Until he sailed for Vietnam in 1967 aboard the USS Mathews, AKA-96, Richard Hartley of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a 21 year-old auto worker making Jeeps at Ford’s giant Rouge industrial complex in Dearborn, Mich.
Bill McDermott of Lake Suzy, east of Port Charlotte on the way to Arcadia, Fla. wound up as a 1st lieutenant in the 11th Armored Cavalry Division based in Three Corps in the northern jungle of Vietnam. He was a graduate of DePaul University and a member of the school’s ROTC program.
Jim King and his buddy, Charley Carr, joined the Army right out of high school. The two 18-year-old California boys got an education about life long before they reached Vietnam and faced the enemy.
Jim Broom of Edgewater Manor, Port Charlotte, Fla. was no war hero. He was just a Specialist-5th class who drove a five-ton dump truck and got shot at by the enemy in Vietnam in 1967-68 while serving with the 815th Engineer Battalion for 11 months and 15 days.
Joe Taylor was a black Marine who served three tours of duty in Vietnam. The death and devastation this grunt witnessed while serving in the Corps over there was almost too much for him to bear.