- Title/Collection: Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Full Name: Duffer, Eric Thomas
- Country: South Vietnam
- Sheet Number: 1
- Rank: Private First Class
- Grade: E2
- Specialty: Mortarman (USMC)
- Hometown: Gallatin
- Home State: TN
- Race: Caucasian
- Religion: Protestant - No Denominational Preference
- Marital Status: Single
- Gender: Not available
- Date Of Birth: 16 Jul 1950
- Tour Start Date: 01 Dec 1968
- Casualty Date: 01 Mar 1969
- Death Date: 01 Mar 1969
- Age: 18
- Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
- Died Of: Gun, Small Arms Fire
My Tribute to a Friend
Eric and I grew up down the road from each other. We rode the same bus to school for around 8 or 9 years. Although he was a couple of years older than me, we were in the same grade and often the same classroom. For some reason he had been "held back" during the first and second grades. He had "smarts" but of the street and rural area kind. School was just not his thing.
Although he picked on me and the other kids during our early years just because he was older and bigger, it was OK. We were still friends.
He introduced me to smoking cigarettes. The little store across the street from the elementary school would sell you a pack if you had a quarter. Sometimes we would pool our money and divide them up, sneaking a smoke when we could.
Eric was tough guy, a good football player who could hit with the best and didn't mind knocking us on our butts in practice as well as intimidating opposing players.
He turned 18 right before our high school junior year. Having had enough of school and wanting to continue his "tough guy image" he joined the Marine Corp. I'm sure he breezed through basic training and was considered a great Marine. The military, in need of bodies for the war, sent him straight to Vietnam.
Being busy with school, sports and girls we hardly missed him. After 3 months in 'Nam Eric came home. With no fanfare and hardly a passing mention in the local newspaper he was gone.
I didn't forget him. His death intensified my opposition to this war and every war since then. Another young man who I know would have made a significant contribution to our society died for the war mongers and profiteers.
Damn war and those who send our youth to die. It's never for benefit of the masses of great Americans but for the profit of the few who care nothing for the lives of those they use.
We miss you Eric. May your ultimate sacrifice always remind us to stand firm in our commitment to peace and so our children and children to come will not experience the same fate.