July 8, 1959, the day before I was born, marks the day the first two Americans were killed in the Vietnam War. They were Major Dale R. Ruis and Master Sgt. Chester M. Ovnand. They were a part of an elite Military Assistant Advisory Group.
I was 10 years old and in fifth grade when Pfc. Dan Bullock arrived in Vietnam on May 8, 1969. I was looking forward to summer, maybe making some extra money by babysitting, but mostly swimming at the city pool, collecting rocks and playing with my Wishniks.
One month later on June 7, 1969, Bullock died at the age of 15 in an intense battle in An Hoa, a Quang Nam Province. He was the youngest American killed in the Vietnam War.
You can watch a short 30-minute biography on Bullock on Historynet.com. He was only 14 when he persevered through bootcamp.
On May 20, 2009, when our family was celebrating the high school graduation of our first-born daughter and preparing to attend the Indy 500, Air Force 1st Lt. Roslyn L. Schulte died near Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. She was 25.
I did not personally know any of these service men and women, or their families, but this weekend I will think of them and their families — and honor them.
“Military Times, Honor the Fallen,” included this about Schulte’s St. Louis funeral eight years ago: “Memorial Day will never be the same,” Rabbi Mark Shook told the hundreds who filled Congregation Temple Israel. “No one in this place will ever take Memorial Day for granted again.”
I am changed and thankful for all these examples of leadership and service. May Memorial Day be just that.