Honor Rolls Memorial
Heeding the call of Canada's recruiting efforts was Edwin Scarritt Parsons, Bowdoin College Class of '28. After college graduation he had been employed in the oil business in Venezuela, owned an auto dealership here in Cairo and may have been in the advertising business for a while. Enlisting in his mid 30's, Parsons was promoted to Flying Officer upon completion of flight training and killed in a flying accident on May 29, 1942.
ViietNam claimed several sons of Cairo and Alexander County.
Sp5 Wesley McDonial, US Army. Was a door gunner serving with "God's own lunatics," the 1st Aviation Brigade, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 119th Assault Helicopter Company. While flying on a medivac escort mission on 20 October 1965, the Huey UH-1B s/n 64-00135 was hit by enemy fire near Plei Me, VietNam. All four soldiers aboard the aircraft were determined to have died on impact, as the helicopter exploded and burned. McDonial had been "in-county" just over 13 months. He was the first of the fallen listed upon this memorial. He was a Regular Army aviator, not a draftee. I was unable to find any archived news reports about his death or burial upon return to the USA.
Sgt Walter Guerin, USMC. He was a 23 year old rifleman fighting with A Co, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine, 3rd Marine Division. He had been in the Corp three years and on an extended tour in VietNam when he stepped on a land mine 7 February 1966. He was the kind of guy that high school friends cherished; always smiling and ready to be a friend. He was the kind of friend you name your kids after, the friend that you never forget.
Capt William R Hill, US Army. I have been unable to discern his connection to Cairo or Alexander County, Illinois. Hill's home of record was Kenosha, Wisconsin. Maybe he married into an Alexander county family? At the time of his death he was serving with Troop B, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division and was the pilot of Hu-1B s/n 63-08736. The aircraft took many ground fire hits to the engine and interior compartments during Operation Enterprise at Doi Ma Creek, VietNam on 16 Apr 1967. The crash killed five soldiers, the largest number of casualties of the day. And the casualty report indicates all were likely dead before the aircraft hit the ground. In fact, at least two of the men were not recovered from the aircraft in the field, but were still trapped in the wreckage when the helicopter ws airlifted to a rear area for salvage. Hill was a career soldier and this was his second tour in VietNam. The first tour was completed in 1964 as a special forces infantryman. One of the highlights of his first tour in-country was being assigned as a bodyguard for Miss Martha Raye when her USO troop came to the area.
SSgt Marshall D Johnson, US Army. Johnson, just 20 years old, was a squad leader with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th ID. He was killed in action at Hill 990, Vic Ben Het, Kontum Province, VietNam. 30 May 1968. Marshall had been "in-country" almost exactly eight months on the day he died and had earned his Combat Infantry Badge. Johnson had graduated with the Cairo High School class of '65.
Sgt Bennie L Cross Jr, US Army, was serving with Recon Platoon, Co. D of the 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. The 1961 graduate of Cairo High School was killed in action 7 Mar 1967 at Tay Ninh, VietNam. He was a light infantryman with just about 90 days from rotating home.
PFC Richard W Jones, US Army. He had only been in country 90 days when he was killed in action at Binh Long, VietNam. Only 40 days past his 19th birthday, Richard died 17 October 1967 while serving with the historic "Big Red One," the 1st Divsion.
Pvt John F Terry Jr, USMC. He was killed in action while serving with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines of the 1st Marine Division. He had been with the Corps just a year and had arrived in VietNam just 31 days before died on 22 October 1967. He had enlisted at age 17. Fifty-nine other young American men were killed on that day in VietNam.
SFC John L Ponting, US Army. Ponting was a highly decorated career soldier. In a few short years of military service he had earned senior jump wings, combat infantry badge, bronze star with V for valor, two purple hearts and several badges for marksmanship and professional achievements. On November 21, 1967 SFC Ponting was at Dak To, in the area of Hill 875. He was the platoon sergeant of 3rd Plt, B Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Platoon sergeants are usually the senior enlisted men on the field in most engagements. Two weeks into the engagement known as "The Battle of Dak To" 83 men of Bravo Company had been killed. The Company was determined to be "combat ineffective" by start of November 19, and yet it stayed in the engagement. SFC Ponting was killed 22 November. He was 31 years old.