Robert Paul Degen

Private First Class
Army of the United States
13 December 1947 - 20 November 1967
Vancouver, Washington
Panel 30E Line 040

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign


The database page for Robert Paul Degen

17 Apr 2001


It's been 34 years now, and not one has gone by without me thinking of you often. I always wonder why I got to enjoy birthdays, children, holidays. It seems like yesterday when we sat around your house one night waiting to go in and listening to Johnny Cash on the stereo, the last day I saw you, July 31, 1967. Remember, my son was born the night before and we went swimming on the Sandy River. You made all the kids laugh by diving off the rocks like a frog.

I'm still searching for a reason why. Maybe it will never come, but I will never forget Bob. You were here a short time but made such a lasting memory. You will always be loved.

Bill Whiting
(deceased April 13, 2006)

03 July 2001

I went to school with ROBERT PAUL DEGEN
in the 1960's in Vancouver, Wa. He was a fine person
with a great sense of humor, his loss was felt all
over Vancouver, WA, and probably will be for some time
yet. Now may he rest in Peace, in the golden light of
eternal love, from now and forever more.

Remembered by a friend,
Greg Payne

25 Sep 2005


I remember seeing you for the first time since Gresham Grade School at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Portland. You moved back to Vancouver and finished out your school years at Hudson's Bay High.

Boy, did we have a lot to talk about on the way up to Fort Lewis, Washington, in that old Greyhound bus. At least it kept our minds occupied as what was to come at Fort Lewis. We both were in the same training platoon, our serial numbers were five digits apart, and we joined up (not drafted) and became two of the five guys who got E-2 out of Basic. Man, were we ever "gung ho". We laughed so much at the stuff that they made us do that I still get a big ole grin on my face every time I think of it. Time has passed now, and like Bill Whiting, our bud who was one week behind us up at Fort Lewis, I miss you a lot too, I think about all the good times and wonder what life would have been like for you.

The country lost a great asset when you were taken from us.

"Happy Trails Till We Meet Again, Bob"
Raymond {Ray} Lee

16 Apr 2006

Bob, since my last entry Bill Whiting has sadly joined you on the "Other Side". A motorcycle accident brought him to you on April 13, 2006. Now I know you are in good company and some day I will also join you two but they must have more work for me to do yet on this earth. I love and miss you both.


From his best friend,
Raymond Lee
25 Sep 2005

Pfc. Degen 19th Victim of Viet War - The death in Vietnam of Pfc. Robert P. Degen, 19, of Vancouver has been announced by the Defense Department, bring the toll of Clark County war dead to 19. The names of Degen and two other Washington State men killed in action in Vietnam were released Monday by the Pentagon, after they had been reported missing earlier. Degen's death on 20 Nov (1967) was the third of the month involving soldiers having Clark County ties. Though details were lacking, it may be assumed that Degen was killed in the Dak To area, where some of the fiercest fighting of the war had been reported. He was a paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in which another Vancouver paratrooper, Pfc. Vernon P. Sprinkle, 19 was serving when he was killed in the Dak To area 13 Nov (1967). Degen was reported killed while his unit, Co. A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, was engaged in a firefight during a combat operation. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Degen, 5801 Oklahoma Drive, were notified Sunday. Born in Longview 13 Dec 1947, Degen was a 1966 graduate of Hudson's Bay High School. In addition to his parents, Degen is survived by three brothers, Fred of Portland, Kenneth in the Army and Richard at home; and his grandmother, Mrs. Catherine Knoll of St. Peter KS.

The Columbian, Vancouver WA, 28 Nov 1967

Courtesy of
Darilee Bednar

Faces from the Wall

A Note from The Virtual Wall

PFC Robert Paul Degen died in the bitter fighting for Hill 875. Two Medals of Honor, three Distinguished Service Crosses, and numerous Silver and Bronze Stars were awarded the men who fought there between 19 and 23 November 1967 - but at least 127 Americans died there as well, with hundreds more wounded.

A summary of the battle and a listing of the men killed
during the fighting may be found on The Virtual Wall's
Hill 875 Memorial

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his best friend,
Ray Lee

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Back to
To alpha index D
WA State Index . Panel 30E
503RD INF RGT Index

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 17 Apr 2001
Last updated 01/26/2007