Edward Odell Spencer

Private First Class
Army of the United States
27 February 1948 - 19 January 1968
Culpeper, Virginia
Panel 34E Line 082


Combat Medic

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Edward Odell Spencer

I first met Ed Spencer when I arrived at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Ed and I were Seventh-day Adventists and our beliefs did not allow us to take up weapons to enter the Vietnam Conflict as combatants, but rather we "fought" to save lives, even the enemies' - if it should be required. Ed did not have to go to Vietnam as he was studying to be a minister in our chosen faith, but he felt he could make a difference for those that would and did suffer the trauma of war. So he and I volunteered and Uncle Sam accepted our offers.

In training Ed and I shared a bunk bed, he in the lower deck, I in the upper. During this time I grew to know Ed as a very gentle, quiet and peaceful young man. I remember him for his unique laugh, and his adherence to his faith. He and I discussed our hopes for the future, our families, and discussed visiting each other in our home states after our tours were completed. Of course there are several experiences I could share that he and I were subjected too, but I'll only share one. After several weeks of training we were allowed to go off base which we did wearing our uniforms - almost devoid of any kind of decorations. We decided to see a movie.

In the film there was a scene of a fountain that was surrounded by hundreds of pigeons. Ed broke up laughing out loud and between roars of amusement explained to me that those birds had a real penchant for being able to find a person, and hit them with their droppings. When the movie let out late that evening, Ed and I left the theater and upon entering the sidewalk put our military covers on - our hats. Immediately, Ed was struck on the hat by a pigeon dropping. He immediately cracked up and throughout the rest of his training could identify his hat by the slight stain of the the dropping he had been struck by that night. The experience always made him roar with laughter.

During the latter part of our training we were informed that the army had lost our shot records. This was a record of injections the army gave us to keep us safe from various diseases we could encounter in Vietnam. We were required to take the whole series over again, which was close to 23 injections! Well, the short of it is we came down with elevated temperatures and four us were allowed not to train that day, and we stayed in the barracks. We discussed the possiblities that service in a war zone might bring. I brought up the possibility that our lives might be required, and we all shared our fears and hopes that we would somehow be spared this possible reality. It was not to be.

The end of our training came and we all went home for a month, and we reported for duty at Travis Air Force Base in California. I flew via Hawaii and the Philippines, Ed went via Alaska and Japan. We ended up at the 32nd Replacement Center in Long Binh. This is where we received our in-country assignments.

Ed and I discussed trying to serve together but the Army had different plans for us. Ed and I visited as much as we could. His assignment came before mine and we said our goodbyes and made a promise to visit each other in our separate states, mine in Seattle, Washington, his in Culpepper, Virginia. He by this time had gained a new friendship with a fellow medic assigned to the same area. Ed took a final picture of me standing in a open bunker. We shook hands and that was the last time I saw him.

I learned of his demise a month later while serving with some fellow trainees in an ambulance company. Ed was the first our training group lost in that war. Two other fellow medics also lost their lives over there. Even though I learned that Ed's death was real and not just a rumor, it is a unique thing that one's mind chooses not to believe it and hope that the crummy news is really just rumor.

I carried the bad news of Ed's death for nearly 18 years before I finally tried to make contact with Ed's family, in the early eighties. Again, to make a long story short. I finally visited Ed in his state in 1999, and met his parents. Fantastic people. When I knelt beside Ed's resting place I was able to finally complete the promise we made each other over 30 years ago. Since Ed naturally could not visit me, I brought a small bottle of Washington State soil with me and spread it across his grave.

It is my firm belief that on Resurrection Morning, my friend will rise and share in the following experience. Until then, he rests well in God's hands.

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
Revelation 21:4

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Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009