Douglas Gordon OrvisFirst Lieutenant
C CO, 2ND BN, 12TH CAVALRY, 1 CAV DIV
Army of the United States
03 June 1942 - 29 July 1968
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The database page for Douglas Gordon Orvis
I met Doug Orvis when we were freshmen in high school. He came to be my best friend and eventually my high school sweetheart.
Doug was an outstanding student, graduating valedictorian of our senior class. He was awarded many scholarships. He attended the University of Vermont for a year, and then enlisted in the Army. During the next four years we married, had a son, and served at Fort Bragg with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
Doug went back to UVM after his enlistment ended and I worked at a nearby hospital. He graduated 3 years later, magna cum laude, with a major in political science and a minor in French. He was named as the highest ranking cadet ever to graduate from UVM.
Doug knew that Viet Nam was a choice, so a year later he volunteered to go there. He went to Viet Nam to win the war. He thought he could make a difference. He soon realized that the war in Viet Nam was a war that would not be won.
Our son Mike and I had returned to our home town in Vermont to await his return.
Doug was killed on July 29, 1968, two days after his son turned five. Doug was 26 years old.
Doug was an exceptional man. He could speak three languages, always working with the HQ Company of all the different units he was with. He had the ability to talk with people without talking down to them. He was a wonderful son, brother, husband, and father. He was in touch with himself and he touched all those that he met.
After nearly 31 years, I still miss his friendship. I miss his laughter and his smile. I miss the father he had become to our son. I miss the life we didn't finish and even though my years have been filled with many wonderful people and happenings, there is still a hole in my heart that can never be filled -- Viet Nam never goes away. You can heal, but you never forget.
I recently became acquainted with a man, Jerry Tausz, who served with Doug in Viet Nam, and because of him, 31 years later, I finally have some closure to July 29, 1968. It is with thanks to him that I can write this page in remembrance of Doug.
No matter what Doug attempted to do, he always gave 100%. So I know, even though the odds were heavily against him in Viet Nam, that he gave 100% and did his job well. I'm proud of that.
Doug was my friend and my soulmate -- someday I will see him again, and then maybe we will forget Viet Nam.
11 Nov 2006
From his wife,
11 Church Street, Bristol, Vermont 05443
The names of all men lost on the field of battle that day are:
Over the years, I often thought about the family LT Orvis left behind. I thought about somehow making contact with them. Early in 1999, through a twist of fate, I located LT Orvis' wife, Mary. In the year following LT Orvis' death, Mary turned heaven and earth to locate someone who could talk to her about what had happened to her husband. This was in part because in the weeks following his death, the Army gave her conflicting information about his status. Over the years I assumed, incorrectly, that since LT Orvis was an officer, the Army had given his surviving family special consideration; provided an ombudsman to answer questions, rendered other support and so on. I was wrong. Besides, who was I to intrude on someone else's life -- someone else's tragedy. When I finally did write to her, I was stunned to learn that, other than the Army's initial notification, I had been the first person from that period to contact her.
I am leaving this message so that people reading these words today; ten years from now; a hundred years from now can understand what happened on the morning of July 29, 1968. Our people were ambushed on a jungle hilltop. LT Orvis led his platoon in what was essentially a rescue mission. His platoon was not the element initially ambushed. He knew the risks when he led the advance into harm's way. Had he not acted as decisively and courageously as he did, the outcome of July 29, 1968 might have been very different. I think about that.
In memorial honor of 1Lt Douglas G. Orvis
Doug Orvis was about 5 years older than I was, growing up in Lincoln, and so I really didn't know him as well as his younger brother, Brad, who was my age. But I knew a lot "about" Doug, and looked up to him, as younger kids will to the older guys.
And now, nearly 35 years after his being killed in action in Vietnam, I finally have seen The Virtual Wall website and seen the photo of Doug and his ribbons and decorations. I read the account of the rescue mission during which he lost his life while saving another soldier. And I have read Mary's wonderful tribute to her husband. And friend Jerry Tausz' memorial words and work.
Of course, it is all deeply moving, even today, to remember this man from High School in Bristol, Vermont, he being several grades ahead of me. As I recall, he was really one of the guys that was on the "up and up". His family is that way: sweet, nice, good people. Family.
I too was in the military (Air Force) at the time Doug was killed in 1968. And I didn't hear personally (in other than a letter) of what had happened until I came home in 1970.
Our town, Lincoln, Vermont, had at that time about 900 folks in residence, and to lose even one in combat had a huge impact. And, to lose one such as Doug Orvis ... was a huge event. I am greatly impressed, even to this day (May 5, 2003) with Doug, as much as I was in High School back in the early 60's, and now even more.
Lincoln, Vermont, has an Honor Roll of her veterans of all of the wars in the past, and some killed in action. I do not in any way wish to diminish their service, sacrifice or memory here, it's just that Doug Orvis was the only one that I knew personally.
I am very grateful for his service and his ultimate sacrifice. Of course I absolutely would have preferred that he came home alive, as everyone else did.
But, I pray that I too will see Doug again someday, alive and well, no wounds, scars, tears, anything. Only the victorious, eternal Doug.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on a great, and good as well, man.
From a friend of the family,
REMEMBERING DOUG ORVIS
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 18 Mar 2000
Last updated 08/10/2009