BUTLER COUNTY’S NINE SERVICE MEN ON THE VIETNAM WALL
BY MOLLIE S. WATERS
The Greenville Standard
This past weekend, the City of Andalusia played host to the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. This wall is a 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Nine Butler County men lost their lives during the Vietnam War, and their names are included on the wall.
According to The Wall of Faces page on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website, United States Army SP4 James Thomas Likely was the first service man from Butler County to be killed in the Vietnam War.
Likely was born on Feb. 4, 1947, and he died in the Quang Tin province on Oct. 2, 1967. He was buried in South Side Cemetery in Georgiana.
The next Butler County service man to die in Vietnam was William Morris Cooper, who was a sergeant in the United States Army. Cooper was born on Oct. 5, 1942. He died on Sept. 7, 1968 in the Quang Ngai province and is buried in Sunrise Memorial Park in Greenville.
United States Marine Corps Private First Class Johnny L. Johnson was born on Aug. 17, 1945, and he died in the Quang Nam province on Oct. 19, 1968. According to a remembrance by Robert Sage on The Wall of Faces website, Johnson is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Greenville.
Born on Mar. 3, 1928, United States Army Staff Sergeant Luther O’Neil McCormick died on Oct. 28, 1968, in the Binh Dinh province. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Greenville.
Also killed in the Binh Dinh province was United States Army Corporal Clarence Taylor, who was born on Feb. 6, 1944 and died on May 28, 1969. According to a remembrance by Robert Sage on The Wall of Faces website, Taylor is buried in the Sweet Home Cemetery in Greenville.
The next Butler County service man to die in the Vietnam War was George Hutchison Beasley, who was a staff sergeant in the United States Marines Corps. Beasley was born on Apr. 21, 1943, and he died in the Quang Nam province on July 8, 1969. He is buried in Sunrise Memorial Park in Greenville.
United States Marine Private First Class Michael Toxey Rutherford was born Sept. 24, 1949, and died in the Quang Nam province on Nov. 5, 1969. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Greenville.
Born July 14, 1928, United States Colonel Philip Doyle Sellers died on July 29, 1972. Sellers is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Greenville. According to his FindaGrave.com page, Sellers died from an illness in the Philippines.
The final Butler County native to die in the Vietnam War was William Sherrill Stinson, who was a sergeant first class in the United States Army. Stinson was born on June 17, 1947, and he was killed in action in the Quang Tri province on Jan. 8, 1973. Stinson was a gunner on a downed helicopter. The entire crew perished.
His remains, as well as the other crew members’ remains, were recovered on August 27, 1996, and they were identified on October 4, 1999.
Four of the men who perished in the wreck were interred together at Arlington Cemetery the year after their identification. Those four men include Elbert W. Bush, William L. Deane, Mickey A. Wilson, and William Sherrill Stinson, the only Butler County native to be buried in Arlington Cemetery who died in action in the Vietnam War.
“The Greenville Standard” honors the nine Butler County service men who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
A display at the Traveling Wall stated in part, “There are 58,307 names now listed on the polished black wall, including those added in 2010.
“The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and with each date the names, are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.
“The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956.
“His name is listed on the wall with his son, Marine Corps Lance CPL. Richard b Fitzgibbon III, who killed on September 7, 1965.
“There are 3 sets of fathers and sons on the wall. 39,996 on the wall were just 22 or younger.
“8,283 were just 19 years old. The largest age group-33,103-were 18 years old.
“12 soldiers on the wall were 17 years old. 5 soldiers on the wall were 16 years old. One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock, was 15 years old.
“997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam. 1, 448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.”
“31 sets of brothers are on the wall. 31 sets of parents lost 2 of the sons. 8 women are on the wall, nursing the wounded.
“244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. 153 of them are on the wall.
“The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 – 245 deaths during the Tet Offensive.
“The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415.
“For most Americans who read this, they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of that survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters.
“There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.”