Skip to comments.LCpl Darwin Judge)The last American Soldier killed in Vietnam
Posted on 11/26/2002 5:37:31 AM PST by SAMWolf
LCpl Darwin Judge along with Cpl Charles McMahon was the last Killed In Action serviceman in the Vietnam War. LCpl Judge was born and raised in Marshalltown Iowa. He was an Eagle Scout and a fine young man of the community. He completed Marine Corps Boot Camp and Marine Security Guard School before shipping to Saigon, R. Vietnam as a Marine Security Guard to the American Embassy. He and Cpl Charles McMahon were killed together within the first two weeks of joining the detachment. LCpl Judge and Cpl McMahon were killed by a rocket attack from the Five NVA Divisions surronding the Defense Attaché Building on Tan Son Nhut airbase. On April 29-30 2000 we honored LCpl Judge with a Memorial Service with the 24th Marines and his fellow Saigon Marines.
On 29 April 2001 LCpl Judge was honored at his Park in Marshalltown, Iowa with a Flag Pole, the American and Marine Corps Flag and free lighting from the citizens of Marshalltown. Earlier in April 2000 two new trees were planted in the Judge park to honor LCpl Judge and Cpl McMahon.
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa, April 28 Young Americans were paying the ultimate price in Vietnam right up until the final days and what added to the tragedy is that some were virtually lost in the chaos and the eagerness of America to put Vietnam behind it. But one young hero is finally getting the recognition he deserves DARWIN JUDGE was already a hero. Theres a park named after him and a place of honor at his high school. He was rock stable, said one of his former schoolteachers. He was the kind of guy America was built around. An Eagle Scout, he was one of the last Marines to die in combat in Vietnam, killed in action when he was just 19 as enemy shells slammed into Than Son Nhut Airbase 25 years ago tomorrow, If hed stayed at the embassy like he was supposed to, be on the lookout, he would have been alright, said his mother Ira. In the chaos of those final days, his body wasnt found and returned home until a year later. In the bureaucratic confusion, he never got the purple heart nor burial with honors he deserved. I love my country but Im not so sure we have done what we should do to say thank you said Ken Locke, Judges boyhood pal.
For nearly 25 years Locke has wanted to pay proper tribute to Darwin Judge. He was my hero; I wanted to be like him, Locke said.
He was a hero for others, too. As Saigon fell and thousands tried to flee, Marine Doug Potratz tried frantically to evacuate his three-year-old daughter Becky, but could not until Judge intervened. He picked her up, put her on his back, piggyback style, and quick as a bunny ran, ran out to the plane and put her on the plane, Potratz said. Almost 25 years later, on a website dedicated to the fall of Saigon, Potratz , now in California, wrote about what Judge had done. Two thousand miles away in Indiana, Ken Locke read the account and contacted Potratz. Realizing they had a hero in common, the men, after countless phone calls and letters, persuaded the Marines to give Judge a service, Saturday, with full military honors. It will bring some measure of comfort to Judges parents.
Remember that small child he rescued? She went on to graduate, with honors, from the University of Southern California.
"If it wasn't for him, I'd probably still be there instead of here doing what I'm doing now and being who I am," Becky said.
And for anyone who might argue that it's too late now to offer thanks, Darwin Judge's mother has an answer: "It's not too late to thank them and show your appreciation that they was over there to do what they was supposed to do."
Twenty-five years later, Darwin Judge will get what he deserved and those he touched will get what they need.
When you see so many young people take drugs and do terrible things, it makes you a little proud to have somebody like Darwin, his father Henry said. Others are still thanking Darwin Judge 25 years later. Remember that small child he rescued? She went on to graduate, with honors, from the University of Southern California. If it wasnt for him, Id probably still be their instead of here doing what Im doing now and being who I am, Becky said. And for anyone who might argue that its too late now to offer thanks, Darwin Judges mother has an answer: Its not too late to thank them and show your appreciation that they was over there to do what they was supposed to do. Twenty-five years later, Darwin Judge will get what he deserved and those he touched will get what they need.
Colonel Hurley, The Marine Security Battalion CO was the guest speaker during LCpl Judge's Memorial/Purple Heart Ceremony. The Colonel said that there was a LCpl Judge and Cpl McMahan classroom at the MSG Battalion School. Their passports and the paper from Marshalltown are in the schools' display case.
Troop 310 - Marshalltown, Iowa
Mid-Iowa Council, Boy Scouts Of America
On April 29, 1975 Americans were evacuating Saigon. The Vietnam War was coming to a close. My boyhood friend, Lance Corporal Darwin L. Judge, and Corporal Charles McMahon, Jr. of Woburn, Massachusetts were killed during a mortar attack on Ton Sun Nhut Airbase, the last two of over 58,000 Americans who died serving their country in Southeast Asia. After a quarter of a century when Vietnam is mentioned we are still left with the question, "Why?". I am transported back to Marshalltown, Iowa every time I hear the mention of Vietnam and remember standing in the grocery store where I worked, tears streaming down my face, when the news came over the radio that my fellow Eagle Scout had fallen. I asked the question, "Why?". At the memorial service in the packed Marshalltown High School gymnasium a few days later we all asked a collective, "Why?". When I visit Darwin's grave or have gone to the wall in Washington, DC, I still ask "Why?".
I have come to the conclusion that part of the answer to this question needs to be left to the historians for they will still be asking and trying to answer it long after we join our friends and loved ones in the next life.
We must never forget, however, the sacrifice and service of the thousands of men and women who served when our nation sent them to Vietnam. Their call to duty partially answers our question because many were willing to enlist voluntarily when public opinion and demonstrations at home were against them. Never have American forces been placed in such an awkward position. Vietnam Veterans are the greatest of soldiers because they put their lives on the line when many in our nation condemned their service. Their answer to our "why" comes in the ideals of duty, honor and country. They were willing to look beyond themselves and even met God at an early age because freedom is priceless and needs to be protected around the world.
The last two men killed in Vietnam were U.S. Marines whose motto is: Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful. Every Vietnam Veteran is to be thanked for being "faithful" and willing to serve with honor. Their sacrifice is a reminder to each of us that freedom comes with a price and challenges us who are living to be faithful in maintaining and preserving our great nation by holding to those same ideals. If we do not keep our nation they will be the first to ask us, "Why?".
I miss you Darwin. You exemplify the ideals of Scouting - Duty To God & Country. We were challenged when we became Eagles to serve others. You gave your life in the cause of freedom, the ultimate act of service. By the grace of God through Jesus Christ I know I will see you one day around the campfire and tell stories and trade patches as we did as Scouts. Thank you, for serving with honor.
You left the world so soon!
The flicker of the fire we shared at Scout Camp.
Still splashes your memory on the canvas of my mind.
To serve our country with honor,
Even as others mocked.
When you traded your Scout uniform, with Eagle Badge,
For that of the Marine Corps.
When I saw you last, standing proudly in blue,
I did not know it would be the last farewell.
You returned from Saigon,
But in a coffin draped in red, white and blue,
Blurred in my vision by the tears.
I visit your grave when I come home.
People still question the war.
The drumbeat of time still bangs on.
A wall has brought some healing in Washington.
If only we could go back to those camp fires,
Sharing stories and trading patches.
I do see you sometimes in the young faces today....
Scouts "Trailing The Eagle" as we once did.
I pray we live the ideals of Scouting as you did.
That our country esteems duty, honor and service.
Shown by you and thousands who served in Vietnam.
I miss you my friend.
L/CPL Darwin L. Judge, Eagle Scout
Corporal Charles L. McMahon
The last two men killed in Vietnam who represent over 58,000 Americans who gave their lives for freedom in Vietnam.
The "Fall Of Saigon" Marines.
Those who served in Southeast Asia from 1955-1975.
The over 2,000 who are still MIA from the Vietnam War.
This weekend April 29-30 2001 we are honoring Cpl McMahon at the Boys Club in Woburn, Massachutes. The Governor of Massachutes, CO and SgtMajor of the Marine Security Guard Battalion and Saigon Marines will be in attendance.
30 April 2001
Thirteen Saigon Marines gathered in Woburn, Massachusetts and paid tribute to the memory of Corporal Charles McMahon Jr.
The Commanding Officer and Sergeant Major from MSG Battalion at Quantico did a superb job representing our Battalion. The Sergeant Major ensured that the color guard hit each mark.
The 25th Marines provided a sharp Color Guard. The event was hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Woburn. The guest of Honor was Susan McMahon, Charlie's sister. Sadly, Charles McMahon Sr., away last Tuesday.
A brief ceremony was conducted at Charlie's grave site by the Saigon Marines.
In the gymnasium of the Boys and Girls Club: Colonel Kean made the opening remarks and introduced each speaker. He did a great deal of work making this event a success.
About two hundred people attended the ceremony on Sunday including nine members of the McMahon family. Colonel Hurley, the CO of MSG Bn. presented The Purple Heart Medal, the American Flag and other items to Susan McMahon. Susan in turn presented those items to the Boys and Girls Club of Woburn. The Club's director, Rick Metters accepted the flag and medals. They will be on permanent display at the Boy's Club.
And we most remember ALL those 58,200 who died in that essentially useless, NEVER TO BE REPEATED travesty called Vietnam.
The story of some of the FIRST men to be sacrificed on the LBJ, McNamara, Rusk, Rostow alter to their egos in November of 1965 in the Ia Drang valley is graphically told in "We Were Soldiers." If you haven't seen it, please do so.
Thank you. It's good to know this young man isn't being neglected any longer.
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