William James Schussler

Private First Class
CAP 1-3-8, CACO 1-3, 1ST CAG, 3RD MAF
United States Marine Corps
03 January 1950 - 24 October 1969
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 17W Line 114


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William James Schussler

3 July 2002

"Not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank,
but in simple obedience to duty,
as they understood it."
Confederate Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

A memorial initiated by a friend,
Al Jaska
05 June 2003

William J Schussler

The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.

"He would have followed the Marines into hell," recalled a relative. But Schussler was concerned about killing people, and in many ways was a pacifist, his family recalled. Upon graduation from Father Judge High School in June 1967, Schussler took a job as a refrigeration and air-conditioning apprentice at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He enlisted in the Marines in January 1969 and was sent to Viet Nam, where the private first class was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company of the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. Schussler wrote to family and friends from Viet Nam often, and in a poem sent to the Pennypack Woods Chit-Chat newspaper thanking neighbors for a package they had sent, expressed his feelings about being there:
Now if I am going to die
Please! Make it worth a cause
Please for me.
Tell my parents goodbye
For I was fighting for this cause
Not for these Vietnamese
Schussler was more than just a big brother, his sister said. "He gave the word 'friend' a better meaning of caring and helping," she said. "He loved his family and proved it not only by what he did...but how he did it." In high school, he was good friends with Francis X. Kane , another Philadelphian who died in Viet Nam. Schussler was part of an elite Marine unit patrolling the jungle around the air base at Da Nang. He died on October 24, 1969, near Binh Son in Quang Ngai Province at the age of 19. Survivors included his parents, a brother and a sister.


From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

02 Mar 2007

Schussler, 19, was a Marine poet who wrote just before he died in October 1969

"America the beautiful, land of joy.
Does anyone back there ever think of me?
Or am I just another politician's toy?
If I go down will I be forgotten by thee?"

I was 19, and just 'in-country' for two months as an Army Gun Boat (PBR) Coxswain in the Delta when Schussler tripped a land mine up in Da Nang. While I did not know him personally his poetic and haunting verse expressed most of 'our' questions and feelings about 'our' plight at the time.

His sacrifice, a noble example of the "Greatest Love Of All", did not go unnoticed by me. I was moved to pen a response from the bobbing deck of a fiberglass gunboat while patrolling the Song Dong Nai and wrote, "BRAVE MARINE, DEAD MARINE."

While I have never forgotten Schussler, "BRAVE MARINE, DEAD MARINE" (with a lot of other stuff) ended up in a trunk up in the attic over the garage. After thirty years, I brought the trunk down and realized with the clarity and humility that comes (thankfully) with age, how Schussler's life and words cause us to reflect, ponder and assess not only the ever reaching rippling effect of the Viet Nam War but the importance of accepting and understanding the consequences of our choices and how they WILL effect our neighbor.

No, I did not forget...


O brave Marine, dead Marine
Brother of mine.

Your woeful lament has been sung and heard
And now I shall answer with mine.

You wrote from the jungle and sang to the sky,
If I go down will I be forgotten by thee?"

Brother by heart and brother by soul
I honor your sacrifice and pray there's no more.

I suppose that you and me and many others
Have paused in the sun, reflected and shuddered
At the cold hard question,

Usually muttered;

Why is it that you came here to die...
In the prime of your youth
At the blink of God's eye?

Society cried for freedom's cause
But you and I really know why.

You died for me and perhaps I for another
It's for mankind's spirit and love for our brothers.

No, is the answer
I'll say it again
You'll not be forgotten as long as I live.

Be it long or be it short
Makes little difference to me.

For I will gladly die and give up my place
For another man's try at life's fast pace.

The cause is in vain to this I'll agree
Your death was not

You died for me.

� 1969 Jim Anderberg

From another 'Nam Vet,
James A. Anderberg

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 03 Jul 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009