Madison in the sixties. Our Memorial Day tribute to our Vietnam casualties – part one.
Marine staff sergeant Roscoe Ammerman, thirty- seven, becomes the first casualty from Madison when he is killed in action in Quang Nam province on October 3. Ammerman joined the Marines at seventeen in August 1945, after dropping out of Central High School following his junior year. He saw combat in the Korean War, later served in Lebanon, and died an infantry unit leader. He is survived by his mother, a sister, and two brothers, all living in Madison.
Marine Lance Corporal Jean Pierre Dowling, twenty- two, East High class of 62, is killed by small- arms fire in Quang Ngai province on January 29. In order that Dowling can be buried in the soldiers’ section at Forest Hill Cemetery, the council quickly adopts an ordinance expanding eligibility from the World Wars and the Korean War, to any combat area or American police action.
And Marlborough Park neighbors on Crawford Drive both lose their sons in Vietnam in a two- month period.
Marine Corporal Michael Joseph Banovez, 4342 Crawford Dr., is shot to death in Quang Tri province on July 18, seventeen days after his twenty- first birthday. The Madison native was on a four- month extension after his three- year tour of duty ended June 28. Banovez was a record- setting hurdler at West High School, class of 1963. He joined the Marines shortly after his high school graduation; at his Marine graduation, he was the platoon’s honor man. A member of Bethel Lutheran Church, Banovez is the first alumnus of the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps., including 115 veterans of World War II, to die in a war.
Marine Private First Class Donald Dingeldein, twenty- one, whose parents live at 4346 Crawford Dr., is accidentally shot and killed by a fellow Marine near Da Nang on September 18. Dingeldein, a machine gunner who lettered in football in the class of 1963 at Waukesha High School, entered the Marine Corps in February.
Nine Madison men die in 1967m including two Purgolders on the same day, January 12.
Major Charles Thoma, thirty, East High 1954, UW class of 1958, dies after being shot in the head by a sniper while leading a search- and- destroy mission of the “Black Lion” battalion – Twenty- Eighth Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division — in the jungle northwest of Saigon. The son of retired Army colonel Henry C. Thoma, 4182 Nakoma Rd., and Mrs. Clifford Engle of San Francisco, Major Thoma was captain of the cross- country team, a member of the track and wrestling teams, and a member of Phi Kappa Sigma at UW. Recipient of the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf clusters, he is survived by his parents and his wife, the former Beverly Hubbard, and three sons.
And Army Private First Class Thomas E. “Pete” Matush, East High class of 1964, is killed when the truck he’s in goes over a land mine in Long Khahn Province. Matush was drafted shortly after high school graduation and arrived in country mid-august 1966, three weeks before his twenty- first birthday. He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph J. Matush, 1959 E. Washington Ave., two brothers and three sisters.
Army Private First Class James Clifcorn, twenty- two, Edgewood Academy class of 1962, is fatally shot by a sniper on April 14 while serving with the First Cavalry Division in the An Lo Valley. Clifcorn was three months shy of graduating from Maryknoll Seminary and entering the priesthood when he dropped out to join the Army and go to Vietnam.
Army Specialist 4- C Leonard D. Thompson, twenty- one, 42 Wirth Ct., is killed when his tank battalion is ambushed in Quang Tri province on April 25. A member of Plymouth
Congregational Church, he worked at Sub- Zero before entering the Army shortly after his graduation from East High in 1965.
Marine Lance Corporal Gordon Wayne Stoflet, twenty, East High class of 1965, dies June 29 of wounds received in action with the First Marine Regiment of the First Marine Division on May 13 in Quang Tin province. A member of Holy Cross Church, he is survived by his parents, grandparents, and seven siblings. Stoflet joined the Marines in January 1966, arriving in Vietnam that July.
Army Specialist 4- C Vernon J. Stich, twenty-one, a heavy truck driver, is killed in a vehicle crash in Cam Rahn Bay on August 7, ten weeks after arriving in Vietnam. Stich is survived by his father son of Vernon, 2112 Atwood Ave., his wife, mother and foster mother, and five siblings and foster siblings.
Army Corporal Mark W. Neuman, twenty, West High 1965, a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, is killed while on patrol on August 25. Neuman, whose father, Master Sergeant Willard F. Neuman, 1833 Baker Rd., is the supervisor of Army recruiting in Wisconsin, had volunteered for six months’ extra combat duty.
Army Specialist 4 Robert P. Casperson II, twenty- four, East High 1962, is killed in action in Quang Tin on November 15. A Big Eight conference wrestling champion, Casperson was seriously injured on October 27 and had been cleared to return to combat just five days prior. He is survived by his parents, 3418 Home Ave., a brother, sister and grandparents.
Marine Corporal James Donn Plecity, nineteen, West High 1966, son of Mr. and Mrs., Leonard W. Gafke, is a casualty of friendly fire during combat in Quang Tri province on December 6. He is survived by his parents, 5743 Kroncke Dr., a sister and two brothers. The last time Plecity was home on leave, he expressed anger at student protesters and the antiwar movement.
May their memories be for a blessing.
That’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning, sacrifice-saluting, listener-supported WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.
Anachronistic photo of the Bascom Hill Memorial Cemetery, March 18, 1968 courtesy UW-Madison Archives. Image S00892