On September 8, 1968, in the Dai Loc District alongside a stream that supplies water to the largest rice fields in Quang Nam Province, a couple of Vietnamese children discovered the body of an American Marine. A short distance away, another body was discovered.
Two days earlier, while attempting to cross the flooded waters with a group from the 1st Marine Division, the boys were caught in a fast-moving current. The oldest boy, an 18-year old native Tennessean from Memphis, developed a cramp. A few seconds later the rushing waters overwhelmed him and he went under.
Mere feet away, the younger boy from New Orleans who had lied about his birthday so he would be eligible to serve, attempted a rescue. But the water currents proved too strong; his equipment too heavy, and he went under. He was 17.
They never resurfaced alive.
Both boys were riflemen serving with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. They’d left behind their families and friends to serve their country just like more than 9 million other men and women who served during the long, deadly course of the Vietnam War. Just months earlier, on May 26, 1968, they had arrived in Vietnam and begun their tours of duty. They left behind no children and no spouses. The body of the older boy, Jeff, was escorted by a Marine officer home to Memphis where he is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery just south of downtown.
The younger boy, Patrick, is buried in the Chapel Mausoleum in Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery, Ouachita Parish. His father, who had left the family some years earlier and remarried, died in 1978 after what reads like a terribly tragic life. His mother, Bessie, died in 1992. His baby sister, Mary, who was doubtlessly traumatized by Patrick’s death, seemed to find hope in the midst of her loss and was baptized a believer at the Oak Park Baptist Church in New Orleans. She later transferred her membership to the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ark. The year was 1971.
Today we visited the Vietnam War Memorial to pay our respects to Lance Corporal Patrick Eugene Sinclair, who received the Navy Marine Corp Medal “for heroism and prompt actions in rescuing a comrade.” We found his name etched into the long, black granite wall on Panel 45W, Line 57. A few lines away is the name of Jeffrey Woodrow Norvell.
Semper Fi. Rest in peace.
4 thoughts on “Semper Fi”
Thanks for posting that. What is their connection to you?
We’ve only recently learned of the Sinclair family while reading correspondence in the Wayne Ward papers held in Boyce Library on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Mary, who was doubtlessly traumatized by Patrick’s death, seemed to find hope in the midst of her loss and was baptized a believer at the Oak Park Baptist Church in New Orleans. She later transferred her membership to the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ark. The year was 1971.”
Mary. 1971. FBC Fayetteville.
Somebody’s not sleeping well in Fort Worth.
Truth will come to light.