Victor D Westphall, III

First Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
30 January 1940 - 22 May 1968
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Panel 66E Line 004


Victor David Westphall

Purple Heart (2 awards), National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Victor D Westphall, III

26 Jul 2003

Victor David Westphall III served twice in the United States Marines Corps, first as an enlisted Marine from 1959 to 1963, and then as a Second Lieutenant of Marines, commissioned in 1967. He was assigned to Bravo 1/4 Marines, 3rd Marine Division, and died in an ambush in Quang Tri Province on May 22, 1968.

I never met 2ndLt Westphall, but I did meet his father.

Seventeen of us from the "VVHP Family" had the honor and privilege of meeting Dr. Westphall at Angel Fire when we went there, from many States, in 1995. Some of us had been to Angel Fire before, individually, and have returned since; but 1995 is the time I will remember.

In the Angel Fire Chapel is a Memorial Wall where 12 photos of those killed in action or POW/MIA from the Vietnam War are chosen and displayed. They are changed every month, but a photo of Dr. Westphall's son, David, always stays.

Dr. Westphall knew of our group's journey to Angel Fire, and he was gracious enough to place photos from three of our group of their loved ones on this Wall that day:

Dr. Westphall sat in the Chapel with our group as we went through the emotional process of honoring and remembering those on the Memorial Wall and pay tribute to all who were lost in this War.

Dr. Westphall traveled to Vietnam to the place his son was killed in action. With him, he carried some soil from Angel Fire, which he left there. He then gathered soil from where his son was killed and brought it back to Angel Fire.

I will remember Dr. Westphall as a great and wonderful man dedicated to his son's memory and to his son's service and sacrifice for our country.

Deanna Shlee Hopkins

A Note from The Virtual Wall

An early-morning patrol by India Company, 3/3 Marines, came across a company-sized NVA unit near the destroyed hamlet of Lao Son near Con Thien. Some of the NVA soldiers were still sleeping, others were going about their morning routine - and all were disturbed when India 3/3 attacked their encampment. It was soon clear that India needed reinforcements, and the CG 3rd MarDiv undertook to provide them. Lima 3/3 was sent to help India, which was attacking to the south, and the 1/4 Marines were directed to send two companies with tank support eastward along the trace to take the NVA units from their rear. Elements of the 1/9 and 3/9 Marines were directed to establish blocking positions to east and west of the engagement in order to cordon the area.

The 1/4 Operations Log for 22 May says the 1/4 contingent departed 1245, with Bravo 1/4 and a tank element in the lead and Alpha 1/4 in trace. A deliberate engagement by Bravo 1/4 began at 1610; Alpha moved to assist. The NVA, caught between 1/4 to the south and 3/3 to the north, seemed to become confused and lost heavily to supporting air and artillery fires - but they didn't stop fighting.

At nightfall the two 1/4 companies withdrew slightly and established an NDP. At that point Alpha 1/4 had 2 KIA and 7 WIA; Bravo 12 KIA (6 known KIAs could not be recovered on the 22nd), 19 WIA, and 2 MIA. The 3/3 elements had fared better; India 3/3 lost two men killed, while both India and Lima had a number of wounded.

Both elements resumed the assault on 23 May. The 1/4 Marines encountered little resistance and had only 5 WIA. Alpha 1/4 was able to find and recover the bodies of the 8 members of Bravo not recovered on the 22nd (6 KIA, 2 MIA). The NVA repeatedly were caught in the open and supporting arms fires took a heavy toll. Most of the surviving NVA were moving north in an effort to gain sanctuary in the Demilitarized Zone a few kilometers away - but had to evade the 3/3 Marines, who were still moving south. By late afternoon the area was cleared of live NVA, but 3/3 had lost seven more men.

Although 1/9 and 3/9 established blocking positions as ordered they were not actively involved in the engagements and suffered no KIAs/DoWs.

Several hundred NVA bodies were strewn over the area, most killed by air and artillery fires, and a wealth of equipment and supplies was captured - but the two-pronged attack had cost the lives of 25 Marines:

  • 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines - Lao Son 22-23 May:
    • Cpl Benjamin H. Reid, Atlanta, GA, India 3/3
    • LCpl John H. Halman, Ashtabula, OH, India 3/3
    • LCpl Russell U. West, Orange, CA, India 3/3
    • LCpl Leonardo Ramos, San Antonio, TX, Lima 3/3
    • LCpl Kenneth C. Shemory, Mifflinburg, PA, Lima 3/3
    • Pfc Michael W. Williams, Artesia, CA, India 3/3
    • Pfc David E. Gore, Manteca, CA, H&S Co
    • Pfc James R. Corder, Wolf Summit, WV, India 3/3
    • Pvt Ralph B. Fecteau, Cornish, NH, India 3/3

  • 1st Bn, 4th Marines - An Dinh, 22 May:
    • Capt Robert E. Harris, Russell, KY, Bravo 1/4
    • 1stLt Victor D. Westphall, Albuquerque, NM, Bravo 1/4
    • SSgt Edmund J. Kelly, Wilson, NC, Alpha 1/4
    • Sgt Roger W. Boyd, Decatur, IL, Bravo 1/4
    • LCpl Denver J. Berkheimer, Streetsboro, OH, Bravo 1/4
    • LCpl Rolando Hernandez, Corpus Christi, TX, Bravo 1/4
    • LCpl Charles S. Kirkland, Kennett, MO, Bravo 1/4
    • LCpl Duane F. Horgan, Lakewood, CO, H&S 1/4 (with Bravo)
    • Pfc Davis F. Brown, Winter Park, FL, Bravo 1/4
    • Pfc Carlos A. De La Hoz, Yonkers, NY, Alpha 1/4
    • Pfc Alejandro Diaz, New York, NY, Bravo 1/4
    • Pfc William B. Hamacher, Gloucester, NJ, Bravo 1/4
    • Pfc Clyde R. Hamby, Hayward, CA, Bravo 1/4
    • Pfc James E. Joshua, Gadsden, AL, Bravo 1/4
    • Pfc Raymond B. Ralls, Philadelphia, PA, Bravo 1/4
    • Pfc Ray Williams, Atlanta, GA

After their son's death, Victor and Jeanne Westphall, assisted by their second son Walter, determined they would build a memorial to all servicemen who were dying or being maimed in body or spirit in Vietnam. Using 2ndLt Westphall's SGLI payment as seed money, they engaged a young Santa Fe architect, Ted Luna, to design the Memorial Chapel.

Angel Fire One must recall that this was not a popular project at the time, and when completed in 1971 the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel was the first - and for many years the only - memorial to our Vietnam servicemen. Over the years the Angel Fire Memorial became better known and attracted attention from the media, veterans' organizations, and the general public ... but the only organization to offer financial support was the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), which in 1977 granted $100,000 over a ten year period. In 1979 Jan Scruggs of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund publicly promised financial support; none was forthcoming. In 1980, Congress declined support, favoring the proposed memorial to be built in Washington over the Angel Fire memorial in the New Mexico outback.

But in 1981 the DAV expanded their support, forming DAV Vietnam Veterans National Memorial, Inc, which in 1982 accepted title to the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel and oversaw a $2 million dollar effort to expand the Angel Fire complex. On November 13th, 1987, the United States Congress recognized the Memorial as a memorial of national significance; on the same day President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation to that effect. A decade later, on 9 Nov 1998, the DAV gave the entire Memorial Complex to the David Westphall Veterans Foundation.

Victor Westphall, PhD, 89, founder of the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico passed away on July 22, 2003. His funeral service was held on Saturday, July 26, 2003, at 10 AM at the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial, Angel Fire, New Mexico, and he was buried on the Memorial grounds.

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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