James Ervin Lakey

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
09 December 1944 - 08 May 1967
Bryson City, NC
Panel 19E Line 061


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for James Ervin Lakey

In 1967 I was with James E Lakey when he was fatally wounded. I didn't know his full name or age, and for many years I searched for his location on the memorial. In the past several months, I located another survivor of that war and through our conversations identified not only the man, but the date of that tragic event.

On November 19, 2002, I returned to the Wall to pay my respects with the following note:

November 19, 2002

I've seen the Wall before but didn't realize how small the print was.

Why do the benches on the mall face out from the Wall? Is it for contemplation, looking in as opposed to out?

Is it because the country turned their backs on us, a bit of symbolism?

Is it because it's easier for people to forget that which is not constantly before their eyes?

I never thought of Vietnam till 1983 yet it was always there. It was something I hid both consciously and sub-consciously from others and from me.

James Ervin Lakey. I met him only a few days before his death, and then, save for his last name, hardly spoke a word to him. There wasn't really time. We woke early those last few days of his life. Except for short breaks, we moved till the light ended, and then a bit beyond. Yet in spite of our brief contact, it was his life and death that changed my life.

Those were long days when it seemed the mountains and hills were endless. Mine is a long journey whose end is nowhere in sight.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009