This Memorial Day is especially poignant at TOP (Tours Of Peace) Vietnam Veterans, as we prepare to return the dog tag belonging to John David Belles. TOP recovered this personal effect September 2007--not far from where John was reported to have fallen.
John David Belles was born in Rockford, Illinois, August 26, 1948. He was one of 16 children, "and could say all of their names in 3 seconds".
He enlisted in the Marines on June 26, 1967 and was eventually assigned a military occupation (MOS) of 0351, Anti-tank Assaultman.
John arrived in Vietnam December 11,1967 and was assigned to Mortars,1st Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.
John was slightly wounded May 3, 1968 and again May 31, but was not medivaced.
JD Belles is pictured, in the first, row, 3rd, from the right, kneeling, with no cover (helmet) on, with his Vietnam unit.
On October 13, 1968, John was seriously wounded and died as a result of a gunshot wound from rifle fire, when the pointman walked into an NVA ambush, about 8 kilometers west of Lang Cam Village, during an operation.
John was single. He served his country for 1 year, 3 months and 17 days and had been in Vietnam for 10 months and 2 days.
He was KIA#33,984.
John lived 20 years, 1 month and 17 days old.
This week, over three decades later, John's personal effect will finally be reunited with the family. Perhaps this gesture is one way we can thank both John and his family for their sacrifice. We continue to keep him close to our hearts and remember him on this day ... and everyday to come.
May John be the face of this Memorial Day, Memorial Day week ... and throughout the year, for all of us who realize, and are grateful to, those who gave all the line of service. Please, never forget.