During the 22 months of continuous combat in Vietnam, 227 “Golden Brigade” Troopers gave their fullest measure. 225 were killed in action and 2 are still listed as missing in action and presumed dead. These men are still missed. The pain of their loss has never quelled. Our tears well up – but seldom flow. It is an anguish that few can ever know or understand – except for those who were there. It is the loss of a brotherhood that often ran deeper than our own blood. We wish to honor each of these heroes, for they are beloved to us.
When it was announced that the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division was coming home in December 1969, NCOs who had deployed with the Brigade, and had already returned to Ft. Bragg, determined that a monument should be constructed in time for the homecoming ceremonies, to honor our Forever Young troopers.
The original NCOs who had deployed with the Bde were now back at Ft Bragg. Names like CSM Gerald Mitchell, CSM Kearnes, and 1st Sgt Charlie ‘Pete’ Peters come to mind.
They rushed to have the monument made and somehow an M-16, helmet, and jump boots disappeared from arms and supply rooms. You know how things were back then. Well, there was not enough money to pay for the monument and have it engraved as well. The stone company set up the monument and did the initial major engraving and then taught the Division Engineers how to complete the names. At that time, 188 names of Golden Brigade troopers were listed.
A number of years ago the Golden Brigade Chapter raised money to have the helmet, jump boots and M-16 re-bronzed since they had what was called “bronze disease” and have the monument cleaned and a new base to place it on since it had been damaged. A new cover was also installed to protect it. The museum staff has been taking good care of it and had all the engraving repainted which is a time consuming process and requires special expertise.
For years, the Golden Brigade monument stood where the current Division monument is now located. For all this time, it was the site of the Division memorial services. In the mid 1990s, the Commanding General decided that there should be a monument to all Division fallen troopers. The GBC monument was moved to its current site, and the bottom was damaged in the process. The Golden Brigade Chapter decided to raise funds to purchase a base in which the monument could sit as well as re-bronzing of the rifle, boots, and helmet. The protective cover was also replaced with a much better one. Additional engraving, to include the addition of a Combat Medic Badge, was added to the front. Joe Atkinson was instrumental in guiding the restoration work.
We knew at that time that the names were not complete, but we did not have a good list. The decision was made to delay completion of the project until we could do the proper research and make them as accurate as possible. After years of meticulous research, we have determined that 227 Golden Brigade troopers gave their fullest measure in Vietnam – 39 more than are listed on the monument.
Your Chapter needs your help to honor the 39 troopers that have never had their names memorialized on our monument – please do not forget them. This going to be an expensive endeavor and your financial support in finishing this everlasting honor needed – now more than at any other time. Our absent friends deserve no less!
You may also send your check to:
Golden Brigade Memorial Fund
Richard F. O’Hare, Treasurer
Golden Brigade Chapter, 82nd Airborne Division Assn., Inc.
4075 Old River Trail
Powhatan, VA 23139-4112