Monday, May 26, 2014

In Honor of our Vietnam War Hero

As we celebrate Memorial Day today, honoring the many service men and women who gave their lives for our country, I must honor one particular member of my family – PFC, Sammie Lee Watson, Jr. (aka Sonny). 

Born:  02 October 1948; St. Louis, MO
Died:  28 November 1968; South Vietnam
Service:  USMC; 26th Marine Regiment
Specialty:  Rifleman
Major Command:  1st Marine Division; Company C

Sammie (Sonny) was the oldest of his siblings.  Although I was young at the time, I vividly remember him coming over to our house.  On one particular day I remember he came over and cut the grass for my mother. 

A 1967 graduate of Beaumont High School, Sonny was not only very smart, he played varsity football and ran track.  He enjoyed working and owning his own money.    In fact, prior to entering the military he was employed at Owen’s-Illinois Glass Company in the Plastic Division.

Before 1965, there was not a large amount of soldiers committed to ground combat.  On March 8, 1965 two marine battalions would start this trend that would progress throughout the war.  In fact, by December of the same year, over 200,000 U.S. troops were used in ground combat.  Rising numbers of incoming soldiers paired with dangerous small arms ground combat with an enemy that knew the landscape, would lead to the number of deaths rising. (1)

Code D - Gunshot or small arms fire

On March 5, 1968, Sonny made the decision to enlist into the Marines.  Once again, I remember him coming to say goodbye to my mother and the family.  She did not want to see him go.   He left to attend basic training at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA.  While he was there, his commanding officer wrote a letter to his parents stating their son Sammie requested to come home and be baptized by his own pastor at Bostick Temple Church.  His request was granted in July 1968.   While in basic training, Sonny was awarded top honor and received the Sharpshooter Medal.

On August 15, 1968, not knowing this would be the last time we would see him alive, Sonny left for South Vietnam.

On Thursday, November 28, 1968 while on patrol duty in South Vietnam, the enemy who knew the terrains so well attacked his camp.  Sonny was shot and killed by the enemy.  The news of his death even reached the local newspaper.

That particular Thanksgiving Day was a sad occasion for the entire family.  It is the hope of every parent who has a child in the military, that one day after their time has been served, they will return home.   Today Sammie Lee Watson, Jr’s name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC.

Panel: 37 West; Line:  3

So in honor of this Memorial Day, I salute my cousin, Sammie Lee Watson, Jr who will forever be in our hearts.

(1) source:  Vietnam - A historical geography from the University of Wisconsin


  1. Great write up on sharing the memories of a loved one....

  2. Such a coincidence. I was recently wondering about the details of his death. Thanks for sharing cousin. Love you!

  3. Wow....a hero hero! Interesting info. Great job cousin!

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