April 2024
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Memorial Day 2013: Memories Of Those We Lost

by H. Clark (St. Paul School, Saigon)

On Memorial Day, I read in the local newspaper an article that reminds the community of the loss felt by those whose loved ones have died in war.
Memorial Day 2013
This article was about a Paul Phillip Sonstein, Specialist Four, U.S. Army, born March 26, 1946; killed in Viet Nam Feb 21, 1968.

Included is a picture of Paul and two Vietnamese kids.

Paul’s sister wrote … “There were other pictures of the village and the children, but this is the one that speaks to me. I especially love the tenderness of both the children’s and Paul’s hands – a secure moment for all during that hideous war. I always wonder what became of these children who by now, if they survived, would be 50ish. I think of them often and hope they are doing well. In my heart, they’ve become the children Paul never had …”

“What is Memorial Day to you?“

It breaks my heart every time I read such remembrances – both the pain of those who return and the pain of those who don’t. It conveys the lifetime of pain that war brings.

6 comments to Memorial Day 2013: Memories Of Those We Lost

  • Frank

    This really gave me shivers and brought tears to my eyes.He died during the Tet Offensive. All of us near Hue remember it. Actually anyone in Vietnam that February remember it! Funny! But years ago I did not try to analyze why many young folks died. Why do I do it now? I am trying very hard to justify the war. If anyone can give an answer, I am very open to answers.
    P.S. Houng, let us know how your garden grows. We are struggling in S.E. Arizona to get one going. Tomorrow we start in an above ground one. All of the past years have been pretty much a failure.
    Of course for the physiologist out there are saying, “why did Frank change the subject through this write up?”
    Answer…Two things were on my mind! lol

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    I was blessed to have my husband return from Viet Nam in full health, sound mind, and ready to begin his life after serving. He brought home both a Silver and Bronze Star, saw his share of combat, casualties of his men and yet moved on to start a family and a career. Not all were that fortunate and, on Memorial Day, we remember those families who, everyday, still grieve for those men who did not return to them, and for those who did come home but suffered in body or mind.
    This year we buried my father-in-law on Memorial weekend, with full military honors, in a tiny cemetery in Honea Path, S.C. He was 90 years old and died in his sleep last week here in Houston. He had served as a corpsman for 20 years in the U.S. Navy, during WWII, and the other ensuing conflicts which Uncle Sam deemed were necessary for our liberty and those of others.
    Charles “Hump” Campbell was a very special Southern gentleman of the Greatest Generation…beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and great-grandfather. TAPS was never played more beautifully than last Saturday, under a crystal-clear-blue sky with a gentle Carolina breeze blowing.
    Life’s work done, home at last.

  • frank

    Suellen, I salute your Father-In-Law. No matter how old someone is that you love dies, it is so hard! Corpsman! Navy Corpsman are saints in the Marine Corps. “Doc” was always needed, and they all responded to their name. Amen!

    • Suellen Oliver Campbell

      Thank you, Frank. Two of “Hump’s” favorite Navy memories were of landing and taking off a carrier. He had a great career and in his papers we have found many letters of commendation for his service. He was a dedicated sailor.

  • H. Clark

    Suellen, I am sorry to hear about your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. My father-in-law was a U.S. Navy Captain, served three wars: WWII, Korean War, and the VN war. He passed away 23 years ago and was buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery.

    I share your same thoughts: Life’s work done, home at last.

    Take Care,


    • Suellen Oliver Campbell

      Thank you, Houng, for your condolences.
      Seems we have more in common than either of us knew. My father was a U.S. Navy Commander, served for 32 years, Annapolis Class of ’42, WWII-1967, and was the U.S. Naval Attache for VietNam (Loas and Cambodia) from 1958-60. Dad was buried in the Houston National Cemetery, along with my mom and both of his brothers-in-law, 18 months ago.
      He, too, was a great man, who loved his country deeply.

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