Douglas Alley was 20 years old when enemy shrapnel ended his life in Vietnam over 35 years ago.
He was married while home on leave in November 1965. Three months later, Douglas was killed while on patrol near Cu Cui, 25 miles north of Saigon, a mere sixteen days after his arrival in Vietnam. He and his young wife Pat never had a chance to share a home of their own.
A grainy newspaper picture of Douglas reveals a casual and confident young man, one eyebrow raised, a hint of a smile. A boy trying to look like a man - killed in action after less than three weeks in Vietnam. A week after Douglas' death, the editorial page of the Wilmington Evening Journal included a quote from a man who may have known Douglas: "That boy used to cut my grass ... this is really the first time that the war has come home to me. Why, I knew that boy well.... I knew him well."
122 Delawareans are included in the over 58,000 names inscribed on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Many of us have no direct connection to these brave men and women. As the years go by our connection to these lost souls becomes even more distant. Many of the fallen have no direct descendants to keep their memory alive. We must not let them be forgotten. That is what Memorial Day is about - remembrance and honor. In my own small way, I have come to know Douglas Alley. This Memorial Day, he will be in my thoughts. Just one of the many young soldiers who have fought and died for our country ... who will cut the grass no more.
407 Douglas D. Alley Drive
Newark, DE 19713
Tom Casti lives in the Woods of Yorkshire development in Newark, and he is working with neighbors and the City of Newark to place a memorial to Douglas D. Alley in the park on the street named in his memory.
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