Country Joe's Place

From the San Francisco Chronicle, October 14, 1997


Tears Shed Again For Vietnam Vets
War dead remembered at S.F. ceremony

Aurelio Rojas, Chronicle Staff Writer


Thirty years ago, when the Vietnam War was tearing America apart, Linda Giese Patterson could not convince the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to adopt her brother's paratrooper unit as a show of moral support.

``They'd already adopted the Coral Sea,'' she recalled without bitterness yesterday during a ceremony in Justin Herman Plaza, where her brother's name was one of 163 San Franciscans on the Traveling Wall, a portable replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Time provides balm for even the deepest wounds: Up on the rostrum was Barbara Kaufman, president of the Board of Supervisors, sitting in for Mayor Willie Brown who was in Los Angeles.

Instead of singing his anti-war lyric ``One, two, three . . . what are we fighting for?'' Country Joe McDonald performed an a cappella version of ``Carry On,'' a paean to a dead vet.

The crescendo from the plaza's water fountain muffled tears shed by the veterans' families and lunchtime crowd. Flowers were laid at the foot of the aluminum-paneled Traveling Wall.

Remarks were delivered by representatives of Swords to Plowshares, the San Francisco veterans group that helped to sponsor the display and provides services to traumatized and drug-addicted Vietnam veterans, many of whom are homeless or at risk for homelessness.

But it was the families -- the widows, the fatherless children, the bereft siblings -- who resurrected searing memories of a war that many Americans would like to forget.

Margo McCrice, accompanied by one of her two grown sons, read a letter from her husband, Arthur Timboe. It arrived five days after he died in the Tet Offensive.

The missive included the mundane -- the household bill to be paid, the friends to greet. But in the understated manner of a weary man fighting to stay sane, Timboe wrote of missing his family, although he said he wished someone in his unit would keep his whining to himself.

Atop the Ferry Building across the street, the American flag and an black missing-in-action flag fluttered at half-mast. McCrice emphasized the day belong to men like her husband -- not their survivors.

``We've already been given our recognition,'' she said, summoning the same strength as her husband. ``We were given a service. We were given a flag. And we were told not to talk to the media.''

But to others, like Eloisa Avendano-Johnsen, it was day for closure. She recalled Johnny Anthony Martinez, her Mission High School boyfriend, the boy who took her to the prom.

Before departing for Vietnam, he called her and asked her to pray for him. Her emotions still raw from their breakup, she asked, ``Why?''

``The boys I knew who went to Vietnam all came back,'' Avendano-Johnsen recalled. ``To me, it was an unreal place, something I did not understand.''

When she got word of his death, she said she felt numb. Fighting back tears yesterday, she recalled that for a quarter-century she could not cope with the war -- or Martinez's death.

``Today, he's come home,'' she said, staring out toward the Traveling Wall. ``Today, I think, I have peace.''


San Franciscans killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War:

Eddie Achica
Felizardo Aguillon
Albert Akamu
Daniel Alegre
John Ananian
Gregory Antunano
Joseph Artavia
Tony Baker
Carlos Baldizon-Izquierdo
Gary Banglos
Charles Barrett
Michael Bartholomew
Samuel Bell
Boris Bentley
Michael Bianchini
Martin Blakely
Richard Bloom
Domingo Borja
Joseph Borruso Jr.
Theophilus Bowles
Oscar Boydston
Murray Britton
Franklin Brodnik
Bruce Brown
Leonard Burris
Jose Caiquep
Richard Campos
Richard Carlson
Peter Chan
Gary Clark
Robert Clirehugh Jr.
Sam Cole Jr.
Ernest DeSoto
Charles Cook Jr.
Robert Criswell
Kenneth Cruise Jr.
Gregorio Deocampo
Raymond Dock Jr.
Johnnie Douglas
Gerald Douglas Jr.
Ronald Ducommun
Jimmy Dunagan
Robert Elgin
Bruce Farrell
Alexander Fedoroff
Ronald Ferguson
Ronald Fillmore
Terence Fitzgerald
Patrick Ford
Paul Foster
Harry Gamble
Marcial Garcia
David Garringer
Robert Geiger
Everett Goias
Jose Gosse
Kenneth Gray
Raymond Griffiths
Thomas Guaraldi
James Hall
Robert Henneberg
Faleagafulu Ilaoa
Rudolph Jennings
Michael Jensen
Anthony Johnson
Floyd Johnson
James Johnson
John Joys
James Kajiwara
William Kennedy III
Ludwig Kohler
Leonard Labowski
Leonard Lanzarin
Peter Larson
Robert Lathrope
George Lazar
Elroy Felipe Este Le Blanc
Roy Lede
Earl Lerch
Gary Letson
Sai Lew
Max Lieberman
Michael Lowery
Thomas Lutge
William Lynch Jr.
Danny Mack
Robert Mack
George Martinez
John Martinez
Paul Martinez Jr.
William McTaggert
Paul Medlin
Allan Mendell
Rene Mischeaux
Michael Monahan
Jimmy Moore
Richard Morrow
Jose Munatones Jr.
Vincent Murphy Jr.
Alvin Narcisse
John Nathan
Elvain Nious
Charles Nurisso
Denis O'Connor
Dennis Kenneth O'Connor
Reinaldo Ortiz
Ceizhar Pagcaliuagan
Luther Page Jr.
Keila Paopao
Kenneth Parker
John Parnella
Dorris Patton
Joseph Perez
Samuel Pierce Jr.
Bob Pogre
Richard Pratt
Emmett Pringle
Edward Quill Jr.
George Ramos
Edward Rauch
Robert Reed
Salvador Ricardo
Jose Rivera
Gary Rodgers
Victor Romero
Francisco Samson Jr.
Robert Sandst


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