×

Names on The Wall

Honoring the fallen of the Vietnam War

- Messenger file photo
Army veteran John Thalacker makes a tracing of a name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with the help of a National Park Service volunteer. Thalacker was among the 132 veterans on the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight.

They should be grandfathers by now, happily retired. They could spend their summers seeing the country they fought to defend. Maybe cruise the remnants of Route 66.

A few of them left wives and children behind, but most never married, many never lived to age 21. These are the men who answered the call to serve and who gave the ultimate sacrifice so far from home in what was then known as South Vietnam.

Fifty years have passed since the Paris Peace Accord was signed in 1973. Active hostilities ramped down, but more men would die, right up until the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975.

In a war that tore the nation apart like no other, there is much owed to these men who put service above politics, and nation above self. To honor their memories, to recall their names, their great sacrifice, is the very least of the debt we owe these men.

We list the names of the fallen here. These are the men of Webster County listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. All names were obtained from virtualwall.org.

-Messenger file photo
This marker at Terry Moehnke Veterans Memorial Park honors Air Force 1st Lt. Terrence Griffey, who was the first Webster County man killed in the Vietnam War. He was the pilot of an F-4 Phantom fighter that was shot down on May 26, 1966. His remains have never been found.

Barnum

James Alphonse Rial was a chief petty officer in the Navy. Rial was born in Barnum on Oct. 13, 1926. He enlisted at age 17 and made the Navy his career. He was 38 years old when he was killed on Oct. 22, 1964, in South Vietnam. He served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. His death was ruled a homicide. He was survived by his wife, Eleanor, and is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in California.

Clare

Pfc. Dennis James Yetmar was the son of Robert and Lorraine (Condon) Yetmar, of Clare. He was 20 years old when he was killed on April 13, 1968, by hostile fire in South Vietnam. He had been in country for little more than a month. Yetmar was an Army infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry. He is buried at St. James Cemetery, Clare.

Lehigh

Danny Wayne Johnson was the son of Leonard and Paulyne (Penno) Johnson. He graduated from Central Webster High School in Burnside in 1969 and enlisted in the Army soon after graduation. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and sent to South Vietnam in November 1969. He was 19 years old when he was killed by hostile fire on April 21, 1970. He is buried at West Lawn Cemetery, Lehigh.

Fort Dodge

Leslie DeWayne Crouse grew up in Fort Dodge and made the Army his career. He was a 20-year veteran of the Army when he arrived in South Vietnam in January 1968. Stationed near the Laotian border, he was killed by a rocket attack on Aug. 31, 1968. He was 36 years old. Crouse was posthumously promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was survived by his mother, in Fort Dodge, and wife Mary, living at his home base in Alaska, as well as four children. He is buried at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Alaska.

Richard T. Flattery Jr. was the son of Richard and Mary Flattery. He grew up in Fort Dodge, started with the Army Reserve, and later graduated from Armor Officer Candidate School (OCS). As a first lieutenant, he served as a tank unit commander for the 1st Cavalry. Flattery arrived in South Vietnam on March 7, 1968, and was killed in action on May 20, 1968. He was 22 years old. He is buried at Corpus Christi Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

David Allen Fleskes was the son of Aloisius and Othelia Fleskes. He graduated from St. Edmond High School in 1966. He attended junior college and worked for a time before joining the Navy in 1967, where he became a Seabee. He was killed in a rocket attack on Aug. 23, 1968, just five weeks short of the time he was to go home. He was 20 years old. He is buried at Corpus Christi Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

Timothy Lee Green was the son of Billie Green and Grace (Cahill) Green. At the time of his death, he was engaged to Peg Wearmouth. The couple had met as students at Riverside Elementary School in Fort Dodge. He served a tour of duty in West Germany and was promoted to Army sergeant before being shipped to South Vietnam. His obituary noted that he never missed church services and was given a Bible by his chaplain for Christmas, 1969. He was killed in action May 7, 1970, at age 19. He is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

Terrence Hastings Griffey was the son of Frank Griffey and Corinne (Hastings) Griffey. He graduated from St. Edmond High School and the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he played football. He had served three years in the Air Force when, on May 26, 1966, he was piloting an F-4 Phantom fighter jet that was shot down in South Vietnam. The aircraft burst into flames and he was reported MIA. Griffey was later classified as presumed dead. He was 25 when shot down. His remains have not been recovered. 1st Lt. Griffey is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, often called the Punch Bowl, in Hawaii.

Donald Henry Holm was the husband of Patricia A. Holm and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Holm. A 1962 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High School, Holm joined the Army late in 1966. His tour in Vietnam began on May 15, 1967. Ranked Specialist 4, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, Infantry, 1st Division. On a campaign to destroy enemy positions, he and two other soldiers were hit by mortar fire and killed in action on Nov. 18, 1967. He was 23 years old. He is buried at North Lawn Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

Donald K. Lakey was the son of Donald E. Lakey and Phyllis (Grundon) Lakey. A graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High School, Lakey enlisted in the Army in 1962. He served in the infantry and on a search and destroy mission on Nov. 1, 1966, Lakey’s company fought with a larger enemy force. Under heavy fire of automatic weapons, small arms, and mortars, Lakey returned fire, placing himself in harm’s way so that he could provide first aid to his fellow soldiers. In the midst of this heroic act, Lakey was shot and killed. Lakey was survived by his wife, Tammy Lakey. Sgt. Lakey was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for action as a “combat leader of the highest caliber.” He was 22 years old. He is buried at Jefferson Cemetery, Greene County.

James Steven McGough was the son of Paul and Vivian McGough. While serving with the Army at the rank of specialist 4 on Feb. 8, 1971, he was injured when his unit came under attack on Hill 508. Transferred to a military hospital on Okinawa, he received a blood transfusion that, decades later, would be found to have given him hepatitis C. He died at age 62 on Jan. 3, 2014, as a result of the illness contracted from his wounds. His name is among those added to the wall in later years for deaths directly related to combat. He is survived by his wife, Sherry, and two daughters. He is buried at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, Van Meter.

Roger Lewis Olson was the son of Raymond and Joyce (Kiddie) Olson. He is a graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High School and enlisted in the Navy in June 1966. He graduated from hospital corpsman school and served in the surgical ward at Camp Pendleton before deploying to South Vietnam in December 1967. On March 26, 1968, while attached to the Marine Corps, he was killed by a mine during combat operations. Olson was 20 years old. He is buried at North Lawn Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

William Harrison Pease was the son of Marvin and Elizabeth (Dudding) Pease. Army Pfc. Pease was sent to South Vietnam with the 1st Aviation Brigade in September 1969. Assigned as a door gunner on a Huey helicopter, he was critically wounded on April 16, 1970. Shot in the throat, he fell out of the Huey, but was rescued by the co-pilot when his foot lodged on the rocket pod. He was pulled to safety, but was left paralyzed from the neck down. He was sent to the VA Hospital in Chicago and died from his injuries on Oct. 16, 1973. He was 22 years old. He is buried at North Lawn Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

William Lee Peters Jr. was the son of William and Mary (Whitehill) Peters. He graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High School in 1961 and the University of Iowa in 1966. He joined the Marine Corps in 1967 and arrived in South Vietnam in November 1968. For his actions as a helicopter pilot on April 12, 1969, he was awarded the Silver Star, Navy Cross and Air Medal. Under heavy fire, Peters refused to leave a reconnaissance team in hostile territory. The helicopter had already sustained extensive damage, but Peters made a second landing and assured that all team members were onboard before lifting off again. He was credited with saving the lives of his fellow Marines on that day. 1st Lt. Peters would lose his own life on June 21, 1969, while attempting a landing in the Quang Nam Province. The aircraft exploded as it attempted to abort the landing. He was 26 years old. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery, DeWitt.

Daryl David Shonka was the son of Bernard and Mary Shonka. Educated in Fort Dodge, he joined the Army and served as an infantryman, promoted to the rank of corporal. He arrived in South Vietnam on April 20, 1970. While serving in the Quang Tin Province, his unit encountered heavy North Vietnamese forces. Shonka sustained small arms fire and was killed outright on Aug. 5, 1970. Shonka was just 20 years old. He is buried at Corpus Christi Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

Patrick Joseph Trotter was the son of Robert and Frances Clare (Adams) Trotter. He joined the Army after graduating from high school and was trained as a helicopter repairman. Spc. 4 Trotter arrived in South Vietnam in May 1970, assigned to an Assault Helicopter Command. He was serving in the Binh Dinh Province when he was killed by an accidental fire on base. He was 20 years old. He is buried at Corpus Christi Cemetery, Fort Dodge.

Editor’s Note: In addition to virtualwall.org, the University of Northern Iowa’s Veterans Remembrance Project, Together We Served, the Gold Star Hall website from Iowa State University, and the findagrave.com website were critical in compiling this story. We thank all of these sources for their assistance and encourage readers to add information to the sites in order to build the history.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today