Johnson Coleman

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
18 May 1968
Missing from the Wall


Combat Infantry

National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Johnson Coleman

12 Feb 2006

During the Vietnam War there was no overriding reason to keep close track of names of the men and women who died as a result of military service in the war zone. When, a decade after the withdrawal of US forces, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was approved for construction, the service branches went back through their records to identify our dead by name. Inevitably some men who should have been on the "Wall" were not, and others who shouldn't have been were.

Over the years additional names have been inscribed on the Wall - some were men who died as a result of wounds, and others were men whose names were overlooked in earlier years.

And then there are some who were deliberately left off for policy reasons. SP4 Johnson Coleman falls into that group.

Coleman was an infantryman with Echo 4/47 Infantry. While his "Start Tour" date is not known, what is known is that he had been in Vietnam long enough to earn mid-tour R&R. He chose to visit Thailand, and while there he died in an accidental drowning.

The Army Adjutant General's casualty database - the TAGCEN file - has very little information about Coleman ... his rank, MOS, date of death, and year of birth (1942). There's no Home of Record, not even his state. He doesn't appear to have been buried in a national cemetery, and Internet searches have been fruitless.

In late 1965 a Marine Corps C-130 transport crashed on take-off from Hong Kong. Almost five dozen Marines returning from R&R in Hong Kong were killed. They all are on the Wall - and deserve to be.

An Air Force aircrew who died in a mid-Pacific crash while transiting from Japan to the United States are on the Wall, although they don't deserve to be.

Several Air Force sergeants who died of illness in Thailand are on the Wall. An Armed Forces Radio staff member who died in Thailand is on the Wall. An Air Force Colonel who died of a heart attack while stationed in Thailand is on the Wall.

18 May 1968, the day Johnson Coleman died, was a bloody one for US forces in South Vietnam - the names of 55 men who died that day are engraved in the black granite of Panels 62E and 63E. Johnson Coleman should appear on Panel 63E line 016, but he doesn't.

Johnson Coleman, a draftee who carried a rifle for a living, who served long enough and well enough to earn a few day's leave in Thailand, and who died there, deserves to be on the Wall - but isn't.

From a Virtual Wall staff member,
Ken Davis

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Ken Davis
12 Feb 2006

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 02/13/2006