Sunday, March 30, 2008

Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial - My Small Tribute to Eric Duffer

  • 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
Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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.


  1. Don't forget those killed, but there are thousands of homeless veterans dying today on the streets, shelters, Jails & prisons because of those same war profiteers. I call it the Veteran Poverty Pimps system. Forced 12 step religion, forced drugs, nasty mats and the floor, rotten food bank meals, labeled addict, alcoholics, criminals.

  2. Thanks anonymous, you are very correct.
    I watched the first wave of vets return from 'Nam when I was 14. These were the older guys I had always looked up to. You know, the ones with all the girls, cars and motorcycles. As a kid I wanted to grow up like them. They came back changed. It took a while but I learned why. Some addicted to heroin and alcohol, some scared mentally and physically and most just disillusioned with life. As time went on it was more of the same for those returning, on up until the end of the war.
    Many of those guys are now dead. Killed in action just as surely as Eric was but their names will never be on the wall.
    All vets deserve more help and support than they are given. A visit to any VA hospital that provides long term care will prove that point.
    Many vets, including some from Iraq, are pushed to the fringes of society, the ones we turn our eyes away from as we pass them on the street. Forgotten and abused.

  3. Why are all war 'heros' dead guys? Where is the VietNam Memorial Wall with the names of all the young people who fought - and lived? We pay them no honor?
    I work for a public defender/criminal defense attorney - we are still getting VietNam vets as clients - who still can't handle the damage that was done to them. The only 'recognition' they get (for being so ungrateful as to survive the horror) is a mugshot.
    And the wave of 'crimes' committed by vets of this Afghanistan/Iraq disaster is only yet to be experienced.