In Memory

Johnny Gregg

Johnny Gregg

In loving memory of our dear classmate

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03/07/17 06:34 AM #7    

Hilda Carol Smith (Godell)

Johnny died on my 21st birthday, when I was a VISTA volunteer, living and working in a tiny mining community in Tennessee. My husband had graduated from UT and his draft number was such that he was exposed to being called up. We worried about the possibility he would be drafted into a war we opposed and our months in VISTA were our feeble effort to be in some type of alternative service to our country.
Contrary to some, we had great empathy toward those who were giving up so much to serve as soldiers. Our anti-war position was directed toward the "older generation", who's poor decisions had led the country into such a devastating and, in our view, mistaken path of destruction.
My husband's draft notice came, but a history of severe heat strokes led to a 4-F classification. The widespread news coverage regarding the deaths of soldiers at Ft. Benning, due to the heat, saved my husband from military service.
In disbelief, we moved back to Austin and I returned to class at UT. We protested and marched, we watched the news and fervently debated the war's evils. But, personally, we were far removed from the true reality of Vietnam. Only when we began to learn of the deaths of those we knew personally, did we feel, in a small way, the real human cost of our country's involvement. Our efforts to denounce the war felt impotent in the face of their sacrifice.
I've never been to visit The Wall, but as I write this, I'm drawn again into that time of our common experience and know that touching Johnny's name there would release the flood of emotions we all lived with during those years.
I'm saddened by each loss of a classmate recorded on this page; more so when I think of those who never had a chance to relish the joys of growing older.

03/07/17 07:48 AM #8    

Roger Felton

I was deeply moved to read the candid comments by Jacquie and Hilda.  For me, they really put those Viet Nam years in focus and so truely touched the experience like salt on a a raw nerve.  The 60's were such a beautiful time to be alive yet so terrible to witness man's inhumanity to man. I only saw it in newspapers so I can't imagine the horror Johnny and the tens of thousands of others who were actually there.

Tommy Wade and I both got our draft notices at the same time and, rather than to get shot at in a foxhole in some stinking rice paddy, we decided to join the Navy together.  It seemed easier if you had your best friend with you.  I failed the induction physical and seeing Tommy have to go alone bothered me a lot for many years.

I never protested the war.  I guess it was mainly because I always felt that Communism was just another name for Nazism, terrorism and every other form of mass evil.  But if I had protested back then, it would be the stupid boneheaded way we fought that war...and every other since right up to this minute.  The Rules of Engagment have cost American families their loved ones in numbers that are no longer comprehensible.  Every time I see (and support) our wounded warriors, I can't help but feel their suffering and sacrifice probably didn't have to be.

America, going back to Korea, has forgotten how to win a war.  America has the might to make worthless evil people like ISIS be spoken of in past tense.  But our concern for collateral damage has put a gun to the head of every brave American who puts on a uniform.  War is hell and there's always a high cost beyond dollars.  Innocent people die in every war. If people do lose limbs and lives, it's better on a battlefield than getting killed while shopping in a mall.  The only thing I hate more than war are the idiots we put in charge of leading our men and women to needless slaughter because they don't know how to win. If they did, Johnny might still be with us.

03/07/17 10:03 AM #9    

David -Buzz Buvinghausen

Roger, your points are very well taken! We've not fought to win since WWII....... I was an Air Force pilot, and flew 112 combat missons while in Nam. The rules of engagement were SO screwed up, and Robert McNamara was a total blithering idiot! Just as an example, if you were humming along in a fighter with live ordinance and spotted a train with only an engine pulling 8 or 10 flatbed cars loaded with SAM missiles, you could NOT frag that train as it was considered a "target of opportunity", and was not "fair game" to be hit. How stupid it that? The next day when those same missiles were laoded on live SAM sites, you could roll in and bomb them before they laid waste to you or your buddies! We were effectiively fighting a war with one arm tied behind our backs!

As for the wall in DC, I've been there 4 times. I always look up Johnny's name, as well as 8 other friends. It is very cold and stark reality to view the names of people and friends you knew. The 4th trip was the first time that I made it to all the names and didn't ball my eyes out....... For those of us who served in Vietnam, it is a hard dose of reality!


03/07/17 11:51 AM #10    

William Jewel Howard, Jr.

I was in the Army Reserves while in high school. Two weeks after graduation I was at Ft. Polk, LA. From 1967 to May of 1971 I was with the US Army Security Agency.  When Johnny died, I was in Asmara, Ethopia. Since I was in the service, I didn't know that any of our classmates died in VN. My high school friends who served in VN all came back. I did not know about Johnny until I read these posts.  Please send me the names of anyother class members who were KIA in VN. I have been to the Wall in DC. It was a very emotional experence as was my trip to Arlington National Cemetery. I am very involved with veterans and am a member of American Legion Post 127 in Tomball. I am very honored to meet our current vets and am glad to see them receiving the thanks of our nation that the VN era vets were mostly denied.

03/07/17 03:56 PM #11    

Jacquie Campbell (Biggs)

Bill, on the Classmate Profiles (across the top of home page) is a list of all who have done military service and also those who have died.  You can get a pretty good idea from that list.  Buzz or Benny may know a more complete list of specific men who died in VN.  

03/07/17 05:01 PM #12    

William Jewel Howard, Jr.

Thanks, I looked at the list of our classmates that served. I noticed one that was missing: Norman Bonner. Norman served in VN. I know because he and I corresponed while we were in the service. He served on a river boat as a 106mm Recoiless Rifleman.

03/07/17 05:10 PM #13    

William Jewel Howard, Jr.

Stephen Herman Lewis
Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
Houston, Texas
July 03, 1947 to July 07, 1968
STEPHEN H LEWIS is on the Wall at Panel W53, Line 37
See the full profile or name rubbing for Stephen Lewis
Combat Action Ribbon
Stephen Herman Lewis
ON THE WALL: Panel W53 Line 37
This page Copyright© 1997-2015 Ltd.
  Home of Record: Houston, TX
  Date of birth: 07/03/1947
  Service Branch: United States Marine Corps
  Grade at loss: E3
  Rank: Lance Corporal
Promotion Note: None
  ID No: 2384508
  MOS or Specialty: 0311: RIFLEMAN
  Length Service: 00
  Start Tour: 05/01/1968
  Incident Date: 07/07/1968
  Casualty Date: 07/07/1968
  Age at Loss: 21
  Location: Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam
  Remains: Body recovered
  Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
  Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
  Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire

03/08/17 02:09 PM #14    

James Davlin (Davlin)

I remember some of you Buzz you had a nice coupe and lived around the corner from me. I remember Johnny Gregg as a stand up guy! I was in Vietnam 1966, 1967-68 and then again in 1971. First tour as a grunt and the next two tours as a Naval Gunfire Forward Observer. I saw a little combat! As far as rules of engagement we never had any problems with figuring out who the bad guys were. Some of you talk about winning wars , but the truth for those of us that were on the ground it was more about staying alive! The politics of war was way above my pay grade! The only people from Waltrip I ever ran into was Bill and Tommy Oaks who were Marines like me but were Amtracers. I have heard all sorts of stories about how people treated Veitnam vets on their return, I never had a problem everyone treated me well, I guess I am fortunate. Some of us never came home and others were there last night!

03/08/17 06:15 PM #15    

David -Buzz Buvinghausen

James, first, thank you for your service, and particularly for 3 tours! That's a LOT of time in that hell hole! I too was never subjected to the horrible treatment once I returned home like so many who served over there. I knew it was rampany, but I never caught any of that rath........... Had someone spat on me, it would have been "on" I can promise you! And yes, I did have a '46 black Ford couple with an Olds engine, then a '56 Chevy, then my pride and joy '57 Bel-Air 2 dr hardtop. Geeze, that was a hellava LONG time ago! Unfortunately I don't know how many class mates we lost in those jungles? Too damn many, what ever that number is........


05/29/17 09:10 AM #16    

Thomas William Wade

This Afternoon 5/29/17 at 5:00 there will be a bell ringing ceremony at American Legion Post 560 (3720 Alba, Houston, Texas) during which both Steve Lewis & Johnny Gregg will have their names recognized aloud. Both men were our class' casualties in Vietnam in 1968.

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