D CO, 5TH BN, 12TH INF RGT, 199 INF BDE
From Willoughby, OH
27 September 1941 - 15 May 1968
When "Tom" and "Don" came into our unit they both came to me and we discussed the prospects of being shipped out to Vietnam. I don't really know what drew them to me, except that we were all about the same age, which was older than most, and the same rank, Sgt. E-5. I think, too, that they probably recognized me from the contact that we had had during training. There was an immediate bond between us that I can't explain. I recall that Tom was a very serious minded fellow, and that Don was more talkative, but there was something that stuck in my mind about Tom and Don's faces won't allow me to forget the way they looked that day.
Later, I was shipped out and arrived in Vietnam in very early February after spending time at home on leave. I was assigned to the 4.2" Mortar Platoon in the 2/47th Inf. (M), 9th Inf. Div. I didn't know if, when, or where Thomas and Donald were assigned, but in a chance meeting in Saigon in late May of 1968, I was reunited with Donald. He noticed me in a crowded room full of G.I.'s in a NCO club at an airbase as I was on my way back to my unit after R&R. We talked for a while, and Don filled me in on the whereabouts of Thomas and said that he was doing ok, and that they were both in the same unit. Donald was just returning from a in country rehab after being wounded earlier. As we parted, we promised to stay in touch and try to get together along with Thomas when it was time for us all to get out of the Army, and Vietnam, in October of 1968. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out the way we planned.
A couple of weeks after I got back to my unit, I received a letter from Donald. It was a sad letter telling me that upon his return to their unit, D/5/12 Inf, 199th LIB., he learned that Thomas had been killed on May 15,1968, during his absence. Donald was obviously upset and discouraged as he wrote, so the letter was short and to the point. I wrote back to Donald, to express my own feelings, and to encourage him to be safe and that I would see him when our time was up. Later, I would receive a letter from Donald's widow informing me that he, too, had been killed, and wouldn't be there to meet me for the trip home. I still have both these letters, and will never forget these guys, and especially the great friends that they were to each other. And while we weren't in the same unit, we had been, and their loss was difficult for me to accept. I finally have.
Every soldier, sailor, or airman who lost their lives in Vietnam deserves to be memorialized. However, It is my hope that this small offering will be noticed by the families of these two fine young men, who were, judging by the pace of their advancement in military rank, outstanding leaders who were looked up to by everyone who knew them. I certainly did. To the family of Thomas Seifert: I want you to know that it is not only you who have suffered with the anguish of your son's fate. I have passed their story on for many years and will retell Tom's and Don's story to anyone who will be still long enough hear it. We must never forget those who couldn't get on the plane with us and come home to families and wives and go on with their lives. Tom's loss certainly diminishes the value of our country as he would surely have come home and passed on the same great talents and abilities to his own family that made him the fine person, soldier, and friend that he was.
The database page for Thomas Leonard Seifert
18 Dec 2001