Gregory Jerome Van De Walle
Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
San Antonio, Texas
November 22, 1946 to May 14, 1967
GREGORY J VAN DE WALLE is on the Wall at Panel 19E, Line 123

Combat Action Ribbon

18 Feb 2001

I was 12 when I attended Gregory Vandewalle's funeral in San Antonio, Texas. I remember St. John Berchmanns Catholic Church was filled to capacity. The coffin was draped with the US flag and everyone had tears in their eyes. The line of cars in the procession to the cemetary was the longest I can recall, then or now. The Marine Guard fired the 21-Gun Salute to a fallen hero and then Gregory was lowered into the ground.

I can still see my cousin standing at the rear of the church in his Marine dress uniform after his return from his first tour in Vietnam several months earlier. He had been wounded and had spent time rehabilitating in a hospital in Hawaii. He volunteered to return to Vietnam for a second tour and was back home to visit family and friends. His second tour was cut short by enemy weapons and the government returned him in a body-bag.

I will never forget that warm May afternoon when my mother came into the garden where my dad and I were working to tell him that Gregory had died in action. I had never seen my parents cry until then, but my dad held my mom in his arms and they both wept. Many years have passed and I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with whoever cares to read them. Gregory Vandewalle will always stand as a hero in my eyes. His presence here on this world was cut all too short by a senseless war, as were the lives of thousands of others. Their memories will always live on because we have chosen not to forget them.

I will not forget ...

David W. Hooge
San Antonio, Texas

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