gone to Vietnam. "That band was the most unique band the Shore ever had," he said. "Were he to (have) come back, there is no telling what might have happened."
Roslin eventually left the band to join Springsteen in Child, which became Steel Mill, the Boss' most famous pre-E Street outfit. Roslin drifted back to The Motifs a couple of times, as personnel changed and styles shifted.
The group even went through a disco phase in the late '70s, before finally disbanding for good. Raymond Cichon stayed with the group for a while after his brother went to war. Walter's older brother became a salesman for a Freehold food service, but in 1980 he died at his mother's house, several days after telling her and other friends that he had been beaten up. No charges were ever brought in the case.
In her tidy Lakewood home, Helen Cichon has photographs of Raymond, Michael, Ann and her grandchildren on her fireplace mantel. But there is no photo of Walter. "They took the photo of him in uniform for the Vietnam Memorial in Holmdel," she said.
Helen, 75, volunteers at Disabled American Veterans Post 200, in Brick, and has visited the Vietnam memorials in both Washington, D.C., and Holmdel. "I do what I can for the ones who came back," she said. She said she feels no bitterness about Walter's death, but still wonders why he had to go to war. "It was rough for those kids," Helen said. "Such a useless war. . . . It's a shame."
Source: Asbury Park Press

Published: May 30, 1999
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