25 June 2006
Sergeant Killed in Vietnam
A 20-year-old Army sergeant who planned to be a Philadelphia policeman when he returned from Vietnam, was killed September 6 by automatic weapons fire while on a combat operation, the Defense Department said Monday.
The victim was Sgt. Edward W. Secrest, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles J. Secrest Sr., of 1639 E. Eyre st., Kensington.
"In his last letter he asked for a watch that glows in the dark," his father said. "We brought one and were going to send it today-then the telegram arrived. Now we'll send it to one of his buddies."
Sgt. Secrest was a member of the 11th light infantry brigade, Americal Division. He enlisted in April, 1966, after attending Mercy Technical School. After spending 15 months in Hawaii, he was sent to Vietnam in December, 1967.
In the letters, Sgt. Secrest said he would be home for Thanksgiving dinner and promised to take his mother Christmas shopping. The family talked with him through a radio-relayed phone call three weeks ago and his last words were, "Don't worry. I'll be home."
His father, a veteran of the Second World War, is a machinist for Philadelphia Gear Corp. and Dienelt Eisenhardt Co.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
September 10, 1968
The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987.
Edward W. Secrest
The youngest of six sons, all of whom were military veterans, Secrest aspired to become a policeman when he got home from Vietnam. The 20-year-old Army sergeant had attended Mercy Technical School, where he studied carpentry, before enlisting in the Army. He was sent to Vietnam and became an assistant squad leader in Company E of the 4th, Battalion, 3rd Infantry. 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Secrest had decided to forgo leave in Japan in the summer of 1968 so that he could end his tour of duty earlier and be home by Thanksgiving, but was killed in action on September 6, 1968, in Quang Ngai Province. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. The day his body returned to Philadelphia, Secrest's parents received a $500 check he had mailed before his death for them to use on a family vacation. Survivors included his parents, five brothers and four sisters. Secrest was one of at least 11 young men from the Fishtown-Kensington-Port Richmond neighborhoods to die or be missing in action in Vietnam. All are honored on the Cpl. Charles J. Glenn 3rd Memorial in Fishtown, dedicated in 1967 and one of the first memorials to Vietnam veterans in the U.S.
E. Eyre Street, Kensington
From a native Philadelphian and Marine,