Arthur Malcolm Byrd

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
06 June 1943 - 03 June 1967
Houston, Texas
Panel 21E Line 042


Arthur M Byrd

Purple Heart (2 awards), National Defense, Vietnam Service, RVN Cross of Gallantry, RVN Campaign medals

The database page for Arthur Malcolm Byrd

23 May 2002

Arthur was my brother and best friend. He had left a good job as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle. We always looked out for each other, but mainly him for me, because I was younger by 2 years. Our last night we spent together in Houston was simple, but fun. We stayed up late watching some crazy movie. Then in the dark of night we leaned against my 1957 Ford and talked and smoked Luckies until about dawn. We talked of our last hike together through Memorial Park along Buffalo Bayou. One of the last things Arthur asked me was what I thought it would be like to die.

Arthur arrived in Vietnam in early January 1967 and was proud to be assigned to the historic 5th Marines as a rifleman. The first letter I received from him was written January 6, 1967, from the An Hoa Combat base. He wrote, "A lot of time and miles have passed since our last visit and I'm in another world. One I hope you never have to go to. Home, Houston Texas, the USA seem, well, not to exist. I really can't picture them. All like something I read in a book long ago. It's funny how things work. I looked at your picture, and you looked older than I remembered you. You looked real fine, and decent and intelligent."

In later letters I could see him change and "adjust" to Vietnam. He toughened up, and continued to write in his clear and magical style. He told me of his first Purple Heart that he received in the middle of April. His platoon had run into a booby trapped area near a cemetery. There were 10 wounded, including Lt. Kelsey and his radioman. Many were medevaced, but Arthur had to hump back carrying the PRC-25 in spite of the shrapnel in his arm. He had helped the Corpsman bandage the wounded and reached under a fellow Marine who thought he was lying on a booby trap. Arthur reached under him and found the man's ballpoint pen. He never hesitated to help someone in trouble with no thought to his own safety. Back at An Hoa, when his fellow Marines were filling sand bags, he often played the guitar and sang for them. He liked to sing "Don't Be Angry", a country song. But he liked the Stones too!

On May 26, 1967, Operation Union II began. Fox Company of 2/5 was taken by chopper to the Que Son Valley, where they were placed under the operation control of 1/5. The Operation reached a critical point on 2 June 1967. The company rested a little around noon, then after 1400 entered a dry rice paddy with Arthur's second platoon on the point as a horseshoe shaped tree line was approached. As the platoon moved on line closer to the tree line, they were ambushed by the 3rd NVA Regiment. The 2nd platoon was being raked with automatic weapons fire, along with 82mm mortars. Arthur returned fire and went to help a wounded brother Marine. He was then hit - a gunshot wound to his head. Company Commander Captain James Graham gathered all the Marines he could and quickly advanced to relieve the 2nd platoon, to silence the machine gun fire. Captain Graham fought an overwhelming NVA force, refusing to leave his wounded Marines, and gave his life fighting to the bitter end. This brave man would later receive the Medal of Honor. The siege lasted through the night with airstrikes from F-4s and "Puff the Magic Dragon" gunships. The next day dawned with a quieter battlefield, but the remains of Fox Company and a relief force from Echo 2/5 and Fox 2/7 would help in the grim job of finding and collecting the dead. I didn't learn of Arthur's death until June 9. He missed his 24th birthday by 3 days. Part of me died that day too, and life for all of the family would never be the same. When I went to Vietnam in June 1970 it was like I was looking for him, really expecting to see him. Crazy? Maybe, but I know he looked out after me during my 1 year tour with the 30th and 5th Weather Squadrons. I still dream that he comes home, I still miss him.

Stephen F. Byrd
Former SSgt, USAF

7 Apr 2005

Arthur was my best friend ... he introduced me to my wife while we both worked for the Houston Chronicle ... he was the best man at my wedding in June 1966. Arthur and I both were in-country at the same time. I was in II Corps with the Army. I received 3 letters from Arthur while in-country. Each letter expressed a lack of equipment he desperately needed, from flack jackets to extra ammo pouches. To this day I still wonder about the Marines. Arthur wasn't macho; he just wanted to go to Vietnam with the best, as he put it. He read books on the plight of the Vietnamese people before he enlisted. He just wanted to go over and help them. Arthur helped everyone. He didn't have an enemy in the world. From the day I got the mail from my wife that Arthur had died there has always been a void in my life. I coorespond with his brother Steve from time to time and we share moments we had with Arthur. I miss you, my brother in arms, and I'll see you one day on the Other Side of the Wall.

From his best friend,
Frank Thompson

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The bitter fighting on 03 June 1967 described above by Mr. Byrd cost the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 32 men killed in action:
  • E Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Marines, 1st Mardiv, 3rd MAF
    • Pfc Gerald L. Foell, Plymouth, IA

  • F Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Marines, 1st Mardiv, 3rd MAF
    • Capt James A. Graham, Frostburg, MD (Medal of Honor)
    • 2ndLt Straughan D. Kelsey, Indialantic, FL
    • Sgt Gerald L. Ackley, Dunnigan, CA
    • LCpl Richard L. Blasen, Wheaton, IL
    • LCpl Arthur M. Byrd, Houston, TX
    • LCpl William S. Daugherty, Evansville, IN
    • Cpl Victor M. Driscoll, Bellaire, TX
    • LCpl Gary W. Kline, Lincoln Park, MI
    • LCpl John R. Painter, Palmdale, CA
    • LCpl Jereld E. Westphal, Bethel, KS
    • Pfc Larry N. Boatman, Caddo, OK
    • Pfc Jimmy R. Crook, Austell, GA
    • Pfc Lawson D. Gerard, Santa Monica, CA
    • Pfc Michael D. McCandless, Columbus, OH
    • Pfc Dennis E. Monfils, Riverside, CA
    • Pfc Keith M. Moser, Lowell, MI (Silver Star)
    • Pfc Robert Richardson, Augusta, GA
    • Pfc Clifford Shepherd, Dayton, OH

  • H&S Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Marines, 1st Mardiv, 3rd MAF
    • 2ndLt Charles J. Schultz, Metuchen, NJ
    • Cpl Marion L. Dirickson, Tonkawa, OK
    • HM3 Thomas S. Donovan, Natick, MA (Silver Star)
    • Cpl John P. Francis, Reese, MI
    • Cpl Gary M. O'Brien, Orlando, FL
    • Cpl Karl B. Rische, Milwaukee, WI
    • LCpl Stephen A. Balters, San Jose, CA
    • HN Billy R. Boyd, San Bernardino, CA
    • LCpl James J. Deasel, Baltimore, MD
    • LCpl Robert R. Hernandez, San Antonio, TX
    • LCpl Benjamin F. Pelzer, Columbia, SC
    • Pfc Steven E. Scharlach, New York, NY
    • Pfc James A. Weed, Tacoma, WA

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his brother,
Steve Byrd
23 May 2002

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TX State Index . Panel 21E

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 04/10/2005