STILL POND — It’s been 50 years since Carl Crew was mortally wounded in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the last of Kent County’s four servicemen who were killed in Vietnam.
But for Larry Crew, the death of his younger brother is “one of those things you can’t shake.”
“It seems like it never leaves you. It just kind of never goes away,” he said in a telephone interview May 8.
Carl Crew was born in New York, but spent most of his life in Betterton, which is where brother Larry still lives.
He worked at the A&P grocery store in Chestertown as a butcher from the time he graduated from Galena High School in 1967 until he was drafted in December of that year.
Prior to the combat action that took his life in March 1969, Sgt. Crew had been awarded the Purple Heart in January for wounds he received.
Larry Crew remembered his brother as someone who loved hunting, fishing and target shooting and tinkering with cars.
Carl Crew was 21 when he was killed in action.
Larry Crew was just finishing up his senior year at the University of Baltimore.
“I remember the time of day, the weather and everything,” he said of the day he learned of his brother’s death. “That time is frozen in your brain and it never leaves.”
The whirling sound of a helicopter, music from the late 1960s, antique car shows — all overwhelm Larry Crew with memories of his brother.
Larry Crew said his brother will never be forgotten, but he knows ”you have to keep moving on … or it eats you up.”
In May 2016, Chestertown’s American Legion Post 36 saluted four soldiers from Kent County and another from northern Queen Anne’s who were killed while serving in Vietnam. The “Honors Tour” was part of Post 36’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the start of the war.
Last year, a plaque was installed at Monument Park in downtown Chestertown to acknowledge the local heroes. The honorees, their ages, dates of death and cemeteries where they are buried are listed here.
• Clarence Matthews Newcomb, 37: June 25, 1965; Chester Cemetery.
• Raymond Lester Elliott, 20: Jan. 15, 1967; Pondtown.
• Robert Julian Davis Jr., 20: Aug. 7, 1967; Galena.
• Virgil Henry Wilson Jr., 20; Oct. 11, 1968; Golts.
• Carl Joseph Crew, 21: March 24, 1969; Still Pond.
As part of the Heroes Tour of 2016, there was a graveside service for each of the honorees, complete with a color guard, a rifle salute, a wreath-laying ceremony, prayers, expressions of sorrow and gratitude, and a bugler’s taps.
Commemorative bronze markers, purchased by the Old Kent Chapter of the National Daughters of the American Revolution, were placed at each grave.
The police-escorted procession made its first stop at Chester Cemetery in Chestertown and its final stop at Pondtown in Queen Anne’s County. It was a full day of tributes that was attended by families and friends of each of the honorees.
Pfc. Robert Julian Davis Jr. was Kent County’s first combat casualty of the war in Southeast Asia, though more than two years earlier, Army Capt. Clarence Newcomb was killed in a Jeep accident in South Vietnam. He had been serving as an American military advisor to the South Vietnamese troops.
Newcomb was a former commander of the National Guard unit in Chestertown. Before accepting a regular Army commission in 1963, he was employed by C&P Telephone.
Prior to the motor vehicle crash that took his life, Newcomb had been wounded in action in January 1965. He received the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Posthumous awards of the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Medal of Honor were presented to his widow in recognition of his role in planning and participating in numerous combat operations while an advisor.
Galena resident Bill Blake, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, remembered Julian Davis as popular and well-respected. “Julian was the guy you wanted to grow up to be like, only he didn’t get to grow up,” Blake said in a telephone interview earlier this month.
Though it’s been more than half a century ago, Blake said he remembers with great clarity the last time he saw his young friend.
“We were all sitting in a car, about five of us, and it was right before Julian was going to be shipped out and he said, ‘Boys, I don’t think I’m coming back.’
“The reason that stuck out is that we all said, ‘Don’t talk like that. It ain’t gonna happen,’” Blake said.
Davis was assigned to a search-and-destroy platoon of the Army’s 25th Infantry Division. While on patrol in an area of dense vegetation, providing security during a reconnaissance mission, the 20-year-old Davis was hit by metal fragments of a booby trap. He died a short time later in the 67th Evacuation Hospital.
He had only been “in country” for two months.
Among Davis’ commendations was the Bronze Star with “V” for unselfish and heroic action. He was mortally wounded when he ran into a minefield in an attempt to rescue another soldier who had stepped on a mine.
Young Davis’ parents were notified on Aug. 9 by an Army officer from Aberdeen Proving Ground that he had been killed in action. “They had received his latest letter, cheerful as usual, the same day,” according to a front page story in the Aug. 16, 1967, Kent County News.
Blake regularly stops at Davis’ marker in the Galena Cemetery because it is about 100 feet from his wife’s grave.
As a special tribute this year to their fallen comrade, Blake and Harry Pisapia, a former mayor of Galena, are sponsoring a flag in the Rotary Club’s Flags for Heroes display in Chestertown.
Newcomb, Davis, Crew, Raymond Elliott and Virgil Wilson epitomized the “valor of a generation that served with honor,” according to remarks that were made at the beginning of the 2016 Heroes Tour here.
Near the tree line, just beyond the railroad tracks on a curve in a single-lane paved road, are a few headstones and the now-shuttered Lee’s Chapel.
That’s where Pfc. Wilson is buried, next to his brother and their father.
It’s a simple, rural cemetery, tucked away in the hamlet of Golts — an area in the upper reaches of Kent County that it’s fair to say not many people have been to.
Wilson was only 20 when he was killed. The Army notified his family that he died during a demolition attack.
Wilson attended then-segregated Garnett High School in Chestertown. He left school early, according to his family.
After he was drafted and attended training in Colorado and California, he volunteered for service in Vietnam.
“He was sent to the fighting front” about six weeks before his death, according to a front page story in the Oct. 16, 1968 Kent County News.
Wilson’s decorations included the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Spec 4 Elliott is buried in a church cemetery near Crumpton.
He drowned, unable to inflate his life preserver when a rubber reconnaissance patrol boat overturned.
Three brothers and five sisters, along with nieces and nephews and friends, came from Delaware and Philadelphia to honor Elliott in May 2016.
Overall, it is estimated that three million Americans served in the Vietnam War. More than 58,000 patriots gave their lives, and 1,600 are still missing.