Joseph Guy LaPointe, Jr.
Conscientious Objector and Combat Medic
was killed in action 2 June 1969
in the Republic of Viet Nam

May 1968
Fort Sam Houston, Texas

You held hands with Kansas City
for too long,
and the Cumberland in Summer
breathed though your lungs
to make Ohio your skin -
so much that
when the government papers came,
confining you to Texas and the Army
your eyes wanted Dayton so much
that they couldn't cry.
Still, you sang.
You said Canada
was foreign to you,
and Nova Scotia ran Autumn
in your veins.
You wouldn't turn
North to Freedom.

27 August 1968
Three-day Pass

Leaving San Antonio
we rode north to Dallas,
and on that road,
drinking wine, you named the birds,
the plants, the small animals
for me-- I listened
as you read the land,
and when you sang,
it was the same:
your gentle love
sang in your voice and strumming hands.
Later, when you called
all the way from Dallas
to your pregnant wife
your eyes were gone to Dayton
in Ohio, watching her grow.
You were too innocent
for honesty.

4 November 1968
Oakland Army Depot

Beyond the green warehouse
the politician's words that kill
and flag that files an unkept promise
brushed on your skin.
The touch was lost.
America was not theirs
it was not there.
We followed the taped red line
and left our baggage in the dark.

November 1968
San Francisco AWOL

In that stolen time
we stood on Ocean Beach
while you taught me
other songs to sing,
saying you wouldn't mind
the coming year--
next Fall would be here soon.
I didn't want to take you
from that place where you stood
throwing stones at the sky,
but words were raging
from the capitals of the world
and the killing time was coming.

12 November 1968
Bien Hoa, RVN

Leaning on the sandbags
that cased the wooden and
wire-screened hooch
beside the bomber's locking radar station
we read each other's orders,
They were all words and numbers then,
and we spoke only of memories.
I copied your address
and lost it.

2 June 1969
Hue, RVN

I watched the wide river
from by bunker top
while the pric 25
stoned my radio ears
telling me in static rasps
that a dying time was near--
I thought it was my own.
we would relieve
the Second
of the Seventeenth Cavalry.
It was all words
and numbers.

October 1969

In Kansas, the wheat and corn
have been harvested, shipped and sold,
the wild geese are escaped South
and soon the snows will cover
the Dakotas and Wyoming.
I want to hear you
sing this Winter coming on.
The sun burns southward.
Voices stall through the capitals
and fade in the air--
but in America
who is left to name
those small animals
moving through the snow,
or tell the histories
of each brittle weed
standing frozen in the wind?

Frank B. Smith - Medic
İOctober 5, 1969
Phong Dien, RVN

Music: Blackbird by the Beatles

I had a guitar over there and played too.
We spent many hours together
playing and exchanging songs.
His favorite song was the Beatles "Blackbird"

RandyTheDJ on 06/24/98 08:07 PM

Medal of Honor Citation


Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army
2d Sqn, 17th Cav, 101st Airborne Division.
Place and Date: Quang Tin province,
Republic of Vietnam, 2 June 1969.
Entered Service at: Cincinnati, Ohio.
Born: 2 July 1948, Dayton, Ohio.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Lapointe, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2d Squadron, distinguished himself while serving as a medical aidman during a combat helicopter assault mission. Sp4c. Lapointe's patrol was advancing from the landing zone through an adjoining valley when it suddenly encountered heavy automatic weapons fire from a large enemy force entrenched in well fortified bunker positions. In the initial hail of fire, 2 soldiers in the formation vanguard were seriously wounded. Hearing a call for aid from 1 of the wounded, Sp4c. Lapointe ran forward through heavy fire to assist his fallen comrades. To reach the wounded men, he was forced to crawl directly in view of an enemy bunker. As members of his unit attempted to provide covering fire, he administered first aid to 1 man, shielding the other with his body. He was hit by a burst of fire from the bunker while attending the wounded soldier. In spite of his painful wounds, Sp4c. Lapointe continued his lifesaving duties until he was again wounded and knocked to the ground. Making strenuous efforts, he moved back again into a shielding position to continue administering first aid. An exploding enemy grenade mortally wounded all 3 men. Sp4c. Lapointe's courageous actions at the cost of his life were an inspiration to his comrades. His gallantry and selflessness are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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