Darwin Lee Judge

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
16 February 1956 - 29 April 1975
Marshalltown, Iowa
Panel 01W Line 124


Darwin L. Judge

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, AF Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Darwin Lee Judge

25 Jan 2001

My boyhood friend and fellow Eagle Scout, Lance Corporal Darwin L. Judge of Marshalltown, Iowa, was killed during the Fall Of Saigon on April 29, 1975. He and fellow Marine Security Guard Corporal Charles McMahon of Woburn, Massachussetts, were the last two men to lose their lives in Vietnam during an attack by the North Vietnamese on Ton Sun Nhut Airbase. This page is dedicated to their memory and to honor all the men and women who served in Southeast Asia.

Ken Locke

Bob Faw
NBC News Correspondent
Marshalltown, Iowa
April 28, 2000

Young Americans were paying the ultimate price in Vietnam right up until the final days; and what added to the tragedy is that some were virtually lost in the chaos and the eagerness of America to put Vietnam behind it. But one young hero is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

DARWIN JUDGE was already a hero. There's a park named after him and a place of honor at his high school.

"He was rock stable," said one of his former schoolteachers. "He was the kind of guy America was built around."

An Eagle Scout, he was one of the last Marines to die in combat in Vietnam, killed in action when he was just 19 as enemy shells slammed into Tan Son Nhut Airbase 25 years ago tomorrow.

"If he'd stayed at the embassy like he was supposed to, be on the lookout, he would have been alright," said his mother Ira.

In the chaos of those final days, his body wasn't found and returned home until a year later.

In the bureaucratic confusion, he never got the purple heart nor burial with honors he deserved.

"I love my country but I'm not so sure we have done what we should do to say thank you" said Ken Locke, Judge's boyhood pal.

For nearly 25 years Locke has wanted to pay proper tribute to Darwin Judge.

"He was my hero; I wanted to be like him," Locke said.


He was a hero for others, too. As Saigon fell and thousands tried to flee, Marine Doug Potratz tried frantically to evacuate his three-year-old daughter Becky, but could not until Judge intervened.

"He picked her up, put her on his back, piggyback style, and quick as a bunny ran, ran out to the plane and put her on the plane," Potratz said.

Almost 25 years later, on a website dedicated to the fall of Saigon, Potrata, now in California, wrote about what Judge had done.

Two thousand miles away in Indiana, Ken Locke read the account and contacted Potratz.

Realizing they had a hero in common, the men, after countless phone calls and letters, persuaded the Marines to give Judge a service, Saturday, with full military honors.

It will bring some measure of comfort to Judge's parents.

"When you see so many young people take drugs and do terrible things, it makes you a little proud to have somebody like Darwin," his father Henry said.

Others are still thanking Darwin Judge 25 years later.

Remember that small child he rescued? She went on to graduate, with honors, from the University of Southern California.

"If it wasn't for him, I'd probably still be there instead of here doing what I'm doing now and being who I am," Becky said.

And for anyone who might argue that it's too late now to offer thanks, Darwin Judge's mother has an answer: "It's not too late to thank them and show your appreciation that they were over there to do what they were supposed to do."

Twenty-five years later, Darwin Judge will get what he deserved and those he touched will get what they need.

Copyright NBC News
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

Taken from the POW Network

Lance Corporal Darwin Judge is remembered on

my personal memorial

and on the

Fall of Saigon site

02 Mar 2008

I would like to pay my deepest respects for Darwin. We graduated together in 1974. Darwin joined the Marines and I joined the Army at the same time. I was overseas when Darwin was killed, I was not able to return to Marshalltown until a few years later. I stayed in the Army joining the Reserves and retiring in 1996 as a Major. I have worked in Law Enforcement since 1982 and have worked for the U.S. Department of Justice since 1985. I am what I am today because of my friendship with Darwin, he was always devoted to this country and I attempted to follow his patriotism. I have always felt a deep sense of loss from his passing and that of my brother-in-law who was also killed in Vietnam. Mr and Mrs Judge, I will always remember your kindness and hospitality when I visited your home with Darwin. He was a true hero and a great friend. God bless.

From a friend,
John R. Grindstaff

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow Eagle Scout,
Ken Locke

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 25 Jan 2001
Last updated 11/13/2010