Nelson William McKenna

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
12 August 1948 - 30 November 1967
Poughkeepsie, New York
Panel 31E Line 015


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Nelson William McKenna

07 Feb 2007

Nelson was my brother-in-law's first cousin. He had the sweetest and most charming smile that accented his handsome Irish-Italian good looks. His heart was made of gold and you always knew that he was there for you. He loved teasing and making others laugh. He was always the perfect gentleman. He was perfect in my eyes.

My fondest memory of Nelson is from 1963 when my older sister and his first cousin married. I was the junior bridesmaid and he was the junior groomsman. I was in heaven ... he gave me my first ever girl-boy kiss that day.

On the day in 1967 when my sister called my mom to ask her to tell me of Nelson's death ... I knew before I was told ... I guessed ... and could only scream and scream, "Why him, GOD?". I know now that GOD only takes the very best.

Nelson will always be in my heart!

From a friend and cousin through marriage,
Rose Mary A. (McGrath) Neal

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 30 Nov 1967 elements of 1st Bn, 4th Marines and 2nd Bn, 9th Marines were conducting a sweep northeast of Con Thien, just south of the Demilitarized Zone. As the 2/9 Marines approached the destroyed hamlet of Gia Binh they were engaged by a reinforced NVA company which occupied the ruins. Fox 2/9 was pinned in place by heavy fire, and Golf 2/9 and Hotel 2/9 deployed to flank the enemy positions. After several hours the three 2/9 rifle companies managed to displace the NVA troops, who withdrew leaving 40 bodies behind. The action cost the lives of fifteen Marines and one sailor:
  • Fox 2/9:
    • 2ndLt Sam D. Warlick, Raeford, NC
    • Cpl Larry G. Buford, Franklin, TN
    • LCpl Thomas J. Ekwell, Rochester, NY
    • LCpl Donald W. Gebhart, Bridgeton, NJ
    • HN James K. Oxley, Bradford, PA (Corpsman, H&S with Fox 2/9)
    • Pfc Robert T. Abina, San Leandro, CA
    • Pfc Nelson W. McKenna, Poughkeepsie, NY

  • Golf 2/9:
    • Cpl Dale C. Pehrson, Redding, CA
    • LCpl Gary L. Grow, Lyndhurst, OH
    • Pfc Larry T. Parker, Fresno, CA
    • Pfc Jimmy L. Ward, Nampa, ID

  • Hotel 2/9:
    • LCpl Thomas J. McElynn, Laurelton, NY
    • LCpl Clifton B. Smith, Midland City, AL (Silver Star)
    • Pfc Laffey F. Strait, Doniphan, MO
    • Pfc Harry C. Vanderkloot, Antioch, IL
    • Pvt James D. Stokes, Springfield, MO

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 07 Feb 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009