Those gone but not forgotten
This page is dedicated to the memory of our deceased MRFA members
Our prayers and best wishes go out to those left behind. The Brothers and Sisters of the Mobile Riverine Force Association wish the departed fair winds and following seas and our thoughts will always be with you….
TAPS Tribute to a Fallen One
What moves through you is a silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch, you may not understand why he left this earth so soon, or why he left before you were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, you begin to remember not just that he died, but that he lived. And that his life gave you memories too beautiful to forget.
Remembering Vietnam Veterans
Over 2.6 million served
Over 58,000 gave their lives
They fought for freedom
They fought with honor
In the end they fought for one another
John LaRoy Miller
Member John LaRoy Miller passed away on January 11, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadron 11 – River Assault Division 111 onboard A-111-5 from June 1967 to June 1968. You may contact the family c/o Suzanne Miller, 675 Overcup St., Westfield, IN 46074 firstname.lastname@example.org
Member William “Bill” McMullen passed away on February 12, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with Charlie Company, 6th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 9th Infantry Division from April 1968 to April 1969. Bill was living in Wellington, Florida at the time of is passing.
Robert Earl Lightwine
Member Robert Earl Lightwine passed away on February 11, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadron 11 – River Assault Division 112 onboard T-112-11 from February 1967 to February 1968. Robert is survived by his wife of 49 years, Esther.
Donald R. Dedon
Member Donald Ray Dedon passed away on February 7, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadron 9 – River Assault Division 92 onboard A-92-8 from November 1968 to August 1969. Donald is survived by his wife of 51 year, Donna.
Timothy R. Woolums
Member Timothy R. Woolums (ENCS USN Ret.) passed away on March 12, 2019. While in Vietnam he served aboard the USS White River (LSMR-536) from November 1965 to October 1969. His rate aboard was EN1. You may contact the Family C/O: Daughter Michelle Eck email@example.com
Robert A. French
Member Robert A. French passed away unexpectedly on March 26, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with Charlie Company, 2nd Platoon, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division from May 1966 to May 1968 as Lt. Jack Benedick’s RTO. Bob is survived by his wife Kaye French.
Terry G. Stull
Member Colonel Terry G. Stull (U.S. Army Ret.) passed away on April 6, 2019 at the age of 74 following a battle with congestive heart failure. As a proud 1966 West Point graduate, Colonel Stull bravely served 2 tours in Vietnam. One with Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division from November 1966 to December 1967. He is survived by his wife Arletta of Senatobia, Mississippi.
Daniel Edward Hall
Daniel E. Hall passed away on April 6, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with Charlie Company, 9th Infantry Division in 1968-69. This is all the information we have on his unit at this time. – “I’m very proud of my dad. He will be greatly missed, Lisa Hall.“
Paul F. Kershner
Member BM1 Paul Kershner (USN Ret.) passed away on April 27, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadrons 11 and 15, Divisions 112 and 152. Paul was Boat Captain of Tango 112-12 and Tango 152-10 ( T-50 ) from February 1969 to February 1970. You may contact the Family C/O: His son Paul Jr. – (484) – 512-0316
Reverend Lester Leon Westling Jr.
Member Reverend Lester Leon Westling Jr. (Chaplain Captain USN Ret.) passed away on May 2, 2019. After volunteering for the chaplaincy in Vietnam Reverend Westling first served 14 months with the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment at Camp Carroll in I Corps near the DMZ. His second tour of duty was with the Naval Support Activity, Saigon. While there he served as a “Circuit Riding Chaplain” ministering to Army and Navy military personnel throughout the IV Corps combat zone. He was posted at Sa Dec, but from there he made visits to various Army and Navy units throughout the Mekong Delta region. When his tour was about to end he was ministering to 65 different units. His second tour ended in May 1970. Reverend Westling was also part of the effort to re-integrate POWs back into their families. He authored the “Manual of Ministry to POW Returnees and their Families” in 1974.
Member Arthur “Artie” Kitchen passed away on March 15, 2019 after a battle with esophageal cancer. While in Vietnam he served with the Mobile Riverine Force (Task Force 117) as a Third Class Engineman (EN3) onboard the USS Satyr (ARL-23) repair ship from May 1970 to March 1971. Artie is survived by his wife of 48 years, Joan, and three sons.
Dennis Edward Sawlsville
Member Dennis Edward Sawlsville passed away on April 21, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadron 11 – River Assault Division 112 onboard A-112-5 from February 1968 to February 1969. Dennis is survived by his wife Linda and son Christopher.
Elbert William Martin
Member Elbert William Martin passed away on April 27, 2019 following a lengthy illness. While in Vietnam he served with Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division from September 1967 to March 1968 when he was severely wounded and send stateside. Elbert is survived by his wife Helen.
Member Richard Mellinger passed away on May 26, 2019 due to kidney and heart failure. During the Korean War he served onboard the USS Benewah (APB-35) from February 1952 to February 1953. He is survived by his wife Barbara.
Member HTC Charles “Bud” Bessey (USN Ret.) passed away on May 5, 2019. While in Vietnam he served abroad the USS Askari (ARL-30) from October 1967 to November 1968. Chief Bessey served 21 years in the Navy and is survived by his wife Brenda.
Michael Douglas Hanmer
Member Michael Douglas Hanmer passed away on July 26, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadron 15 – River Assault Division 152 onboard T-49. Then later with River Assault Division 153. Michael continued his service in the Michigan Army National Guard and retired in 1998 as a Sergeant 1st Class with 25 years of honorable service. He is survived by his wife Susan and son Michael.
Sheldon H. Marcus
Member Sheldon H. “Shelly” Marcus passed away on April 23, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with Alpha Company, 709th Maintenance Battalion from March 1967 to March 1969. Sheldon is survived by his wife Susan.
James H. Burpo
Member Captain James H. Burpo (USN Ret.) passed away on August 5, 2019. He served in Vietnam with several units earning 11 campaign stars. While with the Mobile Riverine Force LCDR Burpo served as Commanding Officer of the USS Washtenaw County (LST-1166) from April 1968 to July 1969. He was living in Lawton, OK at the time of his passing and is survived by his wife Sue.
Edward Otto Kohler Jr.
Member Edward Otto “Rusty” Kohler Jr. passed away on August 17, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with the 9th Military Police Company, 9th Infantry Division from December 1967 to January 1969. He is survived by his wife Kay. – “Rusty was a Gentle Giant and good friend through the years. I will miss you Hoss.” – Harold Smith – 9th MPs
James David Kaufman
Member James David “Jim” Kaufman passed away suddenly on September 12, 2019. While in Vietnam he served with River Assault Squadron 13, River Assault Division 132 on board A-132-1 from September 1968 to September 1969. Jim is survived by his wife Pat.
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.
And ‘tho sometimes, to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened,
For they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer
For old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer,
For a soldier died today.
He will not be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary
And quite uneventful life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing,
Though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories,
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
A guy who breaks his promises
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who,
In times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country
And offers up his life?
The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are sometimes disproportionate
To the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps, a pension small.
It’s so easy to forget them
For it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country
Went to battle, but we know,
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our Country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician
With his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier,
Who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country
And would fight until the end?
He was just a common soldier
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In a paper that would say:
Our Country is in, mourning,
For a soldier died today.