Air Force Tech Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon, Jr., murdered in Vietnam by a fellow airman on June 8, 1956, has been formally recognized by the Pentagon as the first American officially to die in that war.

With this decision, the Defense Department set Nov. 1, 1955, as the earliest qualifying date for inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial . It says this is the date the MAAG was officially established. Eight other pre-1961 casualties are already listed on the memorial.

The first death of an American serviceman in Vietnam occurred Sept. 26, 1945. OSS Maj. A. Peter Dewey was killed in action by the Communist Vietminh near Hanoi. Some 128 members of a MAAG began supervising the use of U.S. equipment in Vietnam on Sept. 17, 1950. And two U.S. fliers contracted by the CIA were killed in action flying missions over Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The first U.S. advisors sent to actually train Vietnamese troops arrived Feb. 12, 1955. Capt. Harry Cramer, Jr., was killed in a munitions handling accident Oct. 21, 1957: His name had been the first listed.

There is another unique aspect to this story: Marine Lance cpL Richard 1 Fitzgibboñ III —his son—was killed in action iñ.Vietnam on Sept. 7, 1965. The Fitzgibbons are the only father-son honorees on the Wall.

When Fitzgibbon’s name is added the Wall before Memorial Day 1999, the

total number of names memorialized will be 58,214.



January 1999. Vol . 86 No. 6 (Pg. 8.)

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