I grew up with this soldier. As kids, we played cowboys and Indians, had snowball fights, and generally drove all our neighbors and moms and dads crazy with our antics. I remember the summer nights spent looking through a telescope in my buddy's backyard when we were kids. When we became men, our country called us to support a war by enlisting in all the services. We kids now went to war in a foreign land, for a country that was, and is, considered a grateful nation. I enlisted in the USAF, and Joe, after a year of college, the USMC. The only regret I have is that we never got a chance to get together again.
When it was all over, and everyone was back home, our addresses changed. I now live in Pennsylvania, and he lives on Panel 37E, Row 50. I wrote this tribute to him on The Wall web page:
"I"ll never forget you, Buddy. I remember when we wondered how far away the stars were. Now, they are your front yard. You no longer need that telescope to see them. It's the angels' gain and our loss, a big loss. I was in-country before you, but only gave up a little time. You gave the ultimate. We are eternally grateful. The memories of growing up will always be there, and one day, maybe we can meet in your front yard. So long, Buddy. Bob H."
He was 21 when he was taken from us mortals. He died with four other men, four other buddies, in Quang Nam, that morning, February 6, 1968, TET Offensive. I am sure they are all keeping those stars shining brightly. Please, let us never forget the 58,000+ men and women living at the same address as my Buddy, LCpl. Edward Joseph Brewer, KIA.
Robert F. Howland Jr.