Roger Elgin Ward

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
20 September 1946 - 05 April 1968
Spring Lake, Michigan
Panel 48E Line 021


Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Roger Elgin Ward

19 Jan 2006

I, along with many others from West Michigan, was drafted into the U.S. Army in May of 1967. Our group left from Grand Rapids, Michigan and entered the Reception Station at Fort Knox, Kentucky. There were too many of us from our group so all of those whose last names began with W, X, Y or Z ended up with a group from Detroit, Michigan. My last name is Warren which put me right next to Ward.

Roger was a smiling, happy young man who wanted to be a surfer and a snow skier. His home town was near the Lake Michigan port of Grand Haven, Michigan with its Michigan State Park beach. Roger was always disappointed in the small size of the waves on Lake Michigan and longed to be able to surf in California. There is a snow ski hill in Spring Lake and Roger loved to ski there in the winter.

Roger and several of us in "A-11-3" Basic Training Company came up with the idea of having our families mail us a care package of civilian clothes. When they came we put them inside our military clothes and hung them up so they were hidden from the Drill Sergeants. We were quite proud of our sneaky selves. Trainees at that time were restricted to certain areas of Fort Knox and normally could not go to the main Post Exchange or movie theaters. Trainees could always be spotted because we were in new fatigues and had to wear helmet liners. It was easy for the MPs or other Sergeants and officers to spot us when we were in an unauthorized area

One weekend we had a chance to go to a concert on post. We all planned to sneak over there in our civilian clothes. I had a problem though in that my folks had not mailed me a belt. If you were caught beltless in your civilian clothes then the MPs could grab you. I really wanted to go the the concert and was bitterly disappointed.

Here's what I remember about Roger Ward. He took off his belt and gave it to me. Thus he could not go to the concert that he really wanted to attend. He unselfishly gave up his freedom for his friend and would not take the belt back! This may not seem like much to many of you but it was the first time in many weeks that we could actually get away from the control of the "Army" and have a few hours of relaxation and fun. I did not keep in touch with Roger Ward. When I was discharged in May of 1969 in Oakland, California after my return from Vietnam I was told that Roger had been killed in Vietnam. Since all of the draftees were discharged 2 years after their induction there were several former members of A-11-3 at the discharge center. One of them had heard that Roger had not made it home.

I returned to my wife and new daughter, college, a job and extended family and really meant to get in touch with Roger's family but never did. I did visit the Wall in Washington DC and took a picture of his name. I want his family to know what a good person he was. May he rest in peace.

Ron Warren

19 May 2006

My name is Carlos Labastida and I live in Tempe, Arizona. I was assigned to 2nd Plt Bravo Co as a rifleman and also radio operator. I fought in the battle on April 5, 1968. The battle started at about 3 in the afternoon, and we did not break contact with the enemy till about 3 or 4 in the morning. We came up on an ambush in which resulted in many killed and wounded. I was with one of the eleven men, his name was John R. Pierini, a machine gunner for his squad. I noticed that he was wounded so I went foward under enemy fire and dragged him back to my position. I treated him the best I could, then went back out and got his machine gun so we could use it for support. A short time later Pierini died in my arms. I received a Bronze Star for valor but would gladly give it back if it could bring him back. I relive April 5 in my mind day after day. I would like to get in contact with the family of John R. Pierini ... if anybody can help me please e-mail me.

From a comrade-in-arms,
Carlos Labastida
2410 East McArthur, Tempe, Arizona 85281

A Note from The Virtual Wall

SP4 Roger Ward was one of eleven men killed in action on 05 April 1968 while Alpha and Bravo Companies, 4/47th Infantry, were operating in the Truc Giang District of Kien Hoa Province, a traditional haven for the Viet Cong. The US dead were
  • A Company:
    • SSG Ernest A. Lang, Jacksonville, FL
    • SGT Cecil R. Hobbs, Wyandotte, MI
    • SGT Bruce Tortorici, Van Nuys, CA
    • CPL Carl E. Hosnander, Holden, MA
    • CPL Norman E. Small, Alden, KS
    • PFC Douglas D. Mc Mahon, Sherman Oaks, CA

  • B Company:
    • SSG Fred Young, Greensboro, NC
    • SGT Vance A. Berry, Amarillo, TX
    • SP4 Roger E. Ward, Spring Lake, MI
    • PFC Douglas G. Bailey, Rutherfordton, NC
    • PFC John R. Pierini, East Ely, NV

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 19 Jan 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009