Delma Lee Reed

United States Marine Corps
24 October 1944 - 02 July 1967
Trent, Texas
Panel 22E Line 113



Bronze Star, Purple Heart (2 awards), National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Delma Lee Reed

15 May 2005

Delma Lee Reed was born in Sweetwater, Texas. It was the nearest hospital to the small West Texas community of Trent. He was a life time resident and loved the community. He had plans to return and go to work there. Trent is in Taylor County (Abilene) on Interstate 20. Delma was well liked and and was a hard working young man with a strong work ethic. His mother, Mrs. Ruth Riney, now of Merkel, Texas, wrote in a letter, "Delma worked after school fixing flats for 35 cents apiece. His friends poked fun at him and he would respond that he had 35 cents and they had nothing. Yet, when they would want to ride with him to go to another town, Delma would respond that the price of the ride is 35 cents."

He graduated in 1963 from Trent High School, he lettered three years and was the starting center on the football team for two years. After graduation he married his high school sweetheart, the former Barbara McElhaney of Trent.

As he knew he had a service obligation to his country, he elected to join the Marine Corps, he wanted to be in the best according to his mother.

He was killed while on patrol on July 2, 1967. He had only rejoined his unit a few weeks before as he had been convalescing from a wound that he had suffered Christmas Eve 1966.

At his funeral at the First Baptist Church in Trent, there was standing room only, and people were waiting outside. The people of Trent had canvassed the area towns to locate minature American flags which lined the pathway to his final resting place at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Sweetwater.

He is remembered on the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.

From a PBVVM representative,
Billy M. Brown

Marine's Death Brings War Home to Trent Folk
By John Fisher
Reporter-Abilene Reporter Telegram Intern
Baylor University Student, dtd July 5, 1967

TRENT - To most Americans, the Vietnam War seems to be a million miles away until a tragedy brings it closer to home. Such is the case with the West Texas community of Trent.

Until early Saturday morning the war seemed to the people of Trent to be far removed from reality. On Saturday morning, Trent learned that Marine Cpl. Delma Reed had been killed in the fighting in Vietnam.

He was killed when he stepped on a mine Friday while on a patrol with the Marines near Da Nang, South Vietnam. Funeral for the 22 year old Marine will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in the First Baptist Church in Trent, with burial in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Sweetwater.

Delma had just returned to the fighting after being wounded on last Christmas Eve. At that time he was one of the few men in his platoon to escape alive.

"When I heard of Delma's death, it didn't seem to be real. Even though you expect something like this to happen," said Buddy Boyd, Trent postmaster.

"It makes you realize that there is really a war going on in the world. " he said. "Everybody keeps up with the war to a certain extent, but this makes us think more about it."

Another Marine from Trent, Jerry Heatley, came home Saturday after being wounded near Da Nang. Jerry and Delma were good friends while they were in Trent, but never saw each other in Vietnam even though the two Trent men were stationed only 12 miles apart in the Da Nang area.

Heatley said, "I remember Delma as a quiet boy whom everybody liked. It was something you just didn't expect to happen and it really shocked me when I heard of his death."

The deep sorrow of the town is openly demonstrated by several U.S. Flags in the town that are being flown at half mast. Unlike larger towns that seem to have organizations to supply flags for such an occasion, the people of Trent had to go out and look for flags to display.

The 1963 graduate of Trent High School was one of the most well liked boys in the small community, said Mrs. Carl Edwards. "He was a kind, gentle boy. He longed to get back and get to work again."

"Delma wanted to be in the this small community which is just one big family."

He was married to the former Barbara McElhaney of Trent, who now lives in Sweetwater.

Mrs. Edwards said, "We worry about unimportant things in our lives in the States, but something like this makes the boys who are giving their lives for our freedom."

A Note from The Virtual Wall

At 10 AM on 2 July 1967, Bravo Company 1/9 Marines were on patrol about 1 and 1/2 miles northeast of Con Thien when they made contact with what they thought was a small, well-entrenched enemy unit. Alpha 1/9, also on patrol nearby, came to help, and the two understrength companies found themselves in a meat grinder - the small enemy force turned out to be 5 NVA battalions that had crossed the DMZ. Even worse, the NVA troops were supported by artillery firing from within and north of the DMZ. By midafternoon, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, had been inserted by helicopter on the enemy's left flank and the massive weight of U. S. air and artillery support was taking its toll on the NVA. By evening the NVA had broken contact, withdrawing into the DMZ. By that time Bravo 1/9 had been destroyed as a fighting force - Bravo 1/9, understrength to begin with, had 58 men killed in action. Alpha 1/9 had 13 killed in action, and H&S Company 15 - including eight Corpsmen.

Delma Reed's first cousin (his maternal aunt's son) PFC Robert E. Lackey of Mount Laguna, California, was one of two men from Alpha Company 1/327th Infantry killed in action on 11 Dec 1968 in Thua Thien Province.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a PBVVM representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762
29 May 2005

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 05/29/2005