Thomas J Holtzclaw

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
24 April 1948 - 21 April 1967
Atlanta, Georgia
Panel 18E Line 060



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas J Holtzclaw

21 Jan 2008

In June of 1966, when Thomas J. Holtzclaw graduated from O'Keefe High School in Atlanta, Georgia, he was an "A" student with a sweet-sixteen girlfriend and a burning desire to become a Marine. Six months later, he boarded the USS GAFFNEY and headed for Vietnam.

Thomas J. Holtzclaw, III, known to most as Tommy J., was both a boy and a man when he left in December 1966 on the USS GAFFNEY for Vietnam. He wrote letters home almost every day. He was lonely, scared, hopeful and unprepared for the battles, ambushes and lost lives. Every day, he wrote himself home again.

How tragic that someone who inspired poetry and tributes after his untimely death on April 21, 1967 was lost to us before he had the opportunity to make the impact in the world that was his true destiny.

I, his niece, was only 2 when he was killed. I never had the opportunity to know him. Those who did never fully recovered from losing this man who was willing to give his life for this great country.

The bravery he shows in his letters and the ability to show how scared he was makes me proud. But it also makes me cry. He was never able to put into words many of the horrors he saw during his four months in Vietnam. Despite his fears, and facing battle day and night, Tommy J. still managed to worry about his family and tried his best to participate in their lives. He requested very little other than an occasional "Care Package." Even though he was at war he worried about friends, encouraged his closest friend and brother to stay in school and not expose themselves to the dangers of war.

Every letter Tommy J. wrote, which is the only opportunity I've had to get to know him, tells me he was a loving man . . . a caring man . . . a gentle man.

From his niece,
Terri C. Walker

A Note from The Virtual Wall

In April 1967 Fox 2/1 manned an outpost on a hill at Nui Loc Son, running daily (and nightly) patrols to deny the valley below to the enemy.

On 21 Apr 1967, most of the company set out on a daylight patrol that took them into the village of Binh Son. As the Marines approached across the rice paddies they were ambushed by a dug-in VC Main Force battalion that enjoyed a clear line of fire across level land with little cover ... Fox 2/1 had run into a hornet's nest. Fourteen Marines were killed and 18 others wounded early in the fight, which continued until other elements of the 1st Marines and the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, arrived and flanked the VC from their fortifications.

By that time 28 Marines from Fox 2/1 were dead:

  • 2ndLt James H. Shelton, Hominy, OK
  • GySgt Roger D. Hamilton, Baltimore, MD
  • SSgt Edward D. Gould, Batesville, AR
  • Sgt Thomas A. Arredondo, Fresno, CA
  • Cpl Gary R. Hartman, Newport, NY
  • Cpl James J. Owens, Woodside, NY
  • LCpl Vincent J. Benegas, Riverside, CA
  • LCpl Byron D. Bonds, Evansville, IN
  • LCpl Rodney A. Breedlove, Alkol, WV
  • LCpl James E. Carey, Altoona, PA
  • LCpl John L. Davis, Conemaugh, PA
  • LCpl Gary D. Grimes, Houston, TX
  • LCpl Lanny R. Krage, Columbia, SD
  • LCpl Larry C. Pettaway, Dayton, OH
  • LCpl Uvaldo Sanchez, Albuquerque, NM
  • LCpl Ralph E. Scheib, Rochester, NY
  • Pfc Ronald M. Boley, New Lexington, OH
  • Pfc Benjamin Bunn, Washington, DC
  • Pfc Ronald R. Cormier, Portsmouth, NH
  • Pfc Edward T. Egan, Roslindale, MA
  • Pfc Sammy G. Evans, Hampton, AR
  • Pfc Thomas J. Holtzclaw, Atlanta, GA
  • Pfc William D. Hunt, Birmingham, AL
  • Pfc Gary W. Martini, Portland, OR (Medal of Honor)
  • Pfc Maurice J. O'Callaghan, Iselin, NJ
  • Pfc Eugene A. Pastrovich, Walshville, IL
  • Pfc Dennis W. Pawlowicz, Duluth, MN
  • Pfc Christopher Podmaniczky, St Louis, MO
Overall, the battle at the tiny hamlet of Binh Son (1), 5 kilometers south-southeast of Que Son, cost the lives of 43 American Marines and sailors.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his niece,
Terri C. Walker

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 21 Jan 2008
Last updated 01/25/2008