Letters: Remembering a brave West Philly soldier

Donald-Jerry-Evans-philly-vietnam-veterans-memorial
Pfc. Donald Jerry Evans (inset) of West Philadelphia is one of 648 fallen heroes listed on the Wall of Names at the at Penn's Landing. Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Remembering a brave West Philly soldier

As the commanding officer of two U.S. Army companies that lost 17 men and had 88 wounded in a two-day firefight with the Viet Cong 50 years ago, I would like to remember one of my men and Philadelpia's own, Pfc. Donald Jerry Evans.

Evans, a mortarman, was among the 252 soldiers from Company A, First Battalion, 35th Infantry, and Company B, Second Battalion, 35th Infantry, who defended a small, swampy clearing in the central highlands west of Pleiku, near the Cambodian border, until relieved by the remainder of the First Battalion, 35th Infantry, on May 29, 1966.

The 18-year-old received the Silver Star posthumously, with this description of his heroism: Private First Class Evans continually exposed himself to the intense, hostile fire to provide effective mortar support to the rifle platoons. Although he was seriously wounded in both legs during the ensuing battle, he continued to man his position until he was assured that his comrades had taken cover from the incoming Viet Cong fire. He then waited for medical evacuation and continued to direct and encourage his comrades. Private First Class Evans died three hours later as a result of his wounds."

Evans and the others killed in that battle will be honored Monday at the annual Memorial Day service at Veterans Memorial Park in Franklin, Tenn. Bricks inscribed with name, rank, date, and place of death have been installed in the park, which I helped build.

Evans followed the flag and gave his country his full measure. Those of you who knew him will always remember him as forever young. The few of us who were there and served with the fallen will never forget them.

Philadelphia has every right to be proud of her sons.

|Wallace S. Tyson, retired Army colonel, Franklin, Tenn. wstyson@bellsouth.net