M CO, 3RD BN, 1ST MARINES, 1ST MARDIV
From Orange Park, FL
06 May 1949 - 29 February 1968
I was your squad leader in Vietnam in February 1968 and still 36 years later your death is near to my heart. I remember many things about you - your handsome looks, your strength, and your personality, one that was endearing to all who knew and fought alongside you.
I also remember the day you were killed. It was a gray drizzly day ... we had been chewed up pretty good by the NVA the week before and in fact were getting ready to make another major assault across a small river on Mai Xai Thi West, a village in the northern section of Vietnam not too far from the DMZ and North Vietnam. On the next day, as we settled in late in the afternoon digging foxholes etc you came around in a very excited and high spirited mood which for most of us our spirits were as low as I could ever remember them being in my 11 months in country. Your excitement was that you had just received a photo of your newborn son from your wife and were proudly showing him off to all of us. As most of us were only kids as you were at 18 we thought it was really wonderful that no matter what happened to you you were able to leave a wife and son behind to carry on your memory and in fact a very part of you and his mom. I for one thought I would die over there and was envious that I would not have that same opportunity. Shortly before sunset you stood up in your foxhole to stretch your legs. A single shot rang out and you were killed instantly by a NVA sniper's bullet... I think a part of each of us died with you that day - and a part of your family, wife and son as well as those of us who served with you.
I always worried that your wife and son never knew that you had a chance to see your son and after many years I did locate your wife and your son. Thankfully they told me you had sent a letter a day before you were killed telling them you receieved the photos. I was relieved. I spoke with your wife (she never did remarry) and sent your son as much as I could to help fill in as many blanks as I could about who you were, where you were, and what you were experiencing - including the proud father who was so very excited about the birth of his son.
I wonder - does America know that stories such as yours are not a rarity but occurred much more than we care to admit and that young men sacrificed their lives and their families did also to help free a people from Communism?
No matter we who knew and loved, we never will forget you nor your sacrifice nor those just like you from the Vietnam war.
Sleep well, Doug, and someday we all hope to be with you once again.
God bless you and yours always.
Brian (Snooks) Strasser
The database page for Douglas Alan Lentz
18 Mar 2004
Last updated 08/10/2009