Barbara Griffith will never forget her step-brother, Jerry Osborn of Columbus Grove.
And neither should the Lima region.
His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. It can be found on Panel 01e, Line 99.
Osborn was the first soldier from the immediate Lima region to die in Vietnam, when the helicopter he was in was shot down by enemy fire in 1965. It was a time of great controversy, as was noted in a Veterans Day column several weeks ago.
Griffith wrote to share Osborn’s story.
“After reading your November 9 column where you wrote that almost all teenage males in the 1960’s were scared of getting drafted and going to Vietnam, I want to tell you about an exception to that observation,” she wrote.
“My step-brother, Jerry Osborn, a Columbus Grove High School graduate, was not drafted. He enlisted in the Army. While stationed in Hawaii, he volunteered to go to Vietnam.
“He was a door gunner in a helicopter. He was there only one month, and turned 20 years old during that month, when he was killed on April 1, 1965.
“I felt I needed to respond when I read your opening paragraph and pay tribute to one brave soldier.”
The seven years after Osborn’s death would see 80 soldiers from the immediate Lima area killed in Southeast Asia, 29 from Allen County and 51 more from Putnam, Auglaize, Van Wert and Hardin counties.
Hometown boys were buried in Ada, Belmore, Cridersville, Celina, Coldwater, Columbus Grove, Continental, Convoy, Delphos, Dola, Forest, Fort Jennings, Huntsville, Jackson Center, Kenton, Lafayette, Lakeview, Lima, McGuffey, Miller City, Minster, Ohio City, Ottawa, Pandora, Rockford, Russells Point, St. Henry, St. Marys, Scott, Spencerville, Van Wert, Wapakoneta, Waynesfield and Willshire.
Steven Edward Bowersock, 20, of Lima, was the last local soldier to die in Vietnam. It was May 10, 1972. Just two days earlier, another Lima soldier also was killed, Edmund B. Taylor Jr. He was 40, the oldest area soldier to die in Vietnam.
As with any war, the question shouldn’t be one about bravery. The men and women who defend this country are among the bravest you’ll find.
As we learned in Vietnam, the question should be about “why” — why were we involved in a conflict?
Years after the Vietnam War ended, Kim Rayl, a niece of Jerry Osborn, made that point in a remembrance she wrote on a website honoring Osborn.
“He held me as a baby. My mother held his death every year as reverent more so because she raised him from a child. I read his letters from Vietnam to my mom when I was a teen and realized the pain and heartache my mom suffered from such a nonsense war. His life was cut short in the wink of eye and what for? It solved nothing except suffering for the families.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A father and son won’t have to wait to get in the rose garden.
Rose: To Joshua Raines and his son Mason, of Wapakoneta. Sometimes you have to do things others may think are crazy. They shared a father-and-son moment by waiting in line for 36 hours to buy the new Playstation video game console
Rose: The Girl Scout Promise — “To Serve God and Our Country, Help people at all times” — was put into action when the Lima Office of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio donated 1,600 meals and packed 150 meals-to-go boxes for the West Ohio Food Bank. The donation came when the Lima office decided to forego its annual Secret Santa and instead help out a fellow non-profit.
Rose: To Patricia and Orley Matson of Cloverdale, who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Thursday.
Thorn: The two elevators at the Allen County Jail are in such bad shape that someone recently was stuck in one of them for 35 minutes.
PARTING SHOT: Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.