24 April 2007

In Memory of Richard Janigian

My first tribute is to my fallen friend, Richard Janigian. Richard and I became friends when I was chosen to be radioman for 1st platoon 2/4. This was around the middle of Feb. 1967 and for the next three months we became close friends, as Richard was radioman for the company commander. Since his call sign was Golf and mine was Golf 1, we were in constant contact during combat operations. When not out on combat operations, we shared radio duty at the company command post. Nothing bonds a friendship as much as shared hardships from sharing your last c-rations, cigarettes, or your last drink of water to the hardships of living in the field and all the close calls we had.
I am going to save the story of how Richard died for a book that is being written about 2/4 and the battle of 09/21/1967. For now, as part of my tribute to Richard Janigian, who died a courageous hero's death, I am going to share the story from Richard's site on the virtual wall in honor of him and his family.
Semper Fi
Bill Sellers
Golf 2/4, 67-68

Half a Dollar in His Pocket Since Vietnam
By: Jerry Boone

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Buck Janigian's fingers traced the names cast onto the brass plates mounted on the memorial. There are too many of them. One for every soldier, sailor, Marine and flyer who called Oregon home and died or is missing in Vietnam.

Unlike most memorials that go up after the fighting has stopped and the physical wounds have healed, this one was built while men and women were still dying in Asia. When it was dedicated, no one knew how many names would end up being cast in bronze.

Every one of them matters. But to Buck and his wife, Lee, none as much as Marine Cpl. Richard A. Janigian.

It was the death of their son, a radio operator for a Marine reconnaissance patrol, that spurred the couple to honor Oregon's war losses with what is thought to be America's first memorial to the casualties of Vietnam.

The memorial, at the Beaverton Elks Lodge, 3500 S.W. 104th Ave., was dedicated by Gov. Tom McCall in June 1968.

On Monday, it will be one of the sites where the community will gather to honor the nation's war dead. The Beaverton Memorial Day observance begins at 11 a.m. at the Veteran's Memorial Park at Watson Avenue and Seventh Street. About noon it will move -- with a police escort -- to the Beaverton Elk's Lodge for a ceremony at the Janigian Memorial, followed by a program to burn used American Flags.

Memorial Day activities begin Saturday when the Beaverton American Legion Post holds a prayer breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the Hometown Buffet, 13500 S.W. Pacific Highway in Tigard, to honor veterans who served in World War II. Saturday will see the formal dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Monday's program is the first time in recent years that all of Beaverton's veterans groups are working together on a single ceremony.

Times have changed since 1968, when Buck and other members of the Elks Lodge lived in a camper in the parking lot to protect the memorial from antiwar activists.

"Things were much more conservative then," remembers Lee Janigian.

She and her husband went to Hawaii when Richard was able to get leave from Vietnam.

"We had to 'sponsor' him, because the military was afraid troops would go to Hawaii and not come back," she says. "I guess we were responsible to see he went back for the rest of his tour. That wasn't a problem with our son. He was an enthusiastic young man who enjoyed the service a lot.

"But, Buck was a pretty gung-ho guy, too," she says. "And I guess I was."

Her husband looks back toward the bar at the Elks Lodge and grins.

A stroke has robbed Buck of much of his speech, so friends fill in the blanks of one of his favorite stories.

Shortly before his son was due to leave for Vietnam, Richard and Buck came to the Elks for a beer and to spend some one-on-one time.

As the night wore on, they talked about going overseas and the potential dangers. They made a promise to come back to the Lodge when Richard finished his tour and have another beer.

Just two Marines, two bar stools, two beers.

Then Richard tore a dollar bill in half. He gave one half of it to his dad and kept the other part for him. It was going to be their beer money.

But Richard died near Quang Tri on Sept. 21, 1967, when he was 10 days shy of completing his tour of duty. He was due to arrive home the day he would have turned 21.

Buck reaches into his wallet and pulls out the plastic-encased, faded, dog-eared half of a dollar bill. He fingers the memento before passing it around for others to see.

Buck's carried it in his wallet for more than 35 years. He's a father. But more than that, he's a Marine.

Semper Fidelis.
Reproduced under 17 USC §107

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to have a copy of your book. I want to understand how my uncle died that day and the official after-action reports are not reliable. Thank you.

Gregory Brewer