Gary Lee Patterson

Army of the United States
22 May 1945 - 24 May 1968
Seattle, Washington
Panel 68E Line 006

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Gary Lee Patterson

18 Apr 2007

Gary, you were my childhood friend. I remember us in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and school. We stayed a week at Deer Lake together during Summer Vacation when we were both in Junior High. We even sang in the choir together in Brighton Presbyterian Church. We ended up going to different High Schools when my parents moved. Then I joined the Navy and got to Vietnam first with the Mobile Riverine Force, but I came home alive. You didn't and I miss you, my friend.

I talked with your father at Troop 218's 25th reunion. He was a good man and always kind to me. Both of our fathers must be with you now. I'll see you again soon enough.

From a friend and fellow Scout,
David Raybell

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Alpha Company, 3/21st Infantry, lost two men on 24 May 1968: SGT Gary L. Patterson and SP4 Larry R. McFaddin of Paintsville, Kentucky.

Today Is Day G.I.'s Parents Didn't Want

"He died doing what he thought was right- even though he hated it."

The comments of Rhey E. Patterson, whose son, Sgt. Gary L. Patterson, 23, was killed in action in South Vietnam 24 May(1968), carried a strange mixture of pride, sorrow, resolution and resignation.

This was a Memorial Day that Mr. and Mrs. Patterson, 4001 S. Willow St., had prayed fervently would never happened to them. Gary was their only son.

"It's hard to believe." the father said. "He was killed a year to the day from when he into the Army. But once he made up his mind he said, "Dad, I'm going to be the best damned soldier in the Army."

"His birthday was 22 May (1968) and we were hoping we'd a letter from him. He did write us on the 22nd and we got it Monday."

"It was strange. When we went to get the letter, it was there, all right, but so was an Army Sergeant. We knew immediately what it meant."

"It was awfully hard at first, but we have many good friends, and there's one thing we're almost certain about now. It pays to have faith. We felt sorry for the sergeant. Because he saw the letter, too."

In the letter were accounts of the young man's life of fighting. He told of dense jungles on near vertical mountain slopes and of sweltering valleys.

"They're only about 300 foot mountains but they're straight up and you just can't believe how dense the foliage is," he wrote. "Leeches keep dropping on you... It's 125 to 130 degrees. You climb up with a 60 pound pack and your ammo and rifle. Then you have to sit in the sun -- no shade anywhere... It's hell."

Sergeant Patterson was a Franklin High school graduate. He attended junior colleges and the University of Washington. He has one sister, Mrs. Douglas (Sandy) Beeman, Seattle, and two step-grandmothers, Mrs. Emily Patterson, Seattle, and Mrs. Ida Combs, Kennewick. He was a member of Brighton Presbyterian Church.

By Robert A. Barr, Seattle Times, Seattle WA, 30 May 1968

Former Tri-Citian Killed in Vietnam - A former Columbian Basin college student, Army Sgt. Gary Patterson, 23, was killed 24 May (1968) while on duty near Da Nang, in South Vietnam. The grandson of Mrs. Ida Combs, 327 S. Highland Drive, Kennewick, he had been serving in Vietnam for only one month. In a letter dated 19 May (1968), Patterson wrote that his unit had been "torn up pretty badly" but he had not yet seen action. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Patterson, Seattle, and the nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Combs and Mr. and Mrs. Burl Combs, Pasco; Mr. and Mrs. Roy Fowler, Richland; Mr. and Mrs. Bill Nicklaus, Roseburg OR., and Mr. and Mrs. Willard Combs, Colbalt ID. He is also survived by a sister, Mrs. Douglas Beeman, Seattle. Services were scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Seattle.

Tri-Cities Herald, Pasco WA, 7 Jun 1968

Text and Senior Class 1963, Franklin High School, Seattle, photo
courtesy of
Darilee Bednar

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 18 Apr 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009