I Wuz Just Thinking: They Gave Their All

On Memorial Day, I pause to remember two of my classmates who gave their lives during the fighting in Vietnam.

Memorial Day has been on my mind. Monday, at the Kilgore Memorial Day ceremony, two of my 1963 classmates will be remembered with plaques placed along a walkway in the Veterans Park in memory of those who gave their lives during the Viet Nam War.

The Kilgore High school class of 1963 has remained very close through the years.  To most of us, our classmates have been like brothers and sisters to one another.

T. Anderson, a classmate, has the honor of the presentation in memory of our “brothers,”  SPC-4 Raymond Roger Poston, Kilgore’s first casualty of the Vietnam War. Roger died in fighting near Bong Son where he saw action with the 101st Airborne Cavalry, Second Brigade. (South Vietnam, Binh Dinh province).

He was awarded the Bronze Star with a V device for attempting to carry a fellow soldier to safety while under fire.  Roger died on February 15, 1966.  He was awarded the Purple Heart. He was buried with full military honors in the Kilgore City Cemetery.

Another one of our “brothers” is KHS 1963 classmate, Army 2nd Lt. Danny Gilstrap, who died at age 23. He was the fifth resident of the Kilgore area to die in the conflict.

Lt. Gilstrap was killed on February 22, 1968, while serving as a forward observer for the 8th Artillry, 25th Infantry Division, at Cu Chi. (South Vietnam, Binh Duong province). Danny died in the midst of hostile action, small arms fire. He, too, was awarded the Purple Heart.

Danny’s military occupation or specialty was Field Artillery Unit Commander. He was attached to the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery, Headquarters Battery.

Danny is buried in the Kilgore City cemetery. Plot K Block 3.

After high school, he attended Austin College at Sherman for three years and entered the Army in April 1966.

Other Vietnam casualties from the Kilgore area are Sgt. Earl N. Hammond, Marine PFC Harry J. Lockhart, and Sgt.Tommy Modisette.  (There may have been others from our area who gave their lives, but this information is taken from a newspaper clipping of 1968.)

The Memorial Day ceremony and memories of our “brothers” are in the forefront of my mind...as I was just thinking.

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